Federal Register Vol. 83, No.157,

Federal Register Volume 83, Issue 157 (August 14, 2018)

Page Range40149-40428
FR Document

83_FR_157
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
83 FR 40276 - Proposed CERCLA/RCRA/TSCA Administrative Settlement Agreement and Covenant Not To Sue; MSC Land Company, LLC, and Crown Enterprises, Inc.; Former McLouth Steel Facility, Trenton and Riverview, MichiganPDF
83 FR 40307 - Extension of the Designation of Yemen for Temporary Protected StatusPDF
83 FR 40167 - Program Integrity: Gainful EmploymentPDF
83 FR 40216 - Notice of Solicitation of Applications for the Rural Energy for America Program for Fiscal Year 2019PDF
83 FR 40264 - Privacy Act of 1974; System of RecordsPDF
83 FR 40215 - Snow King Mountain Resort On-Mountain Improvements Project Environmental Impact Statement. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Jackson Ranger District, Teton County, WyomingPDF
83 FR 40386 - Notice of Final Federal Agency Actions on Proposed Highway in CaliforniaPDF
83 FR 40387 - Environmental Impact Statement: Lake, Cook and McHenry Counties, IllinoisPDF
83 FR 40334 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Bureau of Reclamation Use Authorization ApplicationPDF
83 FR 40327 - Incidental Take Permit Applications Received To Participate in the American Burying-Beetle Amended Oil and Gas Industry Conservation Plan in OklahomaPDF
83 FR 40183 - Motions Concerning Mail Preparation ChangesPDF
83 FR 40325 - Draft Environmental Assessment and Draft Habitat Conservation Plan; Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit, Headwaters Wind Farm, Randolph County, IndianaPDF
83 FR 40149 - Final Waiver and Extension of the Project Period for the Migrant Education Program Consortium Incentive Grant ProgramPDF
83 FR 40164 - Anchorage Grounds; Baltimore Harbor, Baltimore, MDPDF
83 FR 40384 - Petition for Exemption; Summary of Petition Received; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical UniversityPDF
83 FR 40340 - NASA Advisory Council; MeetingPDF
83 FR 40384 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Requests for Comments; Clearance of Renewed Approval of Information Collection: Dealer's Aircraft Registration Certificate ApplicationPDF
83 FR 40386 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Requests for Comments; Clearance of Renewed Approval of Information Collection: Organization Designation Authorization-Part 183, Subpart DPDF
83 FR 40385 - Notice of Meeting of the National Parks Overflights Advisory GroupPDF
83 FR 40358 - Information Collection: Physical Protection of Plants and MaterialsPDF
83 FR 40357 - Uranium One; Ludeman SatellitePDF
83 FR 40356 - Information Collection: General Domestic Licenses for Byproduct MaterialPDF
83 FR 40355 - Termination of Operating License for the Buffalo Materials Research Center ReactorPDF
83 FR 40341 - Information Collection: NRC Form 171, “Duplication Request”PDF
83 FR 40263 - Charter Renewal of Department of Defense Federal Advisory CommitteesPDF
83 FR 40388 - Solicitation of Nomination for Appointment to the Advisory Committee on Women VeteransPDF
83 FR 40278 - Certain New Chemical Substances; Receipt and Status Information for May 2018PDF
83 FR 40272 - Receipt of Several Pesticide Petitions Filed for Residues of Pesticide Chemicals in or on Various CommoditiesPDF
83 FR 40224 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Quarterly Survey of Public PensionsPDF
83 FR 40287 - Program Requirement Revisions Related to the Public Water System Supervision Programs for the State of Connecticut and the State of New HampshirePDF
83 FR 40303 - Meeting of the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task ForcePDF
83 FR 40313 - 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Single Family Premium Collection Subsystem-Periodic (SFPCS)PDF
83 FR 40274 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Data Reporting Requirements for State and Local Vehicle Emission Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) Programs (Renewal)PDF
83 FR 40285 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Experimental Use Permits (EUPs) for Pesticides (Renewal)PDF
83 FR 40285 - Cross-Media Electronic Reporting: Authorized Program Revision Approval, State of IndianaPDF
83 FR 40275 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; RCRA Expanded Public Participation (Renewal)PDF
83 FR 40276 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; NESHAP for Ferroalloys Production Area Sources (Renewal)PDF
83 FR 40274 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Drug Testing for Contractor Employees (Renewal)PDF
83 FR 40271 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Request for Contractor Access to TSCA CBI (Renewal)PDF
83 FR 40269 - Corpus Christi Liquefaction Stage III, LLC; Application for Long-Term Authorization To Export Liquefied Natural Gas to Non-Free Trade Agreement NationsPDF
83 FR 40269 - Electricity Advisory CommitteePDF
83 FR 40382 - Notice of Determinations; Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition-Determinations: “Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts” ExhibitionPDF
83 FR 40382 - Notice of Determinations; Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition-Determinations: “The Renaissance Nude” ExhibitionPDF
83 FR 40382 - Notice of Determinations; Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition-Determinations: “Franz Marc and August Macke: 1909-1914” ExhibitionPDF
83 FR 40360 - Reinstatement of a Previously Approved Information Collection: General Request for Investigative Information (INV 40), Investigative Request for Employment Data and Supervisor Information (INV 41), Investigative Request for Personal Information (INV 42), Investigative Request for Educational Registrar and Dean of Students Record Data (INV 43), and Investigative Request for Law Enforcement Data (INV 44)PDF
83 FR 40263 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Temporary Expansion of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TE-PSLF)PDF
83 FR 40381 - Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements Under OMB ReviewPDF
83 FR 40214 - Notice of Request for a New Information Collection: Foodborne Illness Outbreak Investigation Survey for FSIS Public Health PartnersPDF
83 FR 40149 - Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Narrow Bay, Suffolk County, NYPDF
83 FR 40286 - Proposed CERCLA Administrative Cost Recovery Settlement; Absorbent Technologies Site, Albany, OregonPDF
83 FR 40212 - Notice of Request To Renew an Approved Information Collection (Certificates of Medical Examination)PDF
83 FR 40155 - 911 Grant ProgramPDF
83 FR 40288 - Information Collection Being Submitted for Review and Approval to the Office of Management and BudgetPDF
83 FR 40388 - Limitation on Claims Against Proposed Public Transportation ProjectsPDF
83 FR 40225 - Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 293-Limon, Colorado; Authorization of Production Activity Laser Galicia America LLC (Bending and Assembly of Trafo Wall); Aurora, ColoradoPDF
83 FR 40226 - Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 81-Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Authorization of Production Activity Textiles Coated International Inc. (Polytetrafluoroethylene Products) Manchester and Londonderry, New HampshirePDF
83 FR 40226 - Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 18-San Jose, California; Notification of Proposed Production Activity; Tesla, Inc. (Electric Passenger Vehicles and Components); Fremont and Palo Alto, CaliforniaPDF
83 FR 40226 - Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 249-Pensacola, Florida; Authorization of Production Activity; GE Renewables North America, LLC (Wind Turbine Nacelles, Hubs, and Drivetrains); Pensacola, FloridaPDF
83 FR 40225 - Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 81-Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Authorization of Production Activity; Albany Safran Composites LLC; (Carbon Fiber Composite Aircraft Engine Parts); Rochester, New HampshirePDF
83 FR 40226 - Certain Plastic Decorative Ribbon From the People's Republic of China: Postponement of Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair ValuePDF
83 FR 40229 - Xanthan Gum From the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Results of the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review, and Preliminary Determination of No Shipments; 2016-2017PDF
83 FR 40227 - Stainless Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings From the Philippines: Initiation of Antidumping Duty Changed Circumstances ReviewPDF
83 FR 40232 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Availability and Application of Socioeconomic Data in Resource Management in the U.S. Pacific IslandsPDF
83 FR 40157 - Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery; 2018 Illex Squid Quota HarvestedPDF
83 FR 40338 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection eComments Requested; Extension of a Currently Approved CollectionPDF
83 FR 40339 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection eComments Requested; Extension of a Currently Approved CollectionPDF
83 FR 40337 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection eComments Requested; New CollectionPDF
83 FR 40161 - Airworthiness Directives; Rolls-Royce plc Turbofan EnginesPDF
83 FR 40306 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Certificate of OriginPDF
83 FR 40292 - Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding CompanyPDF
83 FR 40288 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request (OMB No. 3064-0134)PDF
83 FR 40223 - Agenda and Notice of Public Meeting of the Maryland Advisory CommitteePDF
83 FR 40224 - Agenda and Notice of Public Meeting of the Colorado Advisory CommitteePDF
83 FR 40233 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Transshipment Requirements Under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC)PDF
83 FR 40233 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; High Seas Fishing Permit Application InformationPDF
83 FR 40212 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 40365 - Self-Regulatory Organizations: Investors Exchange LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Revise the Threshold for Imposition of the Crumbling Quote Remove FeePDF
83 FR 40379 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; The Options Clearing Corporation; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Make Clarifying and Conforming Changes to The Options Clearing Corporation's Margins Methodology and Margin PolicyPDF
83 FR 40371 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Cboe BYX Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change To Amend Exchange Rule 1.5 Definitions and Exchange Rule 14.1 Unlisted Trading PrivilegesPDF
83 FR 40373 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Miami International Securities Exchange LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change To Amend Its Fee SchedulePDF
83 FR 40361 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Cboe BZX Exchange, Inc.; Order Granting Approval of a Proposed Rule Change, as Modified by Amendment No. 2, To List and Trade Shares of Twelve Monthly Series of the Cboe Vest S&P 500® Buffer Protect Strategy ETF Under the ETF Series Solutions Trust Under Rule 14.11(c)(3), Index Fund SharesPDF
83 FR 40334 - Gateway National Recreation Area Fort Hancock 21st Century Advisory Committee Notice of Public MeetingPDF
83 FR 40156 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 2018 Commercial Accountability Measure and Closure for South Atlantic Golden Tilefish Hook-and-Line ComponentPDF
83 FR 40257 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Port of Kalama Expansion Project on the Lower Columbia RiverPDF
83 FR 40331 - Notice of Realty Action: Proposed Non-Competitive (Direct) Sale of Public Land in Gila County, AZPDF
83 FR 40332 - Notice of Realty Action: Classification of Lands for Recreation and Public Purposes Act Conveyance of Public Land in Mohave County, AZPDF
83 FR 40328 - Notice of Realty Action: Competitive Sale of Nine Parcels of Public Land in Lincoln County, NVPDF
83 FR 40333 - Notice of Subcommittee Meeting for the Steens Mountain Advisory CouncilPDF
83 FR 40303 - The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)PDF
83 FR 40228 - Heavy Walled Rectangular Welded Carbon Steel Pipes and Tubes From the Republic of Turkey: Preliminary Results of Countervailing Duty Administrative Review; 2016PDF
83 FR 40383 - Request for Comments and Notice of Public Hearing Concerning Russia's Implementation of Its WTO CommitmentsPDF
83 FR 40339 - Notice of Lodging of Proposed Modification of Consent Decree Under the Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution ActPDF
83 FR 40289 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request (OMB No. 3064-0195)PDF
83 FR 40360 - Establishment of Atomic Safety and Licensing Board; Florida Power & Light CompanyPDF
83 FR 40153 - Approval and Promulgation of State Plans for Designated Facilities and Pollutants; United States Virgin Islands; Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incineration UnitsPDF
83 FR 40153 - Adequacy Status of Motor Vehicle Emissions Budgets for the New York Portion of the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-CT, 2008 8-Hour Ozone Nonattainment Area; CorrectionPDF
83 FR 40336 - Notice of Receipt of Complaint; Solicitation of Comments Relating to the Public InterestPDF
83 FR 40305 - Information Collection Request to Office of Management and Budget; OMB Control Number: 1625-0113PDF
83 FR 40335 - Notice of Receipt of Complaint; Solicitation of Comments Relating to the Public InterestPDF
83 FR 40314 - Allocations, Common Application, Waivers, and Alternative Requirements for Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery GranteesPDF
83 FR 40304 - Collection of Information Under Review by Office of Management and Budget; OMB Control Number: 1625-0045PDF
83 FR 40293 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for Office of Management and Budget Review; Comment Request; Food and Drug Administration Food Safety, Health, and Diet SurveyPDF
83 FR 40151 - Approval of Air Quality Implementation Plans; New Jersey; Infrastructure Requirements for the 2012 PM2.5PDF
83 FR 40295 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for Office of Management and Budget Review; Comment Request; Experimental Study of Risk Information Amount and Location in Direct-to-Consumer Print AdsPDF
83 FR 40340 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 40337 - Notice Pursuant to the National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993-Cooperative Research Group on HEDGE IVPDF
83 FR 40184 - Air Plan Approval; Indiana; Cross-State Air Pollution RulePDF
83 FR 40159 - Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company AirplanesPDF
83 FR 40392 - Migratory Bird Hunting; Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits for Certain Migratory Game BirdsPDF
83 FR 40155 - Notification of Temporary Filing Freeze on New Fixed-Satellite Service Space Station Applications in the 3.7-4.2 GHz BandPDF
83 FR 40234 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Office of Naval Research Arctic Research ActivitiesPDF
83 FR 40342 - Biweekly Notice; Applications and Amendments to Facility Operating Licenses and Combined Licenses Involving No Significant Hazards ConsiderationsPDF
83 FR 40192 - Subsistence Taking of Northern Fur Seals on the Pribilof IslandsPDF

Issue

83 157 Tuesday, August 14, 2018 Contents Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Food Safety and Inspection Service

See

Forest Service

See

Rural Business-Cooperative Service

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 40212 2018-17397
Antitrust Division Antitrust Division NOTICES Changes under the National Cooperative Research and Production Act: Cooperative Research Groupon HEDGE IV, 40337 2018-17358 Census Bureau Census Bureau NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Quarterly Survey of Public Pensions, 40224-40225 2018-17449 Civil Rights Civil Rights Commission NOTICES Meetings: Colorado Advisory Committee, 40224 2018-17400 Maryland Advisory Committee, 40223-40224 2018-17401 Coast Guard Coast Guard RULES Drawbridge Operations: Narrow Bay, Suffolk County, NY, 40149 2018-17426 PROPOSED RULES Anchorage Grounds: Baltimore Harbor, Baltimore, MD, 40164-40167 2018-17469 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 40304-40306 2018-17364 2018-17367 Commerce Commerce Department See

Census Bureau

See

Foreign-Trade Zones Board

See

International Trade Administration

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

See

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Defense Department Defense Department NOTICES Charter Renewals: Federal Advisory Committees, 40263 2018-17453 Education Department Education Department RULES Final Waiver and Extension of the Project Period for the Migrant Education Program Consortium Incentive Grant Program, 40149-40151 2018-17470 PROPOSED RULES Program Integrity: Gainful Employment, 40167-40183 2018-17531 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Temporary Expansion of Public Service Loan Forgiveness, 40263-40264 2018-17430 Privacy Act; Systems of Records, 40264-40269 2018-17512 Energy Department Energy Department NOTICES Applications to Export Liquefied Natural Gas: Corpus Christi Liquefaction Stage III, LLC, 40269-40271 2018-17437 Charter Renewals: Electricity Advisory Committee, 40269 2018-17436 Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Adequacy Status of Motor Vehicle Emissions Budgets for the New York Portion of the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-CT, 2008 8-hour Ozone Nonattainment Area; Correction, 40153 2018-17369 New Jersey; Infrastructure Requirements for the 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS; Interstate Transport Provisions, 40151-40153 2018-17361 State Plans for Designated Facilities and Pollutants; Approvals and Promulgations: United States Virgin Islands; Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incineration Units, 40153-40155 2018-17371 PROPOSED RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Indiana; Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, 40184-40192 2018-17357 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals NESHAP for Ferroalloys Production Area Sources, 40276 2018-17440 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Data Reporting Requirements for State and Local Vehicle Emission Inspection and Maintenance Programs, 40274 2018-17444 Drug Testing for Contractor Employees, 40274-40275 2018-17439 Experimental Use Permits for Pesticides, 40285 2018-17443 RCRA Expanded Public Participation, 40275-40276 2018-17441 Request for Contractor Access to TSCA CBI, 40271-40272 2018-17438 Certain New Chemicals: Receipt and Status Information for May 2018, 40278-40285 2018-17451 Cross-Media Electronic Reporting: Authorized Program Revision Approval, State of Indiana, 40285-40286 2018-17442 Pesticide Petitions: Residues of Pesticide Chemicals in or on Various Commodities, 40272-40273 2018-17450 Program Requirement Revisions Related to the Public Water System Supervision Programs for the State of Connecticut and the State of New Hampshire, 40287-40288 2018-17447 Proposed Administrative Settlement Agreement: MSC Land Company, LLC, and Crown Enterprises, Inc.; Former McLouth Steel Facility, Trenton and Riverview, MI, 40276-40278 2018-17584 Proposed Cost Recovery Settlement: CERCLA, 40286-40287 2018-17425 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration PROPOSED RULES Airworthiness Directives: Rolls-Royce plc Turbofan Engines, 40161-40164 2018-17405 The Boeing Company Airplanes, 40159-40161 2018-17323 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 40386 2018-17461 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Dealer's Aircraft Registration Certificate Application, 40384-40385 2018-17462 Exemption Petitions; Summaries: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, 40384 2018-17468 Meetings: National Parks Overflights Advisory Group, 40385-40386 2018-17460 Federal Bureau Federal Bureau of Investigation NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 40337-40338 2018-17406 Federal Communications Federal Communications Commission RULES Temporary Filing Freeze on New Fixed-Satellite Service Space Station Applications in the 3.7-4.2 GHz Band, 40155 2018-17297 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 40288 2018-17421 Federal Deposit Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 40288-40292 2018-17377 2018-17402 Federal Highway Federal Highway Administration NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Lake, Cook and McHenry Counties, IL, 40387-40388 2018-17504 Federal Agency Actions: Proposed Highway in California, 40386-40387 2018-17509 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System NOTICES Change in Bank Control Notices: Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding Company, 40292-40293 2018-17403 Federal Transit Federal Transit Administration NOTICES Limitation on Claims Against Proposed Public Transportation Projects, 40388 2018-17420 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service RULES Migratory Bird Hunting: Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits for Certain Migratory Game Birds, 40392-40428 2018-17321 NOTICES Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: Headwaters Wind Farm, Randolph County, IN: Draft Habitat Conservation Plan; Receipt of Application for Incidental Take Permit, 40325-40327 2018-17485 Incidental Take Permit Applications: American Burying-Beetle Amended Oil and Gas Industry Conservation Plan in Oklahoma, 40327-40328 2018-17502 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Experimental Study of Risk Information Amount and Location in Direct-to-Consumer Print Ads, 40295-40303 2018-17360 Food Safety, Health, and Diet Survey, 40293-40294 2018-17363 Food Safety Food Safety and Inspection Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Certificates of Medical Examination, 40212-40214 2018-17424 Foodborne Illness Outbreak Investigation Survey for FSIS Public Health Partners, 40214-40215 2018-17427 Foreign Trade Foreign-Trade Zones Board NOTICES Authorization of Production Activity: Laser Galicia America, LLC, Foreign-Trade Zone 293, Limon, Colorado, 40225-40226 2018-17419 Textiles Coated International Inc., Foreign-Trade Zone 81, Portsmouth, NH, 40226 2018-17418 Production Activities: Albany Safran Composites LLC; Foreign-Trade Zone 81; Portsmouth, NH, 40225 2018-17415 GE Renewables North America, LLC; Foreign-Trade Zone 249; Pensacola, FL, 40226 2018-17416 Proposed Production Activity: Tesla, Inc., Foreign-Trade Zone 18, San Jose, California, 40226 2018-17417 Forest Forest Service NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Snow King Mountain Resort On-mountain Improvements Project, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Jackson Ranger District, Teton County, WY; Correction and Extension of Comment Period, 40215-40216 2018-17511 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Food and Drug Administration

NOTICES Meetings: Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force, 40303-40304 2018-17446 The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority—Single Source Cooperative Agreement: Janssen Research & Development, LLC, 40303 2018-17381
Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

See

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

See

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Housing Housing and Urban Development Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Single Family Premium Collection Subsystem-Periodic, 40313-40314 2018-17445 Allocations, Common Application, Waivers, and Alternative Requirements for Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Grantees, 40314-40325 2018-17365 Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

Land Management Bureau

See

National Park Service

See

Reclamation Bureau

International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Certain Plastic Decorative Ribbon from the People's Republic of China, 40226-40227 2018-17413 Heavy Walled Rectangular Welded Carbon Steel Pipes and Tubes from the Republic of Turkey, 40228-40229 2018-17380 Stainless Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings from the Philippines, 40227-40228 2018-17411 Xanthan Gum from the People's Republic of China, 40229-40232 2018-17412 International Trade Com International Trade Commission NOTICES Complaints: Certain Beverage Dispensing Systems and Components Thereof, 40335-40336 2018-17366 Certain Motorized Vehicles and Components Thereof, 40336-40337 2018-17368 Justice Department Justice Department See

Antitrust Division

See

Federal Bureau of Investigation

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 40338-40340 2018-17407 2018-17408 Proposed Modification of Consent Decree: Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Act, 40339 2018-17378
Land Land Management Bureau NOTICES Meetings: Steens Mountain Advisory Council, 40333 2018-17382 Realty Actions: Classification of Lands for Recreation and Public Purposes Act Conveyance of Public Land in Mohave County, AZ, 40332-40333 2018-17384 Competitive Sale of Nine Parcels of Public Land in Lincoln County, NV, 40328-40331 2018-17383 Proposed Non-Competitive (Direct) Sale of Public Land in Gila County, AZ, 40331-40332 2018-17385 NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration NOTICES Meetings: NASA Advisory Council, 40340 2018-17464 National Highway National Highway Traffic Safety Administration RULES 911 Grant Program, 40155-40156 2018-17423 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic: 2018 Commercial Accountability Measure and Closure for South Atlantic Golden Tilefish Hook-and-Line Component, 40156-40157 2018-17388 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States: Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery; 2018 Illex Squid Quota Harvested, 40157-40158 2018-17409 PROPOSED RULES Subsistence Taking of Northern Fur Seals on the Pribilof Islands, 40192-40211 2018-17117 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Availability and Application of Socioeconomic Data in Resource Management in the U.S. Pacific Islands, 40232-40233 2018-17410 High Seas Fishing Permit Application Information, 40233-40234 2018-17398 Transshipment Requirements under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, 40233 2018-17399 Takes of Marine Mammals: Incidental to Office of Naval Research Arctic Research Activities, 40234-40257 2018-17227 Incidental to Port of Kalama Expansion Project on the Lower Columbia River, 40257-40263 2018-17387 National Park National Park Service NOTICES Meetings: Gateway National Recreation Area Fort Hancock 21st Century Advisory Committee, 40334 2018-17389 National Science National Science Foundation NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 40340-40341 2018-17359 National Telecommunications National Telecommunications and Information Administration RULES 911 Grant Program, 40155-40156 2018-17423 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Duplication Request, 40341-40342 2018-17455 General Domestic Licenses for Byproduct Material, 40356-40357 2018-17457 Physical Protection of Plants and Materials, 40358-40359 2018-17459 Applications and Amendments to Facility Operating Licenses and Combined Licenses Involving No Significant Hazards Considerations: Biweekly Notice, 40342-40355 2018-17132 Charter Establishments: Atomic Safety and Licensing Board; Florida Power and Light Co., 40360 2018-17373 Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: Uranium One; Ludeman Satellite, 40357-40358 2018-17458 License Termination: Buffalo Materials Research Center Reactor, 40355-40356 2018-17456 Personnel Personnel Management Office NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: General Request for Investigative Information, Investigative Request for Employment Data and Supervisor Information, etc., 40360-40361 2018-17431 Postal Regulatory Postal Regulatory Commission PROPOSED RULES Motions Concerning Mail Preparation Changes, 40183-40184 2018-17499 Reclamation Reclamation Bureau NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Bureau of Reclamation Use Authorization Application, 40334-40335 2018-17503 Rural Business Rural Business-Cooperative Service NOTICES Applications: Rural Energy for America Program for Fiscal Year 2019, 40216-40223 2018-17513 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: Cboe BYX Exchange, Inc., 40371-40373 2018-17394 Cboe BZX Exchange, Inc., 40361-40365 2018-17392 Investors Exchange LLC, 40365-40371 2018-17396 Miami International Securities Exchange, LLC, 40373-40379 2018-17393 The Options Clearing Corp., 40379-40381 2018-17395 Small Business Small Business Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 40381-40382 2018-17429 State Department State Department NOTICES Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition: Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts Exhibition, 40382-40383 2018-17434 Franz Marc and August Macke: 1909-1914 Exhibition, 40382 2018-17432 The Renaissance Nude Exhibition, 40382 2018-17433 Trade Representative Trade Representative, Office of United States NOTICES Public Hearings: Russia's Implementation of its WTO Commitments, 40383-40384 2018-17379 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Federal Highway Administration

See

Federal Transit Administration

See

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

U.S. Citizenship U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services NOTICES Extension of the Designation of Yemen for Temporary Protected Status, 40307-40313 2018-17556 Customs U.S. Customs and Border Protection NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Certificate of Origin, 40306-40307 2018-17404 Veteran Affairs Veterans Affairs Department NOTICES Requests for Nominations: Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, 40388-40389 2018-17452 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Interior Department, Fish and Wildlife Service, 40392-40428 2018-17321 Reader Aids

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

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

83 157 Tuesday, August 14, 2018 Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 [Docket No. USCG-2018-0522] Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Narrow Bay, Suffolk County, NY AGENCY:

Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION:

Notice of deviation from drawbridge regulation.

SUMMARY:

The Coast Guard has issued a temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the Smith Point Bridge, mile 6.1 across Narrow Bay, at Suffolk County, New York. The deviation is necessary to facilitate the 18th Annual Smith Point Bridge 5k Run for Literacy. The deviation allows the bridge to remain in the closed position for one hour.

DATES:

This deviation is effective from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on September 8, 2018.

ADDRESSES:

The docket for this deviation, USCG-2018-0522, is available at http://www.regulations.gov. Type the docket number in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this deviation.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

If you have questions on this temporary deviation, call or email Stephanie Lopez, Bridge Management Specialist, First District Bridge Branch, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone 212-514-4335, email [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Smith Point County Park requested and the bridge owner, Suffolk County Department of Public Works, concurred with this temporary deviation request from the normal operating schedule to facilitate a 5K run.

The Smith Point Bridge across Narrow Bay, mile 6.1, has a vertical clearance of 18 feet at mean high water and 19 feet at mean low water in the closed position. The existing drawbridge operating regulation is listed at 33 CFR 117.799(d).

The temporary deviation will allow the Smith Point Bridge to remain closed from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on September 8, 2018 for a 5K run. Narrow Bay is transited by seasonal recreational vessels. Coordination with Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound has indicated no mariner objections to the proposed short-term closure of the draw.

Vessels that can pass under the bridge without an opening may do so at all times. The bridge will be able to open for emergencies. There is no immediate alternate route for vessels to pass.

The Coast Guard will inform the users of the waterways through our Local and Broadcast Notices to Mariners of the change in operating schedule for the bridge so that vessel operators can arrange their transits to minimize any impact caused by the temporary deviation.

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

Dated: August 8, 2018. C.J. Bisignano, Supervisory Bridge Management Specialist, First Coast Guard District.
[FR Doc. 2018-17426 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 34 CFR Chapter II [Docket ID ED-2018-OESE-0017; Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number 84.144F] Final Waiver and Extension of the Project Period for the Migrant Education Program Consortium Incentive Grant Program AGENCY:

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Education.

ACTION:

Final waiver and extension of the project period.

SUMMARY:

The Secretary waives the requirement in the Education Department General Administrative Regulations that generally prohibits project period extensions involving the obligation of additional Federal funds. The waiver and project period extension will enable the 34 current Migrant Education Program (MEP) Consortium Incentive Grant (CIG) program grantees to continue to receive Federal funding for up to an additional 24 months through fiscal year (FY) 2019.

DATES:

These waivers are effective August 14, 2018.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jennifer Rodriguez, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 3E323, Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (202) 453-6670. Email: [email protected].

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

The MEP CIG program is authorized by section 1308(d) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) (20 U.S.C. 6398(d)). Through the MEP CIG program, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) provides financial incentives to State educational agencies (SEAs) to participate in high-quality consortia that improve the interstate or intrastate coordination of migrant education programs by addressing key needs of migratory children who have their education interrupted.

The Department published a notice of final requirements for the MEP CIG program in the Federal Register on March 3, 2004 (69 FR 10109) (2004 Notice), and we have used these final requirements for CIG program competitions since FY 2004. The 2004 Notice established a project period of up to two years for grants awarded under the MEP CIG program. We subsequently published a notice of final requirements for the MEP CIG program in the Federal Register on December 31, 2013 (78 FR 79613) (2013 Notice), in which we increased the CIG project period to three years.

The Department last awarded CIG program grants in FY 2015. Currently, 34 SEAs (out of a total of 46 SEAs that receive MEP formula grant program funds) participate in CIG program-funded consortia.

On April 20, 2018, the Department published a document in the Federal Register (83 FR 17516) proposing a waiver of the requirement in 34 CFR 75.261(c)(2). Waiving this requirement will enable the Secretary to provide additional funds to the 34 Consortium Incentive Grant grantees for up to an additional two years. The April 2018 document also invited public comment on the proposed waiver and extension of the project period.

Public Comment

In response to our invitation in the proposed waiver and extension of the project period, the Department received 29 total comments. Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes. In addition, we do not address general comments that raise concerns not directly related to the proposed waiver and extension.

Analysis of Comments and Changes

Of the 29 comments received, 24 were in support of the waiver and two were opposed. An analysis of the comments and of any changes in the waiver follows.

Comment: Several of the commenters stated that the waiver would allow for continuous improvement and promotion of interstate coordination of migrant education programs by addressing key needs of migratory children who have their education interrupted. Several commenters also noted that the waiver would provide up to two years of additional funding, which would permit grantees to continue coordinating with one another and achieving the goals and objectives of their consortia. Two commenters noted that the waiver would provide the opportunity to create additional materials to address the needs identified in their State, refine the materials already developed, and work to ensure that the materials are widely disseminated and used by migrant programs across the Nation.

Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' support for this waiver.

Changes: None.

Comment: Two comments opposed the waiver and extension of the project period. The first commenter noted that the extension prohibits SEAs that are not currently participating in the program from joining for up to another two years, excludes States from access to Federal funds, and requires States to remain with the consortium they are currently participating in even if it no longer addresses their needs. A second commenter raised similar concerns, specifically regarding the 12 States that are excluded from funding for the CIGs because of their lack of participation in the current cycle of grants. However, the commenter stated they did not wish to cause a delay in funding to the current consortia, but urged the Department to extend the project period for only one year rather than two. The commenter also expressed regret that the Department did not plan as needed in order to host a grant competition this year.

Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' suggestions and also regret that 12 SEAs will not be able to participate in a CIG project for up to an additional two years. Due to the time needed to consider changes to the priorities, structure, and duration of the CIG program, we believe a waiver of up to two additional years, which will allow the 34 participating States to continue their work and to receive a continuation award in the same amount as their most recent continuation award, is the best course of action. However, we appreciate the commenters' concerns and will work to publish a notice of final requirements and a notice inviting applications as quickly as possible.

Changes: None.

Final Waivers

In the April 2018 document, we discussed the background and purposes of the CIG and our reasons for proposing the waivers. As outlined in that document, providing up to two additional years of funding would permit grantees to continue coordinating with one another and achieving the goals and objectives of their consortium applications as the Secretary considers changes to the priorities, structure, and duration of the CIG program. Based on the progress SEAs generally have made on consortium projects, we believe that current grantees could benefit from a fourth and possibly fifth year in which to continue working on and implementing their CIG program projects.

Moreover, implementing this waiver and extension would ensure that the services provided by the current CIG program grantees continue uninterrupted as the Department supports States in their transition to implement requirements under the ESEA as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act. During this extension period, the activities of the current CIG program grantees would be modified through work plans, as necessary, to continue the implementation of consortium activities and to support States as they implement requirements under the amended ESEA.

For all of these reasons, we have concluded that it would be contrary to the public interest to have a lapse in the work of current CIG program grantees while the Secretary considers changes to the implementation of the CIG program and while the Department implements the components of the amended ESEA as described above.

Therefore, the Secretary waives the requirements in 34 CFR 75.261(c)(2), which limits the extension of a project period if the extension involves the obligation of additional Federal funds.

Under this waiver—

(1) Current grantees will be authorized to receive continuation awards annually for up to two years using the CIG funding formula currently in existence.

(2) We will not announce a new competition in FY 2018 or in FY 2019 (if the project period is extended for two years).

(3) During the extension period, any activities carried out must be consistent with, or be a logical extension of, the scope, goals, and objectives of the grantees' approved application from the FY 2015 CIG program competition.

(4) Each grantee that receives a continuation award must also continue to comply with the requirements established in the program regulations, the 2004 and 2013 Notices, and the 2015 notice inviting applications for the MEP CIG program (80 FR 6502).

The waiver of 34 CFR 75.261(c)(2) will not affect the applicability of the requirements in 34 CFR 75.253 (continuation of a multi-year project after the first budget period) to any current CIG program grantee that receives a continuation award as a result of the waiver.

Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

The Secretary certifies that this final waiver and extension will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. None of the affected entities are small entities, as this program makes awards to SEAs.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

This final waiver and extension does not contain any information collection requirements.

Intergovernmental Review

This program is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the objectives of the Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a strengthened federalism. The Executive order relies on processes developed by State and local governments for coordination and review of proposed Federal financial assistance.

This document provides notification of our specific plans and actions for this program.

Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an accessible format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) by contacting the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. You may access the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations 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.

Dated: August 9, 2018. Frank T. Brogan, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education.
[FR Doc. 2018-17470 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R02-OAR-2018-0237; FRL-9981-83—Region 2] Approval of Air Quality Implementation Plans; New Jersey; Infrastructure Requirements for the 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS; Interstate Transport Provisions AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is approving elements of the State Implementation Plan (SIP) submission from New Jersey regarding the infrastructure requirements of section 110 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) for the 2012 annual fine particulate matter (PM2.5) National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS or standard). The infrastructure requirements are designed to ensure that the structural components of each state's air quality management program are adequate to meet the state's responsibilities under the CAA. This action pertains specifically to infrastructure requirements concerning interstate transport provisions.

DATES:

This final rule is effective on September 13, 2018.

ADDRESSES:

The EPA has established a docket for this action under Docket ID Number EPA-R02-OAR-2018-0237. All documents in the docket are listed on the http://www.regulations.gov website. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, e.g., Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form. Publicly available docket materials are available electronically through http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Kenneth Fradkin, Environmental Protection Agency, 290 Broadway, New York, New York 10007-1866, at (212) 637-3702, or by email at [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The Supplementary Information section is arranged as follows:

Table of Contents I. What is the background for this action? II. What comments were received in response to the EPA's proposed action? III. What action is the EPA taking? IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. What is the background for this action?

Under sections 110(a)(1) and (2) of the Clean Air Act (CAA), each state is required to submit a State Implementation Plan (SIP) that provides for the implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of a revised primary or secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS or standard). CAA sections 110(a)(1) and (2) require each state to make a new SIP submission within three years after the EPA promulgates a new or revised NAAQS for approval into the existing federally-approved SIP to assure that the SIP meets the applicable requirements for such new and revised NAAQS.

On May 21, 2018 (83 FR 23402), EPA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) in the Federal Register for the State of New Jersey. The NPR proposed to approve elements of the State of New Jersey's Infrastructure SIP submission, dated October 17, 2014, which were submitted to address CAA section 110(a) infrastructure requirements for the following NAAQS: 2008 ozone, 2008 lead, 2010 nitrogen dioxide (NO2), 2010 sulfur dioxide (SO2), 2011 carbon monoxide (CO), 2006 particulate matter of 10 microns or less (PM10), and 2012 particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less (PM2.5). Specifically, EPA proposed in the May 21, 2018 action to approve the portion of the submission addressing the interstate transport provisions for the 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS under CAA section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I), otherwise known as the “good neighbor” provision.

Other detailed information relevant to this action on New Jersey's infrastructure SIP submission, including infrastructure requirements concerning interstate transport provisions, and the rationale for EPA's proposed action are explained in the NPR and the associated Technical Support Document (TSD) in the docket and are not restated here.

II. What comments were received in response to the EPA's proposed action?

In response to the EPA's May 21, 2018 proposed rulemaking to approve the portion of the New Jersey's infrastructure SIP submission, dated October 17, 2014, addressing the interstate transport provisions for the 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS, EPA received two comments from the public during the 30-day public comment period. After reviewing the comments, EPA has determined that the comments are outside the scope of our proposed action or fail to identify any material issue necessitating a response. None of the comments raise issues germane to the EPA's proposed action. For this reason, the EPA will not provide a specific response to the comments. The comments may be viewed under Docket ID Number EPA-R02-OAR-2018-0237 on the http://www.regulations.gov website.

III. What action is EPA taking?

EPA is approving the portion of New Jersey's October 17, 2014 infrastructure SIP submission addressing the interstate transport provisions for the 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS under CAA section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I).

EPA will address the requirements of CAA sections 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) for the 2008 lead, 2010 NO2, 2010 SO2, 2011 CO, and the 2006 PM10 NAAQS in a separate action at a later date. As noted in the NPR, New Jersey withdrew the portion of its October 17, 2014 SIP submission addressing 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) with respect to the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS.

EPA addressed interstate transport provisions concerning the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) regulations and visibility protection (i.e., section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II)) for 2012 PM2.5, 2008 ozone, 2008 lead, 2010 NO2, 2010 SO2, 2011 CO, and the 2006 PM10 NAAQS) on September 19, 2016.1

1 81 FR 64070 (September 19, 2016).

IV. 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 action merely approves state law as meeting Federal requirements and does not impose additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. For that reason, this action:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Under section 307(b)(1) of the Clean Air Act, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by October 15, 2018. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this action for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. (See section 307(b)(2)).

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

Authority:

42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

Dated: July 25, 2018. Peter D. Lopez, Regional Administrator, Region 2.

40 CFR part 52 is amended as follows:

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

42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

Subpart FF—New Jersey 2. In § 52.1570, the table in paragraph (e) is amended by adding the entry “NJ Infrastructure SIP for the 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS; Interstate Transport Provisions” at the end of the table to read as follows:
§ 52.1570 Identification of plan.

(e) * * *

EPA-Approved New Jersey Nonregulatory and Quasi-Regulatory Provisions SIP element Applicable
  • geographic or
  • nonattainment area
  • New Jersey
  • submittal date
  • EPA approval date Explanation
    *         *         *         *         *         *         * NJ Infrastructure SIP for the 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS; Interstate Transport Provisions State-wide October 17, 2014 August 14, 2018, [insert Federal Register citation] This action addresses the following CAA elements: 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) prongs 1 and 2.
    3. In § 52.1586, paragraph (b)(1) is amended by adding a sentence at the end of the paragraph to read as follows:
    § 52.1586 Section 110(a)(2) infrastructure requirements.

    (b) * * *

    (1) * * * Submittal from New Jersey dated October 17, 2014 to address the CAA infrastructure requirements of section 110(a)(2) for the 2012 PM2.5 is approved for (D)(i)(I).

    [FR Doc. 2018-17361 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [Docket No. EPA-R02-OAR-2018-0197; FRL-9981-63—Region 2] Adequacy Status of Motor Vehicle Emissions Budgets for the New York Portion of the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-CT, 2008 8-Hour Ozone Nonattainment Area; Correction AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notification of adequacy; correction.

    SUMMARY:

    This document corrects an error in the table posted in the June 8, 2018, notification of adequacy of the motor vehicle emission budgets (MVEB) for the New York portions of the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-CT 8-hour ozone nonattainment area. The MVEBs were submitted by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as part of the SIP revision for the area's 2008 8-hour ozone nonattainment area. The MVEB budget table in the original post listed incorrect units for the actual MVEBs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), therefore, is correcting the table to show the correct units.

    DATES:

    This correction is effective on August 14, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Hannah Greenberg, Environmental Protection Agency Region 2, Air Programs Branch, 290 Broadway, 25th Floor, New York, New York 10007-1866; (212) 637-3829, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    EPA published a notification of adequacy on June 8, 2018, (83 FR 26597) which found that the 2017 MVEBs for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) submitted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for the 2008 NAAQS for ozone are adequate for transportation conformity purposes for the New York portions of the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-CT 8-hour ozone nonattainment area. In this document, EPA erroneously listed the 2017 MVEB units as tons per year. The actual 2017 MVEB units are tons per day. Therefore, the table is being corrected to list the correct units.

    Correction

    In the notification of adequacy published in the Federal Register on June 8, 2018 (83 FR 26597), on page 26598, in the second column, the table:

    Table 1—2017 Motor Vehicle Emissions Budgets for NYMTC [Tons per year] Year VOC NOX 2017 65.69 117.21 is corrected to read: Table 1—2017 Motor Vehicle Emissions Budgets for NYMTC [Tons per day] Year VOC NOX 2017 65.69 117.21 Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401-7671 q.

    Dated: July 20, 2018. Peter D. Lopez, Regional Administrator, Region 2.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17369 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 62 [EPA-R02-OAR-2018-0712; FRL-9981-99—Region 2] Approval and Promulgation of State Plans for Designated Facilities and Pollutants; United States Virgin Islands; Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incineration Units AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is approving a Clean Air Act (CAA) section 111(d)/129 negative declaration for the United States Virgin Islands, for Commercial and industrial solid waste incineration (CISWI) units. This negative declaration certifies that CISWI units subject to sections 111(d) and 129 of the CAA do not exist within the jurisdiction of the United States Virgin Islands. The EPA is accepting the negative declaration in accordance with the requirements of the CAA.

    DATES:

    This final rule is effective on September 13, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Edward J. Linky, Environmental Protection Agency, Air Programs Branch, 290 Broadway, New York, New York 10007-1866 at 212-637-3764 or by email at [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Throughout this document “we,” “us,” or “our” refer to the EPA. This section provides additional information by addressing the following:

    I. Background II. What comments were received in response to the EPA's proposed rule? III. What action is EPA taking today? IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. Background

    The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires that state 1 regulatory agencies implement the emission guidelines and compliance times using a state plan developed under sections 111(d) and 129 of the CAA.

    1 Section 302(d) of the CAA includes the United States Virgin Islands in the definition of the term “State.”

    The general provisions for the submittal and approval of state plans are codified in 40 CFR part 60, subpart B and 40 CFR part 62, subpart A. Section 111(d) establishes general requirements and procedures on state plan submittals for the control of designated pollutants.

    Section 129 requires emission guidelines to be promulgated for all categories of solid waste incineration units, including commercial and industrial solid waste incineration (CISWI) units. A CISWI unit is defined, in general, as “any distinct operating unit of any commercial or industrial facility that combusts, or has combusted in the preceding 6 months, any solid waste as that term is defined at 40 CFR 241.” See 40 CFR 60.2875. Section 129 mandates that all plan requirements be at least as protective as the promulgated emission guidelines. This includes fixed final compliance dates, fixed compliance schedules, and Title V permitting requirements for all affected sources. Section 129 also requires that state plans be submitted to EPA within one year after EPA's promulgation of the emission guidelines and compliance times.

    States have options other than submitting a state plan in order to fulfill their obligations under CAA sections 111(d) and 129. If a state does not have any existing CISWI units for the relevant emission guidelines, a letter can be submitted certifying that no such units exist within the state (i.e., negative declaration) in lieu of a state plan. The negative declaration exempts the state from the requirements of subpart B that would otherwise require the submittal of a CAA section 111(d)/129 plan.

    On March 21, 2011 (76 FR 15704), the EPA established emission guidelines and compliance times for existing CISWI units (New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and Emission Guidelines (EG)). The emission guidelines and compliance times are codified at 40 CFR part 60, subpart DDDD. Following promulgation of the 2011 CISWI rule, EPA received petitions for reconsideration requesting to reconsider numerous provisions in the 2011 CISWI rule. EPA granted reconsiderations on specific issues and promulgated a CISWI reconsideration rule on Fegruary 7, 2013. 78 FR 9112. EPA again received petitions to further reconsider certain provisions of the 2013 NSPS and EG for CISWI units. On January 21, 2015 EPA granted reconsideration of four specific issues and finalized reconsideration of the CISWI NSPS and EG on June 23, 2016 (81 FR 40956).

    In order to fulfill obligations under CAA sections 111(d) and 129, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) of the Government of the United States Virgin Islands submitted a negative declaration letter to the EPA on August 17, 2016. The submittal of this declaration exempts the United States Virgin Islands from the requirement to submit a state plan for existing CISWI units. On May 2, 2018 (83 FR 19195), the EPA proposed to approve DPNR's negative declaration letter that certifies there are no existing CISWI units located in the United States Virgin Islands.

    II. What comments were received in response to the EPA's proposed rule?

    In response to the EPA's May 2, 2018 (83 FR 19195) proposed rulemaking, the EPA received no public comments.

    III. What action is EPA taking today?

    In this final rule the EPA will amend 40 CFR part 62 to reflect receipt of the negative declaration letter from the United States Virgin Islands, certifying that there are no existing CISWI units subject to 40 CFR part 60, subpart DDDD, in accordance with section 111(d) of the CAA.

    IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    Under the CAA, the Administrator is required to approve a 111(d)/129 plan submission that complies with the provisions of the Act and applicable Federal regulations. 40 CFR 62.04. Thus, in reviewing 111(d)/129 plan submissions, the EPA's role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the CAA. Accordingly, this action, as finalized, merely approves state law as meeting federal requirements and does not impose additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. For that reason, this action, as finalized:

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

    • is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this action is not significant under Executive Order 12866;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In addition, this final rule 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).

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

    Under section 307(b)(1) of the CAA, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by October 15, 2018. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this action for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. (See section 307(b)(2).)

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 62

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

    Dated: July 25, 2018. Peter D. Lopez, Regional Administrator, Region 2.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, EPA amends 40 CFR part 62 as set forth below:

    PART 62—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF STATE PLANS FOR DESIGNATED FACILITIES AND POLLUTANTS 1. The authority citation for part 62 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    2. Subpart CCC is amended by adding an undesignated center heading and § 62.13359 to read as follows: Air Emissions From Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incineration (CISWI) Units That Commenced Construction on or Before June 4, 2010, or That Commenced Modification or Reconstruction After June 4, 2010 But Not Later Than August 7, 2013
    § 62.13359 Identification of plan—negative declaration.

    Letter from the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources submitted August 17, 2016 to Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck certifying that the United States Virgin Islands has no existing units pursuant to 40 CFR part 60, subpart DDDD, that commenced construction on or before June 4, 2010, or that commenced modification or reconstruction after June 4, 2010 but not later than August 7, 2013.

    [FR Doc. 2018-17371 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 25 [GN Docket Nos. 17-183, 18-122; DA 18-640] Notification of Temporary Filing Freeze on New Fixed-Satellite Service Space Station Applications in the 3.7-4.2 GHz Band AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Final action.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document, the International Bureau (Bureau) announces a temporary freeze on the filing of new space station license applications and new requests for U.S. market access through non-U.S.-licensed space stations to provide fixed-satellite service (FSS) in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band.

    DATES:

    The temporary freeze was effective June 21, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Christopher Bair, 202-418-0945 or Paul Blais, 202-418-7274.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of the Commission's document, DA 18-640, released June 21, 2018. The full text of this document is available at https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-18-640A1.pdf. It is also available for inspection and copying during business hours in the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street SW, Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities, send an email to [email protected] or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).

    Background. On August 3, 2017, the Commission released a Notice of Inquiry titled Expanding Flexible Use in Mid-Band Spectrum Between 3.7 and 24 GHz (NOI). In that NOI, the Commission sought detailed comment on frequency bands that had garnered interest to potentially support increased flexible broadband uses, including the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. To preserve the current landscape of authorized operations pending Commission action as part of its ongoing inquiry into the possibility of permitting terrestrial broadband use and more intensive fixed use of the band (Mid-band Proceeding), the International, Public Safety and Homeland Security, and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus announced a temporary freeze effective on April 19, 2018, on the filing of new or modification applications for FSS earth station licenses, FSS receive-only earth station registrations, and fixed microwave licenses in the 3.7-4.2 GHz frequency band. The Bureau also announced a 90-day filing window during which operators of existing, but unregistered or unlicensed, earth stations operating in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band could continue to file applications. See 83 FR 21746. The Bureau extended this filing window for an additional 90-days on June 21, 2018.

    Temporary Freeze. To further preserve the landscape of authorized operations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band pending Commission action as part of its ongoing inquiry in the Mid-band Proceeding, the Bureau announces a temporary freeze, effective as of June 21, 2018, on the filing of new space station license applications and new requests for U.S. market access through non-U.S.-licensed space stations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. During the freeze, the International Bureau will dismiss any new space station license applications and new requests for access to the U.S. market through non-U.S.-licensed space stations, or those parts of any such applications and requests, that seek to operate in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. The freeze does not apply to applications for modification of existing authorizations, relocations of existing space stations pursuant to the Commission's fleet management policy, or to applications for replacement space stations.

    Waiver Requests. The International Bureau will consider requests for waiver of this freeze on a case-by-case basis and upon a demonstration that waiver will serve the public interest and not undermine the objectives of the freeze.

    This document does not contain proposed information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. In addition, therefore, it does not contain any proposed information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4). The Commission will not send a copy of this document pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A), because the adopted rules are rules of agency organization, procedure, or practice that do not “substantially affect the rights or obligations of non-agency parties.

    Federal Communications Commission. Troy Tanner, Deputy Chief, International Bureau.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17297 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Telecommunications and Information Administration DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 47 CFR Part 400 [Docket No. 170420407-8048-02] RIN 0660-AA33; RIN 2127-AL86 911 Grant Program AGENCY:

    National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Commerce (DOC); and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Transportation (DOT).

    ACTION:

    Final rule; correcting amendments.

    SUMMARY:

    On August 3, 2018, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a final rule that revised the implementing regulations for the 911 Grant Program, as a result of the enactment of the Next Generation 911 (NG911) Advancement Act of 2012. This document corrects numbering errors in the regulatory text.

    DATES:

    Effective on August 14, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michael Vasquez, Attorney-Advisor, Office of the Chief Counsel, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 4713, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-1816; email: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On August 3, 2018, NTIA and NHTSA published a joint final rule implementing revisions to the 911 Grant Program (47 CFR part 400) as a result of the enactment of the Next Generation 911 (NG911) Advancement Act of 2012. Final Rule, 83 FR 38051. The final rule was effective upon publication in the Federal Register. The regulatory text contained numbering errors in §§ 400.4 and 400.6. This correcting amendment corrects those errors.

    List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 400

    Grant programs, Telecommunications, Emergency response capabilities (911).

    Accordingly, 47 CFR part 400 is corrected by making the following correcting amendments:

    PART 400—911 GRANT PROGRAM 1. The authority citation for part 400 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 942.

    § 400.4 [Amended]
    2. In § 400.4, redesignate paragraphs (b)(4) and the paragraph following it (which is incorrectly designated as (b)) as paragraphs (b)(4)(i) and (ii).
    § 400.6 [Amended]
    3. In § 400.6(a), redesignate the second paragraph (a)(2) as paragraph (a)(3). Dated: August 9, 2018. Kathy D. Smith, Chief Counsel, National Telecommunications and Information Administration. John Donaldson, Assistant Chief Counsel, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17423 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-60-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 120404257-3325-02] RIN 0648-XG409 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 2018 Commercial Accountability Measure and Closure for South Atlantic Golden Tilefish Hook-and-Line Component AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule; closure.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS implements accountability measures for the commercial hook-and-line component for golden tilefish in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the South Atlantic. NMFS projects commercial hook-and-line landings for golden tilefish will reach the hook-and-line component's commercial annual catch limit (ACL) on August 14, 2018. Therefore, NMFS closes the commercial hook-and-line component for golden tilefish in the South Atlantic EEZ on August 14, 2018, and it will remain closed until the start of the next fishing year on January 1, 2019. This closure is necessary to protect the golden tilefish resource.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective at 12:01 a.m., local time, August 14, 2018, until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2019.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

    Amendment 18B to the FMP established a longline endorsement program for the commercial golden tilefish component of the snapper-grouper fishery and divided the commercial golden tilefish annual catch limit (ACL) between the commercial longline and commercial hook-and-line gear components (78 FR 23858; April 23, 2013). On January 2, 2018, NMFS published a final temporary rule to implement interim measures to reduce overfishing of golden tilefish in Federal waters of the South Atlantic (83 FR 65), effective through July 1, 2018. On June 19, 2018, NMFS published an extension of the interim measures for an additional 186 days, through January 3, 2019 (83 FR 28387). As a result of the interim measures, the total ACL for golden tilefish is 323,000 lb (146,510 kg), gutted weight, and the commercial ACL is 313,310 lb (142,115 kg), gutted weight. The current golden tilefish commercial quota (ACL) for the 2018 fishing year for the hook-and-line component is 78,328 lb (35,529 kg), gutted weight, with the remainder of the commercial quota assigned to the longline group.

    Under 50 CFR 622.193(a)(1)(i), NMFS is required to close the commercial hook-and-line component for golden tilefish when the hook-and-line component's commercial quota (ACL) has been reached, or is projected to be reached, by filing a notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal Register. NMFS has determined that the commercial quota for the golden tilefish hook-and-line component in the South Atlantic will be reached on August 14, 2018. Accordingly, the hook-and-line component of South Atlantic golden tilefish is closed effective at 12:01 a.m., local time, August 14, 2018.

    The commercial longline component for South Atlantic golden tilefish closed on March 25, 2018, and will remain closed for the remainder of the fishing year, until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2019 (83 FR 12280; March 21, 2018). Therefore, because the commercial longline component is already closed, and NMFS is closing the commercial hook-and-line component through this temporary rule, all commercial fishing for South Atlantic golden tilefish will be closed effective at 12:01 a.m., local time, August 14, 2018, until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2019.

    The operator of a vessel with a valid Federal commercial vessel permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper having golden tilefish on board must have landed and bartered, traded, or sold such golden tilefish prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, August 14, 2018. During the closure, the sale or purchase of golden tilefish taken from the EEZ is prohibited. The prohibition on sale or purchase does not apply to the sale or purchase of golden tilefish that were harvested by hook-and-line, landed ashore, and sold prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, August 14, 2018, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor. For a person on board a vessel for which a Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery has been issued, the sale and purchase provisions of the commercial closure for golden tilefish would apply regardless of whether the fish are harvested in state or Federal waters, as specified in 50 CFR 622.190(c)(1)(ii).

    Classification

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

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

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

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

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

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: August 8, 2018. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17388 Filed 8-9-18; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 140902739-5224-02] RIN 0648-XG349 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery; 2018 Illex Squid Quota Harvested AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule; reduction of possession limit.

    SUMMARY:

    Beginning August 15, 2018, through December 31, 2018, Federal Illex squid vessel permit holders are prohibited from fishing for, catching, possessing, transferring or landing more than 10,000 lb (4,535 kg) on Illex squid per trip per calendar day. This prohibition is effective when NMFS projects that 95 percent of the 2018 annual catch limit will have been caught by the effective date. This action is intended to prevent over harvest of Illex squid for the fishing year.

    DATES:

    Effective 1200 hr local time, August 15, 2018, through December 31, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Alyson Pitts, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 281-9352.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Regulations for the Illex squid fishery are at 50 CFR part 648. The regulations at § 648.24(a)(2) require that when the Regional Administrator projects that Illex squid catch will reach 95 percent of the domestic annual harvest (DAH) quota, NMFS must prohibit Federal Illex squid vessel permit holders from directed fishing. Vessels may not catch, possess, transfer, or land more than 10,000 lb (4,535 kg) of Illex squid per trip, or land more than 10,000 lb (4,535 kg) per calendar day. The Regional Administrator monitors the Illex squid fishery catch annually based on dealer reports, state data, and other available information. When 95 percent of the DAH has been reached, NMFS must provide at least 72 hours of notice to the public that it made this determination. NMFS must also publish the date that the catch is projected to reach 95 percent of the quota, and the date when prohibitions on catch and landings for the remainder of the fishing year become effective.

    The Regional Administrator has determined, based on dealer reports and other available information, that the Illex squid fleet will catch 95 percent of the total Illex squid DAH quota for the 2018 season through December 31, 2018, by August 15, 2018. Therefore, effective 1200 hr local time, August 15, 2018, federally permitted vessels may not fish for, catch, possess, transfer, or land more than 10,000 lb (4,535 kg) of Illex squid more than once per calendar day. Vessels that have entered port before 1200 hr on August 15, 2018, may offload and sell more than 10,000 lb (4,535 kg) of Illex squid from that trip. Also, federally permitted dealers may not receive Illex squid from federally permitted Illex squid vessels that harvest more than 10,000 lb (4,535 kg) of Illex squid through 2400 hr, December 31, 2018, unless it is from a trip landed by a vessel that entered port before 1200 hr on August 15, 2018.

    Classification

    This action is required by 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    NMFS finds good cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) and 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment and the delayed effectiveness because it would be contrary to the public interest and impracticable. Data and other information indicating the Illex squid fleet will have landed at least 95 percent of the 2018 DAH quota have only recently become available. Landings data are updated on a weekly basis, and NMFS monitors catch data on a daily basis as catch increases toward the limit. Further, high-volume catch and landings in this fishery increases total catch relative to the quota quickly. The regulations at § 648.24(a)(2) require such action to ensure that Illex squid vessels do not exceed the 2018 DAH quota. If implementation of this action is delayed, the quota for the 2018 fishing year may be exceeded, thereby undermining the conservation objectives of the FMP. Also, the public had prior notice and full opportunity to comment on this process when these provisions were put in place.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: August 9, 2018. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17409 Filed 8-10-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    83 157 Tuesday, August 14, 2018 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2018-0708; Product Identifier 2018-NM-072-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain The Boeing Company Model 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, -900, and -900ER series airplanes. This proposed AD was prompted by reports of cracks in the skin and a certain chord at three fastener locations common to the drag link assembly at the chord. This proposed AD would require repetitive inspections of the skin under the drag link assembly for any cracks, and applicable on-condition actions. We are proposing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by September 28, 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 Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Contractual & Data Services (C&DS), 2600 Westminster Blvd., MC 110-SK57, Seal Beach, CA 90740-5600; telephone 562-797-1717; internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Standards Branch, 2200 South 216th St., Des Moines, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 206-231-3195. It is also available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2018-0708.

    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-2018-0708; 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 NPRM, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Alan Pohl, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Section, FAA, Seattle ACO Branch, 2200 South 216th St., Des Moines, WA 98198; phone and fax: 206-231-3527; email: [email protected].

    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-2018-0708; Product Identifier 2018-NM-072-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this NPRM. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this NPRM because of 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 have received reports of cracks in the skin and the station (STA) 540 bulkhead chord at the three fastener locations common to the drag link assembly at the STA 540 bulkhead chord. The cracks were found during the accomplishment of AD 2017-02-10, Amendment 39-18789 (82 FR 10258, February 10, 2017). The crack findings indicate that fatigue stresses in this area may be higher than predicted, and current maintenance inspections do not provide adequate opportunity for cracks to be detected. Cracking in the STA 540 bulkhead chord or skin can potentially result in the inability of a primary structural element to sustain limit load. This condition, if not addressed, could result in possible rapid decompression and loss of structural integrity of the airplane.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We reviewed Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1368, dated February 27, 2018. This service information describes procedures for an ultrasonic inspection of the skin under the drag link assembly and repair for any cracks; repetitive inspections for any cracks, including ultrasonic inspections, high frequency eddy current (HFEC) inspections, low frequency eddy current (LFEC) inspections, and detailed inspections; and a preventive modification if no crack is found. 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

    We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all the relevant information and determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design.

    Proposed AD Requirements

    This proposed AD would require accomplishment of the actions identified as “RC” (required for compliance) in the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1368, dated February 27, 2018, described previously, except for any differences identified as exceptions in the regulatory text of this proposed AD.

    For information on the procedures and compliance times, see this service information at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2018-0708.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 1,664 airplanes of U.S. registry. We estimate the following costs to comply with this proposed AD:

    Estimated Costs for Required Actions Action Labor cost Parts cost Cost per product Cost on U.S. operators Inspection 28 work-hours × $85 per hour = $2,380 per inspection cycle $0 $2,380 per inspection cycle $3,960,320 per inspection cycle.

    We estimate the following costs to do any necessary on-condition actions that would be required. We have no way of determining the number of aircraft that might need these on-condition actions:

    Estimated Costs of On-Condition Actions Labor cost Parts cost Cost per product Up to 56 work-hours × $85 per hour = $4,760 $24,020 Up to $28,780. 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 proposed 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 adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): The Boeing Company: Docket No. FAA-2018-0708; Product Identifier 2018-NM-072-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by September 27, 2018.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to The Boeing Company Model 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, -900, and -900ER series airplanes, certificated in any category, as identified in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1368, dated February 27, 2018 (“ASB 737-53A1368”).

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 53, Fuselage.

    (e) Unsafe Condition

    This AD was prompted by reports of cracks in the skin and the station (STA) 540 bulkhead chord at the 3 fastener locations common to the drag link assembly at the STA 540 bulkhead chord. We are issuing this AD to address cracking in the STA 540 bulkhead chord or skin, which could result in the inability of a primary structural element to sustain limit load. This condition, if not addressed, could result in possible rapid decompression and loss of structural integrity of the airplane.

    (f) Compliance

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

    (g) Required Actions

    Except as required by paragraphs (h)(1) and (h)(2) of this AD: At the applicable times specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of ASB 737-53A1368, do all applicable actions identified as “RC” (required for compliance) in, and in accordance with, the Accomplishment Instructions of ASB 737-53A1368.

    (h) Exceptions to Service Information Specifications

    (1) For purposes of determining compliance with the requirements of this AD: Where ASB 737-53A1368 uses the phrase “the original issue date of this service bulletin,” this AD requires using “the effective date of this AD.”

    (2) Where ASB 737-53A1368 specifies contacting Boeing: This AD requires repair before further flight using a method approved in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (j) of this AD.

    (i) Optional Terminating Action for Repetitive Inspections

    (1) Accomplishment of the repair in accordance with PART 4 of the Accomplishment Instructions of ASB 737-53A1368 terminates the repetitive inspections specified in PART 2 of ASB 737-53A1368 on the side of the airplane on which the repair was done, as required by paragraph (g) of this AD.

    (2) Accomplishment of the preventive modification in accordance with PART 5 of the Accomplishment Instructions of ASB 737-53A1368 terminates the repetitive inspections specified in PART 2 or PART 6, as applicable, of ASB 737-53A1368 on the side of the airplane on which the preventive modification was done, as required by paragraph (g) of this AD.

    (j) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, Seattle 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 certification office, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (k)(1) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: [email protected].

    (2) 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.

    (3) An AMOC that provides an acceptable level of safety may be used for any repair, modification, or alteration required by this AD if it is approved by the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) that has been authorized by the Manager, Seattle ACO Branch, to make those findings. To be approved, the repair method, modification deviation, or alteration deviation must meet the certification basis of the airplane, and the approval must specifically refer to this AD.

    (4) Except as required by paragraph (h) of this AD: For service information that contains steps that are labeled as RC, the provisions of paragraphs (j)(4)(i) and (j)(4)(ii) of this AD apply.

    (i) The steps labeled as RC, including substeps under an RC step and any figures identified in an RC step, must be done to comply with the AD. If a step or substep is labeled “RC Exempt,” then the RC requirement is removed from that step or substep. An AMOC is required for any deviations to RC steps, including substeps and identified figures.

    (ii) Steps not labeled as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an AMOC, provided the RC steps, including substeps and identified figures, can still be done as specified, and the airplane can be put back in an airworthy condition.

    (k) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Alan Pohl, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Section, FAA, Seattle ACO Branch, 2200 South 216th St., Des Moines, WA 98198; phone and fax: 206-231-3527; email: [email protected].

    (2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Contractual & Data Services (C&DS), 2600 Westminster Blvd., MC 110-SK57, Seal Beach, CA 90740-5600; telephone 562-797-1717; internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Standards Branch, 2200 South 216th St., Des Moines, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 206-231-3195.

    Issued in Des Moines, Washington, on August 5, 2018. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Director, System Oversight Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17323 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2018-0538; Product Identifier 2012-NE-47-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Rolls-Royce plc Turbofan Engines AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to supersede Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2017-03-02, which applies to certain Rolls-Royce plc (RR) RB211 Trent 768-60, 772-60, and 772B-60 turbofan engines. AD 2017-03-02 requires initial and repetitive ultrasonic inspections (UIs) of the affected low-pressure (LP) compressor blades. Since we issued AD 2017-03-02, RR issued revised service information to reduce the inspection threshold for UIs of the affected blades. This proposed AD would retain the UIs in AD 2017-03-02 while reducing the inspection threshold. We are proposing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by September 28, 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 Rolls-Royce plc, P.O. Box 31, Derby, England, DE24 8BJ; phone: 011-44-1332-242424; fax: 011-44-1332-249936, or email: http://www.rolls-royce.com/contact/civil_team.jsp. You may view this service information at the FAA, Engine and Propeller Standards Branch, 1200 District Avenue, Burlington, MA 01803. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7759.

    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-2018-0538; 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 NPRM, the mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI), the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The address for Docket Operations (phone: 800-647-5527) is listed above. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Kevin M. Clark, Aerospace Engineer, ECO Branch, FAA, 1200 District Avenue, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7088; fax: 781-238-7199; 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-2018-0538; Product Identifier 2012-NE-47-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this NPRM. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this NPRM because of 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 2017-03-02, Amendment 39-18793 (82 FR 10701, February 15, 2017), (“AD 2017-03-02”), for certain RR RB211 Trent 768-60, 772-60, and 772B-60 turbofan engines with LP compressor blade, part number (P/N) FK23411, FK25441, FK25968, FW11901, FW15393, FW23643, FW23741, FW23744, KH23403, or KH23404, installed. AD 2017-03-02 requires the UIs of the affected LP compressor blades. AD 2017-03-02 resulted from revised service information to reduce the inspection threshold of the UI for the LP compressor blades. We issued AD 2017-03-02 to correct the unsafe condition on these products.

    Actions Since AD 2017-03-02 Was Issued

    Since we issued AD 2017-03-02, further analysis determined that the initial and repetitive inspection threshold described in Revision 3 of Rolls-Royce Alert Non-Modification Service Bulletin (NMSB) RB.211-72-AH465 must be further reduced from 2,400 cycles to 1,200 cycles. Therefore, RR issued Revision 4 of Alert NMSB RB.211-72-AH465, dated October 3, 2017. Also, since we issued AD 2017-03-02, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued AD 2017-0241, dated December 6, 2017, which requires ultrasonic inspection of each affected LP compressor blade within the compliance time specified in Section 1.D. of RR Alert NMSB RB.211-72-AH465.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We reviewed Rolls-Royce Alert NMSB RB.211-72-AH465, Revision 4, dated October 3, 2017. The Alert NMSB describes procedures for performing initial and repetitive UI of the LP compressor blades. 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 also reviewed the following service information: RR NMSB RB.211-72-G702, dated May 23, 2011; RR NMSB RB.211-72-G872, Revision 2, dated March 8, 2013, or earlier revisions; RR NMSB RB.211-72-H311, dated March 8, 2013; RR Engine Manual E-Trent-1RR, Task 72-31-11-200-806; or Airbus A330 Aircraft Maintenance Manual (AMM), Tasks 72-31-41-270-801 or 72-31-41-270-802. These service documents describe the inspection procedures for the UI of the Trent 700 LP compressor blades.

    FAA's Determination

    We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all the relevant information and determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design.

    Proposed AD Requirements

    This proposed AD would retain all requirements of AD 2017-03-02. This proposed AD would reduce the inspection threshold for UI of the LP compressor blades from 2,400 cycles to 1,200 cycles. This proposed AD would also require accomplishing the actions specified in the service information described previously.

    Differences Between the Proposed AD and the MCAI or Service Information

    The compliance time of this proposed AD differs from EASA AD 2017-0241 in that, for blades with 2,400 cycles since new or cycles since last inspection on the effective date of this AD, this AD requires inspection within 30 days after the effective date of this AD. EASA AD 2017-0241 specifies that all blades must be inspected before accumulating 2,400 cycles.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 56 engines installed on airplanes of U.S. registry.

    We estimate the following costs to comply with this proposed AD:

    Estimated Costs Action Labor cost Parts cost Cost per
  • product
  • Cost on U.S.
  • operators
  • Inspection 44 work-hours × $85 per hour = $3,740 $0 $3,740 $209,440

    This proposed AD provides updated labor cost for completing the UI of the LP compressor blades as a correction to AD 2017-03-02.

    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 engines, propellers, and associated appliances to the Manager, Engine and Propeller Standards Branch, Policy and Innovation Division.

    Regulatory Findings

    We have 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 that the 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) 2017-03-02, Amendment 39-18793 (82 FR 10701, February 15, 2017), and adding the following new AD: Rolls-Royce plc: Docket No. FAA-2018-0538; Product Identifier 2012-NE-47-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    The FAA must receive comments on this AD action by September 28, 2018.

    (b) Affected ADs

    This AD replaces AD 2017-03-02, Amendment 39-18793 (82 FR 10701, February 15, 2017).

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to Rolls-Royce plc (RR) RB211 Trent 768-60, 772-60, and 772B-60 turbofan engines with low-pressure (LP) compressor blade, part number (P/N) FK23411, FK25441, FK25968, FW11901, FW15393, FW23643, FW23741, FW23744, KH23403, or KH23404, installed.

    (d) Subject

    Joint Aircraft System Component (JASC) Code 7230, Turbine Engine Compressor Section.

    (e) Unsafe Condition

    This AD was prompted by LP compressor blade partial airfoil release events that occurred in-service on RR Trent 700 engines. While released sections were contained in each case, projection of secondary debris and effects could present a potential hazard. We are issuing this AD to prevent LP compressor blade airfoil separation. The unsafe condition, if not addressed, could result in damage to the engine and damage to the airplane.

    (f) Compliance

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

    (g) Required Actions

    (1) After the effective date of this AD, perform an ultrasonic inspection (UI) of each LP compressor blade within the compliance time specified in Figure 1 to paragraph (g) of this AD, and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 1,200 cycles since last inspection (CSLI).

    (2) Use the Accomplishment Instructions, paragraph 3, excluding subparagraphs 3.C.(2)(b), 3.D.(2), and 3.G.(1), of RR Alert Non-Modification Service Bulletin (NMSB) RB.211-72-AH465, Revision 4, dated October 3, 2017, to perform the inspections required by this AD.

    EP14AU18.001

    (3) If an LP compressor blade fails the inspection required by this AD, replace the blade with a part eligible for installation, prior to return to service.

    (h) Parts Installation

    After the effective date of this AD, LP compressor blade, P/N FK23411, FK25441, FK25968, FW11901, FW15393, FW23643, FW23741, FW23744, KH23403, or KH23404, is eligible for installation if the LP compressor blade has not exceeded 1,200 CSN or CSLI.

    (i) Credit for Previous Actions

    You may take credit for the UIs required by paragraph (g) of this AD, if you performed the UIs before the effective date of this AD using the following service information: RR NMSB RB.211-72-AH465, Revision 3, dated April 27, 2017, or earlier revisions; RR NMSB RB.211-72-G702, dated May 23, 2011; RR NMSB RB.211-72-G872, Revision 2, dated March 8, 2013, or earlier revisions; RR NMSB RB.211-72-H311, dated March 8, 2013; RR Engine Manual E-Trent-1RR, Task 72-31-11-200-806; or Airbus A330 Aircraft Maintenance Manual (AMM), Tasks 72-31-41-270-801 or 72-31-41-270-802.

    (j) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, ECO 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 certification office, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (k)(1) of this AD. You may email your request to: [email protected].

    (2) 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.

    (k) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Kevin M. Clark, Aerospace Engineer, ECO Branch, FAA, 1200 District Avenue, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7088; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected].

    (2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Rolls-Royce plc, P.O. Box 31, Derby, England, DE24 8BJ; phone: 011-44-1332-242424; fax: 011-44-1332-249936, or email: http://www.rolls-royce.com/contact/civil_team.jsp. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Engine and Propeller Standards Branch, 1200 District Avenue, Burlington, MA 01803. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7759.

    Issued in Burlington, Massachusetts, on August 9, 2018. Robert J. Ganley, Manager, Engine and Propeller Standards Branch, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17405 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 110 [Docket Number USCG-2017-0181] RIN 1625-AA01 Anchorage Grounds; Baltimore Harbor, Baltimore, MD AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard proposes to amend its Baltimore Harbor anchorage grounds regulation. The proposed changes would reduce the size of three general anchorages, establish one new general anchorage, rename two existing general anchorages, and change the duration a vessel may remain within an anchorage for two existing general anchorages. This proposed rule would ensure that Coast Guard regulations are consistent with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District Port of Baltimore Anchorages and Channels civil works project that widened the channel, and provide a higher degree of safety to persons, property and the environment by accurately depicting the anchorage locations. The proposed changes to the regulated uses of the anchorages would support current and future port activity related to the safety of post-Panamax commercial cargo vessels, and would remove vessel security provisions that currently exist in these Baltimore Harbor regulations. We invite your comments on this proposed rulemaking.

    DATES:

    Comments and related material must be received by the Coast Guard on or before November 13, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-2017-0181 using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. See the “Public Participation and Request for Comments” portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for further instructions on submitting comments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

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

    Anchorage regulation duties and powers were transferred to the Coast Guard in 1967 (32 FR 17726, Dec. 12, 1967). On December 12, 1968, the Fifth Coast Guard District published a final rule in the Federal Register (33 FR 18438) establishing an anchorage area in Baltimore Harbor, Maryland. The anchorage grounds at Baltimore, Maryland are described in 33 CFR 110.158. These anchorage grounds are involved in a federal navigation project under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District. Section 101a(22) of the Water Resources Development Act of 1999 (Pub. L. 106-53, 113 Stat 269 (1999)) authorized widening of the Dundalk and Seagirt Marine Terminal channels. Widening of the Seagirt Marine Terminal channel occurred in 2015. This dredging widened the limits of existing navigation channels which are used to access key Maryland Port Administration marine terminals located immediately adjacent to the Baltimore Harbor, Maryland anchorage grounds, and put the existing anchorage grounds in the way of the newly expanded navigation channels. To addresses these changes, Sector Maryland-National Capital Region, Baltimore, Maryland, worked in coordination with the Port of Baltimore Harbor Safety and Coordination Committee to develop proposed revisions to the affected anchorage boundaries and associated regulations.

    The purpose of this rulemaking is to reduce navigational safety risk and support port efficiency in Baltimore Harbor. This proposed rule would designate a new general anchorage ground developed from an existing anchorage ground that is located outside of the established navigation channel in order to align with the existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District Port of Baltimore Anchorages and Channels civil works project. The Baltimore Harbor anchorage grounds are typically used by deep draft commercial cargo vessels. In order to maximize the availability and use of these important anchorages, this proposed rule would also change the duration for which vessels may remain in these anchorages. This proposed rule would reduce the duration a vessel may remain within Anchorage No. 3 Lower (proposed to be changed to Anchorage No. 3A) and Anchorage No. 4, from 72 hours to 24 hours. Lastly, due to similar provisions within the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) (Pub. L. 107-295) and federal regulations (33 CFR part 104, and 46 CFR chapter 1, subchapters N and O), the vessel security requirements in § 110.158(d) are now redundant and would be removed as part of this proposed rule.

    The legal basis for this rule is: 33 U.S.C. 471, 1221 through 1236, 2071; 33 CFR 1.05-1; and Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1, which collectively authorize the Coast Guard to define anchorage grounds.

    III. Discussion of Proposed Rule

    The Coast Guard proposes to amend the Baltimore Harbor, Maryland anchorage grounds as described in 33 CFR 110.158. The general anchorages currently listed in the regulation that would be affected by this proposed rule are Anchorage No. 2, Anchorage No. 3 Upper, Anchorage No. 3 Lower, Anchorage No. 4, Anchorage No. 5 and Anchorage No. 6.

    This proposed rule would reduce the sizes of Anchorage No. 2, Anchorage No. 3 Lower, and Anchorage No. 4. These reductions would remove the portions of the anchorage grounds that are in the navigable channel. The area of Anchorage No. 2 would be reduced by approximately 16,330 square yards along its northern limit and approximately 326,770 square yards along its eastern limit. The area of Anchorage No. 3 Lower would be reduced at its eastern limit by 12,560 square yards. The area of Anchorage No. 4 would be reduced at its western limit by 6,000 square yards.

    This proposed rule would rename Anchorage No. 3 Lower to Anchorage No. 3A, and rename Anchorage No. 3 Upper to Anchorage No. 3B. This proposed rule would revise Anchorage No. 2 and would create an area called Anchorage No. 3C out of existing anchorage ground from Anchorage No. 2. An area within Anchorage No. 2 that is approximately 500 yards in length and 165 yards in width, and adjacent to Anchorage No. 3 Upper, would become Anchorage No. 3C. This reconfiguration does not provide new space available for anchorage, would not restrict traffic, and is located outside of the established navigation channel. A graphic depicting these changes is included in the docket.

    This proposed rule would reduce the duration a vessel may remain within Anchorage No. 3 Lower (proposed to be changed to Anchorage No. 3A) and Anchorage No. 4, from 72 hours to 24 hours. These changes are based on recommendations documented by the Port of Baltimore Harbor Safety and Coordination Committee on September 8, 2010, and the Association of Maryland Pilots. The Port of Baltimore Harbor Safety and Coordination Committee's recommendation is available in the docket. The Coast Guard agrees that the Committee's recommendation addresses the problem of ensuring maximum availability and use of these anchorages. This proposed rule would establish that a vessel may remain within Anchorage No. 3C for no more than 72 hours without permission from the Captain of the Port, to remain consistent with the regulations for Anchorage No. 2.

    This rulemaking rule would renumber several paragraphs listed in 33 CFR 110.158, from (a)(3) Anchorage No. 3, Upper, general anchorage, through (a)(8) Anchorage No. 7, Dead ship anchorage. All anchorage ground descriptions would be updated to state they are in the waters of the Patapsco River, except for Anchorage No. 7, Dead ship anchorage, which would be updated to state it is in the waters of Curtis Bay. Designation of the new Anchorage No. 3C would create a new paragraph, (a)(9) for Anchorage No. 7, Dead ship anchorage. This rulemaking would modify paragraph (c)(3) of the general regulations to remove the reference to a vessel becoming “a menace” because we do not define that term and we don't believe it is needed given other factors already included in that paragraph. We also propose to change the defined term “dangerous cargo” to “certain dangerous cargo” without changing the definition, continuing to incorporate the definition of certain dangerous cargo from 33 CFR 160.202, and aligning terminology used in this proposed rule with that used throughout the rest of 33 CFR 110.158. This rulemaking would remove paragraphs (c)(4) regarding revocable permits for habitual use of an anchorage, and paragraph (d) in their entirety for reasons stated earlier.

    The regulatory text we are proposing appears at the end of this document.

    IV. Regulatory Analyses

    We developed this proposed rule after considering numerous statutes and executive orders related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses based on a number of these statutes and E.O.s.

    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 NPRM has not been designated a “significant regulatory action,” under Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, the NPRM 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.

    The Coast Guard has determined this proposed rule is not a significant regulatory action because it would not interfere with existing maritime activity in Baltimore Harbor. Moreover, the proposed changes would reduce navigational safety risk in Baltimore Harbor by: (1) Aligning existing general anchorage boundaries with recent dredging projects that widened the limits of adjacent navigational channels, (2) reducing the duration a vessel may remain within an anchorage to increase availability and usage, and (3) renaming and reconfiguring general anchorages that support a proper naming and numbering convention within the existing anchorage regulation. The reconfiguration of the additional general anchorage does not provide additional anchorage area and would not restrict traffic, as it is developed from an existing anchorage and is located outside of the established navigation channel. As discussed in section III above, this proposed rule would replace the “dangerous cargo” definition with one for “certain dangerous cargo” and remove vessel security provisions that are redundant to other federal regulations.

    B. Impact on Small Entities

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

    For the reasons stated in paragraph IV.A above, this proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    If you think that your business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction qualifies as a small entity and that this rule would have a significant economic impact on it, please submit a comment (see ADDRESSES) explaining why you think it qualifies and how and to what degree this rule would economically affect it.

    Under section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-121), we want to assist small entities in understanding this proposed rule. If the proposed rule would affect your small business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction and you have questions concerning its provisions or options for compliance, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. The Coast Guard will not retaliate against small entities that question or complain about this proposed rule or any policy or action of the Coast Guard.

    C. Collection of Information

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

    D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Governments

    A rule has implications for federalism under Executive Order 13132, Federalism, if it has a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. We have analyzed this proposed 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 proposed rule does not have tribal implications under Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, because it would not have a substantial direct effect on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian tribes. If you believe this proposed rule has implications for federalism or Indian tribes, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above.

    E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    F. Environment

    We have analyzed this proposed rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have made a preliminary determination that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This proposed rule involves the modification of existing anchorages within the Baltimore Harbor, Maryland anchorage grounds. Normally such actions are categorically excluded from further review under paragraph L59(a) and (b) of Appendix A, Table 1 of DHS Instruction Manual 023-01-001, Rev. 01. A preliminary Record of Environmental Consideration supporting this determination is available in the docket where indicated in the ADDRESSES section of this preamble. We seek any comments or information that may lead to the discovery of a significant environmental impact from this proposed rule.

    V. Public Participation and Request for Comments

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

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

    We accept anonymous comments. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov and will include any personal information you have provided. For more about privacy and the docket, visit http://www.regulations.gov/privacyNotice.

    Documents mentioned in this NPRM as being available in the docket, and all public comments, will be in our online docket at http://www.regulations.gov and can be viewed by following that website's instructions. Additionally, if you go to the online docket and sign up for email alerts, you will be notified when comments are posted or a final rule is published.

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 110

    Anchorage Grounds.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard proposes to amend 33 CFR part 110 as follows:

    PART 110—ANCHORAGE REGULATIONS 1. The authority citation for part 110 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 471, 1221 through 1236, 2071; 33 CFR 1.05-1; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

    2. Revise § 110.158 to read as follows:
    § 110.158 Baltimore Harbor, MD.

    (a) Anchorage Grounds—(1) No. 1, general anchorage. (i) All waters of the Patapsco River, bounded by a line connecting the following points:

    Latitude Longitude 39°15′13.51″ N 76°34′07.76″ W 39°15′11.01″ N 76°34′11.69″ W 39°14′52.98″ N 76°33′52.67″ W 39°14′47.90″ N 76°33′40.73″ W These coordinates are based on North American Datum 83 (NAD 83).

    (ii) No vessel shall remain in this anchorage for more than 12 hours without permission from the Captain of the Port.

    (2) Anchorage No. 2, general anchorage. (i) All waters of the Patapsco River, bounded by a line connecting the following points:

    Latitude Longitude 39°14′50.06″ N 76°33′29.86″ W 39°14′57.53″ N 76°33′37.74″ W 39°15′08.56″ N 76°33′37.66″ W 39°15′15.77″ N 76°33′28.81″ W 39°15′18.87″ N 76°33′12.82″ W 39°15′17.71″ N 76°33′09.09″ W 39°14′50.35″ N 76°32′40.43″ W 39°14′45.28″ N 76°32′48.68″ W 39°14′46.27″ N 76°32′49.69″ W 39°14′43.76″ N 76°32′53.63″ W 39°14′57.51″ N 76°33′08.14″ W 39°14′55.60″ N 76°33′11.14″ W 39°14′59.42″ N 76°33′15.17″ W These coordinates are based on NAD 83.

    (ii) No vessel shall remain in this anchorage for more than 72 hours without permission from the Captain of the Port.

    (3) Anchorage No. 3A, general anchorage. (i) All waters of the Patapsco River, bounded by a line connecting the following points:

    Latitude Longitude 39°14′15.66″ N 76°32′53.59″ W 39°14′32.48″ N 76°33′11.31″ W 39°14′46.27″ N 76°32′49.69″ W 39°14′32.50″ N 76°32′35.18″ W 39°14′22.37″ N 76°32′43.07″ W These coordinates are based on NAD 83.

    (ii) No vessel shall remain in this anchorage for more than 24 hours without permission from the Captain of the Port.

    (4) Anchorage No. 3B, general anchorage. (i) All waters of the Patapsco River, bounded by a line connecting the following points:

    Latitude Longitude 39°14′32.48″ N 76°33′11.31″ W 39°14′46.23″ N 76°33′25.83″ W 39°14′57.51″ N 76°33′08.14″ W 39°14′43.76″ N 76°32′53.63″ W These coordinates are based on NAD 83.

    (ii) No vessel shall remain in this anchorage for more than 24 hours without permission from the Captain of the Port.

    (5) Anchorage No. 3C, general anchorage. (i) All waters of the Patapsco River, bounded by a line connecting the following points:

    Latitude Longitude 39°14′46.23″ N 76°33′25.83″ W 39°14′50.06″ N 76°33′29.86″ W 39°14′59.42″ N 76°33′15.17″ W 39°14′55.60″ N 76°33′11.14″ W These coordinates are based on NAD 83.

    (ii) No vessel shall remain in this anchorage for more than 72 hours without permission from the Captain of the Port.

    (6) Anchorage No. 4, general anchorage. (i) All waters of the Patapsco River, bounded by a line connecting the following points:

    Latitude Longitude 39°13′52.92″ N 76°32′29.60″ W 39°14′04.38″ N 76°32′41.69″ W 39°14′09.35″ N 76°32′39.89″ W 39°14′17.96″ N 76°32′26.44″ W 39°14′05.32″ N 76°32′13.09″ W 39°14′00.05″ N 76°32′17.77″ W These coordinates are based on NAD 83.

    (ii) No vessel shall remain in this anchorage for more than 24 hours without permission from the Captain of the Port.

    (7) Anchorage No. 5, general anchorage. (i) All waters of the Patapsco River, bounded by a line connecting the following points:

    Latitude Longitude 39°14′07.89″ N 76°32′58.23″ W 39°13′34.82″ N 76°32′23.66″ W 39°13′22.25″ N 76°32′28.90″ W 39°13′21.20″ N 76°33′11.94″ W These coordinates are based on NAD 83.

    (ii) No vessel shall remain in this anchorage for more than 72 hours without permission from the Captain of the Port.

    (8) Anchorage No. 6, general anchorage. (i) All waters of the Patapsco River, bounded by a line connecting the following points:

    Latitude Longitude 39°13′42.98″ N 76°32′19.11″ W 39°13′20.65″ N 76°31′55.58″ W 39°13′34.00″ N 76°31′33.50″ W 39°14′01.95″ N 76°32′02.65″ W 39°13′51.01″ N 76°32′18.71″ W These coordinates are based on NAD 83.

    (ii) No vessel shall remain in this anchorage for more than 72 hours without permission from the Captain of the Port.

    (9) Anchorage No. 7, Dead ship anchorage. (i) All waters of Curtis Bay, bounded by a line connecting the following points:

    Latitude Longitude 39°13′00.40″ N 76°34′10.40″ W 39°13′13.40″ N 76°34′10.81″ W 39°13′13.96″ N 76°34′05.02″ W 39°13′14.83″ N 76°33′29.80″ W 39°13′00.40″ N 76°33′29.90″ W These coordinates are based on NAD 83.

    (ii) The primary use of this anchorage is to lay up dead ships. Such use has priority over other uses. Permission from the Captain of the Port must be obtained prior to the use of this anchorage for more than 72 hours.

    (b) Definitions. As used in this section—

    Certain dangerous cargo means certain dangerous cargo as defined in § 160.202 of this chapter.

    COTP means Captain of the Port Sector Maryland—National Capital Region.

    (c) General regulations. (1) Except as otherwise provided, this section applies to vessels over 20 meters long and all vessels carrying or handling certain dangerous cargo while anchored in an anchorage ground described in this section.

    (2) Except in cases where unforeseen circumstances create conditions of imminent peril, or with the permission of the Captain of the Port, no vessel shall be anchored in Baltimore Harbor or the Patapsco River outside of the anchorage areas established in this section for more than 24 hours. No vessel shall anchor within a tunnel, cable or pipeline area shown on a government chart. No vessel shall be moored, anchored, or tied up to any pier, wharf, or other vessel in such manner as to extend into established channel limits. No vessel shall be positioned so as to obstruct or endanger the passage of any other vessel.

    (3) Except in an emergency, a vessel that is likely to sink or otherwise become an obstruction to navigation or the anchoring of other vessels may not occupy an anchorage, unless the vessel obtains permission from the Captain of the Port.

    (4) Upon notification by the Captain of the Port to shift its position, a vessel at anchor must get underway and shall move to its new designated position within two hours after notification.

    (5) The Captain of the Port may prescribe specific conditions for vessels anchoring within the anchorages described in this section, including, but not limited to, the number and location of anchors, scope of chain, readiness of engineering plant and equipment, usage of tugs, and requirements for maintaining communication guards on selected radio frequencies.

    (6) No vessel at anchor or at a mooring within an anchorage may transfer oil to or from another vessel unless the vessel has given the Captain of the Port the four hours advance notice required by § 156.118 of this chapter.

    (7) No vessel shall anchor in a “dead ship” status (propulsion or control unavailable for normal operations) without prior approval of the Captain of the Port.

    Dated: August 1, 2018. Meredith L. Austin, Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Fifth Coast Guard District.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17469 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 34 CFR Parts 600 and 668 [Docket ID ED-2018-OPE-0042] RIN 1840-AD31 Program Integrity: Gainful Employment AGENCY:

    Office of Postsecondary Education, Department of Education.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking.

    SUMMARY:

    The Secretary proposes to rescind the gainful employment (GE) regulations, which added to the Student Assistance General Provisions requirements for programs that prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation. The Department plans to update the College Scorecard, or a similar web-based tool, to provide program-level outcomes for all higher education programs, at all institutions that participate in the programs authorized by title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which would improve transparency and inform student enrollment decisions through a market-based accountability system.

    DATES:

    We must receive your comments on or before September 13, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. We will not accept comments submitted by fax or by email or those submitted after the comment period. To ensure that we do not receive duplicate copies, please submit your comments only once. In addition, please include the Docket ID at the top of your comments.

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov to submit your comments electronically. Information on using Regulations.gov, including instructions for accessing agency documents, submitting comments, and viewing the docket, is available on the site under “Help.”

    Postal Mail, Commercial Delivery, or Hand Delivery: The Department strongly encourages commenters to submit their comments electronically. However, if you mail or deliver your comments about the proposed regulations, address them to Ashley Higgins, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Mail Stop 294-20, Washington, DC 20202.

    Privacy Note:

    The Department's policy is to make all comments received from members of the public available for public viewing in their entirety on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. Therefore, commenters should be careful to include in their comments only information that they wish to make publicly available.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Scott Filter, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Room 290-42, Washington, DC 20024. Telephone: (202) 453-7249. Email: [email protected].

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

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Executive Summary:

    Purpose of This Regulatory Action:

    As discussed in more detail later in this notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), the proposed regulations would rescind the GE regulations and remove them from subpart Q of the Student Assistance and General Provisions in 34 CFR part 668.

    We base our proposal to rescind the GE regulations on a number of findings, including research results that undermine the validity of using the regulations' debt-to-earnings (D/E) rates measure to determine continuing eligibility for participation in the programs authorized by title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (title IV, HEA programs). These findings were not accurately interpreted during the development of the 2014 GE regulations, were published subsequent to the promulgation of those regulations, or were presented by committee members at negotiated rulemaking sessions. The Department has also determined that the disclosure requirements included in the GE regulations are more burdensome than originally anticipated and that a troubling degree of inconsistency and potential error exists in job placement rates reported by GE programs that could mislead students in making an enrollment decision. Additionally, the Department has received consistent feedback from the community that the GE regulations were more burdensome than previously anticipated through the disclosure and reporting requirements that were promulgated in 2014.

    Finally, the Department has determined that in order to adequately inform student enrollment choices and create a framework that enables students, parents, and the public to hold institutions of higher education accountable, program-level outcomes data should be made available for all title IV-participating programs. The Department plans to publish these data using the College Scorecard, or its successor site, so that students and parents can compare the institutions and programs available to them and make informed enrollment and borrowing choices. However, the College Scorecard is not the subject of this regulation. For a more detailed discussion, see Significant Proposed Regulations.

    Section 410 of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) authorizes the Secretary to make, promulgate, issue, rescind, and amend rules and regulations governing the manner of operations of, and governing the applicable programs administered by, the Department (20 U.S.C. 1221e-3). Additionally, section 414 of the Department of Education Organization Act authorizes the Secretary to prescribe such rules and regulations as the Secretary determines necessary or appropriate to administer and manage the functions of the Secretary or the Department (20 U.S.C. 3474).

    Summary of the Major Provisions of This Regulatory Action: As discussed under “Purpose of This Regulatory Action,” the proposed regulations would rescind the GE regulations. Please refer to the Summary of Proposed Changes section of this NPRM for more details on the major provisions contained in this NPRM.

    Costs and Benefits: As further detailed in the Regulatory Impact Analysis, the benefits of the proposed regulations would include a reduction in burden for some institutions, costs in the form of transfers as a result of more students being able to enroll in a postsecondary program, and more educational program choices for students where they can use title IV aid.

    Invitation to Comment: We invite you to submit comments regarding these proposed regulations.

    To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in developing the final regulations, we urge you to identify clearly the specific section or sections of the proposed regulations that each of your comments addresses, and provide relevant information and data whenever possible, even when there is no specific solicitation of data and other supporting materials in the request for comment. We also urge you to arrange your comments in the same order as the proposed regulations. Please do not submit comments that are outside the scope of the specific proposals in this NPRM, as we are not required to respond to such comments.

    We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific requirements of Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 and their overall requirement of reducing regulatory burden that might result from these proposed regulations. Please let us know of any further ways we could reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits while preserving the effective and efficient administration of the Department's programs and activities.

    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public comments about the proposed regulations by accessing Regulations.gov. You may also inspect the comments in person at 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC, between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal holidays. To schedule a time to inspect comments, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking Record: On request, we will provide an appropriate accommodation or auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability who needs assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public rulemaking record for the proposed regulations. To schedule an appointment for this type of accommodation or auxiliary aid, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Background

    The Secretary proposes to amend parts 600 and 668 of title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The regulations in 34 CFR parts 600 and 668 pertain to institutional eligibility under the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), and participation in title IV, HEA programs. We propose these amendments to remove the GE regulations, including the D/E rates calculations and the sanctions and alternate earnings appeals related to those calculations for GE programs, as well as the reporting, disclosure, and certification requirements applicable to GE programs.

    The Department seeks public comment on whether the Department should amend 34 CFR 668.14 to require, as a condition of the Program Participation Agreement, that institutions disclose, on the program pages of their websites and in their college catalogues that, if applicable, the program meets the requirements for licensure in the State in which the institution is located and whether it meets the requirements in any other States for which the institution has determined whether the program enables graduates to become licensed or work in their field; net-price, completion rates, withdrawal rates, program size, and/or any other items currently required under the GE disclosure regulations. The Department also asks whether it should require institutions to provide links from each of its program pages to College Scorecard, its successor site, or any other tools managed by the Department.

    Public Participation

    On June 16, 2017, we published a notice in the Federal Register (82 FR 27640) announcing our intent to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee under section 492 of the HEA to develop proposed regulations to revise the GE regulations published by the Department on October 31, 2014 (79 FR 64889). We also announced two public hearings at which interested parties could comment on the topics suggested by the Department and propose additional topics for consideration for action by the negotiated rulemaking committee. The hearings were held on—

    July 10, 2017, in Washington, DC; and

    July 12, 2017, in Dallas, TX.

    Transcripts from the public hearings are available at https://www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/2017/index.html.

    We also invited parties unable to attend a public hearing to submit written comments on the proposed topics and to submit other topics for consideration. Written comments submitted in response to the June 16, 2017, Federal Register notice may be viewed through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov, within docket ID ED-2017-OPE-0076. Instructions for finding comments are also available on the site under “Help.”

    Negotiated Rulemaking

    Section 492 of the HEA, 20 U.S.C. 1098a, requires the Secretary to obtain public involvement in the development of proposed regulations affecting programs authorized by title IV of the HEA. After obtaining extensive input and recommendations from the public, including individuals and representatives of groups involved in the title IV, HEA programs, the Secretary in most cases must subject the proposed regulations to a negotiated rulemaking process. If negotiators reach consensus on the proposed regulations, the Department agrees to publish without alteration a defined group of regulations on which the negotiators reached consensus unless the Secretary reopens the process or provides a written explanation to the participants stating why the Secretary has decided to depart from the agreement reached during negotiations. Further information on the negotiated rulemaking process can be found at: www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/hea08/neg-reg-faq.html.

    On August 30, 2017, the Department published a notice in the Federal Register (82 FR 41197) announcing its intention to establish two negotiated rulemaking committees and a subcommittee to prepare proposed regulations governing the Federal Student Aid programs authorized under title IV of the HEA. The notice set forth a schedule for the committee meetings and requested nominations for individual negotiators to serve on the negotiating committee.

    The Department sought negotiators to represent the following groups: Two-year public institutions; four-year public institutions; accrediting agencies; business and industry; chief financial officers (CFOs) and business officers; consumer advocacy organizations; financial aid administrators; general counsels/attorneys and compliance officers; legal assistance organizations that represent students; minority-serving institutions; private, proprietary institutions with an enrollment of 450 students or less; private, proprietary institutions with an enrollment of 451 students or more; private, non-profit institutions; State higher education executive officers; State attorneys general and other appropriate State officials; students and former students; and groups representing U.S. military service members or veteran Federal student loan borrowers. The Department considered the nominations submitted by the public and chose negotiators who would represent the various constituencies.

    The negotiating committee included the following members:

    Laura Metune, California Community Colleges, and Matthew Moore (alternate), Sinclair Community College, representing two-year public institutions.

    Pamela Fowler, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and Chad Muntz (alternate), The University System of Maryland, representing four-year public institutions.

    Anthony Mirando, National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, and Mark McKenzie (alternate), Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, representing accrediting agencies.

    Roberts Jones, Education & Workforce Policy, and Jordan Matsudaira (alternate), Urban Institute and Cornell University, representing business and industry.

    Sandy Sarge, SARGE Advisors, and David Silverman (alternate), The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, representing CFOs and business officers.

    Whitney Barkley-Denney, Center for Responsible Lending, and Jennifer Diamond (alternate), Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, representing consumer advocacy organizations.

    Kelly Morrissey, Mount Wachusett Community College, and Andrew Hammontree (alternate), Francis Tuttle Technology Center, representing financial aid administrators.

    Jennifer Blum, Laureate Education, Inc., and Stephen Chema (alternate), Ritzert & Layton, PC, representing general counsels/attorneys and compliance officers.

    Johnson M. Tyler, Brooklyn Legal Services, and Kirsten Keefe (alternate), Empire Justice Center, representing legal assistance organizations that represent students.

    Thelma L. Ross, Prince George's Community College, and John K. Pierre (alternate), Southern University Law Center, representing minority-serving institutions.

    Jessica Barry, School of Advertising Art, and Neal Heller (alternate), Hollywood Institute of Beauty Careers, representing private, proprietary institutions with an enrollment of 450 students or less.

    Jeff Arthur, ECPI University, and Marc Jerome (alternate), Monroe College, representing private, proprietary institutions with an enrollment of 451 students or more.

    C. Todd Jones, Association of Independent Colleges & Universities in Ohio, and Tim Powers (alternate), National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, representing private, non-profit institutions.

    Christina Whitfield, State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, representing State higher education executive officers.

    Christopher Madaio, Office of the Attorney General of Maryland, and Ryan Fisher (alternate), Office of the Attorney General of Texas, representing State attorneys general and other appropriate State officials.

    Christopher Gannon, United States Student Association, and Ahmad Shawwal (alternate), University of Virginia, representing students and former students.

    Daniel Elkins, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, and John Kamin (alternate), The American Legion's National Veterans Employment & Education Division, representing groups representing U.S. military service members or veteran Federal student loan borrowers.

    Gregory Martin, U.S. Department of Education, representing the Department.

    The negotiated rulemaking committee met to develop proposed regulations on December 4-7, 2017, February 5-8, 2018, and March 12-15, 2018.

    At its first meeting, the negotiating committee reached agreement on its protocols and proposed agenda. The protocols provided, among other things, that the committee would operate by consensus. Consensus means that there must be no dissent by any member in order for the committee to have reached agreement. Under the protocols, if the committee reached a final consensus on all issues, the Department would use the consensus-based language in its proposed regulations. Furthermore, the Department would not alter the consensus-based language of its proposed regulations unless the Department reopened the negotiated rulemaking process or provided a written explanation to the committee members regarding why it decided to depart from that language.

    During the first meeting, the negotiating committee agreed to negotiate an agenda of eight issues related to student financial aid. These eight issues were: Scope and purpose, gainful employment metrics (later renamed debt-to-earnings metrics), debt calculations, sanctions, alternate earnings appeals, program disclosures, reporting requirements, and certification requirements. Under the protocols, a final consensus would have to include consensus on all eight issues.

    During committee meetings, the committee reviewed and discussed the Department's drafts of regulatory language and the committee members' alternative language and suggestions. At the final meeting on March 15, 2018, the committee did not reach consensus on the Department's proposed regulations. For this reason, and according to the committee's protocols, all parties who participated or were represented in the negotiated rulemaking and the organizations that they represent, in addition to all members of the public, may comment freely on the proposed regulations. For more information on the negotiated rulemaking sessions, please visit: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/2017/gainfulemployment.html.

    Data Correction

    During the third meeting of the negotiated rulemaking committee, the Department provided negotiators with a number of scatterplots in response to a request from several negotiators to compare student loan repayment rates between Pell Grant recipients and students who did not receive a Pell Grant at individual institutions. The Department incorrectly concluded that the repayment rate between Pell Grant recipients and Pell Grant non-recipients at all institutions was 1:1. While the repayment rates of Pell Grant recipients and non-recipients are correlated, there is not a 1:1 relationship between them. The Department's analysis shows the difference between the repayment rates of Pell Grant recipients and non-recipients is about 20 percentage points on average. At institutions with low repayment rates among all students, the gap between Pell Grant recipients and non-recipients is relatively higher. The gap shrinks among institutions with very high overall repayment rates; however, many of these institutions serve small proportions of Pell Grant recipients and are highly selective institutions (based on mean SAT math scores). The negotiators have been informed of the earlier error and the updated scatterplots are available on the Department's GE negotiated rulemaking website.

    Summary of Proposed Changes

    The proposed regulations would rescind the GE regulations in subpart Q of 34 CFR part 668, which establish the eligibility requirements for a program that prepares students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation, including the D/E rates measures, alternate earnings appeals, reporting and disclosure requirements, and certifications.

    Significant Proposed Regulations

    We group major issues according to subject. We discuss other substantive issues under the sections of the proposed regulations to which they pertain. Generally, we do not address proposed regulatory provisions that are technical or otherwise minor in effect.

    Origin and Purpose of the Gainful Employment Regulations

    The definition of “gainful employment” established in the 2014 regulations created a new metric that established bright-line standards for a GE program's continuing participation in title IV, HEA programs.

    The GE regulations establish a methodology for calculating mean D/E rates for programs that prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation. The GE regulations also establish a range of acceptable D/E rates programs must maintain in order to retain eligibility to participate in the title IV, HEA programs. GE programs include non-degree programs at public and non-profit institutions and all programs (including undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs) at proprietary institutions.

    Under the regulations, GE programs must have a graduate debt-to-discretionary earnings ratio of less than or equal to 20 percent or debt-to-annual earnings ratio of less than or equal to 8 percent to receive an overall passing rate. Programs with both a discretionary earnings rate greater than 30 percent (or a negative or zero denominator) and an annual earnings rate greater than 12 percent (or a zero denominator) receive an overall failing rate. Programs that fail the D/E rates measure for two out of three consecutive years lose title IV eligibility. Non-passing programs that have debt-to-discretionary income ratios greater than 20 percent and less than or equal to 30 percent or debt-to-annual income ratios greater than 8 percent and less than or equal to 12 percent are considered to be in the “zone.” Programs with a combination of zone or failing overall rates for four consecutive years lose title IV eligibility.

    The first D/E rates were published in 2017, and the Department's analysis of those rates raises concern about the validity of the metric and how it affects the opportunities for Americans to prepare for high-demand occupations in the healthcare, hospitality, and personal services industries, among others. At a time when 6 million jobs remain unfilled due to the lack of qualified workers,1 the Department is re-evaluating the wisdom of a regulatory regime that creates additional burden for, and restricts, programs designed to increase opportunities for workforce readiness. We further believe the GE regulations reinforce an inaccurate and outdated belief that career and vocational programs are less valuable to students and less valued by society, and that these programs should be held to a higher degree of accountability than traditional two- and four-year degree programs that may have less market value.

    1 U.S. Department of Labor—Bureau of Labor Statistics. (July 10, 2018). Economic News Release: Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary. Available at www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.nr0.htm.

    Research Findings That Challenge the Accuracy and Validity of the D/E Rates Measure

    In promulgating the 2011 and 2014 regulations, the Department cited as justification for the 8 percent D/E rates threshold a research paper published in 2006 by Baum and Schwartz that described the 8 percent threshold as a commonly utilized mortgage eligibility standard.2 However, the Baum & Schwartz paper makes clear that the 8 percent mortgage eligibility standard “has no particular merit or justification” when proposed as a benchmark for manageable student loan debt.3 The Department previously dismissed this statement by pointing to Baum and Schwartz's acknowledging the “widespread acceptance” of the 8 percent standard and concluding that it is “not unreasonable.” 79 FR 64889, 64919. Upon further review, we believe that the recognition by Baum and Schwartz that the 8 percent mortgage eligibility standard “has no particular merit or justification” when proposed as a benchmark for manageable student loan debt is more significant than the Department previously acknowledged and raises questions about the reasonableness of the 8 percent threshold as a critical, high-stakes test of purported program performance.

    2 Baum, S. & Schwartz, S. How Much Debt is Too Much? Defining Benchmarks for Manageable Student Debt. College Board, 2008. Available at https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED562688.pdf.

    3 Ibid.

    Research published subsequent to the promulgation of the GE regulations adds to the Department's concern about the validity of using D/E rates as to determine whether or not a program should be allowed to continue to participate in title IV programs. As noted in the 2014 proposed rule, the Department believed that an improvement of quality would be reflected in the program's D/E rates (79 FR 16444). However, the highest quality programs could fail the D/E rates measure simply because it costs more to deliver the highest quality program and as a result the debt level is higher.

    Importantly, the HEA does not limit title IV aid to those students who attend the lowest cost institution or program. On the contrary, because the primary purpose of the title IV, HEA programs is to ensure that low-income students have the same opportunities and choices in pursuing higher education as their higher-income peers, title IV aid is awarded based on the institution's actual cost of attendance, rather than a fixed tuition rate that limits low-income students to the lowest cost institutions.4

    4 Gladieux, L. Federal Student Aid Policy: A History and an Assessment. Financing Postsecondary Education: The Federal Role. October 1995. Available at https://www2.ed.gov/offices/OPE/PPI/FinPostSecEd/gladieux.html.

    Other research findings suggest that D/E rates-based eligibility creates unnecessary barriers for institutions or programs that serve larger proportions of women and minority students. Such research indicates that even with a college education, women and minorities, on average, earn less than white men who also have a college degree, and in many cases, less than white men who do not have a college degree.5

    5 Ma, J., Pender, M. & Welch, M. Education Pays 2016: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society, CollegeBoard, 2016. Fig. 2.4.

    Disagreement exists as to whether this is due to differences in career choices across subgroups, time out of the workforce for childcare responsibilities, barriers to high-paying fields that disproportionately impact certain groups, or the interest of females or minority students in pursuing careers that pay less but enable them to give back to their communities. Regardless of the cause of pay disparities, the GE regulations could significantly disadvantage institutions or programs that serve larger proportions of women and minority students and further reduce the educational options available to those students.

    It is also important to highlight the importance of place in determining which academic programs are available to students. A student may elect to enroll in a program that costs more simply because a lower-cost program is too far from home or work or does not offer a schedule that aligns with the student's work or household responsibilities. The average first-time undergraduate student attending a two-year public institution enrolls at an institution within eight miles of his or her home. The distance increases to 18 miles for the average first-time undergraduate student enrolling at a four-year public institution.6 Accordingly, we believe that while it is important for a student to know that a program could result in higher debt, it is not appropriate to eliminate the option simply because a lower-cost program exists, albeit outside of the student's reasonable travel distance. In the same way that title IV programs enable traditional students to select the more expensive option simply because of the amenities an institution offers, or its location in the country, they should similarly enable adult learners to select the more expensive program due to its convenience, its more personalized environment, or its better learning facilities. We support providing more information to students and parents that enables them to compare the outcomes achieved by graduates of the programs available to them. However, due to a number of concerns with the calculation and relevance of the debt level included in the rates we do not believe that the D/E rates measure achieves a level of accuracy that it should alone determine whether or not a program can participate in title IV programs.

    6 Hillman, N. & Weichman, T. Education Deserts: The Continued Significance of “Place” in the Twenty-First Century, American Council on Education, 2016. Available at www.acenet.edunews-room/Pages/CPRS-Viewpoints-Education-Deserts.aspx.

    While the Department denied the impact of these other factors in the 2014 GE regulations, it now recognizes a number of errors included in its prior analysis. For example, in the 2014 final rule (79 FR 64889, 65041-57), the Department stated that changes in economic outlook would not cause a program to fail the D/E rates measure or remain in the zone for four years. This conclusion was based on the finding that the average recession lasted for 11.1 months, which would not be long enough to impact a program's outcomes for the number of years required to go from “zone” to failing. However, the Great Recession lasted for well over two years, and was followed by an extended “jobless” recovery, which would have significantly impacted debt and earnings outcomes for a period of time that would have exceeded the zone period, had the GE regulations been in place during that period.7 The Great Recession had an unusually profound impact on recent college graduates, who were underemployed at an historic rate, meaning that graduates were working in jobs that prior to the Great Recession did not require a college credential.8 The Department concedes that an extended recession coupled with rampant underemployment, could have a significant impact on a program's D/E rates for a period of time that would span most or all of the zone period. Underemployment during the Great Recession was not limited to the graduates of GE programs, but included graduates of all types of institutions, including elite private institutions.9

    7www.federalreservehistory.org/essays/great_recession_of_200709.

    8 Abel, Jaison & Deitz, Richard. Underemployment in the Early Career of College Graduates Following the Great Recession, Working Paper No. 22654, National Bureau of Economic Research, September 2016. Available at www.nber.org/papers/w22654.

    9https://money.cnn.com/2011/05/17/news/economy/recession_lost_generation/index.htm.

    The GE regulations were intended to address the problem of programs that are supposed to provide training that prepares students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation, but were leaving students with unaffordable levels of loan debt compared to the average program earnings (79 FR 16426). However, the Department believes there are other tools now available to enable students with lower incomes to manage high levels of debt. While the existence of income-driven repayment plans does not address the high cost of college—and, in fact, could make it even easier for students to borrow more than they need and institutions to charge high prices—the Department's plans to increase transparency will help address these issues. Furthermore, the increased availability of these repayment plans with longer repayment timelines is inconsistent with the repayment assumptions reflected in the shorter amortization periods used for the D/E rates calculation in the GE regulations.

    In addition, a program's D/E rates can be negatively affected by the fact that it enrolls a large number of adult students who have higher Federal borrowing limits, thus higher debt levels, and may be more likely than a traditionally aged student to seek part-time work after graduation in order to balance family and work responsibilities. The Department recognizes that it is inappropriate to penalize institutions simply because the students they serve take advantage of the higher borrowing capacity Congress has made available to those borrowers. It is also inappropriate to penalize institutions because students seek part-time work rather than full-time work, or are building their own businesses, which may result in lower earnings early on. Regardless of whether students elect to work part-time or full-time, the cost to the institution of administering the program is the same, and it is the cost of administering the program that determines the cost of tuition and fees. In general, programs that serve large proportions of adult learners may have very different outcomes from those that serve large proportions of traditionally aged learners, and yet the D/E rates measure fails to take any of these important factors into account.

    Most importantly, the first set of D/E rates, published in 2016, revealed that D/E rates, and particularly earnings, vary significantly from one occupation to the next, and across geographic regions within a single occupation. The Department had not predicted such substantial differences in earnings due to geography, which may have been exacerbated by the Great Recession and the speed with which individual States reduced their unemployment rate.

    While the Department intended for D/E rates to serve as a mechanism for distinguishing between high- and low-performing programs, data discussed during the third session of the most recent negotiated rulemaking demonstrated that even a small change in student loan interest rates could shift many programs from a “passing” status to “failing,” or vice versa, even if nothing changed about the programs' content or student outcomes. The Department believes that examples such as that illustrated here should be corrected and our justifications in the 2014 GE regulation did not adequately take these nuances into account sufficiently. Table 1 shows how changes in interest rate would affect outcomes under the D/E rates measure. For example, if the interest rate is seven percent, 831 programs would fail compared to only 716 programs if the interest rate is six percent.

    10 The count of programs includes programs that had preliminary rates calculated, but were not designated with an official pass, zone, or fail status due to reaccreditation and reinstatements of eligibility during the validation process of establishing D/E rates.

    Table 1—Number and Percentage of GE 2015 Programs That Would Pass, Fail, or Fall Into the Zone Using Different Interest Rates 10 Interest rate
  • (%)
  • Number of programs Pass Zone Fail Percentage of programs Pass Zone Fail
    3 7,199 998 440 83 12 5 4 7,030 1,085 522 81 13 6 5 6,887 1,135 615 80 13 7 6 6,720 1,201 716 78 14 8 7 6,551 1,255 831 76 15 10 8 6,326 1,353 958 73 16 11 Source: Department analysis of GE 2015 rates.

    The Department agrees with a statement made by a negotiator that any metric that could render a program ineligible to participate in title IV, HEA programs simply because the economy is strong and interest rates rise is faulty. The Department believes that it is during these times of economic growth, when demand for skilled workers is greatest, that it is most critical that shorter-term career and technical programs are not unduly burdened or eliminated.

    In addition, the Department now recognizes that assigning a 10-year amortization period to graduates of certificate and associate degree programs for the purpose of calculating D/E rates creates an unacceptable and unnecessary double standard since the REPAYE plan regulations promulgated in 2015 provide a 20-year amortization period for these same graduates. The REPAYE plan acknowledges that undergraduate completers may well need to extend payments over a longer amortization period, and makes it clear that extended repayment periods are an acceptable and reasonable way to help students manage their repayment obligations. Therefore, it is not appropriate to use an amortization period of less than 20 years for any undergraduate program D/E rates calculations or of less than 25 years for any graduate program D/E rates calculations.

    Concerns About Disclosures Required Under the GE Regulations

    As the Department is proposing to rescind the GE regulations in total, the disclosures required under the current regulations also would be rescinded. Generally, we are concerned that it is not appropriate to require these types of disclosures for only one type of program when such information would be valuable for all programs and institutions that receive title IV, HEA funds. However, we cannot expand the GE regulations to include programs that are not GE programs. In that regard, as indicated above, we are interested in comments on whether the Department should require that all institutions disclose information, such as net price, program size, completion rates, and accreditation and licensing requirements, on their program web pages, or if doing so is overly burdensome for institutions.

    The Department has also discovered a variety of challenges and errors associated with the disclosures required under the GE regulations. For example, there is significant variation in methodologies used by institutions to determine and report in-field job placement rates, which could mislead students into choosing a lower performing program that simply appears to be higher performing because a less rigorous methodology was employed to calculate in-field job placement rates.

    In some cases, a program is not required to report job placement outcomes because it is not required by its accreditor or State to do so. In other cases, GE programs at public institutions in some States (such as community colleges in Colorado) define an in-field job placement for the purpose of the GE disclosure as any job that pays a wage, regardless of the field in which the graduate is working. Meanwhile, institutions accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges must consider the alignment between the job and the majority of the educational and training objectives of the program, which can be a difficult standard to meet since educational programs are designed to prepare students broadly for the various jobs that may be available to them, but jobs are frequently more narrowly defined to meet the needs of a specific employer.11

    11 ACCSC Standards of Accreditation, Appendix VII—Guidelines for Employment Classification, 2015, Available at www.accsc.org/UploadedDocuments/July%202015/Guidelines%20for%20Employment.pdf.

    The original 2011 GE regulations required NCES to “develop a placement rate methodology and the processes necessary for determining and documenting student employment.” 12 This requirement arose out of negotiator concerns about the complexity and subjectivity of the many job placement definitions used by States, institutional accreditors, programmatic accreditors and institutions themselves to evaluate outcomes. The Department convened a Technical Review Panel (TRP), but in 2013 the TRP reported that not only were job placement determinations “highly subjective” in nature, but that the TRP could not come to consensus on a single, acceptable definition of a job placement that could be used to report this outcome on GE disclosures, nor could it identify a reliable data source to enable institutions to accurately determine and report job placement outcomes.13 In light of the failure of the TRP to develop a consistent definition of a job placement, and well-known instances of intentional or accidental job placement rate misrepresentations, the Department believes it would be irresponsible to continue requiring institutions to report job placement rates. Instead, the Department believes that program-level earnings data that will be provided by the Secretary through the College Scorecard or its successor is the more accurate and reliable way to report job outcomes in a format that students can use to compare the various institutions and programs they are considering.

    12https://nces.ed.gov/npec/data/Calculating_Placement_Rates_Background_Paper.pdf.

    13https://www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/2012/ipeds-summary91013.pdf.

    The Department also believes that it underestimated the burden associated with distributing the disclosures directly to prospective students. In 2018, the Department announced that it was allowing institutions additional time to meet the requirement in § 668.412(e) to directly distribute the disclosure template to prospective students, as well as the requirement in § 668.412(d) to include the disclosure template or a link thereto in program promotional materials, pending negotiated rulemaking (82 FR 30975; 83 FR 28177). A negotiator representing financial aid officials confirmed our concerns, stating that large campuses, such as community colleges that serve tens of thousands of students and are in contact with many more prospective students, would not be able to, for example, distribute paper or electronic disclosures to all the prospective students in contact with the institution. Although in decades past, institutions may have included these materials in the packets mailed to a prospective student's home; many institutions no longer mail paper documents, and instead rely on web-based materials and electronic enrollment agreements. The Department notes that § 668.412(e) requires that disclosures be made only to a prospective student before that individual signs an enrollment agreement, completes registration, or makes a financial commitment to the institution and that the institution may provide the disclosure to the student by hand-delivering the disclosure template to the prospective student or sending the disclosure template to the primary email address used by the institution for communicating with the prospective student. However, ED recognizes that even this requirement has an associated burden, especially since institutions are required to retain documentation that each student acknowledges that they have received the disclosure. The Department believes that the best way to provide disclosures to students is through a data tool that is populated with data that comes directly from the Department, and that allows prospective students to compare all institutions through a single portal, ensuring that important consumer information is available to students while minimizing institutional burden.

    Finally, more than a few disclosures exclude outcomes because the program had fewer than 10 graduates in the award year covered by the disclosure template. Because the Department does not collect data from the disclosures through a central portal or tool, it has been unable to compare the number of completers reported on the GE disclosures posted by programs with the number reported through other survey tools. Therefore, it is difficult to know if these reports of less than 10 graduates are accurate.

    Covered Institutions and Programs

    Under its general authority to publish data related to title IV program outcomes, and in light of changes to the National Student Loan Data System related to the 150% subsidized loan rules requiring institutions to report program CIP codes, the Department believes that it is important and necessary to publish program-level student outcomes to inform consumer choice and enable researchers and policy makers to analyze program outcomes. The Department does not believe that GE data can adequately meet this goal or inform consumer choice since only a small proportion of postsecondary programs are required to report program-level outcomes data and, even among GE programs, many programs graduate fewer than 10 students per year and are not required to provide student outcome information on the GE disclosure. In addition, the Department does not believe it is appropriate to attach punitive actions to program-level outcomes published by some programs but not others. In addition, the Department believes that it is more useful to students and parents to publish actual median earnings and debt data rather than to utilize a complicated equation to calculate D/E rates that students and parents may not understand and that cannot be directly compared with the debt and earnings outcomes published by non-GE programs. For all the reasons set forth in this NPRM, the Department believes it would be unwise policy to continue using the D/E rates for reporting or eligibility purposes.

    In addition, the GE regulations targeted proprietary institutions, aiming to eliminate poor performers and “bad actors” in the sector. While bad actors do exist in the proprietary sector, the Department believes that there are good and bad actors in all sectors and that the Department, States, and accreditors have distinct roles and responsibilities in holding all bad actors accountable. Prior to 2015, when the Department started collecting program-level data for all completers, the GE regulations provided a unique opportunity for the Department to calculate program-level outcomes. Now that the Department collects program information for all completers, it can easily expand program-level outcomes reporting for all institutions. Therefore, not only does the Department believe that the D/E rates calculation is not an appropriate measure for determining title IV eligibility, the availability of program-level data for all completers makes it possible to provide median earnings and debt data for all programs, thereby providing a more accurate mechanism for providing useful information to consumers.

    Further, the Department has reviewed additional research findings, including those published by the Department in follow-up to the Beginning Postsecondary Survey of 1994, and determined that student demographics and socioeconomic status play a significant role in determining student outcomes.14 The GE regulations failed to take into account the abundance of research that links student outcomes with a variety of socioeconomic and demographic risk factors, and similarly failed to acknowledge that institutions serving an older student population will likely have higher median debt since Congress has provided higher borrowing limits for older students who are less likely than traditional students to receive financial support from parents.

    14https://nces.ed.gov/pubs/web/97578g.asp.

    Students select institutions and college majors for a wide variety of reasons, with cost and future earnings serving as only two data points within a more complex decision-making process. For the reasons cited throughout this document, the Department has reconsidered its position.

    Well-publicized incidents of non-profit institutions misrepresenting their selectivity levels, inflating the job placement rates of their law school graduates, and even awarding credit for classes that never existed demonstrate that bad acts occur among institutions regardless of their tax status.15 16 17 18

    15www.forbes.com/sites/stevecohen/2012/09/29/the-three-biggest-lies-in-college-admission/#9ed5ccc1754f.

    16www.nytimes.com/2012/02/01/education/gaming-the-college-rankings.html.

    17www.cnn.com/2014/10/22/us/unc-report-academic-fraud/index.html.

    18www.wsj.com/articles/temple-university-fires-a-dean-over-falsified-rankings-data-1531498822.

    The GE regulations underestimated the cost of delivering a program and practices within occupations that may skew reported earnings. According to Delisle and Cooper, because public institutions receive State and local taxpayer subsidies, “even if a for-profit institution and a public institution have similar overall expenditures (costs) and graduate earnings (returns on investment), the for-profit institution will be more likely to fail the GE rule, since more of its costs are reflected in student debt.” 19 Non-profit, private institutions also, in general, charge higher tuition and have students who take on additional debt, including enrolling in majors that yield societal benefits, but not wages commensurate with the cost of the institution.

    19 Delisle, J. and Cooper, P. (2017). Measuring Quality or Subsidy? How State Appropriations Rig the Federal Gainful Employment Test. Do state subsidies for public universities favor the affluent? Brookings Institute. Available at www.aei.org/publication/measuring-quality-or-subsidy-how-state-appropriations-rig-the-federal-gainful-employment-test/.

    Challenges have been brought alleging cosmetology and hospitality programs have felt a significant impact due to the GE regulations. In the case of cosmetology programs, State licensure requirements and the high costs of delivering programs that require specialized facilities and expensive consumable supplies may make these programs expensive to operate, which may be why many public institutions do not offer them. In addition, graduates of cosmetology programs generally must build up their businesses over time, even if they rent a chair or are hired to work in a busy salon.

    Finally, since a great deal of cosmetology income comes from tips, which many individuals fail to accurately report to the Internal Revenue Service, mean and median earnings figures produced by the Internal Revenue Service under-represent the true earnings of many workers in this field in a way that institutions cannot control.20 Litigation filed by the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) asserting similar claims highlighted the importance of the alternate earnings appeal to allow institutions to account for those earnings.

    20https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-releases-new-tax-gap-estimates-compliance-rates-remain-statistically-unchanged-from-previous-study.

    While the GE regulations include an alternate earnings appeals process for programs to collect data directly from graduates, the process for developing such an appeal has proven to be more difficult to navigate than the Department originally planned. The Department has reviewed earnings appeal submissions for completeness and considered response rates on a case-by-case basis since the response rate threshold requirements were set aside in the AACS litigation. Through this process, the Department has corroborated claims from institutions that the survey response requirements of the earnings appeals methodology are burdensome given that program graduates are not required to report their earnings to their institution or to the Department, and there is no mechanism in place for institutions to track students after they complete the program. The process of Departmental review of individual appeals has been time-consuming and resource-intensive, with great variations in the format and completeness of appeals packages. The contents of some of these review packages would suggest continued confusion about requirements on the part of schools that would be problematic if those earnings were still tied to any kind of eligibility threshold.

    Executive Order 13777 instructs agencies to reduce unnecessary burden on regulated entities, while at the same time emphasizing the need for greater transparency. The Department believes that its proposed rescission of the GE regulations is consistent with Executive Order 13777 because the GE regulations place tremendous burden upon certain programs and institutions, as evidenced by comments from negotiators representing institutions not currently covered by the GE regulations that extending the regulations to include their institution would impose tremendous and costly burden. As noted by various associations and institutions in response to the Department's request for public feedback on which regulations should be repealed, modified, or replaced, a large number of community colleges whose GE programs have not been in danger of failing the D/E rates measure have complained about the cost of complying with the GE regulations, which has been viewed as far out of proportion with the corresponding student benefits. For example, the American Association of Community Colleges pointed to the regulations' extensive reporting and disclosure requirements.21 Despite this additional burden to GE programs, the GE regulations provide only limited transparency since the regulations apply to a small subset of title IV-eligible programs. Instead, the Department believes that its efforts to expand the College Scorecard, which includes all programs that participate in the title IV, HEA programs, to include program-level earnings, debt, and other data, will better accomplish our goal of increasing transparency.

    21 American Association of Community College. (September 20, 2017). Comments of the American Association of Community Colleges. Docket ID: ED-2017-OS-0074. Available at https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=ED-2017-OS-0074-15336.

    The GE regulations include, among other things, a complicated formula for calculating a program's D/E rates, a set of thresholds that are used to determine whether a program's D/E rates are passing, failing, or in the zone, and a number of disclosure requirements. The D/E rates measure compares median student loan debt (including institutional, private, and Federal loan debt), as reported by institutions and the National Student Loan Data System, to the higher of mean and median earnings obtained from the Social Security Administration.

    Further, we believe that the analysis and assumptions with respect to earnings underlying the GE regulations are flawed. In 2014, upon the introduction of the GE regulations, the Department claimed that graduates of many GE programs had earnings less than those of the average high school dropout.22 The Washington Post highlighted several errors in this comparison including that the Department failed to explain that the three-year post-graduation GE earnings compared the earnings of recent graduates with the earnings of a population of high school graduates that could include those who are nearing the end of 40-year careers or who own successful long-existing businesses.23 Further comparisons to non-college graduates need to be contextualized, given that the average person who completes a registered apprenticeship earns a starting salary of more than $60,000 per year, and some college graduates who pursue careers in allied health, education, or human services—regardless of what college they attended—earn less than non-college graduates who complete an apprenticeship program.24

    22www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/obama-administration-takes-action-protect-americans-predatory-poor-performing-ca/.

    23www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2014/04/11/the-obama-administrations-claim-that-72-percent-of-for-profits-programs-have-graduates-making-less-than-high-school-dropouts/

    24 Ibid.

    The Census Bureau, in its landmark 2002 report, The Big Payoff, was careful to explain that individual earnings may differ significantly due to a variety of factors, including an individual's work history, college major, personal ambition, and lifestyle choices.25 The report also pointed out that even some individuals with graduate degrees, such as those in social work or education, may fail to earn as much as a high school graduate who works in the skilled trades. In other words, both debt and earnings outcomes depend on a number of factors other than program quality or institutional performance. There are tremendous complexities involved in comparing earnings, especially since prevailing wages differ significantly from one occupation to the next and one geographic region to the next.26 Therefore, a bright-line D/E rates measure ignores the many research findings that were either not taken into account in publishing the GE regulations or that were published since the GE regulations were promulgated, that have demonstrated over and over again that gender, socioeconomic status, race, geographic location, and many other factors affect earnings.272829 Even among the graduates of the Nation's most prestigious colleges, earnings vary considerably depending upon the graduate's gender, the field the graduate pursued, whether or not the graduate pursued full-time work, and the importance of work-life balance to the individual.30 And yet, the Department has never contended that the majors completed by the lower-earning graduates were lower performing or lower quality than those that result in the highest wages.

    25 Cheeseman Day, J. & Newburger, E. The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings, Current Population Reports, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau, 2002. Available at www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/ibrary/publications/2002/demo/p23-210.pdf.

    26nces.ed.gov/pubs2006/2006321.pdf.

    27www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Deconstructing-and-Reconstructing-the-College-Scorecard.pdf.

    28trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/education-pays-2016-full-report.pdf.

    29nces.ed.gov/pubs/web/97578g.asp.

    30 Witteveen, D. & Attewell, P. The earnings payoff from attending a selective college. Social Science Research 66 (2017) 154-169. Available at www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X16301430.

    Additional Disclosures

    The Department published in the Federal Register on November 1, 2016, regulations known as the Borrower Defenses to Repayment (BD) regulations (81 FR 75926). The effective date of the BD regulations was most recently delayed until July 1, 2019 (83 FR 6458) to allow for additional negotiated rulemaking to reconsider those regulations. Following the conclusion of the negotiated rulemaking process, on July 31, 2018, the Department published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking in which the Department proposes, among other things, to withdraw (i.e., rescind) specified provisions of the BD regulations already published but not yet effective.

    Among these BD regulations are two disclosures that were included among the topics for negotiation by the GE negotiating committee, as part of the larger discussion about the disclosure requirements in the GE regulations. One of these provisions would have required proprietary institutions to provide a warning to students if the loan repayment rate for the institution did not meet a specified bright-line standard. The other provision would have required institutions to notify students if the institution was required under other provisions of the BD regulations to provide the Department with financial protection, such as a letter of credit.

    In response to the 2016 Borrower Defense proposed regulations, the Department received many comments contending that the regulations unfairly targeted proprietary institutions (81 FR 75934). Others commented that the loan repayment rate disclosure reflected financial circumstances and not educational quality. The Department believes that these comments are in line with how the Department views GE and the reasons provided for rescinding it. As such, the Department also proposes to remove the requirement for institutions to disclose information related to student loan repayment rates. With respect to the financial protection disclosure, the Department believes that matters such as the calculation of an institution's composite score and requirements regarding letters of credit are complex and beyond the level of understanding of a typical high school graduate considering enrollment in a postsecondary education program. Therefore, a student may misjudge the meaning of such a disclosure to indicate the imminent closure of the institution, which is not necessarily the case. While in certain instances, a letter of credit may serve as an indicator of financial risk to taxpayers, there are other instances where this may not be the case. Therefore, the Department proposes to remove the requirement for institutions to disclose that they are required to post a letter of credit and the related circumstances.

    In discussion with the negotiators, those representing attorneys general, legal organizations, and student advocacy groups opposed eliminating these disclosures because they believed the disclosures would benefit students. However, the Department believes that these disclosures will not provide meaningful or clear information to students, and will increase cost and burden to institutions that would have to disclose this information.

    Although these two disclosures were discussed by the negotiated rulemaking committee convened to consider the GE regulations, because they are formally associated with the borrower defense regulations, their proposed withdrawal is addressed through the proposed regulatory text in the 2018 notice of proposed rulemaking relating to the BD regulations.

    In summary, the Department proposes to rescind the GE regulations for a number of reasons, including:

    • Research findings published subsequent to the promulgation of the regulation confirm that the D/E rates measure is inappropriate for determining an institution's continuing eligibility for title IV participation;

    • A review of GE disclosures posted by institutions over the last two years has revealed troubling inconsistencies in the way that job placement rates are determined and reported;

    • The use of a standardized disclosure template and the physical distribution of disclosures to students is more burdensome than originally predicted; and

    • GE outcomes data reveal the disparate impact that the GE regulation has on some academic programs.

    In July 2018, the Department published a notice of proposed rulemaking that more appropriately addresses concerns about institutional misrepresentation by providing direct remedies to students harmed by such misrepresentations (83 FR 37242). In addition, the Department believes that by publishing outcomes data through the College Scorecard for all title IV participating programs, it will be more difficult for institutions to misrepresent likely program outcomes, including earnings or job placement rates, which should not be determined or published until such time that a reliable data source is identified to validate such data. For the reasons cited above, the Department proposes to amend or rescind the GE regulations.

    Scope of the Proposed Regulations 1. Removal of GE Regulations

    The Department proposes to rescind the GE regulations because, among other things, they are based on a D/E metric that has proven to not be an appropriate proxy for use in determining continuing eligibility for title IV participation; they incorporate a threshold that the researchers whose work gave rise to the standard questioned the relevance of to student loan borrowing levels; and they rely on a job placement rate reporting requirement that the Department was unable to define consistently or provide a data source to ensure its reliability and accuracy and that has since been determined is unreliable and vulnerable to accidental or intentional misreporting. In addition, because the GE regulations require only a small portion of higher education programs to report outcomes, they do not adequately inform consumer choice or help borrowers compare all of their available options.

    Therefore, the Department proposes to rescind the GE regulations. Removal of the GE regulations would include removing the provisions in § 668.401 through § 668.415, including the provisions regarding the scope and purpose of those regulations (§ 668.401), the gainful employment framework (§ 668.403), calculating D/E rates, issuing and challenging those rates, and providing for a D/E rates alternate earnings appeal (§ 668.404-§ 668.406). Consequently, by removing the provisions pertaining to the D/E rates measure, the consequences of the D/E rates measure would also be removed from the regulations (§ 668.410), as well as the required certifications (§ 668.414). In addition, current sections that condition title IV eligibility on outcomes under the D/E rates measure, the methodology for calculating the D/E rates, the reporting requirements necessary to calculate D/E rates and certain other certifications and disclosures, and subpart R pertaining to program cohort default rates, a potential disclosure item, would no longer be required, and the Department proposes to remove those sections, as well (§§ 668.411-668.413; subpart R).

    2. Technical and Conforming Changes

    Proposed § 600.10(c)(1) would remove current paragraph (i) and redesignate the remaining paragraphs. Current § 600.10(c)(1)(i) establishes title IV eligibility for GE programs. The Department's proposed regulations would remove the GE regulations referenced in this paragraph, and therefore we are proposing to remove this paragraph and renumber this section. This technical correction was proposed during the negotiations because the Department proposed removing the GE regulations and moving to a disclosure-only framework. Discussion related to the removal of sanctions and the disclosure framework is summarized above, but there were no additional comments made solely on this technical change. Additionally, proposed § 600.10(c)(1)(iii) would require programs that are at least 300 clock hours but less than 600 clock hours and do not admit as regular students only persons who have completed the equivalent of an associate's degree to obtain the Secretary's approval to be eligible for title IV aid student loans. This is consistent with § 668.8(d) where programs of at least 300 clock hours are referenced and is consistent with the statute. This proposal was also made during the negotiations, but the committee did not have comments related to this aspect of the proposals.

    The Department also proposes to remove references to subpart Q in § 600.21(a)(11) as part of its proposed removal of the GE regulations. Likewise, we propose technical edits to § 668.8(d) to remove references to subpart Q. The Department also proposes to remove and reserve current § 668.6, which lists disclosure requirements for GE programs that ceased to have effect upon the effective date of the disclosure requirements under the 2014 GE regulations.

    Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13771

    Under Executive Order 12866, it must be determined whether this regulatory action is “significant” and, therefore, subject to the requirements of the Executive order and subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (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 an “economically significant” rule);

    (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.

    This proposed regulatory action is an economically significant regulatory action subject to review by OMB under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 because it would have an annual effect on the economy of over $100 million.

    Under Executive Order 13771, for each new regulation that the Department proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates that is a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866 and that imposes total costs greater than zero, it must identify two deregulatory actions. For FY 2018, any new incremental costs associated with a new regulation must be fully offset by the elimination of existing costs through deregulatory actions, unless required by law or approved in writing by the Director of the OMB. Because these proposed regulations do not impose total costs greater than zero, the requirement to offset new regulations in Executive Order 13771 would not apply.

    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 on 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 provide 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 this proposed regulatory action only on a reasoned determination that its benefits justify its costs. In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, we selected those approaches that would maximize net benefits. Based on the analysis that follows, the Department believes that these proposed regulations are consistent with the principles in Executive Order 13563.

    We also have determined that this regulatory action would not unduly interfere with State, local, and Tribal governments in the exercise of their governmental functions.

    Regulatory Impact Analysis

    In accordance with the Executive orders, the Department has assessed the potential costs and benefits, both quantitative and qualitative, of this regulatory action. This proposed regulatory action would have an annual economic benefit of approximately $209 million in reduced paperwork burden and increased transfers to Pell Grant recipients and student loan borrowers and subsequently institutions of about $518 million annually at the 7 percent discount rate, as further explained in the Analysis of Costs and Benefits section.

    A. Need for Regulatory Action

    This regulatory action is necessary to comply with Executive Order 13777, whereby the President instructed agencies to reduce unnecessary burden on regulated entities and to increase transparency. Because the GE regulations significantly burden certain programs and institutions but provide limited transparency at only a small subset of title IV-eligible programs, the Department proposes to rescind them.

    Furthermore, when developing the GE regulations, the Department, as noted in feedback received from multiple institutions, underestimated the burden on institutions associated with the use of a standardized disclosure template in publishing program outcomes and distributing notifications directly to prospective and current students. For example, the estimate did not include an assessment of burden on the government to support the development of an approved disclosure template and the distribution of the template populated with the appropriate data. The Department has determined that it would be more efficient to publish data using the College Scorecard, not only to reduce reporting burden but to enable students to more readily review the data and compare institutions.

    B. Analysis of Costs and Benefits

    These proposed regulations would affect prospective and current students; institutions with GE programs participating in the title IV, HEA programs; and the Federal government. The Department expects institutions and the Federal government would benefit as the action would remove highly burdensome reporting, administrative costs, and sanctions. The Department has also analyzed the costs of this regulatory action and has determined that it would impose no additional costs ($0). As detailed earlier, pursuant to this proposed regulatory action, the Department would remove the GE regulations and adopt no new ones.

    1. Students

    The proposed removal of the GE regulations may result in both costs and benefits to students, including the costs and benefits associated with continued enrollment in zone and failing GE programs and the benefit of reduced information collections. Students may see costs from continued enrollment in programs that may have, if the GE regulations were in effect, lost title IV eligibility and the student would have discontinued enrollment. Students may also see benefits from not having to transfer to another institution in cases where their program would have lost title IV eligibility. Burden on students will be reduced by not having to respond to schools to acknowledge receipt of disclosures.

    There are student costs and benefits associated with enrollment in a program that would have otherwise lost eligibility to participate in the title IV, HEA programs under the GE regulations; however, the actual outcome for students enrolled in failing or zone programs under the GE regulations is unknown. Under the GE regulations, if a GE program becomes ineligible to participate in the title IV, HEA programs, students would not be able to receive title IV aid to enroll in it. Because D/E rates have been calculated under the GE regulations for only one year, no programs have lost title IV, HEA eligibility. However, 2,050 programs were identified as failing programs or programs in the zone based on their 2015 GE rates and are at risk of losing eligibility under the GE regulations. In 2015-16, 329,250 students were enrolled in zone GE programs and 189,920 students were enrolled in failing programs.

    Under the proposed regulations, the Department would discontinue certain GE information collections, which is detailed further in the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 section of this preamble. Two of these information collections impact students—OMB control number 1845-0123 and OMB control number 1845-0107. By removing these collections, the proposed regulations would reduce burden on students by 2,167,129 hours annually. The burden associated with these information collections is attributed to students being required to read the warning notices and certify that they received them. Therefore, using the individual hourly rate of $16.30, the benefit due to reduced burden for students is $35,324,203 annually (2,167,129 hours per year * $16.30 per hour).

    2. Institutions

    The proposed regulations would also benefit institutions administering GE programs. These institutions would have a reduced paperwork burden and no longer be subject to a potential loss of title IV eligibility. The table below shows the distribution of institutions administering GE programs by sector.

    Table 2—Institutions With 2015 GE programs 31 Type Institutions Programs Public 865 2,493 Private 206 476 Proprietary 1,546 5,681 Total 2,617 8,650

    All 2,617 institutions with GE programs would see savings from reduced reporting requirements due to removal of the GE regulations. As discussed further in the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 section of this preamble, reduction in burden associated with removing the GE regulatory information collections for institutions is 4,758,499 hours. Institutions would benefit from these proposed changes, which would reduce their costs by $173,923,138 annually using the hourly rate of $36.55.

    Under the proposed regulations, programs that had or have D/E rates that are failing or in the zone could see benefits because they would no longer be subject to sanctions, incur the cost of appealing failing or zone D/E rates, or be at risk of losing their title IV eligibility. Specifically, 778 institutions administering 2,050 zone or failing GE programs would receive these benefits, which represents 24 percent of the 8,650 2015 GE programs. Disaggregation of these program counts and counts by institutional type are provided in the table below.

    Table 3—Institutions With 2015 GE zone or Failing Programs 32 Type Institutions Zone programs Failing programs Zone or failing programs Public 9 9 9 Private 34 68 21 89 Proprietary 735 1,165 787 1,952 Total 778 1,242 808 2,050

    Cosmetology undergraduate certificate programs are the most common type of program in the zone or failing categories. Among the 895 cosmetology undergraduate certificate programs with

    31 The count of programs includes programs that had preliminary rates calculated, but were not designated with an official pass, zone, or fail status due to reaccreditation and reinstatements of eligibility during the validation process of establishing D/E rates.

    32 The count of programs includes programs that had preliminary rates calculated, but were not designated with an official pass, zone, or fail status due to reaccreditation and reinstatements of eligibility during the validation process of establishing D/E rates.

    a 2015 GE rate, 91 failed the D/E rates measure and 270 fell into the zone. Table 4 shows the most frequent types of programs with failing or zone D/E rates. These programs and their institutions would be most significantly affected by the proposed removal of GE sanctions as they would continue to be eligible to participate in title IV, HEA programs. As indicated in the Accounting Statement, the money received by these institutions is a transfer from the taxpayers through students who choose to attend the institutions' programs. Table 4—Zone or Failing 2015 GE Programs by Frequency of Program Types 33 CIP Credential level Zone Fail Zone or Fail All programs Cosmetology/Cosmetologist, General. Undergraduate Certificate 270 91 361 895 Medical/Clinical Assistant. Associates Degree 35 56 91 119 Medical/Clinical Assistant. Undergraduate Certificate 78 12 90 424 Massage Therapy/Therapeutic Massage. Undergraduate Certificate 43 4 47 270 Business Administration and Management, General. Associates Degree 24 22 46 74 Legal Assistant/Paralegal. Associates Degree 20 25 45 58 Barbering/Barber. Undergraduate Certificate 22 16 38 96 Graphic Design. Associates Degree 16 17 33 45 Criminal Justice/Safety Studies. Associates Degree 20 11 31 41 Massage Therapy/Therapeutic Massage. Associates Degree 8 19 27 33 All other programs 706 535 1,241 6,595 Total 1,242 808 2,050 8,650 3. Federal Government

    Under the proposed regulations, the Federal government would benefit from reduced administrative burden associated with removing provisions in the GE regulations and from discontinuing information collections. The Federal government would incur annual costs to fund more Pell Grants and title IV loans, as discussed in the Net Budget Impact section.

    33 The count of programs includes programs that had preliminary rates calculated, but were not designated with an official pass, zone, or fail status due to reaccreditation and reinstatements of eligibility during the validation process of establishing D/E rates.

    Reduced administrative burden due to the proposed regulatory changes would result from removing the provisions in the GE regulations regarding sending completer lists to institutions, adjudicating completer list corrections, adjudicating challenges, and adjudicating alternate earnings appeals. Under the GE regulations, the Department expects to receive about 500 earnings appeals annually and estimates that it would take Department staff 10 hours per appeal to evaluate the information submitted. Using the hourly rate of a GS-13 Step 1 in the Washington, DC area of $46.46,34 the estimated benefit due to reduced costs from eliminating earnings appeals is $232,300 annually (500 earnings appeals * 10 hours per appeal * $46.46 per hour). Similarly, the Department sends out 31,018 program completer lists to institutions annually and estimates that it takes about 40 hours total to complete. Using the hourly rate of a GS-14 Step 1 in the Washington, DC area of $54.91,35 the estimated benefit due to reduced costs from eliminating sending completer lists is $2,196 annually (40*54.91). Institutions can correct and challenge the lists, and for the 2015 D/E rates the Department processed 90,318 completer list corrections and adjudicated 2,894 challenges. The Department estimates it took Department staff 1,420 hours total to make completer list corrections. Similarly, the Department estimates it took $1,500,000 in contractor support and 1,400 hours of Federal staff time total to adjudicate the challenges. Using the hourly rate of a GS-13 step 1 in the Washington, DC area of $46.46, the estimated benefit due to reduced costs from eliminating completer lists, corrections, and challenges is $1,631,017 ($1,500,000 contractor support + (1420 + 1400) staff hours * $46.46 per hour).

    34 Salary Table 2018-DCB effective January 2018. Available at www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/salary-tables/pdf/2018/DCB_h.pdf.

    35 Ibid.

    Finally, under the proposed regulations, the Department would rescind information collections with OMB control numbers 1845-0121, 1845-1022, and 1845-0123. This would result in a Federal government benefit due to reduced contractor costs of $23,099,946 annually. Therefore, the Department estimates an annual benefit due to reduced administrative costs under the proposed regulations of $24,965,459 ($232,300 + $2,196 + $1,631,017 + $23,099,946).

    The Department would also incur increased budget costs due to increased transfers of Pell Grants and title IV loans, as discussed further in the Net Budget Impacts section. The estimated annualized costs of increased Pell Grants and title IV loans from eliminating the GE regulations is approximately $518 to $527 million at 7 percent and 3 percent discount rates, respectively. The Department recognizes that this may be offset by student and institutional response to institutional and program level disclosures in the College Scorecard and other resources, but, as discussed in the Net Budget Impact section, the Department does not specifically quantify those impacts.

    C. Net Budget Impacts

    The Department proposes to remove the GE regulations, which include provisions for GE programs' loss of title IV, HEA program eligibility based on performance on the D/E rates measure. In estimating the impact of the GE regulations at the time they were developed and in subsequent budget estimates, the Department attributed some savings in the Pell Grant program based on the assumption that some students, including prospective students, would drop out of postsecondary education as their programs became ineligible or imminently approached ineligibility.

    This assumption has remained in the baseline estimates for the Pell Grant program, with an average of approximately 123,000 dropouts annually over the 10-year budget window from FY2019 to FY2028. By applying the estimated average Pell Grant per recipient for proprietary institutions ($3,649) for 2019 to 2028 in the PB2019 Pell Baseline, the estimated net budget impact of the GE regulations in the PB2019 Pell baseline is approximately $−4.5 billion. As was indicated in the Primary Student Response assumption in the 2014 GE final rule,36 much of this impact was expected to come from the warning that a program could lose eligibility in the next year. If we attribute all of the dropout effect to loss of eligibility, it would generate a maximum estimated Federal net budget impact of the proposed regulations of $4.5 billion in costs by removing the GE regulations from the PB2019 Pell Grant baseline.

    36 See 79 FR 211, Table 3.4: Student Response Assumptions, p. 65077, published October 31, 2014. Available at www.regulations.gov/document?D=ED-2014-OPE-0039-2390. The dropout rate increased from 5 percent for a first zone result and 15 percent for a first failure to 20 percent for the fourth zone, second failure, or ineligibility.

    The Department also estimated an impact of warnings and ineligibility in the analysis for the final 2014 GE rule, that, due to negative subsidy rates for PLUS and Unsubsidized loans at the time, offset the savings in Pell Grants by $695 million.37 The effect of the GE regulations is not specifically identified in the PB2019 baseline, but it is one of several factors reflected in declining loan volume estimates. The development of GE regulations since the first negotiated rulemaking on the subject was announced on May 26, 2009, has coincided with demographic and economic trends that significantly influence postsecondary enrollment, especially in career-oriented programs classified as GE programs under the GE regulations. Enrollment and aid awarded have both declined substantially from peak amounts in 2010 and 2011.

    37 See 79 FR 211, pp 65081-82, available at www.regulations.gov/document?D=ED-2014-OPE-0039-2390.

    As classified under the GE regulations, GE programs serve non-traditional students who may be more responsive to immediate economic trends in making postsecondary education decisions. Non-consolidated title IV loans made at proprietary institutions declined 48 percent between AY2010-11 and AY2016-17, compared to a 6 percent decline at public institutions, and a 1 percent increase at private institutions. The average annual loan volume change from AY2010-11 to AY2016-17 was −10 percent at proprietary institutions, −1 percent at public institutions, and 0.2 percent at private institutions. If we attribute all of the excess decline at proprietary institutions to the potential loss of eligibility under the GE regulations and increase estimated volume in the 2-year proprietary risk group that has the highest subsidy rate in the PB2019 baseline by the difference in the average annual change (12 percent for subsidized and unsubsidized loans and 9 percent for PLUS), then the estimated net budget impact of the removal of the ineligibility sanction in the proposed regulations on the Direct Loan program is a cost of $848 million.

    Therefore, the total estimated net budget impact from the proposed regulations is $5.3 billion cost in increased transfers from the Federal government to Pell Grant recipients and student loan borrowers and subsequently to institutions, primarily from the elimination of the ineligibility provision of the GE regulations. However, this estimate assumes that a borrower who could no longer enroll in a GE program that loses title IV eligibility would not enroll in a different program that passes the D/E rates measure, but would instead opt out of a postsecondary education experience. The long-term impact to the student and the government of the decision to pursue no postsecondary education could be significant, but cannot be estimated for the purpose of this analysis.

    This is a maximum net budget impact and could be offset by student and institutional behavior in response to disclosures in the College Scorecard and other resources. Generally, the Department does not attribute a significant budget impact to disclosure requirements absent substantial evidence that such information will change borrower or institutional behavior. The Department welcomes comments on the net budget impact analysis. Information received will be considered in development of the Net Budget Impact analysis of the final rule.

    D. Accounting Statement

    As required by OMB Circular A-4 we have prepared an accounting statement showing the classification of the expenditures associated with the provisions of the proposed regulations (see Table 5). This table provides our best estimate of the changes in annual monetized transfers as a result of the proposed regulations. The estimated reduced reporting and disclosure burden equals the −$209 million annual paperwork burden calculated in the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 section (and also appearing on page 65004 of the regulatory impact analysis accompanying the 2014 final rule). The annualization of the paperwork burden differs from the 2014 final rule as the annualization of the paperwork burden for that rule assumed the same pattern as the 2011 rule that featured multiple years of data being reported in the first year with a significant decline in burden in subsequent years.

    Table 5—Accounting Statement: Classification of Estimated Expenditures [In millions] Category Benefits Discount Rate 7% 3% Reduced reporting and disclosure burden for institutions with GE programs under the GE regulations. $209 $209 Category Costs Discount Rate 7% 3% Costs Category Transfers Discount Rate 7% 3% Increased transfers to Pell Grant recipients and student loan borrowers from elimination of ineligibility provision of GE regulations. $518 $527 Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) Certification

    The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Size Standards define proprietary institutions as small businesses if they are independently owned and operated, are not dominant in their field of operation, and have total annual revenue below $7,000,000. Nonprofit institutions are defined as small entities if they are independently owned and operated and not dominant in their field of operation. Public institutions are defined as small organizations if they are operated by a government overseeing a population below 50,000.

    The Department lacks data to identify which public and private, nonprofit institutions qualify as small based on the SBA definition. Given the data limitations and to establish a common definition across all sectors of postsecondary institutions, the Department uses its proposed data-driven definitions for “small institutions” (Full-time enrollment of 500 or less for a two-year institution or less than two-year institution and 1,000 or less for four-year institutions) in each sector (Docket ID ED-2018-OPE-0027) to certify the RFA impacts of these proposed regulations. Using this definition, there are 2,816 title IV institutions that qualify as small entities based on 2015-2016 12-month enrollment.

    When an agency issues a rulemaking proposal, the RFA requires the agency to “prepare and make available for public comment an initial regulatory flexibility analysis” which will “describe the impact of the proposed rule on small entities.” (5 U.S.C. 603(a)). Section 605 of the RFA allows an agency to certify a rule, in lieu of preparing an analysis, if the proposed rulemaking is not expected to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    The proposed regulations directly affect all institutions with GE programs participating in title IV aid. There were 2,617 institutions in the 2015 GE cohort, of which 1,357 are small entities. This represents approximately 20 percent of all title IV-participating institutions and 48 percent of all small institutions. Therefore, the Department has determined that the proposed regulations would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    Further, the Department has determined that the impact on small entities affected by the proposed regulations would not be significant. For these 1,357 institutions, the effect of the proposed regulations would be to eliminate GE paperwork burden and potential loss of title IV eligibility. We believe that the economic impacts of the proposed paperwork and title IV eligibility changes would be beneficial to small institutions. Accordingly, the Secretary hereby proposes to certify that these proposed regulations, if promulgated, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The Department invites comment from members of the public who believe there will be a significant impact on small institutions.

    Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    As part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, the Department provides the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed or continuing, or the discontinuance of, collections of information in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)). This helps ensure that: The public understands the Department's collection instructions, respondents can provide the requested data in the desired format, reporting burden (time and financial resources) is minimized, collection instruments are clearly understood, and the Department can properly assess the impact of collection requirements on respondents. Respondents also have the opportunity to comment on our burden reduction estimates.

    A Federal agency may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless OMB approves the collection under the PRA and the corresponding information collection instrument displays a currently valid OMB control number. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to comply with, or is subject to penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information if the collection instrument does not display a currently valid OMB control number.

    The proposed regulations would rescind the GE regulations. That action would eliminate the burden as assessed to the GE regulations in the following previously approved information collections.

    1845-0107—Gainful Employment Disclosure Template

    Individuals—13,953,411 respondents for a total of 1,116,272 burden hours eliminated.

    For Profit Institutions—2,526 respondents for a total of 1,798,489 burden hours eliminated.

    Private Non Profit Institutions—318 respondents for a total of 27,088 burden hours eliminated.

    Public Institutions—1,117 respondents for a total of 176,311 burden hours eliminated.

    1845-0121—Gainful Employment Program—Subpart R—Cohort Default Rates

    For Profit Institutions—1,434 respondents for a total of 5,201 burden hours eliminated.

    Private Non Profit Institutions—47 respondents for a total of 172 burden hours eliminated.

    Public Institutions—78 respondents for a total of 283 burden hours eliminated.

    1845-0122—Gainful Employment Program—Subpart Q—Appeals for Debt to Earnings Rates

    For Profit Institutions—388 respondents for a total of 23,377 burden hours eliminated.

    Private Non Profit Institutions—6 respondents for a total of 362 burden hours eliminated.

    Public Institutions—2 respondents for a total of 121 burden hours eliminated.

    1845-0123—Gainful Employment Program—Subpart Q—Regulations

    Individuals—11,793,035 respondents for a total of 1,050,857 burden hours eliminated.

    For Profit Institutions—28,018,705 respondents for a total of 2,017,100 burden hours eliminated.

    Private Non Profit Institutions—442,348 respondents for a total of 76,032 burden hours eliminated.

    Public Institutions—2,049,488 respondents for a total of 633,963 burden hours eliminated.

    The total burden hours and proposed change in burden hours associated with each OMB Control number affected by the proposed regulations follows:

    Regulatory section OMB control No. Burden hours Estimated cost $36.55/hour for institutions; $16.30/hour for individuals § 668.412 1845-0107 −3,118,160 −$91,364,240 §§ 668.504, 668.509, 668.510, 668.511, 668.512 1845-0121 −5,656 −206,727 § 668.406 1845-0122 −23,860 −872,083 §§ 668.405, 668.410, 668.411, 668.413, 668.414 1845-0123 −3,777,952 −116,804,291 Total −6,925,628 −209,247,341

    We have prepared Information Collection Requests which will be filed upon the effective date of these proposed regulations to discontinue the currently approved information collections noted above.

    Note:

    The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in OMB and the Department review all comments posted at www.regulations.gov.

    We consider your comments on discontinuing these collections of information in—

    • Evaluating the accuracy of our estimate of the burden reduction of the proposed discontinuance, including the validity of our methodology and assumptions;

    • Enhancing the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the information we collect; and

    • Minimizing the burden on those who must respond. This includes exploring the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques.

    OMB is required to make a decision concerning the collections of information contained in these proposed regulations between 30 and 60 days after publication of this document in the Federal Register. Therefore, to ensure that OMB gives your comments full consideration, it is important that OMB receives your comments on these Information Collection Requests by September 13, 2018. This does not affect the deadline for your comments to us on the proposed regulations.

    If your comments relate to the Information Collection Requests for these proposed regulations, please indicate “Information Collection Comments” on the top of your comments.

    Intergovernmental Review

    These programs are not subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79.

    Assessment of Educational Impact

    In accordance with section 411 of GEPA, 20 U.S.C. 1221e-4, the Secretary particularly requests comments on whether the proposed regulations would require transmission of information that any other agency or authority of the United States gathers or makes available.

    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an accessible format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. You may access the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations 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. (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number does not apply.)

    List of Subjects 34 CFR Part 600

    Colleges and universities, Foreign relations, Grant programs-education, Loan programs-education, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Selective Service System, Student aid, Vocational education.

    34 CFR Part 668

    Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens, Colleges and universities, Consumer protection, Grant programs-education, Loan programs-education, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Selective Service System, Student aid, Vocational education.

    Dated: August 9, 2018. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, and under the authority at 20 U.S.C. 3474 and 20 U.S.C. 1221e-3, the Secretary of Education proposes to amend parts 600 and 668 of title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

    PART 600—INSTITUTIONAL ELIGIBILITY UNDER THE HIGHER EDUCATION ACT OF 1965, AS AMENDED 1. The authority citation for part 600 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    20 U.S.C. 1001, 1002, 1003, 1088, 1091, 1094, 1099b, and 1099c, unless otherwise noted.

    2. Section 600.10 is amended by revising paragraphs (c)(1) and (2) to read as follows:
    § 600.10 Date, extent, duration, and consequence of eligibility.

    (c) * * *

    (1) An eligible institution that seeks to establish the eligibility of an educational program must—

    (i) Pursuant to a requirement regarding additional programs included in the institution's program participation agreement under 34 CFR 668.14, obtain the Secretary's approval;

    (ii) For a direct assessment program under 34 CFR 668.10, and for a comprehensive transition and postsecondary program under 34 CFR 668.232, obtain the Secretary's approval; and

    (iii) For an undergraduate program that is at least 300 clock hours but less than 600 clock hours and does not admit as regular students only persons who have completed the equivalent of an associate degree under 34 CFR 668.8(d)(3), obtain the Secretary's approval.

    (2) Except as provided under § 600.20(c), an eligible institution does not have to obtain the Secretary's approval to establish the eligibility of any program that is not described in paragraph (c)(1) of this section.

    3. Section 600.21 is amended by revising the paragraph (a)(11) introductory text to read as follows:
    § 600.21 Updating application information.

    (a) * * *

    (11) For any program that is required to provide training that prepares a student for gainful employment in a recognized occupation—

    PART 668—STUDENT ASSISTANCE GENERAL PROVISIONS 4. The authority citation for part 668 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    20 U.S.C. 1001-1003, 1070g, 1085, 1088, 1091, 1092, 1094, 1099c, and 1099c-1, unless otherwise noted.

    § 668.6 [Removed and Reserved]
    5. Remove and reserve § 668.6. 6. Section 668.8 is amended by revising paragraphs (d)(2)(iii) and (d)(3)(iii) to read as follows:
    § 668.8 Eligible program.

    (d) * * *

    (2) * * *

    (iii) Provide training that prepares a student for gainful employment in a recognized occupation; and

    (3) * * *

    (iii) Provide undergraduate training that prepares a student for gainful employment in a recognized occupation;

    Subpart Q—[Removed and Reserved] 7. Remove and reserve subpart Q, consisting of §§ 668.401 through 668.415. Subpart R—[Removed and Reserved] 8. Remove and reserve subpart R, consisting of §§ 668.500 through 668.516.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17531 Filed 8-10-18; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    POSTAL REGULATORY COMMISSION 39 CFR Part 3010 [Docket No. RM2016-6; Order No. 4751] Motions Concerning Mail Preparation Changes AGENCY:

    Postal Regulatory Commission.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rulemaking.

    SUMMARY:

    The Commission is noticing the partial rescindment of a previously proposed rule. This notice informs the public of the docket's reinstatement, invites public comment, and takes other administrative steps.

    DATES:

    Comments are due on or before September 13, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit comments electronically via the Commission's Filing Online system at http://www.prc.gov. Those who cannot submit comments electronically should contact the person identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section by telephone for advice on filing alternatives.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    David A. Trissell, General Counsel, at 202-789-6820.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Contents I. Introduction II. Background III. Description of the Proposed Rule IV. Comments Requested I. Introduction

    The Commission initiates this notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) to partially rescind the rule concerning procedures for mail preparation changes in response to the recent decision in United States Postal Serv. v. Postal Reg. Comm'n, 886 F.3d 1253 (D.C. Cir. 2018).

    II. Background

    In Docket No. R2013-10R, the Commission determined that a change to the Intelligent Mail Barcoding (IMb) requirements constituted a change in rates requiring compliance with the price cap under 39 U.S.C. 3622.1 The Postal Service appealed the Commission's determination to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (the Court). In United States Postal Serv. v. Postal Reg. Comm'n, 785 F.3d 740, 751 (D.C. Cir. 2015), the Court found that “changes in rates” under 39 U.S.C. 3622 could include changes to mail preparation requirements and were not limited to “only changes to the official posted prices of each product.” Id. However, the Court remanded the matter to the Commission so that it could articulate an intelligible standard to determine when mail preparation requirement changes constitute changes in rates subject to the price cap. Id. at 744.

    1 Docket No. R2013-10, Order on Price Adjustments for Market Dominant Products and Related Mail Classification Changes, November 21, 2013, at 5-35 (Order No. 1890).

    In response to the Court's remand, the Commission issued Order No. 3047, which set forth a standard to determine when mail preparation changes require compliance with the Commission's price cap rules.2 Under § 3010.23(d)(2), the Postal Service must make reasonable adjustments to its billing determinants to account for the effects of classification changes that result in the introduction, deletion, or redefinition of rate cells. The standard established by the Commission in Order No. 3047 provided that mail preparation changes could have rate effects when they resulted in the deletion or redefinition of rate cells as set forth by § 3010.23(d)(2). Order No. 3047 at 59. In conjunction with Order No. 3047, the Commission initiated a separate rulemaking proceeding in this docket to develop a procedural rule that would ensure the Postal Service properly accounted for the rate effects of mail preparation changes “in accordance with the Commission's standard articulated in Order No. 3047.” 3

    2 Docket No. R2013-10R, Order Resolving Issues on Remand, January 22, 2016 (Order No. 3047).

    3 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Motions Concerning Mail Preparation Changes, January 22, 2016, at 1-2 (Order No. 3048). The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Motions Concerning Mail Preparation Changes was published in the Federal Register on February 1, 2016. See 81 FR 5085 (February 1, 2016).

    While the rulemaking was pending, the Postal Service requested the Commission reconsider the standard set forth in Order No. 3047. In response, the Commission issued Order No. 3441 resolving the request for reconsideration and maintaining the standard articulated in Order No. 3047.4 The Postal Service petitioned the Court for review of the revised standard set forth in Order Nos. 3047 and 3441.5

    4 Docket No. R2013-10R, Order Resolving Motion for Reconsideration of Commission Order No. 3047, July 20, 2016 (Order No. 3441).

    5 Petition for Review, United States Postal Serv. v. Postal Reg. Comm'n, 886 F.3d 1253 (D.C. Cir. 2018).

    During the pendency of the appellate proceedings, the Commission issued Order No. 4393 in this docket, adopting a final procedural rule concerning mail preparation changes.6 The final rule institutes publication requirements for changes to mail preparation rules and requires the Postal Service to (1) affirmatively designate whether or not a change to a mail preparation requirement implicates the price cap; and (2) show by a preponderance of the evidence, if the designation is challenged, that the price cap does not apply to the change. The Postal Service also petitioned the Court for review of this final rule.7

    6 Order Adopting Final Procedural Rule for Mail Preparation Changes, January 25, 2018, at 22-23 (Order No. 4393). The Order Adopting Final Procedural Rule for Mail Preparation Changes was published in the Federal Register on March 5, 2018. See 83 FR 4585 (March 5, 2018). See also Revised Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, March 27, 2017 (Order No. 3827). The Revised Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on March 31, 2017. See 82 FR 16015 (March 31, 2017).

    7See Petition for Review, United States Postal Serv. v. Postal Reg. Comm'n, No. 18-1059 (D.C. Cir. February 26, 2018).

    Shortly after the Commission adopted the final rule in this docket, the Court issued its decision in United States Postal Serv. v. Postal Reg. Comm'n, 886 F.3d 1253 (D.C. Cir. 2018), vacating the Commission's standard in Order No. 3047. As a result of this decision, the Commission and the Postal Service filed a joint motion to remand the appeal of the final rule back to the Commission for further proceedings.8 The Commission institutes this NPR in response to the Court's order granting the motion for remand.9

    8See Unopposed Motion to Remand Case, United States Postal Serv. v. Postal Reg. Comm'n, No. 18-1059 (D.C. Cir. May 10, 2018).

    9See Order, United States Postal Serv. v. Postal Reg. Comm'n, No. 18-1059 (D.C. Cir. May 30, 2018).

    As indicated in Order No. 4393, in addition to the reporting requirement, the procedural rule set forth requirements designed to ensure compliance with the price cap based on the Commission's standard articulated in Order No. 3047. Because the substantive standard established in Order No. 3047 was vacated by the Court, the Commission proposes to rescind part of the final rule that relies upon the standard. The Commission intends to develop an appropriate standard and propose other appropriate rules implementing that standard in due course.

    III. Description of the Proposed Rule

    The proposed rule revises § 3010.23(d)(5). As described above, § 3010.23(d)(5) institutes a reporting requirement whereby the Postal Service must provide published notice of all mail preparation changes in a single source. The Postal Service began complying with the reporting requirement on March 22, 2018.10 The rule also requires the Postal Service to (1) affirmatively designate whether or not an individual mail preparation change requires compliance with § 3010.23(d)(2) in accordance with the standard set forth in Order No. 3047; and (2) demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence, in response to a challenge, that a mail preparation change does not require compliance with § 3010.23(d)(2). Both the designation and evidentiary burden parts of the rule require a substantive standard. Because that standard was vacated and a new standard has yet to be developed, the proposed rule revises paragraph (d)(5) and removes the affirmative designation requirement and evidentiary burden. The reporting requirement will remain in the rule and exists independent of any standard as it is necessary to provide standardized, transparent reporting of mail preparation changes.11

    10See Updated Notice Under Rule 3010.23(d)(5), March 22, 2018.

    11See Order No. 4393 at 8-10 (justification for the reporting requirement).

    Although the Commission is instituting a new proceeding to seek comment on an appropriate standard to determine when mail preparation changes are “changes in rates” under 39 U.S.C. 3622, the absence of an immediate standard necessitates partial rescission of the rule.

    IV. Comments Requested

    Interested persons are invited to provide written comments concerning the proposed rule. As the Commission is instituting a separate proceeding for comments on a new standard, the comments should be limited to the revised procedural rule.

    Comments are due no later than 30 days after the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. All comments and suggestions received will be available for review on the Commission's website, http://www.prc.gov.

    It is ordered:

    1. Interested persons may submit comments no later than 30 days from the date of the publication of this notice in the Federal Register.

    2. Kenneth E. Richardson will continue to serve as an officer of the Commission (Public Representative) to represent the interests of the general public in this proceeding.

    3. The Secretary shall arrange for publication of this order in the Federal Register.

    By the Commission.

    Stacy L. Ruble, Secretary.
    List of Subjects in 39 CFR Part 3010

    Administrative practice and procedure, Postal Service.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Commission proposes to amend chapter III of title 39 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

    PART 3010—REGULATION OF RATES FOR MARKET DOMINANT PRODUCTS 1. The authority citation of part 3010 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    39 U.S.C. 503; 3662.

    2. Amend § 3010.23 by revising paragraph (d)(5) to read as follows:
    § 3010.23 Calculation of percentage change in rates.

    (d) * * *

    (5) Procedures for mail preparation changes. The Postal Service shall provide published notice of all mail preparation changes in a single, publicly available source. The Postal Service shall file notice with the Commission of the single source it will use to provide published notice of all mail preparation changes.

    [FR Doc. 2018-17499 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7710-FW-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R05-OAR-2017-0700; FRL-9982-10—Region 5] Air Plan Approval; Indiana; Cross-State Air Pollution Rule AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve a state submission concerning the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) that was submitted by Indiana on November 27, 2017 as a revision to the Indiana State Implementation Plan (SIP). Under CSAPR, large electricity generating units (EGUs) in Indiana are subject to Federal Implementation Plans (FIPs) requiring the units to participate in CSAPR's Federal trading program for annual emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX), one of CSAPR's two Federal trading programs for annual emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), and one of CSAPR's two Federal trading programs for ozone season emissions of NOX. This action would approve the State's regulations requiring large Indiana EGUs to participate in new CSAPR state trading programs for annual NOX, annual SO2, and ozone season NOX emissions integrated with the CSAPR Federal trading programs, replacing the corresponding FIP requirements. EPA is proposing to approve the SIP revision because the submittal meets the requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA or Act) and EPA's regulations for approval of a CSAPR full SIP revision replacing the requirements of a CSAPR FIP. Under the CSAPR regulations, approval of the SIP revision would automatically eliminate Indiana's units' requirements under the corresponding CSAPR FIPs addressing Indiana's interstate transport (or “good neighbor”) obligations for the 1997 fine particulate matter (PM2.5) national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS), the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS, the 1997 ozone NAAQS, and the 2008 ozone NAAQS. Like the CSAPR FIP requirements that would be replaced, approval of the SIP revision would fully satisfy Indiana's good neighbor obligations for the 1997 PM2.5 NAAQS, the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS, and the 1997 ozone NAAQS and would partially satisfy Indiana's good neighbor obligation for the 2008 ozone NAAQS.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before September 13, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R05-OAR-2017-0700 at https://www.regulations.gov, or via email to [email protected]. For comments submitted at Regulations.gov, follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. For either manner of submission, EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e., on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, please contact the person identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. For the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit https://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sarah Arra, Environmental Scientist, Attainment Planning and Maintenance Section, Air Programs Branch (AR-18J), Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60604, (312) 886-9401, [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Throughout this document whenever “we,” “us,” or “our” is used, we mean EPA. This SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section is arranged as follows:

    I. Overview II. Background on CSAPR and CSAPR-Related SIP Revisions III. Conditions for Approval of CSAPR-Related SIP Revisions IV. Indiana's SIP Submittal and EPA's Analysis V. What action is EPA taking? VI. Incorporation by Reference VII. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. Overview

    EPA is proposing to approve the November 27, 2017 submittal as a revision to the Indiana SIP to include CSAPR 1 state trading programs for annual emissions of NOX and SO2 and ozone season emissions of NOX. Large EGUs in Indiana are subject to CSAPR FIPs that require the units to participate in the Federal CSAPR NOX Annual Trading Program, the Federal CSAPR SO2 Group 1 Trading Program, and the Federal CSAPR NOX Ozone Season Group 2 Trading Program. CSAPR also provides a process for the submission and approval of SIP revisions to replace the requirements of CSAPR FIPs with SIP requirements under which a state's units participate in CSAPR state trading programs that are integrated with and, with certain permissible exceptions, substantively identical to the CSAPR Federal trading programs.

    1 Federal Implementation Plans; Interstate Transport of Fine Particulate Matter and Ozone and Correction of SIP Approvals, 76 FR 48208 (August 8, 2011) (codified as amended at 40 CFR 52.38 and 52.39 and subparts AAAAA through EEEEE of 40 CFR part 97).

    The SIP revision proposed for approval would incorporate into Indiana's SIP state trading program regulations for annual NOX, annual SO2, and ozone season NOX emissions that would replace EPA's Federal trading program regulations for those emissions from Indiana units. EPA is proposing to approve the SIP revision because it meets the requirements of the CAA and EPA's regulations for approval of a CSAPR full SIP revision replacing a Federal trading program with a state trading program that is integrated with and substantively identical to the Federal trading program. Under the CSAPR regulations, approval of the SIP revision would automatically eliminate the obligations of large EGUs in Indiana to participate in CSAPR's Federal trading programs for annual NOX, annual SO2, and ozone season NOX emissions under the corresponding CSAPR FIPs. EPA proposes to find that approval of the SIP revision would fully satisfy Indiana's obligations pursuant to the “good neighbor” provisions of CAA section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) to prohibit emissions which will significantly contribute to nonattainment or interfere with maintenance of the 1997 PM2.5 NAAQS, the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS, and the 1997 ozone NAAQS in any other state and would partially satisfy Indiana's corresponding obligation with respect to the 2008 ozone NAAQS.2

    2 In a separate action, EPA has proposed to determine that the emission reductions required under the FIPs promulgated in the CSAPR Update (see the next footnote) fully address the respective states' good neighbor obligations with respect to the 2008 ozone NAAQS. 83 FR 31915 (July 10, 2018). If that separate action is finalized as proposed, approval of Indiana's SIP replacing the CSAPR Update FIP for the state's sources as proposed in this action would fully address Indiana's good neighbor obligation with respect to the 2008 ozone NAAQS.

    II. Background on CSAPR and CSAPR-Related SIP Revisions

    EPA issued CSAPR in July 2011 to address the requirements of CAA section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) concerning interstate transport of air pollution. As amended (including the 2016 CSAPR Update 3 ), CSAPR requires 27 Eastern states to limit their statewide emissions of SO2 and/or NOX in order to mitigate transported air pollution unlawfully impacting other states' ability to attain or maintain four NAAQS: The 1997 PM2.5 NAAQS, the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS, the 1997 ozone NAAQS, and the 2008 ozone NAAQS. The CSAPR emissions limitations are defined in terms of maximum statewide “budgets” for emissions of annual SO2, annual NOX, and/or ozone season NOX by each covered state's large EGUs. The CSAPR state budgets are implemented in two phases of generally increasing stringency, with the Phase 1 budgets applying to emissions in 2015 and 2016 and the Phase 2 (and CSAPR Update) budgets applying to emissions in 2017 and later years. As a mechanism for achieving compliance with the emissions limitations, CSAPR establishes five Federal emissions trading programs: A program for annual NOX emissions, two geographically separate programs for annual SO2 emissions, and two geographically separate programs for ozone-season NOX emissions. CSAPR also establishes FIP requirements applicable to the large EGUs in each covered state.4 Currently, the CSAPR FIP provisions require each state's units to participate in up to three of the five CSAPR trading programs.

    3See 81 FR 74504 (October 26, 2016). The CSAPR Update was promulgated to address interstate pollution with respect to the 2008 ozone NAAQS and to address a judicial remand of certain original CSAPR ozone season NOX budgets promulgated with respect to the 1997 ozone NAAQS. See 81 FR at 74505. The CSAPR Update established new emission reduction requirements addressing the more recent NAAQS and coordinated them with the remaining emission reduction requirements addressing the older ozone NAAQS, so that starting in 2017, CSAPR includes two geographically separate trading programs for ozone season NOX emissions covering EGUs in a total of 23 states. See 40 CFR 52.38(b)(1)-(2).

    4 States must submit good neighbor SIPs within three years (or less, if the Administrator so prescribes) after a NAAQS is promulgated. CAA section 110(a)(1) and (2). Where EPA finds that a state fails to submit a required SIP or disapproves a SIP, EPA is obligated to promulgate a FIP addressing the deficiency. CAA section 110(c).

    CSAPR includes provisions under which states may submit and EPA will approve SIP revisions to modify or replace the CSAPR FIP requirements while allowing states to continue to meet their transport-related obligations using either CSAPR's Federal emissions trading programs or state emissions trading programs integrated with the Federal programs, provided that the SIP revisions meet all relevant criteria.5 Through such a SIP revision, a state may replace EPA's default provisions for allocating emission allowances among the state's units, employing any state-selected methodology to allocate or auction the allowances, subject to timing conditions and limits on overall allowance quantities. In the case of CSAPR's Federal trading programs for ozone season NOX emissions (or an integrated state trading program), a state may also expand trading program applicability to include certain smaller EGUs.6 If a state wants to replace CSAPR FIP requirements with SIP requirements under which the state's units participate in a state trading program that is integrated with and identical to the Federal trading program even as to the allocation and applicability provisions, the state may submit a SIP revision for that purpose as well. However, no emissions budget increases or other substantive changes to the trading program provisions are allowed. A state whose units are subject to multiple CSAPR FIPs and Federal trading programs may submit SIP revisions to modify or replace either some or all of those FIP requirements.

    5See 40 CFR 52.38, 52.39. States also retain the ability to submit SIP revisions to meet their transport-related obligations using mechanisms other than the CSAPR Federal trading programs or integrated state trading programs.

    6 States covered by both the CSAPR Update and the NOX SIP Call have the additional option to expand applicability under the CSAPR NOX Ozone Season Group 2 Trading Program to include non-EGUs that would have participated in the former NOX Budget Trading Program.

    States can submit two basic forms of CSAPR-related SIP revisions effective for emissions control periods in 2017 or later years.7 Specific conditions for approval of each form of SIP revision are set forth in the CSAPR regulations, as described in section III below. Under the first alternative—an “abbreviated” SIP revision—a state may submit a SIP revision that upon approval replaces the default allowance allocation and/or applicability provisions of a CSAPR Federal trading program for the state.8 Approval of an abbreviated SIP revision leaves the corresponding CSAPR FIP and all other provisions of the relevant Federal trading program in place for the state's units.

    7 CSAPR also provides for a third, more streamlined form of SIP revision that is effective only for control periods in 2016 or 2018 (depending on the trading program) and is not relevant here. See 40 CFR 52.38(a)(3), (b)(3), (b)(7); 52.39(d), (g).

    8 40 CFR 52.38(a)(4), (b)(4), (b)(8); 52.39(e), (h).

    Under the second alternative—a “full” SIP revision—a state may submit a SIP revision that upon approval replaces a CSAPR Federal trading program for the state with a state trading program integrated with the Federal trading program, so long as the state trading program is substantively identical to the Federal trading program or does not substantively differ from the Federal trading program except as discussed above with regard to the allowance allocation and/or applicability provisions.9 For purposes of a full SIP revision, a state may either adopt state rules with complete trading program language, incorporate the Federal trading program language into its state rules by reference (with appropriate conforming changes), or employ a combination of these approaches.

    9 40 CFR 52.38(a)(5), (b)(5), (b)(9); 52.39(f), (i).

    The CSAPR regulations identify several important consequences and limitations associated with approval of a full SIP revision. First, upon EPA's approval of a full SIP revision as correcting the deficiency in the state's implementation plan that was the basis for a particular set of CSAPR FIP requirements, the obligation to participate in the corresponding CSAPR Federal trading program is automatically eliminated for units subject to the state's jurisdiction without the need for a separate EPA withdrawal action, so long as EPA's approval of the SIP is full and unconditional.10 Second, approval of a full SIP revision does not terminate the obligation to participate in the corresponding CSAPR Federal trading program for any units located in any Indian country within the borders of the state, and if and when a unit is located in Indian country within a state's borders, EPA may modify the SIP approval to exclude from the SIP, and include in the surviving CSAPR FIP instead, certain trading program provisions that apply jointly to units in the state and to units in Indian country within the state's borders.11 Finally, if at the time a full SIP revision is approved EPA has already started recording allocations of allowances for a given control period to a state's units, the Federal trading program provisions authorizing EPA to complete the process of allocating and recording allowances for that control period to those units will continue to apply, unless EPA's approval of the SIP revision provides otherwise.12

    10 40 CFR 52.38(a)(6), (b)(10)(i); 52.39(j).

    11 40 CFR 52.38(a)(5)(iv)-(v), (a)(6), (b)(5)(v)-(vi), (b)(9)(vi)-(vii), (b)(10)(i); 52.39(f)(4)-(5), (i)(4)-(5), (j).

    12 40 CFR 52.38(a)(7), (b)(11)(i); 52.39(k).

    III. Conditions for Approval of CSAPR-Related SIP Revisions

    Each CSAPR-related abbreviated or full SIP revision must meet the following general submittal conditions:

    Timeliness and completeness of SIP submittal. The SIP submittal completeness criteria in section 2.1 of appendix V to 40 CFR part 51 apply. In addition, if a state wants to replace the default allowance allocation or applicability provisions of a CSAPR Federal trading program, the complete SIP revision must be submitted to EPA by December 1 of the year before the deadlines described below for submitting allocation or auction amounts to EPA for the first control period for which the state wants to replace the default allocation and/or applicability provisions.13 This SIP submission deadline is inoperative in the case of a SIP revision that seeks only to replace a CSAPR FIP and Federal trading program with a SIP and a substantively identical state trading program integrated with the Federal trading program.

    13 40 CFR 52.38(a)(4)(ii), (a)(5)(vi), (b)(4)(iii), (b)(5)(vii), (b)(8)(iv), (b)(9)(viii); 52.39(e)(2), (f)(6), (h)(2), (i)(6).

    In addition to the general submittal conditions, a CSAPR-related abbreviated or full SIP seeking to address the allocation or auction of emission allowances must meet the following further conditions:

    Methodology covering all allowances potentially requiring allocation. For each Federal trading program addressed by a SIP revision, the SIP revision's allowance allocation or auction methodology must replace both the Federal program's default allocations to existing units 14 at 40 CFR 97.411(a), 97.511(a), 97.611(a), 97.711(a), or 97.811(a) as applicable, and the Federal trading program's provisions for allocating allowances from the new unit set-aside (NUSA) for the state at 40 CFR 97.411(b)(1) and 97.412(a), 97.511(b)(1) and 97.512(a), 97.611(b)(1) and 97.612(a), 97.711(b)(1) and 97.712(a), or 97.811(b)(1) and 97.812(a), as applicable.15 In the case of a state with Indian country within its borders, while the SIP revision may neither alter nor assume the Federal program's provisions for administering the Indian country NUSA for the state, the SIP revision must include procedures addressing the disposition of any otherwise unallocated allowances from an Indian country NUSA that may be made available for allocation by the state after EPA has carried out the Indian country NUSA allocation procedures.16

    14 In the context of the approval conditions for CSAPR-related SIP revisions, an “existing unit” is a unit for which EPA has determined default allowance allocations (which could be allocations of zero allowances) in the rulemakings establishing and amending CSAPR.

    15 40 CFR 52.38(a)(4)(i), (a)(5)(i), (b)(4)(ii), (b)(5)(ii), (b)(8)(iii), (b)(9)(iii); 52.39(e)(1), (f)(1), (h)(1), (i)(1).

    16See 40 CFR 97.412(b)(10)(ii), 97.512(b)(10)(ii), 97.612(b)(10)(ii), 97.712(b)(10)(ii), 97.812(b)(10)(ii).

    Assurance that total allocations will not exceed the state budget. For each Federal trading program addressed by a SIP revision, the total amount of allowances auctioned or allocated for each control period under the SIP revision (prior to the addition by EPA of any unallocated allowances from any Indian country NUSA for the state) generally may not exceed the state's emissions budget for the control period less the sum of the amount of any Indian country NUSA for the state for the control period and any allowances already allocated to the state's units for the control period and recorded by EPA.17 Under its SIP revision, a state is free to not allocate allowances to some or all potentially affected units, to allocate or auction allowances to entities other than potentially affected units, or to allocate or auction fewer than the maximum permissible quantity of allowances and retire the remainder. Under the CSAPR NOX Ozone Season Group 2 Trading Program only, additional allowances may be allocated if the state elects to expand applicability to non-EGUs that would have been subject to the NOX Budget Trading Program established for compliance with the NOX SIP Call.18

    17 40 CFR 52.38(a)(4)(i)(A), (a)(5)(i)(A), (b)(4)(ii)(A), (b)(5)(ii)(A), (b)(8)(iii)(A), (b)(9)(iii)(A); 52.39(e)(1)(i), (f)(1)(i), (h)(1)(i), (i)(1)(i).

    18 40 CFR 52.38(b)(8)(iii)(A), (b)(9)(iii)(A).

    Timely submission of state-determined allocations to EPA. The SIP revision must require the state to submit to EPA the amounts of any allowances allocated or auctioned to each unit for each control period (other than allowances initially set aside in the state's allocation or auction process and later allocated or auctioned to such units from the set-aside amount) by the following deadlines.19 Note that the submission deadlines differ for amounts allocated or auctioned to units considered existing units for CSAPR purposes and amounts allocated or auctioned to other units.

    19 40 CFR 52.38(a)(4)(i)(B)-(C), (a)(5)(i)(B)-(C), (b)(4)(ii)(B)-(C), (b)(5)(ii)(B)-(C), (b)(8)(iii)(B)-(C), (b)(9)(iii)(B)-(C); 52.39(e)(1)(ii)-(iii), (f)(1)(ii)-(iii), (h)(1)(ii)-(iii), (i)(1)(ii)-(iii).

    CSAPR NOX Annual, CSAPR NOX Ozone Season Group 1, CSAPR SO2 Group 1, and CSAPR SO2 Group 2 Trading Programs Units Year of the control period Deadline for submission to EPA of allocations or
  • auction results
  • Existing 2017 and 2018 June 1, 2016. 2019 and 2020 June 1, 2017. 2021 and 2022 June 1, 2018. 2023 and later years June 1 of the fourth year before the year of the control period. Other All years July 1 of the year of the control period.
    CSAPR NOX Ozone Season Group 2 Trading Program Units Year of the control period Deadline for submission to EPA of allocations or
  • auction results
  • Existing 2019 and 2020 June 1, 2018. 2021 and 2022 June 1, 2019. 2023 and 2024 June 1, 2020. 2025 and later years June 1 of the fourth year before the year of the control period. Other All years July 1 of the year of the control period.

    No changes to allocations already submitted to EPA or recorded. The SIP revision must not provide for any change to the amounts of allowances allocated or auctioned to any unit after those amounts are submitted to EPA or any change to any allowance allocation determined and recorded by EPA under the Federal trading program regulations.20

    20 40 CFR 52.38(a)(4)(i)(D), (a)(5)(i)(D), (b)(4)(ii)(D), (b)(5)(ii)(D), (b)(8)(iii)(D), (b)(9)(iii)(D); 52.39(e)(1)(iv), (f)(1)(iv), (h)(1)(iv), (i)(1)(iv).

    No other substantive changes to Federal trading program provisions. The SIP revision may not substantively change any other trading program provisions, except in the case of a SIP revision that also expands program applicability as described below.21 Any new definitions adopted in the SIP revision (in addition to the Federal trading program's definitions) may apply only for purposes of the SIP revision's allocation or auction provisions.22

    21 40 CFR 52.38(a)(4), (a)(5), (b)(4), (b)(5), (b)(8), (b)(9); 52.39(e), (f), (h), (i).

    22 40 CFR 52.38(a)(4)(i), (a)(5)(ii), (b)(4)(ii), (b)(5)(iii), (b)(8)(iii), (b)(9)(iv); 52.39(e)(1), (f)(2), (h)(1), (i)(2).

    In addition to the general submittal conditions, a CSAPR-related abbreviated or full SIP revision seeking to expand applicability under the CSAPR NOX Ozone Season Group 1 or CSAPR NOX Ozone Season Group 2 Trading Programs (or an integrated state trading program) must meet the following further conditions:

    Only electricity generating units with nameplate capacity of at least 15 MWe. The SIP revision may expand applicability only to additional fossil fuel-fired boilers or combustion turbines serving generators producing electricity for sale, and only by lowering the generator nameplate capacity threshold used to determine whether a particular boiler or combustion turbine serving a particular generator is a potentially affected unit. The nameplate capacity threshold adopted in the SIP revision may not be less than 15 MWe.23 In addition or alternatively, applicability under the CSAPR NOX Ozone Season Group 2 Trading Program may be expanded to non-EGUs that would have been subject to the NOX Budget Trading Program established for compliance with the NOX SIP Call.24

    23 40 CFR 52.38(b)(4)(i), (b)(5)(i), (b)(8)(i), (b)(9)(i).

    24 40 CFR 52.38(b)(8)(ii), (b)(9)(ii).

    No other substantive changes to Federal trading program provisions. The SIP revision may not substantively change any other trading program provisions, except in the case of a SIP revision that also addresses the allocation or auction of emission allowances as described above.25

    25 40 CFR 52.38(b)(4), (b)(5), (b)(8), (b)(9).

    In addition to the general submittal conditions and the other applicable conditions described above, a CSAPR-related full SIP revision must meet the following further conditions:

    Complete, substantively identical trading program provisions. The SIP revision must adopt complete state trading program regulations substantively identical to the complete Federal trading program regulations at 40 CFR 97.402 through 97.435, 97.502 through 97.535, 97.602 through 97.635, 97.702 through 97.735, or 97.802 through 97.835, as applicable, except as described above in the case of a SIP revision that seeks to replace the default allowance allocation and/or applicability provisions.26

    26 40 CFR 52.38(a)(5), (b)(5), (b)(9); 52.39(f), (i).

    Only non-substantive substitutions for the term “State.” The SIP revision may substitute the name of the state for the term “State” as used in the Federal trading program regulations, but only to the extent that EPA determines that the substitutions do not substantively change the trading program regulations.27

    27 40 CFR 52.38(a)(5)(iii), (b)(5)(iv), (b)(9)(v); 52.39(f)(3), (i)(3).

    Exclusion of provisions addressing units in Indian country. The SIP revision may not impose requirements on any unit in any Indian country within the state's borders and must not include the Federal trading program provisions governing allocation of allowances from any Indian country NUSA for the state.28

    28 40 CFR 52.38(a)(5)(iv), (b)(5)(v), (b)(9)(vi); 52.39(f)(4), (i)(4).

    IV. Indiana's SIP Submittal and EPA's Analysis A. Indiana's SIP Submittal

    In the CSAPR rulemaking, EPA determined that air pollution transported from EGUs in Indiana would unlawfully affect other states' ability to attain or maintain the 1997 Ozone NAAQS, the 1997 PM2.5 NAAQS, and the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS, and included Indiana in the CSAPR ozone season NOX trading program and the annual SO2 and NOX trading programs.29 In the CSAPR Update rulemaking, EPA determined that air pollution transported from EGUs in Indiana would unlawfully affect other states' ability to attain or maintain the 2008 Ozone NAAQS.30 Indiana's units meeting the CSAPR applicability criteria are consequently currently subject to CSAPR FIPs that require participation in the CSAPR NOX Annual Trading Program, the CSAPR SO2 Group 1 Trading Program, and the CSAPR NOX Ozone Season Group 2 Trading Program.31

    29 76 FR 48208, 48213 (August 8, 2011).

    30 81 FR 74504, 74506 (October 26, 2016).

    31 40 CFR 52.38(a)(2), (b)(2); 52.39(b); 52.789(a), (b); 52.790.

    Indiana's November 27, 2017 SIP submittal would incorporate into the SIP CSAPR state trading program regulations that would replace the CSAPR Federal trading program regulations with regard to Indiana units' SO2 and NOX emissions. The SIP submittal includes Indiana Rules 326 IAC 24-5, 24-6, and 24-7. In general, each of Indiana's CSAPR state trading program rules is designed to replace the corresponding Federal trading program regulations. For example, Indiana Rule 326 IAC 24-5, NOX Annual Trading Program, is designed to replace subpart AAAAA of 40 CFR part 97 (i.e., 40 CFR 97.401 through 97.435).

    With regard to form, some of the individual rules for each Indiana CSAPR state trading program are set forth as full regulatory text—notably the rules governing allocation of the state trading budgets among the state's EGUs—but most of the rules incorporate the corresponding Federal trading program section or sections by reference.

    With regard to substance, the rules for each Indiana CSAPR state trading program differ from the corresponding CSAPR Federal trading program regulations in two main ways. First, the Indiana rules omit some Federal trading program provisions not applicable to Indiana's state trading programs, including provisions setting forth the amounts of emissions budgets, NUSAs, Indian country NUSAs, and variability limits for other states and provisions relating to EPA's administration of Indian country NUSAs. Second, the Indiana rules contain provisions that replace the default allowance allocation methodology and process from the FIPs with Indiana's own state-administered process. Indiana's methodology for determining allocations to existing units generally provides for allocations based on each unit's historical heat input subject to caps based on each unit's historical maximum emissions. Indiana's methodology for allocating NUSA allowances provides for allocations to new units based on each unit's recent historical emissions followed by allocations to existing units of any allowances not allocated to new units. These methodologies are similar to the methodologies used by EPA to determine the default allocations to existing units and to annually allocate NUSA allowances under the Federal trading programs. However, while EPA's default allocations to existing units are fixed for all future control periods, Indiana's methodology calls for allocations for each successive control period to be calculated using more recent data on the units' historical heat input and maximum emissions.

    The Indiana rules adopt the Phase 2 NOX Annual, SO2 Group 1, and NOX Ozone Season Group 2 budgets found at 40 CFR 97.410(a)(4)(iv), 97.610(a)(2)(iv), and 97.810(a)(5)(i), respectively. Accordingly, EPA will evaluate the approvability of the Indiana SIP submission consistent with these budgets.

    B. EPA's Analysis of Indiana's SIP Submittal 1. Timeliness and Completeness of SIP Submittal

    Indiana is seeking to replace EPA-determined allowance allocations with state-determined allocations starting with the 2021 control periods for all three CSAPR trading programs. For the NOX Annual and SO2 Group 1 trading programs, under 40 CFR 52.38(a)(5)(i)(B) and 52.39(f)(1)(ii), the deadline for submission of state-determined allocations for the 2021 control periods is June 1, 2018, triggering a December 1, 2017 SIP submittal deadline for these programs under 40 CFR 52.38(a)(5)(vi) and 52.39(f)(6). For the NOX Ozone Season Group 2 trading program, under 40 CFR 52.38(b)(9)(iii)(B), the allocation submission deadline for the 2021 control period is June 1, 2019, triggering a December 1, 2018 SIP submittal deadline for this program under 40 CFR 52.38(b)(9)(viii). Indiana submitted its SIP revision to EPA on November 27, 2017, and EPA has determined that the submittal complies with the applicable minimum completeness criteria in section 2.1 of appendix V to 40 CFR part 51. Indiana has therefore met the requirements for timeliness and completeness of its CSAPR SIP submittal for all three programs.

    2. Methodology Covering All Allowances Potentially Requiring Allocation

    In the rules for each Indiana trading program, section 2 adopts the full amount of the state's budget under the corresponding Federal program, sections 4 and 5 contain provisions replacing the corresponding Federal program's default allocations to existing units, and sections 6 and 7 contain provisions replacing the corresponding Federal program's provisions for allocating allowances from the NUSAs. There are no Indian country NUSAs for Indiana, making it unnecessary for Indiana's rules to contain provisions addressing the disposition of otherwise unallocated allowances from an Indian country NUSA after EPA has carried out the Indiana country NUSA allocation procedures. Indiana's rules therefore meet the condition under 40 CFR 52.38(a)(5)(i), 52.38(b)(9)(iii), and 52.39(f)(1) that the state's allocation methodology must cover all allowances potentially requiring allocation by the state.

    3. Assurance That Total Allocations Will Not Exceed the State Budget

    Indiana's rules provide for allocation of total amounts of allowances equal to the emissions budgets set for Indiana for the control periods in 2017 and subsequent years under the three CSAPR trading programs. Indiana's NOX Annual trading budget is incorporated by reference in 326 IAC 24-5-2(a), Indiana's NOX Ozone Season Group 2 budget is incorporated in 326 IAC 24-6-2(a), and Indiana's SO2 Group 1 budget is incorporated by reference in 326 IAC 24-7-2(a). Because there are no Indian country NUSAs for Indiana, there is no possibility that additional allowances will be made available for allocation under the state's methodology, and EPA has not yet allocated or recorded CSAPR allowances for the control periods in 2021 or later years for Indiana units. Indiana's rules therefore meet the condition under 40 CFR 52.38(a)(5)(i)(A), 52.38(b)(9)(iii)(A), and 52.39(f)(1)(i) that, for each trading program, the total amount of allowances allocated under the SIP revision (before the addition of any otherwise unallocated allowances from an Indian country NUSA) may not exceed the state's budget for the control period less the amount of the Indian country NUSA for the state and any allowances already allocated and recorded by EPA.

    4. Timely Submission of State-Determined Allocations to EPA

    In the rules for each trading program, section 3 sets out the dates by which the state will submit state-determined allowance allocations to EPA. For existing units, by June 1, 2018, the state will submit allocations for the control periods in 2021 and 2022, and then, starting in 2019, by June 1 of every second year the state will submit allocations for the two control periods that are four and five years after the year of the submittal (for example, the submittal due by June 1, 2019 will include allocations for the 2023 and 2024 control periods). For NUSA allowances, for each control period the state will submit first-round allocations by July 1 of the year of the control period and second-round allocations by February 6 of the year after the control period. These dates match or precede the applicable deadlines for submittal of existing unit allocations in 40 CFR 52.38(a)(5)(i)(B), 52.38(b)(9)(iii)(B), and 52.39(f)(1)(ii) and the applicable deadlines for submittal of NUSA allocations in 40 CFR 52.38(a)(5)(i)(C), 52.38(b)(9)(iii)(C), and 52.39(f)(1)(iii), thereby meeting the conditions requiring allocations to be submitted before these deadlines.

    5. No Changes to Allocations Already Submitted to EPA or Recorded

    The Indiana rules do not include any provisions allowing alteration of allocations after the allocation amounts have been provided to EPA and no provisions allowing alteration of any allocations made and recorded by EPA under the Federal trading program regulations, thereby meeting the condition under 40 CFR 52.38(a)(5)(i)(D), 52.38(b)(9)(iii)(D), and 52.39(f)(1)(iv).

    6. No Other Substantive Changes to Federal Trading Program Provisions

    As discussed above, Indiana's rules generally incorporate by reference the corresponding provisions (including the definitions) of the Federal trading programs, except for the default Federal provisions addressing allowance allocations. The state has broad discretion to adopt any allowance allocation methodology, subject to limits on the total quantities of allowances allocated and the timing of submissions of allocation information to EPA. EPA believes that Indiana intends for the allocation provisions in its rules to adhere to the limits just noted, but EPA also identified several issues concerning provisions of the state rules that may not accurately reflect the state's intent in adopting the provisions, as discussed below. By letter to EPA dated June 11, 2018, the state has clarified its interpretation of these rule provisions.32 EPA has confirmed that, as clarified, the only substantive changes in Indiana's rules concern allowance allocations, and that these changes do not exceed the state's broad discretion with regard to allowance allocations.

    32 See the June 11, 2018 letter from Assistant Commissioner Keith Bauges to Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp, available in the docket.

    The first issue concerns instances where the text of two of Indiana's CSAPR rules indicates that references to the rules' allocation provisions should be substituted for certain references to the default Federal allocation provisions, but the state rule text does not accurately identify the default Federal provisions being replaced. Indiana has clarified that, in the state's NOX Ozone Season Group 2 rule at 326 IAC 24-6-1(d)(3), the state interprets the rule text as replacing a reference to the default Federal allocation provisions at “40 CFR 97.811(a)(2) and (b) and 97.812”, not “40 CFR 97.811(a)(2) and (b) 97.812” as currently written in the rule text, and that in the state's SO2 Group 1 rule at 326 IAC 24-7-1(d)(3), the state interprets the rule text as replacing the default Federal allocation provisions at “40 CFR 97.611(a)(2) and (b) and 97.612”, not “40 CFR 97.611(a)(2) and 97.611(b)” as currently written in the rule text. EPA agrees that the meaning of the rule text, as interpreted by the state, is clear from context.

    The second issue concerns an inaccurate terminology definition that appears in all three of Indiana's CSAPR rules. In the nomenclature for the equation to calculate second-round NUSA allocations at 326 IAC 24.5.7(a)(2)(B), 326 IAC 24.6.7(a)(2)(B), and 326 IAC 24.7.7(a)(2)(B), the rule text defines the term “sum” as “the total amount of allocations under this subdivision”. In context, the definition of “sum” as written cannot be correct because it is circular with the term “unit allowance” in the same equation, and if the definition were correct, the only situation in which the two sides of the equation could be equal—i.e., where the total number of allowances available for second-round NUSA allocations equals the sum of the eligible units' historical emissions less the sum of the eligible units' first-round NUSA allocations—is a situation in which the equation is not supposed to be used. In its letter, Indiana has clarified that the state interprets the term “sum” instead to mean “the sum under this subdivision”—that is, subdivision (2)—which elsewhere in subdivision (2) is further defined as the “the sum of the positive differences determined under subdivision (1)”. EPA agrees that the state's interpretation of the rule text is reasonable in context and notes that it causes the equation to allocate allowances in the same manner as EPA's default NUSA allocation methodology would allocate allowances in an analogous situation.

    The third issue also arises in all three of Indiana's CSAPR rules and concerns a potential conflict between two requirements of the state's allocation methodology. The first requirement, set forth at 326 IAC 24-5-5(d)(3) and (e)(1), 326 IAC 24-6-5(d)(3) and (e)(1), and 326 IAC 24-7-5(d)(3) and (e)(1), caps the allocation from the state's “existing unit budget” to each individual existing unit at an amount based on the unit's historical emissions. The second requirement, set forth at 326 IAC 24-5-5(e)(3), 326 IAC 24-6-5(e)(3), and 326 IAC 24-7-5(e)(3), directs the state to repeat its allocation calculations “until the entire existing unit budget is allocated.” Under Indiana's allocation methodology, unlike EPA's default allocation methodology, the set of historical emissions data used to determine the caps on individual units' allocations is periodically updated, creating the possibility that for some future control period, the sum of the individual units' applicable caps will be less than the total amount of the existing unit budget, causing a conflict between these two requirements. In the clarification letter, Indiana acknowledges the potential for the conflict of the two requirements, however did not find this to be an issue for the 2021 and 2022 allocation cycles. Indiana will watch for this issue with future allocation cycles and will revise the SIP in a timely matter if it becomes necessary. This would include the possibility of an emergency rule if the normal rule process was not expeditious enough. EPA agrees that this is a reasonable approach if this becomes an issue in future allocation cycles.

    EPA concludes that the state's allocation methodology, as clarified above, does not exceed the state's broad discretion regarding allowance allocations and that the state's rules make no other substantive changes to the Federal trading program provisions, thereby meeting the condition in 40 CFR 52.38(a)(5), 52.39(f), and 52.38(b)(9).

    7. Complete, Substantively Identical Trading Program Provisions

    As discussed above, the Indiana SIP revision adopts state budgets identical to the Phase 2 budgets for Indiana under the Federal trading programs and adopts almost all of the provisions of the Federal CSAPR NOX Annual Trading Program, CSAPR SO2 Group 1 Trading Program, and CSAPR NOX Ozone Season Group 2 Trading Program, with the exception of differences in the allocation methodology. Under the state's rules, Indiana will determine allowance allocations beginning with the 2021 control periods.

    With a few exceptions, the rules comprising Indiana's CSAPR state trading program for annual NOX emissions either incorporate by reference or adopt full-text replacements for all of the provisions of 40 CFR 97.402 through 97.435; the rules comprising Indiana's CSAPR state trading program for NOX ozone season emissions either incorporate by reference or adopt full-text replacements for all of the provisions of 40 CFR 97.802 through 97.835; and the rules comprising Indiana's CSAPR state trading program for SO2 emissions either incorporate by reference or adopt full-text replacements for all of the provisions of 40 CFR 97.602 through 97.635. The major exception, which as discussed above is a permissible substantive change, is that Indiana has adopted rule provisions for a state-administered allocation methodology replacing the default EPA-administered allocation methodology. The additional minor exceptions discussed below are likewise either permissible or required.

    The first additional exception is that the Indiana rules do not incorporate the provisions of 40 CFR 97.410(a) and (b), 97.810(a) and (b), and 97.610(a) and (b) setting forth the amounts of the Phase 1 emissions budgets, NUSAs, and variability limits for Indiana and the amounts of the Phase 1 and Phase 2 emissions budgets, NUSAs, Indian country NUSAs, and variability limits for other states. Omission of the Indiana Phase 1 emissions budget, NUSA, and variability limit amounts is appropriate because Indiana's state trading programs do not apply to emissions occurring in Phase 1 of CSAPR. Omission of the Phase 1 and Phase 2 budget, NUSA, Indian country NUSA, and variability limit amounts for other states from state trading programs in which only Indiana units participate does not undermine the completeness of Indiana's state trading programs. Indiana's rules incorporate or include full-text replacement provisions for the remaining provisions of 40 CFR 97.410, 97.810, and 97.610 that are relevant to trading programs applicable only to Indiana units during the control periods in 2021 and later years.

    The second additional exception is that the Indiana rules do not incorporate 40 CFR 97.421(a) through (d), 97.821(a) through (c), and 97.621(a) through (d) setting forth the recordation schedules for allowance allocations for control periods in years before 2021. Omission of these provisions is non-substantive because Indiana's rules apply only to allocations for control periods in 2021 and later years.

    The third additional exception is that the Indiana rules do not incorporate certain provisions of the Federal program regulations concerning EPA's administration of Indian country NUSAs. Omission of these provisions from Indiana's state trading program rules is required, as discussed below.

    None of the omissions undermines the completeness of Indiana's state trading programs, and EPA has preliminarily determined that Indiana's SIP revision makes no substantive changes to the provisions of the Federal trading program regulations. Thus, Indiana's SIP revision meets the condition under 40 CFR 52.38(a)(5), 52.38(b)(9), and 52.39(f) that the SIP revision must adopt complete state trading program regulations substantively identical to the complete Federal trading program regulations at 40 CFR 97.402 through 97.435, 97.802 through 97.835, and 97.602 through 97.635, respectively, except to the extent permitted in the case of a SIP revision that seeks to replace the default allowance allocation and/or applicability provisions.

    8. Only Non-Substantive Substitutions for the Term “State”

    Indiana's CSAPR program rules do not make any substitutions for the term ”State,” rendering moot the condition in 40 CFR 52.38(a)(5)(iii), 52.38(b)(9)(v), and 52.39(f)(3) that any such substitutions must be non-substantive.

    9. Exclusion of Provisions Addressing Units in Indian Country

    Indiana Rules 326 IAC 24-5-1(a), 326 IAC 24-6-1(a), and 326 IAC 24-7-1(a) incorporate by reference the applicability provisions of the Federal trading program rules at 40 CFR 97.404, 97.804, and 97.604, respectively. There is no Indian country (as defined for purposes of CSAPR) within Indiana's borders, so the applicability provisions of the Indiana rules necessarily do not extend to any units in Indian country. In addition, Indiana's SIP revision excludes the Federal trading program provisions related to EPA's process for allocating and recording allowances from Indian country NUSAs (i.e., 40 CFR 97.411(b)(2), 97.411(c)(5)(iii), 97.412(b), 97.421(h), and 97.421(j) for the NOX Annual program; 40 CFR 97.811(b)(2), 97.811(c)(5)(iii), 97.812(b), 97.821(h), and 97.821(j) for the NOX Ozone Season Group 2 program; and 40 CFR 97.611(b)(2), 97.611(c)(5)(iii), 97.612(b), 97.621(h), and 97.621(j) for the SO2 Group 1 program). Indiana's SIP revision therefore meets the conditions under 52.38(a)(5)(iv), 52.38(b)(9)(vi), and 52.39(f)(4) that a SIP submittal must not impose any requirement on any unit in Indian country within the borders of the State and must exclude certain provisions related to administration of Indian country NUSAs.

    V. What action is EPA taking?

    EPA is proposing to approve Indiana's November 27, 2017, submittal, incorporating Indiana CSAPR rules in 326 IAC 24-5, 24-6, and 24-7, as a revision to Indiana's SIP. These state rules establish Indiana CSAPR state trading programs for annual NOX, ozone season NOX, and annual SO2 emissions for units in the state. The Indiana CSAPR state trading programs would be integrated with the Federal CSAPR NOX Annual Trading Program, the Federal CSAPR NOX Ozone Season Group 2 Trading Program, and the Federal CSAPR SO2 Group 1 Trading Program, respectively, and would be substantively identical to the Federal trading programs except for the allowance allocation provisions. If EPA approves the SIP revision, Indiana units would generally be required to meet requirements under Indiana's CSAPR state trading programs equivalent to the requirements the units otherwise would have been required to meet under the corresponding CSAPR Federal trading programs. This proposed approval also includes the repeal of Indiana CAIR rules which have been replaced by CSAPR for applicable EGUs. The rules being repealed from the SIP are 326 IAC 24-1, 24-2, and 24-3 (except 3-1, 3-2, 3-4, and 3-11). EPA is proposing to approve the SIP revision because it meets the requirements of the CAA and EPA's regulations for approval of a CSAPR full SIP revision replacing a Federal trading program with a state trading program that is integrated with and substantively identical to the Federal trading program except for permissible differences, as discussed in section IV above.

    EPA promulgated FIPs requiring Indiana units to participate in the Federal CSAPR NOX Annual Trading Program, the Federal CSAPR SO2 Group 1 Trading Program, and the Federal CSAPR NOX Ozone Season Group 2 Trading Program in order to address Indiana's obligations under CAA section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) with respect to the 1997 PM2.5 NAAQS, the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS, the 1997 ozone NAAQS, and the 2008 ozone NAAQS in the absence of SIP provisions addressing those requirements. Approval of Indiana's SIP submittal adopting CSAPR state trading program rules for annual NOX, annual SO2, and ozone season NOX substantively identical to the corresponding CSAPR Federal trading program regulations (or differing only with respect to the allowance allocation methodology) would fully satisfy Indiana's obligation pursuant to CAA section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) to prohibit emissions which will significantly contribute to nonattainment or interfere with maintenance of the 1997 PM2.5 NAAQS, the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS, and the 1997 ozone NAAQS in any other state and partially satisfy Indiana's corresponding obligation with respect to the 2008 ozone NAAQS.33 Approval of the SIP submittal therefore would correct the same deficiency in the SIP that otherwise would be corrected by those CSAPR FIPs. Under the CSAPR regulations, upon EPA's full and unconditional approval of a SIP revision as correcting the SIP's deficiency that is the basis for a particular CSAPR FIP, the requirement to participate in the corresponding CSAPR Federal trading program is automatically eliminated for units subject to the state's jurisdiction (but not for any units located in any Indian country within the state's borders).34 Approval of Indiana's SIP submittal establishing CSAPR state trading program rules for annual NOX, annual SO2, and ozone season NOX emissions therefore would result in automatic termination of the requirements of Indiana units to participate in the Federal CSAPR NOX Annual Trading Program, the Federal CSAPR SO2 Group 1 Trading Program, and the Federal CSAPR NOX Ozone Season Group 2 Trading Program.

    33 As noted in footnote 2 above, in a separate action EPA has proposed to make a determination that, if finalized, would cause approval of this SIP revision to also fully satisfy Indiana's good neighbor obligation with respect to the 2008 ozone NAAQS.

    34 40 CFR 52.38(a)(6), (b)(10)(i), 52.39(j); see also 52.789(a)(1), 52.789(b)(2); 52.790(a).

    In the SIP submittal, IDEM also requested approval of a revision to 326 IAC 26-1-5 replacing reliance on CAIR in the state's Regional Haze program with reliance on CSAPR. EPA will act on this request in a separate rulemaking.

    VI. Incorporation by Reference

    In this document, 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, EPA is proposing to incorporate by reference Indiana rules 326 IAC 24-5, 326 IAC 24-6, and 326 IAC 24-7, effective November 24, 2017. EPA has made, and will continue to make, these materials generally available through www.regulations.gov and at the EPA Region 5 office (please contact the person identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this preamble for more information).

    VII. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In addition, the SIP is not approved to apply on any Indian reservation land or in any other area where EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. In those areas of Indian country, 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, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Sulfur oxides.

    Dated: July 30, 2018. Cathy Stepp, Regional Administrator, Region 5.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17357 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 216 [Docket No. 170908881-8680-01] RIN 0648-BH25 Subsistence Taking of Northern Fur Seals on the Pribilof Islands AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS proposes to modify the subsistence use regulations for the Eastern Pacific stock of northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) in response to a petition from the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, Tribal Government (ACSPI). The Fur Seal Act (FSA) prohibits all taking of northern fur seals except in accordance with regulations authorizing Alaska Natives who reside on the Pribilof Islands (Pribilovians) to take northern fur seals for subsistence uses in compliance with a number of explicit regulatory restrictions. The proposed rule would simplify the existing regulations and would enable Pribilovians on St. Paul Island to resume traditional cultural practices that are prohibited by existing regulations, with no adverse consequences to northern fur seals at the population level. The proposed rule would streamline and simplify the regulations and otherwise eliminate several duplicative and unnecessary regulations governing St. Paul and St. George Islands.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received no later than September 13, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2017-0117 by either of the following methods:

    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0117, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Jon Kurland, Assistant Regional Administrator for Protected Resources, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668.

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

    A 2005 Final Environmental Impact Statement for Setting Annual Subsistence Harvest of Northern Fur Seals on the Pribilof Islands (EIS), 2014 Final Supplemental EIS for Management of Subsistence Harvest of Northern Fur Seals on St. George Island (SEIS), and 2017 Draft Supplemental EIS for Management of Subsistence Harvest of Northern Fur Seals on St. Paul Island (DSEIS) are available on the internet at the following address under the NEPA Analyses tab: https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/pr/fur-seal.

    Electronic copies of the Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) prepared for this proposed action are available at: https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/pr/fur-seal.

    A list of all the references cited in this proposed rule may be found on www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/protectedresources/seals/fur.htm.

    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this proposed rule may be submitted to NMFS at the above address and by email to Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.[email protected], or fax to (202) 395-5806.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michael Williams, NMFS Alaska Region, (907) 271-5117, [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    St. Paul Island and St. George Island are remote islands located in the Bering Sea populated by Alaska Native residents who rely upon marine mammals as a major food source and cornerstone of their culture. The taking of North Pacific fur seals (northern fur seals) is prohibited by the FSA unless expressly authorized by the Secretary of Commerce through regulation. Pursuant to the FSA (16 U.S.C. 1151-1175), it is unlawful, except as provided in the chapter or by regulation of the Secretary of Commerce, for any person or vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to engage in the taking of fur seals in the North Pacific Ocean or on lands or waters under the jurisdiction of the United States. (16 U.S.C. 1152). Section 105(a) of the FSA authorizes the promulgation of regulations with respect to the taking of fur seals on the Pribilof Islands as the Secretary of Commerce deems necessary and appropriate for the conservation, management, and protection of the fur seal population (16 U.S.C. 1155(a)). Regulations issued under the authority of the Fur Seal Act authorize Pribilovians to take fur seals on the Pribilof Islands if such taking is for subsistence uses and not accomplished in a wasteful manner (50 CFR 216.71).

    The residents of St. Paul are currently authorized by regulations under the FSA Section 105 (16 U.S.C. 1155) to harvest male fur seals 124.5 cm or less in length for subsistence uses each year from June 23 until August 8 using traditional methods (50 CFR 216.72(e)). The residents of St. George are currently authorized to harvest male fur seals 124.5 cm or less in length for subsistence use each year from June 23 to August 8. The residents of St. George are also authorized to harvest male young of the year each year from September 16 through November 30 (50 CFR 216.72(d)).

    For both Islands, the number of fur seals authorized to be harvested annually is currently established every three years, in accordance with 50 CFR 216.72(b), based on an estimate of the number of fur seals expected to satisfy the Pribilovians' subsistence requirements (e.g., 82 FR 39044, August 17, 2017). Prior to 1985, the subsistence needs of the Pribilovians were met by utilization of the meat from the carcasses remaining after the commercial harvest for skins, which occurred from 1911 to 1984 (Veltre and Veltre 1987). After the end of the commercial harvest, the Pribilovians were prohibited from taking northern fur seals for subsistence uses in the absence of regulation promulgated under Section 105(a) of the FSA. NMFS promulgated the emergency interim rule for subsistence use of northern fur seals by Pribilovians in 1985 (50 FR 27914, July 8, 1985) and the emergency final rule for subsistence use of northern fur seals by Pribilovians in 1986 (51 FR 24828, July 9, 1986). The history of subsequent regulatory revisions can be found in the DSEIS for the management of the subsistence harvest of northern fur seals on St. Paul Island, Alaska, and in the 2014 SEIS for management of subsistence harvest of northern fur seals on St. George Island, Alaska (see ADDRESSES).

    Northern fur seals were killed for their skins for at least 200 years on the Pribilof Islands (Scheffer et al., 1984, and NMFS 2007). Northern fur seal population trends are most closely related to the number of females because a single territorial adult male inseminates multiple reproductive females. Thus, the number of males in the population is much less important to the stability of the population. This understanding of population dynamics provided the basis for the commercial harvest levels established under the FSA (Scheffer et al., 1984). Gentry (1998) and NMFS (2007) summarized the extensive research on the direct and indirect effects of the commercial harvest on fur seal behavior and the population. NMFS has examined the abundance and trend of the population compared to the number of sub-adult male fur seals killed or harassed during the historical commercial harvest and later subsistence harvests. The harvest management and intensity of harvest changed drastically during the transition to subsistence use on St. George. Seals were harvested commercially five days a week during the month of July from all haulout areas through 1972, all harvests were prohibited from 1973-1975, and then, beginning in 1976, no more than four subsistence harvests were allowed per week from one or two haulout areas for a total of less than 300 sub-adult males harvested per year. The subsistence harvest beginning in 1976 took less than three percent of the average commercial harvest and did not change the population trend on St. George Island, indicating that the take of sub-adult males did not measurably affect the production of pups, distribution of seals, or other indices of the population (Gentry 1998).

    Likewise, the transition from the commercial harvest to the subsistence harvest on St. Paul Island after 1984 indicated the subsistence harvests of sub-adult male fur seals did not adversely impact the production of pups, distribution of seals, or other indices of the population. The average number of sub-adult males killed annually in the subsistence harvest on St. Paul Island (an average of 924 fur seals annually over the period of 1985 to 2016) is less than 4 percent of the average number of males killed annually during the commercial harvest (25,176 fur seals from 1975 to 1984). The abrupt reduction from commercial harvest levels to subsistence harvest levels did not result in a corresponding change in the estimates of the number of pups born on St. Paul Island.

    If the harvest of sub-adult males had an adverse effect on the fur seal population, NMFS would have expected to observe a change in estimated production of pups on St. Paul following the end of the commercial harvest in 1984. NMFS did not observe a statistically significant change in the estimate of pup production until after 1994. Thus, for both St. Paul and St. George Islands, when the harvest of sub-adult males was reduced by over 90 percent, there was no change in the trend of number of pups born, regardless of whether the underlying population trend was declining (as on St. George Island) or stable (as on St. Paul Island). Therefore, NMFS concluded in the 2014 St. George SEIS and the 2017 St. Paul DSEIS that subsistence harvest mortality of sub-adult male fur seals has not contributed to a detectable change in the population trends since the implementation of the subsistence use regulations. NMFS also assumes that some level of harassment occurs during the subsistence take of fur seals. NMFS analyzed the impact of harassment on non-harvested seals and concluded in the 2014 St. George SEIS and the 2017 St. Paul DSEIS that harassment associated with subsistence take would have minor short-term energetic effects on those seals.

    Further, NMFS (2014, 2017), Fowler et al. (2009), and Towell and Williams (2014, unpublished) analyzed the direct mortality and harassment associated with authorizing the Pribilovians to take male pups for subsistence uses. Based on our understanding of fur seal ecology and modeling the response of the population to subsistence mortality of pups, these analyses conclude that the mortality of male pups results in fewer population consequences than a similar harvest of males older than two years because pups have a high level of natural mortality after weaning. NMFS therefore does not expect a detectable change in population trends from future subsistence harvests authorized under this proposed rule of up to 500 sub-adult male fur seals 124.5 cm or less in length (i.e., sub-adult) on St. George (of which up to 3 may be female fur seals and of which up to 150 may be male pups authorized for harvest in 50 CFR 216.72(d)(6)-(d)(10)), which would continue the currently authorized methods and level of subsistence use. NMFS also does not expect a detectable change in population trends from future subsistence use authorized under this proposed rule of up to 2,000 juvenile fur seals on St. Paul (of which any number may be pups, but of the 2,000 authorized for subsistence use only up to 20 may be female fur seals), which would continue the currently authorized level of subsistence use and modify methods and seasons, as explained further below.

    For St. George Island, NMFS will continue to use the term “sub-adult” to refer to those fur seals authorized for subsistence use in the sub-adult season (50 CFR 216.72(d)(1) through (5)) and will continue to use the term “young of the year” to refer to those fur seals authorized for subsistence use in the male young of the year season (50 CFR 216.72(d)(6) through (10)). For St. Paul, NMFS proposes to authorize in 50 CFR 216.72(e) take by hunt and harvest of juvenile male fur seals, and NMFS proposes to define juvenile as non-breeding male fur seals less than seven years old (i.e., including pups).

    Petition for Rulemaking To Change Management on St. Paul Island

    The process to change subsistence use management of northern fur seals on St. Paul Island began on February 16, 2007, with the receipt of tribal resolution 2007-09 from ACSPI. In that resolution, ACSPI requested NMFS immediately start the process to impose a moratorium on the regulations at 50 CFR 216, Subpart F or revise the regulations. On May 7, 2007, NMFS determined that an immediate moratorium was not warranted and that the co-management process described in the agreement between NMFS and ACSPI was the best means to determine what regulatory changes were needed to allow the community to meet its subsistence needs while continuing to promote the conservation of northern fur seals on St. Paul Island consistent with the MMPA and FSA.

    On October 21, 2009, ACSPI submitted resolution 2009-57 with supporting information to NMFS as a basis to modify the regulations governing the subsistence use of northern fur seals on St. Paul Island. NMFS evaluated the resolution and worked with ACSPI over the next two years to clarify details of the request and supporting documents. Based on those clarifications, NMFS determined that there was adequate information to publish a notice of receipt of petition for rulemaking and opportunity for public comment under the Administrative Procedure Act (77 FR 41168; July 12, 2012). ACSPI subsequently approved resolution 2015-04, amending resolution 2009-57 to assist NMFS to respond to comments received on the petition. NMFS then published a Notice of Intent to prepare an SEIS to evaluate alternatives to managing the subsistence use of northern fur seals on St. Paul Island (80 FR 44057; July 24, 2015), and completed the DSEIS for public comment (82 FR 4336; January 13, 2017).

    The DSEIS (NMFS 2017) analyzes the effects of the status quo, the petitioned alternative, and alternative subsistence use management regimes, and concludes that the subsistence use of up to 2,000 juvenile northern fur seals, of which up to 20 may be females killed during the subsistence use seasons, would have a minor effect on the population of about 483,086 fur seals residing seasonally on St. Paul Island and on the northern fur seal stock of about 620,660 animals total (Muto et al., 2018). ACSPI petitioned NMFS to define the seals that may be taken for subsistence uses as “juvenile” male fur seals. A “juvenile” would be defined as seals less than 7 years old inclusive of pups. This proposed rule would not designate pups as a separate sub-category of juveniles because that distinction is unnecessary from a conservation perspective (per the analysis in NMFS 2017) and ACSPI seeks flexibility to harvest any male seals less than 7 years old. ACSPI also petitioned NMFS to remove a restriction on the length of seal that may be taken for subsistence use. The current regulations for St. Paul Island identify seals that may be taken for subsistence use as males 124.5 cm or less in length, and prohibit the subsistence use of pups. This length of male seal (124.5 cm or less) corresponds to an age range of two to four years old, and is called a “sub-adult” male in reference to those seals taken typically in the past commercial and subsistence harvests.

    ACSPI petitioned NMFS to revise the subsistence use regulations, suggesting that four regulatory provisions were necessary to improve management of the subsistence use of northern fur seals on St. Paul Island: (1) Subsistence use of up to 2,000 juvenile male fur seals annually; (2) hunting of juvenile male fur seals from January 1 to May 31 annually using firearms; (3) harvesting of juvenile male fur seals from June 23 to December 31 annually without the use of firearms; and (4) co-management of subsistence use by ACSPI and NMFS under the co-management agreement. Subsequent discussions with ACSPI clarified that their request was to revise the co-management agreement signed in 2000 and to establish in a revised agreement a process to cooperatively manage and restrict subsistence use, such as location and frequency of harvesting and hunting, without additional regulatory provisions.

    NMFS entered into a co-management agreement with the ACSPI in 2000 under Section 119 of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1388). The co-management agreement (available at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/pr/fur-seal) established a Co-management Council with equal membership between NMFS and ACSPI to work cooperatively in the conservation and management of fur seals and Steller sea lions on St. Paul Island. The co-management agreement includes a guiding principle “that provides for full participation by the Unangan of St. Paul, through the ACSPI, in decisions affecting the management of marine mammals used for subsistence purposes,” including the management of subsistence use of northern fur seals. NMFS and ACSPI intend to revise and align the co-management agreement with the proposed rule. Specifically, the Co-management Council will use an adaptive management framework to make non-regulatory in-season adjustments to the locations, timing, and methods of subsistence use, within the regulatory parameters allowed by this proposed rule. The Co-management Council will use environmental, community, and subsistence use data and information to make in-season decisions regarding how the harvest is prosecuted, ensuring adherence to the regulatory limit on the subsistence use of up to 2,000 juvenile fur seals, of which up to 20 may be female fur seals killed during the subsistence use seasons.

    Changes to Management on St. George Island

    In 2006, the Traditional Council of St. George Island, Tribal Government (Traditional Council) petitioned NMFS to change the subsistence use management of northern fur seals on St. George. NMFS worked with the Traditional Council to clarify the petitioned changes and authorize the annual harvest of up to 150 male pups during a second season from September 16 to November 30 within the limits already established every three years under 50 CFR 216.72(b). The action included changes to the authorized subsistence use locations on St. George applicable to both pup and sub-adult harvests, as well as other regulatory provisions for conservation of fur seals.

    In 2014, NMFS finalized the rule that authorized on St. George the harvest of up to 150 male pups, allowed harvests of sub-adults and pups at all areas capable of sustaining a harvest, added a harvest suspension provision if two females were killed during the year, and specified termination of the subsistence use seasons for the remainder of the year if three females were killed (79 FR 65327, November 4, 2014). NMFS changed 50 CFR 216.74 to reflect that the Traditional Council and NMFS had developed a different subsistence management relationship under Section 119 of the MMPA. At that time, NMFS did not change the process used to establish the subsistence needs of the Pribilovians on St. George, so we continued to specify in the triennial notice in the Federal Register the lower and upper limit of the number of seals required to meet the subsistence needs on both Islands, per 50 CFR 216.72(b).

    ACSPI petitioned the removal of 50 CFR 216.72(b), which is applicable to both Islands. In this proposed rulemaking, NMFS proposes to set in regulation the maximum number of seals that may be harvested on St. George Island (500), which is based on the upper limit established by NMFS (82 FR 39044, August 17, 2017) and agreed to by the Traditional Council since 1990. NMFS also proposes to remove duplicative or unnecessary regulations applicable to subsistence use on St. George based on the determination that the statutory take prohibition in the FSA does not also require regulatory prohibitions.

    Population and Demographics

    NMFS currently manages the northern fur seal population as two stocks in the U.S.: The Eastern Pacific and the San Miguel stocks. The Eastern Pacific stock includes northern fur seals breeding on St. Paul, St. George, and Bogoslof islands and Sea Lion Rock, AK. NMFS designated the Pribilof Islands northern fur seal population as depleted under the MMPA on May 18, 1988 (53 FR 17888). Loughlin et al. (1994) estimated approximately 1.3 million northern fur seals existed worldwide in 1992, and the Pribilof Islands (which later was designated the Eastern Pacific stock) accounted for about 982,000 seals (74 percent of the worldwide total). In 1995, NMFS included fur seals breeding on Bogoslof Island in the estimate of 1,019,192 northern fur seals for the Eastern Pacific stock (Small and DeMaster 1995). The population has decreased since then, and the 2017 estimate for the Eastern Pacific stock (including fur seals breeding on St. Paul, St. George, and Bogoslof islands and Sea Lion Rock) was 620,660 northern fur seals (Muto et al., 2018). The annual pup production trends for the breeding islands in the Eastern Pacific stock from 1998 to 2016 vary between Islands: Pup production is declining (−4.12 percent) for St. Paul, stable with no trend for St. George, and increasing (+10.1 percent) for Bogoslof (Muto et al., 2018). The causes of the different trends among breeding areas are unknown.

    Northern fur seals seasonally occupy specific breeding and non-breeding sites. The age and breeding status of the seals are the main determinants of where they are found on land during the breeding and non-breeding season. Non-breeding males occupy resting sites commonly called “hauling grounds or haulout areas” during the breeding season and are excluded from the breeding sites (i.e., rookeries) by adult males. Adult males defend territories on these breeding sites where females return from their winter migration to give birth, nurse their young, rest, and breed. Pregnant adult females begin to arrive from their winter migration as early as mid-June. The majority of adult females arrive around the second week of July. Older females arrive before younger females, and pregnant females arrive before non-pregnant females. Adult females land on the rookeries (breeding sites) where adult males immediately herd and retain them in territories until they give birth within two days after their arrival on land. After they give birth and remain on land for about six days, they enter estrous and breed before departing on their first of many multi-day foraging trips to sea and return to nurse their pups (Gentry 1998).

    Territorial breeding males arrive on island in May and remain on the rookeries until mid-August, when most pregnant females have arrived and have given birth. Territorial adult males depart the rookery in August and are replaced by non-territorial, non-breeding adult males of similar size on the rookeries. Adult females and the pups remain at the rookeries until December, but they occupy a larger area that includes the rookery and haulout areas after territorial males have left the Islands for their migration.

    Beginning about September 1, non-breeding males of all sizes can be found inter-mixed with breeding aged females and nursing pups on both rookeries and haulout areas. Scientists consider the non-breeding season to last from September through December. Thus from September through December all fur seals generally occupy similar terrestrial habitat, and there is little if any predictable separation among males and females as is found earlier in the year.

    Pups begin to occupy separate areas from non-pups in September, and make daily transits among these areas while spending progressively more time in the water prior to weaning (Baker and Donahue 2000). Pups wean themselves beginning in late October, by leaving their birth site and spending the next 20-24 months at sea. All pups have left the islands where they were born by early December, and breeding-age females leave their breeding islands a few days after pups have departed on their winter migration. NMFS estimates that less than 10 percent of pups born die before weaning (MML unpublished data). NMFS also estimates that 50 to 80 percent of pups die after weaning and before they are two years old, which is when they would first return to the islands (Lander 1981, MML unpublished data).

    Most fur seals first return to the islands when they are two years old, intermittently occupying non-breeding terrestrial sites from July through December. Older, non-breeding male seals arrive at the beginning of the terrestrial season earlier than younger seals. Non-breeding male fur seals rest on shore for about seven to ten days followed by intermittent at-sea foraging trips ranging from eight to twenty-nine days (Sterling and Ream 2004). All non-breeding fur seals migrate from their land resting sites (including on the Pribilof Islands) to the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea, where the fur seals are located from about December to June, when fur seals begin their annual return migration to their breeding and non-breeding, resting terrestrial sites (including those on the Pribilof Islands).

    Male fur seals are sexually mature and begin to show secondary sexual characteristics (e.g., growth of mane, prominent saggital crest, extreme growth of shoulders and neck) at about seven years old (Gentry 1998). Males are not physically capable of holding territories until they are eight years old, and most males that hold successful breeding territories are nine years old and hold breeding territories for about one season (Gentry 1998). About one-third of territorial males successfully breed, but about ten percent of the breeding males account for over 50 percent of all breeding each year (Gentry 1998). This information shows that very few adult males successfully defend and hold territories on land, even fewer breed, and fewer still account for most of the annual reproductive effort. In the following year, about 70 percent of those territorial adult males from the previous year will be replaced by new males and will not be the fathers of those pups who are born within the territories they hold.

    Female fur seals can be distinguished from male fur seals based on size, canine tooth size, and whisker color. Male fur seals are larger at all ages, beginning at birth. Males grow faster and larger than females. As male and female fur seals age their whiskers change color from all black (pup) to mixed black and white (two to seven years old) to all-white (older than seven). This whisker color distinction is important because a four-year-old male is similar in size to a six-year-old or older female, but the female's whiskers will be all-white and the male's whiskers will be mixed black and white. The size difference between males and females from birth to two years old is difficult to visually distinguish from a distance. Upon close inspection, the lower canine teeth of females are relatively narrower than a male's lower canine teeth. There are also some differences in fur coloration, head shape, and behavior between two- to four-year old males and females, but these characteristics are highly variable and prone to misclassification when considered alone.

    Deregulation of the Subsistence Use of Northern Fur Seals

    NMFS is proposing to remove duplicative and unnecessary regulatory restrictions, as detailed below. NMFS will continue to regulate the subsistence taking of fur seals on the Pribilof Islands by sex, age, and season, as contemplated in the emergency final rule that NMFS promulgated after the cessation of the commercial harvest of northern fur seals in 1984 (51 FR 24828, July 9, 1986). Subsistence use of northern fur seals on the Pribilof Islands will be subject to any changes proposed in this rule that become final.

    Removal of Duplicative Regulatory Provisions Governing Subsistence Use on St. Paul and St. George Islands

    Section 102 of the FSA broadly prohibits the “taking” of northern fur seals (16 U.S.C. 1152). The regulations governing subsistence harvest for St. Paul and St. George Islands include specific prohibitions on the take of certain age classes of fur seals and the intentional take of female fur seals (50 CFR 216.72(d)(5), (d)(9), (e)(4)). NMFS has determined that these specific regulatory provisions prohibiting take are duplicative of the more general statutory prohibition on “taking” in Section 102 of the FSA, and thus this proposed rule would remove these sections from 50 CFR 216.72:

    (d)(5) Any taking of adult fur seals, or young of the year, or the intentional taking of sub-adult female fur seals is prohibited;

    (d)(9) Any taking of sub-adult or adult fur seals, or the intentional harvest of young of the year female fur seals is prohibited; and

    (e)(4) Any taking of adult fur seals or pups, or the intentional taking of sub-adult female fur seals is prohibited.

    The removal of these duplicative regulatory restrictions will not result in any changes to subsistence use of northern fur seals on St. George Island or St. Paul Island.

    NMFS has determined that the following provisions for St. Paul and St. George Islands are duplicative of the regulations (50 CFR 216.41) promulgated for permitting scientific research under the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361-1407) and authorizing stranding response under Section 403 of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1421b), and thus these sections are proposed to be removed from 50 CFR 216.72:

    (d)(3) seals with tags and/or entangling debris may only be taken if so directed by NMFS scientists, and

    (e)(6) seals with tags and/or entangling debris may only be taken if so directed by NMFS scientists.

    When NMFS promulgated the above provisions in the subsistence harvest regulations, NMFS did not contemplate that the Pribilovians would apply for and obtain permits to conduct scientific research on fur seals or obtain authorization to respond to northern fur seals entangled in marine debris (51 FR 24828, 24836, 24838-39; July 9, 1986). Congress amended the MMPA to authorize the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Program in 1992, and the regulatory process to obtain a scientific research permit was not completed until 1996 (61 FR 21926, May 10, 1996). NMFS therefore proposes to remove these provisions, relying instead on those regulatory processes established under the MMPA more recently to authorize taking associated with response to fur seals entangled in marine debris or previously tagged for scientific research. The removal of these duplicative regulatory restrictions will not result in any changes to the process to receive authorization for take associated with response to fur seals entangled in marine debris or previously tagged for scientific research.

    Removal of Unnecessary Regulatory Provisions Governing Subsistence Use on St. Paul and St. George Islands

    NMFS proposes to specify in regulation the maximum number of fur seals that may be killed for subsistence uses annually on each Island. The proposed rule would specify in 50 CFR 216.72(e) that Pribilovians on St. Paul may take by hunt and harvest up to 2,000 juvenile (less than 7 years old, including pups) fur seals per year for subsistence uses over the course of the hunting and harvest seasons, including up to 20 female fur seals per year. The proposed rule would specify in 50 CFR 216.72(d) that Pribilovians on St. George may take by harvest for subsistence uses up to 500 fur seals per year over the course of the sub-adult male harvest and the young of the year harvest, including up to 3 female fur seals per year. The proposed maximum harvest of fur seals to be authorized is based on the currently established upper limit of the subsistence need for each Island (82 FR 39044, August 17, 2017), which has been unchanged since 1992 for St. Paul Island and since 1990 for St. George Island.

    NMFS also proposes to cease using a lower limit of the subsistence need and to eliminate references to the lower limit of the harvest range for regulations governing harvest on St. George of sub-adult male fur seals (50 CFR 216.72(d)(1)) and male young of the year fur seals (50 CFR 216.72(d)(6)); to eliminate in its entirety the provision at 50 CFR 216.72(b), which applies to both Islands and which establishes a process to re-assess every three years the subsistence requirements of the Pribilovians residing on St. Paul and St. George Islands; and to remove the provisions at 50 CFR 216.72(f)(1)(iii) and 216.72(f)(3), which are associated with the suspension of subsistence use when the lower limit of the range of the subsistence need is reached. NMFS also proposes to remove the provision in 50 CFR 216.72(f)(1)(i) that allows for the suspension of subsistence harvest on St. Paul Island or St. George Island if NMFS determines that the subsistence needs of the Pribilovians on that Island have been satisfied, and to remove the provision in 50 CFR 216.72(g)(2) that requires the termination of the subsistence harvest if NMFS determines that the upper limit of the subsistence need has been reached or if NMFS determines that the subsistence needs of the Pribilovians on either Island have been satisfied. NMFS proposes to revise the subsistence use termination provisions at 50 CFR 216.72(g) to be consistent with the proposed seasons for St. Paul and the subsistence use limits for each Island.

    NMFS has determined that the existing regulatory approach to establishing the subsistence need on St. Paul and St. George Islands is no longer necessary for the following reasons: (1) The estimates of yield of edible meat per fur seal, which were used to approximate the number of seals thought to fulfill subsistence needs, overstated the actual yield of meat, and are no longer germane factors when evaluating the subsistence needs of Pribilovians; (2) the use of the lower and upper limit of the subsistence requirement has not provided the expected flexibility to the Pribilovians to meet their annual subsistence needs and has proven to be an unnecessary restriction; (3) estimating the subsistence need based on nutritional, socio-economic, and cultural factors, as NMFS has done in more recent triennial estimates of subsistence need, results in a more realistic assessment of subsistence need than the exclusive use of nutritional factors as envisioned in the existing regulations; and (4) given the consistency of the determination of Pribilovians' subsistence needs for more than 25 years, codifying the maximum subsistence use levels in regulation would be much more efficient than continuing to revisit the subsistence need every three years. We explain each of these reasons below, which justify setting authorized take for subsistence use in regulation for each Island and which justify the additional regulatory provisions that NMFS proposes to modify or eliminate.

    Biases in Estimated Edible Yield of Subsistence Harvested Fur Seals

    As explained in this subsection, estimates of yield of edible meat per fur seal and percent-use were the basis for determining the number of seals for annual subsistence needs and were the basis for determining whether the subsistence harvest was being accomplished in a wasteful manner. However, the estimates of yield of edible meat per fur seal and percent-use overstated the actual yield of meat due to bias and inaccurate assumptions and are subject to continuing bias that NMFS cannot correct. NMFS therefore will no longer analyze subsistence need solely based on estimates of yield of edible meat and percent-use, and ACSPI and NMFS will work within the Co-management Council to identify and address any instances of wasteful taking. In addition, we remind readers that when referencing past taking for subsistence uses, we use the term “sub-adult males” to refer to two- to four-year old fur seals which generally fit the size limit in the regulations of 124.5 cm or less in length and that, while pups are less than 124.5 cm in length, they were prohibited from subsistence use for St. George until 2014 and are currently prohibited from subsistence use for St. Paul (50 CFR 216.72(e)(4)).

    In 1985 and 1986, when the subsistence harvest was first being authorized, NMFS did not have any reliable means to establish the number of seals required to meet the subsistence needs of either St. George Island or St. Paul Island. As described in the emergency final rule regarding the subsistence taking of North Pacific fur seals (51 FR 24828, July 9, 1986), the commercial harvest for fur seal skins prior to 1985 had created an excess of meat for the subsistence needs of both communities, and disrupted the subsistence use patterns when compared to other Alaska Native communities (Veltre and Veltre 1987). For subsistence needs, NMFS used estimates of the yield of meat from an “average” commercially harvested seal as the basis for the subsistence levels established in the early years of the subsistence harvest regulations. NMFS assumed that a sub-adult male seal yielded a certain amount of meat, which was then used to calculate how many seals were needed to satisfy the nutritional needs of Pribilovians each year. The original estimate of the yield of meat per seal was from congressional testimony in 1914 that a sub-adult male fur seal dresses to 25 pounds of meat (50 FR 27914, 27916; July 8, 1985) and the May 7, 1987 notice (52 FR 17307) from measurements of harvested seals in 1985 (28.5 lbs) and in 1986 (24.4 lbs).

    Public comments received by NMFS in the late 1980s questioned the Pribilovians' harvest practices and estimates of their subsistence need, and included accusations of wasteful taking and criticisms of the Pribilovians' use of the “butterfly cut” of seals. At the same time, the Pribilovians expressed frustration regarding the intrusive nature of harvest sampling, characterization of their subsistence use based on “percent-use” of the carcass, and the process to establish their subsistence need (55 FR 30919, July 30 1990). On August 1, 1991, the Humane Society of the United States filed an unsuccessful petition for a temporary restraining order to suspend the subsistence harvest (56 FR 42032).

    In an attempt to resolve the controversy, NMFS and the ACSPI measured the percent use of the “butterfly cut” and “whole cut” from northern fur seal carcasses in terms of the actual yield of meat in 1992. This unpublished study measured the mass of meat, bone, and blubber from all body parts of the carcasses of three sub-adult males. One seal was three years old, the other was two years old, and the third was of unknown age. The actual yield of edible meat ranged from 11.9 to 15.9 pounds for seals that weighed from 44.6 to 58.1 pounds (NMFS unpublished data). The estimated yield of meat from this work in 1992 shows that the 1985 and 1986 estimates of yield of meat over-estimated the actual yield of edible meat by 35 to 52 percent depending on the size of the seal.

    Further evaluation of the data from 1985 through 1991 that were used to estimate the yield of meat indicate previous weights reported were actually estimates of the total mass of the butterfly cut or whole cut, which included bones, fat, and connective tissue. In addition, the measures of edible meat from 1985 and 1986 do not account for the subsistence use of blubber, tongues, or flippers, items that are consumed in varying amounts locally (Veltre and Veltre 1987), but were not considered consistently by NMFS in the estimates of percent-use or yield. In the 1985 and 1986 estimates, NMFS measured and reported the percentage use of the carcass as the product of the mass of meat and bone of cuts divided by the total mass of the carcass. NMFS's approach resulted in a mean of 29.1 percent-use for the butterfly cut and 53.3 percent-use for the whole cut, a difference of about 24.2 percent, which was perceived as an indication of waste when using the butterfly cut versus using the whole cut.

    By using the data of the actual edible meat (excluding bone) from 1992, the percent-use of meat divided by the total carcass weight would have ranged from about 18 percent-use for the “butterfly cut” to 27 percent-use for the whole cut. The traditional butterfly cut resulted in only a 9 percent difference (or about one pound of meat based on the average total seal weight) in the actual edible portion of meat when compared to the whole cut, which indicated the distinction between cuts was not significant or necessarily representative of waste. These results indicate that the old percent-use method overstated the amount of edible meat per seal by an even greater amount than acknowledged by NMFS based on data from all years prior to 1992. These results also support the Pribilovians' position that their subsistence use was not wasteful contrary to accusations of wasteful take that were based on the percent-use method (57 FR 34081, August 3, 1992).

    NMFS also made inaccurate assumptions in the beginning of the subsistence period about the age of seals likely to be harvested for subsistence needs, which further biases the estimates of the number of seals needed for subsistence. Hanson et al. (1994) showed that St. Paul subsistence sealers chose to harvest three- and four-year old seals that were statistically smaller than the average sized seal of the same age in the population, which indicates sealers were selecting the smallest seals of those available. The selection of smaller seals for subsistence uses further reduces NMFS's previous over-estimates of yield of meat derived from the commercial harvest. In addition, St. Paul and St. George residents have indicated they prefer a “two-year old” sized seal, an assertion that was confirmed using 1986 subsistence harvest data (Zimmerman and Melovidov 1987). Subsistence harvest monitoring data reported by Hanson et al., (1994) indicated a continued preference for two-year old seals. The results of Hanson et al. (1994) have been confirmed by recent analysis of the average age of subsistence harvested seals from 1986-2016 on St. Paul Island (2.6 years) compared to commercially harvested seals from 1956-1984 (3.3 years) (MML unpublished data). On St. George Island, the subsistence harvest has occurred for 10 years longer than on St. Paul, and the average age of sub-adult males in the commercial harvest was 3.4 years versus 2.5 years in the subsistence harvest (MML unpublished data).

    The proportion of two-year-old seals in the subsistence harvest for both Islands combined is about 47 percent, whereas during the commercial harvest two-year old seals represented about 8 percent of the total harvest for both Islands (MML unpublished data). Similarly, the proportion of four-year-olds decreased from about 32 percent of the commercial harvest to about 4 percent of the subsistence harvest based on data from both Islands (MML unpublished data). Thus smaller, younger seals represent a larger proportion of those seals taken in the subsistence harvest than the commercial harvest. Younger, smaller seals provide a lower yield of meat than the older, larger seals harvested commercially, and represent another uncorrected bias in the previous estimates of yield per seal and in the process to estimate the number of seals necessary to meet the Pribilovians' subsistence need.

    Even if NMFS were to correct for age-related bias and fix inaccurate assumptions in previous methodologies to calculate future estimates of yield of meat to estimate the number of seals for subsistence needs, such estimates would remain biased and inaccurate. Baker et al. (1994) reported that particular year classes showed statistically different rates of body mass increase in the first few years of life. For example, three year old male fur seals born in 1987 were significantly lighter than three year olds born in 1988 and 1989 (Baker et al. 1994). Caruso and Baker (1996) compared the weights of two-, three-, and four-year old males from the subsistence harvest and found that two- and three-year old males from 1992 were significantly heavier (1.4 kg heavier for a two-year old) than similar-aged seals harvested in 1991, 1993, or 1994. Thus, environmental conditions can influence the size and growth of young seals and bias estimates of the yield of meat per seal among year classes. NMFS currently does not have a means to correct estimates of growth or average size at age to account for environmental variation.

    Based on this analysis of the yield of edible meat from the subsistence harvest and the lack of information to correct the biases identified in the estimates of percent-use and yield of meat, NMFS no longer sees value in characterizing the subsistence need based on percent-use or yield of edible meat. Instead, as explained later in this proposed rule, NMFS will consider a combination of nutritional, socio-economic, and cultural factors, as well as the consistency of prior determinations of subsistence needs over time, to estimate and set in regulation through this proposed rule the number of seals needed annually for subsistence purposes on St. Paul and St. George Islands. Furthermore, ACSPI has instituted a practice whereby the whole cut is removed from the killing field in all instances, and the butterfly cut is no longer used (62 FR 17775, April 11, 1997). With regard to concerns about the potential for wasteful harvest practices in the future, NMFS will work within the Co-management Councils for St. Paul and St. George to ensure accurate monitoring to detect and address whether subsistence use is being accomplished in a wasteful manner. In addition, this proposed action does not change the regulatory provision that the take of fur seals must be consistent with 50 CFR 216.71 (i.e., (a) for subsistence uses, and (b) not accomplished in a wasteful manner).

    NMFS's Use of the Upper and Lower Limit of the Estimated Subsistence Need

    The existing regulations call for establishing the upper and lower limit (i.e., the range) of the subsistence need in order to provide flexibility to the Pribilovians while also limiting the harvest to the legitimate subsistence need within that range (51 FR 24828, July 9, 1986). The lower limit, if reached, results in a 48-hour temporary suspension, but the lower limit could be exceeded if NMFS is given written notice by the Pribilovians seeking additional seals for subsistence uses as described in 50 CFR 216.72(f)(3). As explained next, this regulatory approach has not provided flexibility in the timing of the harvest and the availability of harvesters to ensure that Pribilovians can fulfill their subsistence needs. In addition, this regulatory approach has proven burdensome for both Pribilobians and NMFS to administer and manage. NMFS therefore proposes to eliminate in its entirety the provision at 50 CFR 216.72(b), as well as related regulatory provisions regarding the lower and upper limits and the associated suspension and termination provisions.

    Since 1985, NMFS has used numerous methods to establish the range, but has frequently received public comments indicating disagreements about the consistency of implementation (e.g., 55 FR 30919, July 30, 1990). The Pribilovians have requested additional seals above the lower limit twice each on St. Paul (in 1987 and 1991) and St. George (in 1991 and 1993). In 1990, NMFS reduced the subsistence needs of the Pribilovians to the lowest level during the subsistence period to range from 181 to 500 on St. George and 1,145 to 1,800 on St. Paul (55 FR 30919, July 30, 1990). In 1991, NMFS proposed the range of subsistence need at the 1990 levels (56 FR 19970, May 1, 1991). NMFS was unable to establish a method acceptable to all stakeholders to determine the Pribilovians' subsistence need, and in the final notice, NMFS used the 1990 range of the subsistence need for 1991 (56 FR 36735, August 1, 1991). The Tribal Governments from St. Paul and St. George requested additional seals above the lower end of their respective ranges in 1991. NMFS authorized the Pribilovians to continue harvesting up to 100 additional seals on St. George and 500 additional seals on St. Paul from July 31 until August 8, 1991 (56 FR 42032, August 26, 1991).

    The Humane Society of the United States filed a motion for a Temporary Restraining Order on August 1, 1991, which challenged the August 1 final notice for subsistence use in 1991 (56 FR 36735). The order was denied on August 5, 1991: the court upheld NMFS's determination that the harvest was not being conducted in a wasteful manner and that the accusations of waste were overstated (Humane Soc'y of the United States v. Mosbacher, Civ. A. No. 91-1915, 1991 WL 166653 (D.D.C. Aug. 5, 1991); 56 FR 42032, August 26, 1991). NMFS held a workshop in November 1991 and determined the household survey conducted by the tribal councils would be the agreed-upon method to establish the subsistence need (57 FR 22450, May 28, 1992).

    NMFS established the 1992 subsistence need based on household surveys by the Tribal Governments of St. Paul and St. George, but in addition requested that the Pribilovians substantiate any request to exceed the lower limit of the range (57 FR 34081, August 3, 1992). NMFS questioned the estimates of subsistence need from household surveys in 1992 and 1993, because the tribal government could not survey all households in advance of each harvest season. The Pribilovians extrapolated the subsistence need to account for the un-surveyed/non-responsive households, but a final method to account for these households could not be agreed upon.

    The St. George Traditional Council indicated on February 10, 1993 that they would require 407 seals to meet their subsistence need (58 FR 32892, June 14 1993). NMFS concluded that since St. George harvested fewer seals (194) than the lower level of the estimated 1992 range of subsistence need (281) and the average harvest over the past 5 years was 187, that NMFS would not use the 1993 St. George subsistence needs request based on their household survey data and instead used the lower level of the range from 1992. The community of St. George harvested 298 seals by August 3, 1993 (17 seals greater than the lower level of the range), and the Traditional Council requested additional seals during the temporary harvest suspension (58 FR 58297, November 1, 1993). NMFS approved the harvest of 44 more seals by St. George (325 total seals) after requesting and receiving information to substantiate their request (58 FR 32892, June 14 1993). St. George harvested 319 seals by August 8, 1993.

    In the 1993 household survey of subsistence needs on St. Paul, about one-third of the households responded to the tribal government's survey, resulting in an estimate of 842 seals needed to meet their stated subsistence need. NMFS did not extrapolate to account for non-responsive households on St. Paul and instead indicated that there had not been significant changes in demography or economics in 1993 compared to 1991 and 1992 to warrant such a dramatic reduction in need, and NMFS determined that the estimated subsistence need for St. Paul would remain 1,645 to 2,000 in 1993 (58 FR 32892, June 14, 1993). St. Paul harvested 1,518 seals in 1993.

    In 1994, NMFS set the range based on household survey results from the tribal governments that indicated similar results from previous years and thus the range of the subsistence need was set at the same level as in 1993, but applied through 1996 (59 FR 35471, July 12, 1994). In December 1996, after NMFS requested the tribal governments indicate their subsistence needs for the 1997-1999 period, ACSPI indicated their subsistence need range could remain the same (1,645 to 2,000 seals), and the St. George Traditional Council requested the lower limit be increased from 281 to 300 seals and the upper limit be retained at 500 seals (62 FR 33374, June 19, 1997). The tribal governments from both Islands indicated to NMFS in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014, and 2017 that the subsistence ranges should be maintained at these lower and upper limits to meet their subsistence needs (see https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/pr/fur-seal). After NMFS had signed cooperative agreements with the tribal governments on St. Paul and St. George Islands, the subsistence needs were discussed annually during co-management meetings and considered in a more collaborative and holistic process.

    The lower limit and regulatory suspension process required under the existing regulations have proven to be barriers to harvesting within the range established as “meeting the subsistence need” at the peak of community participation and availability of preferred seals. If the lower limit of the subsistence need is reached, NMFS must suspend the harvest for up to 48 hours per 50 CFR 216.72(f)(1)(iii). Practically, this usually occurs in early August after most harvests have occurred and as the number of two-year-old males landing on the hauling grounds is rapidly increasing (Bigg 1986). Thus, the preferred age-class (two years old) is more easily available to subsistence users at this time, but very little time remains in August to harvest this preferred age-class and to meet the subsistence need of the Pribilovians.

    Once the lower limit is reached, NMFS must determine whether the subsistence needs of the Pribilovians have been satisfied, and if not, must provide a revised estimate of the number of seals required to meet those subsistence needs (50 CFR 216.72(f)(3)). Thus, when the lower limit is reached, Pribilovians must collect information through surveying or querying the community and provide that information in writing to support that their subsistence need falls above the lower limit but below the upper limit of the range previously established as meeting their subsistence need (e.g., 56 FR 36736, August 1, 1991). In those years when the actual subsistence use reached the lower limit of the range of the subsistence need established previously in the Federal Register notice, it was in the Pribilovians' best interest to conduct an additional house-to-house survey to establish an interim limit less than the upper limit to substantiate their subsistence need (59 FR 35474, July 12, 1994).

    After the Pribilovians submit information to NMFS, NMFS must then substantiate the request to exceed the lower limit by making the determination that the Pribilovians (1) have not yet satisfied their subsistence need, (2) have not conducted wasteful take, and (3) have identified the number of seals required to meet the additional need (56 FR 36736, August 1, 1991). Often this process was too cumbersome administratively, for both NMFS and the Pribilovians. The 48-hour suspension when the lower limit was reached would occur during the last few days of the season, requiring Pribilovians to document their needs above the lower limit and NMFS to determine those newly documented needs were justified before the end of the season. This caused administrative delays that left too few days for additional harvesting of seals, including the harvest of the preferred age of seal. Such a process does not create flexibility that would allow the Pribilovians to meet their subsistence needs when the lower limit is reached.

    Finally, a fundamental problem with using the previous year's actual harvest or an average of prior harvests to establish the allowable future harvest is that it creates an incentive for users to harvest as much as allowed in order to maintain future food security, particularly because many factors can force Pribilovians to harvest fewer seals each year, regardless of their particular annual needs. Decreased harvest levels in a given year would effectively reduce the lower limit in subsequent years, while ignoring factors that affect harvest levels, including: Normal year-to-year variability in seal size; the Pribilovians' preference for smaller seals; the limited availability of two-year-old seals until late in the harvest season; the availability of wage earning jobs on both Islands that conflicts with the subsistence season; and the availability of experienced sealers (58 FR 32892, June 13, 1993). These factors may result in diminished allowable harvest over time that could amplify the perverse incentive to harvest more seals than necessary in a given year to preserve the allowable harvest level for future years.

    To avoid these problems, NMFS proposes to stop publishing a range with a lower limit of subsistence need. Instead NMFS proposes to set a fixed harvest limit that accounts for expected and unexpected year-to-year variability in the availability of fur seals based on environmental factors and the availability of subsistence users to participate based on economic, social, and other factors. Because NMFS would cease using a range with a lower limit, NMFS proposes to eliminate references to the lower limit of the range in the regulations governing use on St. George of sub-adult male fur seals (50 CFR 216.72(d)(1)) and male young of the year fur seals (50 CFR 216.72(d)(6)). NMFS also proposes to remove the requirements in 50 CFR 216.72(f)(1)(iii) and (f)(3) for NMFS to determine whether the Pribilovians' subsistence needs have been satisfied because they will already be established in the regulations. The proposed regulatory changes will reduce the household survey burden for Pribilovians on both St. Paul and St. George Islands and will also remove the cumbersome administration of the harvest suspension provisions and determinations that apply when the lower limit of the range was reached. NMFS would still annually evaluate whether the subsistence uses are being accomplished in a wasteful manner (per 50 CFR 216.71(b)), and the proposed rule does not eliminate the existing regulatory provision that allows the suspension of the subsistence harvest if the harvest is being conducted in a wasteful manner (50 CFR 216.72(f)(1)(ii)).

    Estimating the Subsistence Need Should Include Consideration of Nutritional, Socio-Economic, and Cultural Factors

    NMFS has determined that to satisfy the Pribilovians' subsistence requirement for northern fur seals, estimates of subsistence need must reflect a combination of nutritional, socio-economic, and cultural needs (see Veltre and Veltre 1987). During the late 1980s, NMFS used simple nutritional factors to estimate the subsistence needs of the Pribilovians. As described previously, NMFS used historical information from the villages of St. Paul and St. George and from other Alaska Native communities to estimate a range of the amount of meat required as a product of the yield and number of seals killed. NMFS has continued to estimate annual subsistence harvest based on the nutritional needs of the Pribilovians, while recognizing that other factors should be considered.

    After the petition for a temporary restraining order and a subsequent subsistence workshop in 1991, NMFS acknowledged that subsistence need includes cultural aspects of the use of fur seals by Alaska Natives, as well as providing a traditional food (57 FR 22450, May 28, 1992). Pribilovians have indicated most recently in their comments on the DSEIS that the overlap in the timing of the local halibut fishery and current 47-day fur seal harvest season forces families to choose between producing income in the halibut fishery and obtaining fur seals. In the late 1980s the Pribilovians did not have the resources (i.e., large enough boats or gear) or opportunity (i.e., fishing was managed as limited entry until the passage of the Fisheries Conservation and Management Act in 1976) to participate in local commercial halibut fisheries, so they fished for subsistence when practical. In the late 1980s through 1992 there were on average 16 fur seal harvests on St. Paul Island per year, which has gradually diminished such that from 2002 to the present the Pribilovians averaged eight harvests per year. In 1995, Pribilovians were authorized to commercially fish for halibut through individual fishing quotas and later community development quotas. Thus, fur seal harvests changed from commercial to subsistence activities, and halibut fishing changed from subsistence to commercial economic enterprises. Because the subsistence season for fur seals overlaps with the commercial halibut season, many Pribilovians have no choice but to limit the time they spend obtaining fur seals for subsistence uses while they pursue cash-paying jobs in the halibut fishery. Other regulatory limits that prescribe who may harvest, where, and how further undermine the opportunities for Pribilovians to engage in the subsistence harvest of fur seals. As their sealing opportunities have diminished under the current regulations, Pribilovians have lost opportunities to share with elders and the community at large, teach harvesting and hunting skills to the next generation, collect seal parts for the creation of authentic Native handicrafts, and participate in cultural ceremonial events. As these ties to their culture have waned, it becomes more difficult to foster cultural traditions and instill the associated values within the community. The proposed creation of two seasons and multiple methods to take fur seals recognizes the important cultural values of the hunting and harvesting of fur seals, and will provide Pribilovians more flexibility to foster their own cultural traditions and values.

    The Pribilof Islands are considered a hybrid economy (Huskey 2004) where subsistence use, market forces, and government transfers contribute to a village's ability to maintain a self-sufficient economy. Members of the public who live in rural areas like the Pribilof Islands value (nutritionally and socio-economically) wild and store bought foods differently than residents from urban areas. NMFS (2017) has evaluated how the concept of food security provides a more balanced approach to estimating the subsistence need in coastal communities such as St. Paul and St. George. From the aspect of nutrition and food security, fur seals represent an available, accessible, fresh, and safe source of traditional food for Pribilovians. Subsistence opportunities connect community members and relatives through food sharing and cooperative hunting and harvesting efforts. Opportunities for subsistence use of fur seals preserve the Pribilovians' traditional skills, cultural values, and knowledge, and enable the passing of cultural values on to younger subsistence users. Thus, unnecessarily restricting the opportunities for subsistence communities to obtain wild resources, such as fur seals, would not only result in the deterioration of nutrition, public health, and social stability, but also a critical component of their unique local culture. This combination of traditional and modern lifestyles helps to sustain the Pribilof cultural identity and provides a measure of economic and food security by providing an alternative to obtain food in newly emerging cash- and wage-based economic systems (Huskey 2004). The proposed approach to addressing the subsistence needs of Pribilovians is more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable, and safeguards food security, cultural traditions, and economic surety by allowing the Pribilovians a greater role in the in-season monitoring and management (see following Co-management discussion). This approach to establishing the subsistence need improves upon the one previously used by NMFS that relied exclusively on the nutritional aspects.

    Based on the cultural values of subsistence use and the need for food security for the Pribilovians, NMFS proposes to codify a regulatory threshold of 2,000 fur seals less than 7 years old, of which up to 20 may be females killed during the subsistence use seasons annually, for St. Paul. Similarly for St. George, the regulatory threshold will be 500 male fur seals during the subsistence use seasons annually, of which up to 3 may be females killed, and which also would include in each year up to 150 male pups (see 50 CFR 216.72(d)(6)-(d)(10)). This approach maintains the maximum harvest level that has been authorized every year since 1992 for St. Paul and since 1990 for St. George (82 FR 39044, August 17, 2017), and maintains the allowable pup harvest for St. George (79 FR 65327, November 4, 2014), but better reflects a holistic consideration of nutritional, socio-economic, and cultural factors of subsistence use. In addition, this approach will streamline the administration of the harvest, reduce the household survey burden on St. Paul and St. George, and provide a sustainable maximum harvest level that accounts for the prevailing socio-economic conditions and abundance of the fur seal population on the Pribilof Islands. As addressed earlier in the BACKGROUND section, NMFS does not expect a detectable change in population trends from take associated with future subsistence use of hunting or harvesting up to the annual regulatory thresholds for each Island.

    The actual number of seals killed for subsistence uses in a given year can be dependent upon the seasonal availability of fur seals and other food resources, as well as average body mass of harvested seals, environmental variability, and the availability of harvesters. If socio-economic conditions or the fur seal population status change, NMFS can evaluate whether a change in the regulatory limits of the subsistence use is warranted.

    Simplification of Regulation of Subsistence Use Based on Consistency of the Determination of Pribilovians' Subsistence Needs for More Than Twenty-Five Years

    The Pribilovians have stated in their past public comments that their harvest was not wasteful. They have also indicated that efforts to institute intrusive sampling during early years of the subsistence harvest, perceived micro-managing of the harvest method, and inconsistent application of methods to determine the subsistence need ultimately resulted in reduced estimates of their subsistence need over time, even though biologically the harvest of males would be sustainable at levels higher than proposed in this rule (52 FR 26479, July 15, 1987; 56 FR 36739, August 1, 1991; 77 FR 41168, July 12, 2012; 75 FR 21243, April 23, 2010). To respond to concerns of perceived micro-managing and alleged inconsistent methodologies to determine subsistence need, NMFS proposes to simplify and streamline the existing regulatory approach by establishing in regulation the subsistence need for both St. Paul and St. George Island, by removing an annual harvest suspension determination that was based on whether subsistence need that year was satisfied, and by revising harvest termination provisions to be consistent with proposed changes to seasons and subsistence use limits.

    Codification in regulation of the maximum level of subsistence use is based in part on the consistency of the prior determinations of subsistence needs over time, as well as on the consideration of other nutritional, socio-economic, and cultural factors (addressed above). Under 50 CFR 216.72(b), every three years NMFS must publish in the Federal Register a summary of the Pribilovians' fur seal harvest for the previous three-year period and an estimate of the number of fur seals expected to satisfy the subsistence requirements of Pribilovians in the subsequent three-year period. Through that process, NMFS has set the maximum allowable harvest at 500 seals per year for St. George Island every year since 1990 and 2,000 seals per year for St. Paul Island every year since 1992. NMFS has set the annual maximum allowable use of fur seals for subsistence uses based on NMFS's consistent determination of the number of seals that would satisfy the subsistence requirements for each Island. Given the consistent determination on the upper limit of subsistence needs for the two communities and the sustainable nature of that level of harvest (NMFS 2014, NMFS 2017), codifying the allowable harvest levels in regulation would be more efficient than continuing to revisit the subsistence need every three years. If NMFS finalizes this new and more streamlined approach to the regulations and circumstances later change, NMFS can initiate rulemaking to revisit the allowable harvest levels under the authority of the FSA. Under the Co-management Agreements, the ACSPI and NMFS will continue to cooperatively manage subsistence use on St. Paul Island, and the St. George Traditional Council and NMFS will continue to cooperatively manage subsistence use on St. George Island.

    In addition, NMFS proposes to remove the provision at 50 CFR 216.72(f)(1)(i), which allows for the suspension of subsistence harvest on St. Paul Island or St. George Island if NMFS determines that the subsistence needs of the Pribilovians on that Island have been satisfied. Under this proposed rule, NMFS would set in regulation the annual subsistence needs of each Island, which will reflect and respect the many factors that influence subsistence need on each Island. Based on the proposed codification in regulation of annual subsistence need, the regulatory provisions that currently require NMFS to determine if subsistence needs are satisfied, suspend the harvest, and notify the Pribilovians of this suspension would be unnecessary and irrelevant, and removal of this provision (50 CFR 216.72(f)(1)(i)) will further simplify and streamline the regulations.

    Finally, NMFS proposes to revise the subsistence use termination provisions at 50 CFR 216.72(g) to be consistent with the new seasons for St. Paul and the subsistence use limits for each Island. Currently, 50 CFR 216.72(g)(1) terminates the harvest seasons for St. Paul and St. George Islands on August 8 and for the St. George male young of the year harvest season on November 30 and requires NMFS to determine whether the annual subsistence needs on both Islands have been satisfied. Currently, 50 CFR 216.72(g)(2) requires the termination of the subsistence seasons on either Island if NMFS determines that the upper limit of the subsistence need has been reached or if NMFS determines that the subsistence needs of the Pribilovians on that Island have been satisfied.

    Under this proposed rule, 50 CFR 216.72(g)(1) would be revised to apply only to St. Paul Island and: (i) For the hunting of juvenile male fur seals with firearms, would terminate the season at the end of the day on May 31 or when 2,000 fur seals have been killed during the year, whichever comes first; (ii) for the harvest of juvenile male fur seals without firearms, would terminate the season at the end of the day on December 31 or when 2,000 fur seals have been killed during the year, whichever comes first; or (iii) would terminate the subsistence use seasons when 20 female fur seals have been killed during the year.

    In addition, 50 CFR 216.72(g)(2) would be revised to apply only to St. George Island and: (i) For the sub-adult male harvest, would terminate the season at the end of the day on August 8 or when 500 sub-adult male seals have been harvested during the year, whichever comes first; (ii) for the male young of the year harvest, would terminate the harvest at the end of the day on November 30 or earlier if the first of either the following occurs: 150 Male young of the year fur seals have been harvested or a total of 500 sub-adult male fur seals and male young of the year fur seals have been harvested during the year; or (iii) would terminate the subsistence harvest seasons when 3 female fur seals have been killed during the year.

    The Assistant Administrator would no longer need to make an annual determination of whether the subsistence needs of the Pribilovians have been satisfied, because the proposed rule would establish annual limits for St. Paul Island and St. George Island, including the limit on the number of female fur seals that may be killed during the year for St. Paul and St. George Islands, and would set two seasons for St. Paul Island, as discussed next.

    Regulatory Changes to the Management of Subsistence Use on St. Paul Island

    NMFS established in the emergency final rule (51 FR 24828, July 9, 1986) that the original harvest season would occur from June 30 through August 8, with the opportunity to extend the harvest until September 30 if certain conditions were met. The ACSPI and Tanadgusix Corporation (the local Alaska Native Corporation created by Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act) requested a season from June 30 through September 30, in order to meet their subsistence need (51 FR 24828, July 9, 1986). NMFS removed the provisions to extend the subsistence harvest in 1992, citing the inability of Pribilovians to distinguish and avoid immature females during previous harvest extensions and authorized the season to start a week earlier on June 23 (57 FR 33900, July 31, 1992). The current subsistence regulations for St. Paul Island define a single season from June 23 through August 8 to harvest male fur seals 124.5 cm long or less (50 CFR 216.72(e)(2), (e)(5), (g)(1)).

    During the 1980s and 1990s, NMFS and the Pribilovians were adjusting to the subsistence regulatory process and its implementation on both islands. NMFS and ACSPI signed the Co-management Agreement in 2000, which provided the opportunity to adaptively manage female mortality during subsistence activities. The St. Paul Co-management Agreement includes a female mortality threshold of five that, if reached, would result in temporary harvest suspension and a review of the circumstances of those mortalities. The St. Paul Co-management Agreement also includes a second threshold of eight female mortalities (i.e., three more than the temporary suspension), that, if reached, results in termination of the harvest for the season. The Pribilovians have not reached these thresholds during any harvest season on St. Paul since signing of the Co-management Agreement in 2000.

    NMFS proposes to create two seasons on St. Paul for subsistence use of fur seals differentiated by the allowable methods that may be used during each season. The first season would authorize Pribilovians to kill juvenile fur seals (defined as less than 7 years old) using firearms to hunt from land on St. Paul Island from January 1 through May 31, hereafter referred to as the proposed “hunting season.” The second season would authorize the Pribilovians to kill juvenile fur seals without the use of firearms on St. Paul Island from June 23 through December 31, hereafter referred to as the proposed “harvest season.” It is not known whether pups would be available for subsistence uses during the hunting season, but the proposed rule would not preclude Pribilovians from taking pups during either of the two proposed seasons. The limited available evidence suggests that pups likely would not be available to hunters during the proposed hunting season.

    NMFS proposes to remove the regulatory provision at 50 CFR 216.72(e)(5) that requires the taking of fur seals 124.5 cm or less in length, and NMFS instead proposes to allow take by hunting and harvesting of juvenile seals (defined as seals under 7 years old) through the regulatory changes that would provide that (1) juvenile fur seals may be killed with firearms from January 1 through May 31 annually; and (2) juvenile fur seals may be killed without the use of firearms from June 23 through December 31 annually. The proposed rule would authorize harvest during the associated season by traditional methods which involve herding and stunning followed immediately by exsanguination. The proposed rule would also authorize up to 20 female fur seals to be killed per year to account for incidental or accidental take of females. This amount of female mortality associated with the hunting and harvesting seasons is higher than allowed under the current Co-management Agreement, but at one percent of the proposed annual limit on subsistence use, it is a conservative limit that will incentivize avoiding incidental take of females and other causes of accidental mortality and will not have negative consequences at a population level (NMFS 2017).

    NMFS also proposes to remove the regulatory provision at 50 CFR 216.72(e)(2) that no fur seal may be taken before June 23 and to revise the regulatory provision at 50 CFR 216.72(g)(1) that currently terminates the annual take on August 8 for sub-adult males on St. Paul. As explained earlier, this proposed rule would revise the suspension and termination provisions at 50 CFR 216.72(f) and (g) to be consistent with the new seasons and limits for St. Paul Island, which are discussed in detail further below. This revision would include a termination provision of subsistence hunting and harvest seasons for the remainder of the year if 20 female fur seals are killed at any point during the year.

    Finally, the proposed rule would set the total number of seals authorized for subsistence use in both the hunting and harvest seasons, including female fur seals killed during those seasons, at 2,000 juvenile fur seals per year. As explained earlier and in the DSEIS (NMFS 2017), NMFS does not expect a detectable change in population trends from killing up to 2,000 juvenile fur seals on St. Paul during the hunting and harvest seasons annually in the future to be authorized under this proposed rule.

    Age Class

    ACSPI petitioned NMFS to define the age class of male fur seals allowed for subsistence use as those less than seven years old (i.e., juveniles), rather than those 124.5 cm or less as currently described at 50 CFR 216.72(e)(5). In addition, the proposed rule includes pups in the definition of “juvenile” at ACSPI's request, and would remove the current prohibition at 50 CFR 216.72(e)(4). For the reasons detailed below, NMFS proposes to allow the subsistence use of juvenile fur seals less than seven years old, which reflects an age class distinction that the Pribilovians can use in the field to reliably determine eligibility for subsistence use before taking the animals, rather than a measure of length, which can only be verified after-the-fact. These age classes are relevant to the two proposed seasons because of the different availability of the age classes of seals being targeted for subsistence use. The oldest seals are available in limited numbers during the hunting season, and the youngest seals (pups) are available during the latter portion of the harvest season. The limited available evidence suggests that pups do not linger offshore near the Pribilofs after weaning, as they start their migration in approximately December (Lea et al., 2009), and thus likely would not be available to hunters during the start of the proposed hunting season (January 1). In addition, because a significant portion of breeding females do not return to the Pribilofs to pup until July, most, if not all, pups born in that year will not be born until after the end of the proposed hunting season (May 31).

    Subsistence Use of Pups

    NMFS reexamined the record behind the existing prohibition on the taking of pups for subsistence purposes. During the original rulemaking to authorize the subsistence harvest, we incorrectly stated, without explanation, that a harvest of pups could have a disastrous effect on the already declining fur seal population (50 FR 27915, July 8, 1985; 51 FR 24829, July 9, 1986). NMFS has subsequently explained, in the context of the rulemaking to authorize the harvest of pups on St. George Island, that a regulated harvest of male pups would not have a negative effect on the population (79 FR 43007, August 6, 2014; 79 FR 65327, November 4, 2014). The simple explanation for why harvesting pups is not a biological concern for the fur seal population is that pups have a high natural mortality rate, and thus removing a given number of pups from the population has less of a negative effect than taking the same number of older fur seals. NMFS (2014, 2017) analyzed numerous lines of harvest evidence including the harvest of northern fur seal pups from their Russian breeding islands (Kuzin 2010, Ream and Burkanov pers. comm.), survival models (Towell 2007, Fowler et al., 2009), and a model of the proposed St. Paul harvest levels and associated population effects (Towell and Williams, unpublished data) and concluded that the population level effects of the subsistence harvest of 2,000 6 year old males (i.e., the oldest age in the “juvenile” category) would be higher than the harvest of 2,000 male pups, but neither would have significant negative population consequences (NMFS 2017).

    Under the proposed rule, the highest permissible yearly pup harvest on St. Paul (2,000 fur seals) is 2.4 percent of the 2016 pup production estimate (80,614), but a more likely harvest level is about half of that and either level represents an insignificant proportion of the pup production. A more extreme example of the sustainability of a pup harvest comes from the average annual Russian commercial harvest of about 4,300 pups from 1987-2006. This level of harvest represents about 11 percent of annual pup production on Bering Island each year during this 20-year period (Ream and Burkanov pers. comm.). The Bering Island harvest of pups included only males from 1987-1992, and averaged over 6,000 annually during that time period (14.6 percent of annual pup production). Ten years after the initiation of the male pup harvest on Bering Island, the trend in pup production was not statistically different from zero (Ream and Burkanov pers. comm.). These results support NMFS's determination that a male pup harvest of up to 2,000 pups, or currently approximately 2.4 percent of annual production, would not have any detectable direct or indirect population level effects.

    Subsistence Use of Juveniles

    In the emergency final rule (51 FR 24828, 24836, 24840; July 9, 1986), NMFS promulgated the restriction at 50 CFR 216.72(e)(5) that “[o]nly sub-adult male fur seals 124.5 cm or less in length may be taken” with the intent of having the subsistence harvest replicate the commercial harvest and associated research as closely as practical to allow for continued research comparisons among sites with different harvest levels. NMFS discussed this in the emergency interim rule: It should be stressed that this rule authorizes only the subsistence taking of fur seals even though the methods and schedule employed are derived from the commercial harvest (50 FR 27914, 27918; July 8, 1985). In the emergency final rule, NMFS noted that the result is to confine the harvest to primarily 2, 3, and 4-year-old males (51 FR 24828, 24836; July 9, 1986). Maintaining comparability to the size of commercially-harvested seals (124.5 cm or less in length) has proven not to be an issue because Pribilovians prefer and choose smaller seals for subsistence needs.

    Zimmerman and Lechter (1986) and Zimmerman and Melovidov (1987) weighed approximately 950 seals from the 1985 and 1986 subsistence harvests to estimate percentage use, but made no reference to obtaining lengths from the same sample of harvested seals to confirm seals were less than 124.5 cm or whether the harvest selected seals according to their relative abundance in the population. Zimmerman and Lechter (1986) noted that about 80 percent of the seals harvested in 1985 were three-year-old males. Zimmerman and Melovidov (1987) reported that 54 percent of the seals harvested in 1986 were three-year-old males, and noted that this likely represented an Aleut preference for younger seals for food. Hanson et al. (1994) and Caruso and Baker (1996) showed the Aleut preference for younger seals is likely closer to a two-year-old sized seal. NMFS has analyzed the age data of harvested male seals on St. Paul, and the data indicate about 42 percent of the subsistence harvested seals in recent years are two-year-old males versus 13 percent during the last 10 years of the commercial harvest (MML unpublished). Since the emergency final rule in 1986, the Aleuts have never indicated an interest in the subsistence harvest of larger older male seals. Accordingly, authorizing the subsistence use for both hunting and harvesting of juvenile seals (less than seven years old, including pups), rather than dictating a length limit, better accommodates and respects the traditional and cultural preferences of the Aleuts; moreover, the Aleuts' preference to target two to three year old seals in past subsistence harvests indicates that it is not likely that older seals will be targeted in future harvests.

    In addition, harvesters use length in combination with coloration, behavior, and head shape to simultaneously make a harvest choice. A length restriction would not be useful for managing the proposed subsistence hunting season from January 1 through May 31. NMFS and ACSPI do not have a clear understanding of the sizes (or ages) of seals available at this time of year, and it is unrealistic to expect hunters to estimate the length of a mostly-submerged seal before pulling the trigger of a firearm. This is also true for the harvest season since a precise measurement of a moving seal on land among ten or more seals of similar size cannot be taken until after the seal is dead. At age seven most male fur seals show secondary sexual characteristics such as growth of a mane and broadening of the sagittal crest, neck, and shoulders (Scheffer 1962) that provide a reliable means for subsistence users to distinguish adult males from juveniles during both the hunting season and the harvest season. Thus, rather than being regulated by a precise length limitation that can only be confirmed after the fact, Pribilovians will be able to take seals under seven years old based on broad age distinctions that can be used in the field to reliably determine eligibility for subsistence use during either the hunting or harvesting season before taking the animals.

    Accordingly, the proposed rule would remove the provision at 50 CFR 216.72(e)(5) that only subadult male fur seals 124.5 cm or less in length may be taken. Instead, the proposed rule would authorize the subsistence use to include both hunting and harvesting of juvenile seals (those less than seven years old), including pups. The subsistence harvest regulations for St. George Island (50 CFR 216.72(d)) will retain the 124.5 cm length restriction and will continue to use the term sub-adult male to refer to animals less than that size. St. George harvesters take younger seals on average than St. Paul, and this length restriction has had no impact on their subsistence use. If petitioned to do so or if warranted, NMFS may propose changing those provisions for St. George via subsequent rulemaking.

    Hunting Season

    The proposed rule would authorize Pribilovians on St. Paul to kill juvenile northern fur seals from January 1 through May 31 by using firearms only, although alternative hunting methods consistent with the FSA and 50 CFR 216.71 could be developed by NMFS and ACSPI through the Co-management Council. Northern fur seals are not observed on land for most (January 1 through May 1) of the proposed hunting season (Bigg 1990, NMFS 2017), so ACSPI petitioned NMFS to allow Pribilovians to hunt from land on St. Paul Island for animals in or adjacent to the water using firearms. NMFS proposes to define firearm in the same manner as NMFS has previously defined the term. In a regulatory prohibition on discharge of firearms at or within 100 yards of a Steller sea lion west of 144° W longitude (see 50 CFR 224.103(d)(1)(i)), NMFS has defined a firearm as any weapon, such as a pistol or rifle, capable of firing a missile using an explosive charge as a propellant. NMFS proposes to adopt the same definition in 50 CFR 216.72(e)(1) for the St. Paul hunting season. Pribilovians currently hunt with firearms to take Steller sea lions for subsistence uses during this time of year. During scoping and public comments on the DSEIS, Pribilovians indicated that they historically hunted fur seals at this time of year and this would not only allow them to restore traditional cultural practices but also allow them to secure fresh fur seal meat from January to May, thereby promoting greater food security year-round on St. Paul Island since other sources of fresh meat (including sea lions) are limited during those months.

    NMFS has not considered the use of firearms to take northern fur seals for subsistence uses from January through May in previous rulemakings. A primary rationale for why the proposed take of fur seals using firearms would be a sound practice for subsistence use is that fur seal behavior and ecology are substantially different in the winter and spring versus the summer and autumn. Fur seals spend most of their lives at sea and are not reliably available on the Pribilof Islands in the winter and spring, indicating that the hunt is not likely to take breeding fur seals, is not likely to take a significant number of fur seals, and is not likely to incidentally harass non-harvested seals (NMFS 2017), as discussed next.

    Adult male northern fur seals land on the Pribilof Islands to breed beginning in early May (Bigg 1986, Gentry 1998). Pribilovians have observed small numbers (fewer than 20 per month in any year) of juvenile and adult male northern fur seals swimming in the nearshore waters on the Pribilof Islands during the winter and spring, and these observations are substantiated by satellite telemetry data (NMFS 2017). A few fur seals are observed on land in the winter, but unlike their behavior in the summer they are typically found very close to the water's edge and cannot be approached closely (NMFS 2017). Progressively younger males arrive and land on the Pribilof Islands from May through December, though there are no data to determine the ages of seals arriving in May (Bigg 1986). The satellite telemetry data also indicate that female fur seals are not observed within 100 nautical miles of the Pribilof Islands from January through May, indicating the probability of accidentally taking female fur seals during the hunting season would be very low (NMFS 2017). Because there is a small likelihood that breeding fur seals are present on or near St. Paul and would be taken during the hunting season, the hunt of fur seals from January 1 to May 31 is not expected to impact the breeding population of northern fur seals or population trends over time.

    NMFS (2017) analyzed the potential subsistence mortality of six-year old males during the hunting season. The best available data to estimate the probable mortality rate for fur seals comes from the hunting effort (i.e., available weather days to hunt) and success rates (i.e., struck and lost at sea) for Steller sea lions. NMFS (2017) combined these two sources of information from sea lion hunting to estimate that about 20 to 40 fur seals may be killed during the subsistence hunting season. This represents a practical estimate, without any direct data about fur seal hunting or fur seal availability at this time of the year. We assumed that the number of hunting days and hunter success was most influenced by weather, and that the species (sea lion versus fur seal) would have less influence. We do not know the probability of hunters encountering four-, five-, or six-year-old seals while hunting, but would predict based on the preferences identified during the earlier subsistence harvests (Zimmerman and Melovidov, 1987; Hansen et al., 1992) that hunters would choose the smallest (i.e., youngest) of those juveniles available while they are hunting. Bigg (1986) described the timing of arrival of different aged male fur seals on St. Paul based on the kill data from the commercial harvest that generally started on July 1. Thus, Bigg's (1986) analysis is informative, but there are no data from observations of known-aged individuals from January through May.

    While the most likely outcome of the hunting season will be mortality of a mixed number of four-, five-, and six-year old males, NMFS (2017) and Towell and Williams (unpublished) took a conservative approach and modeled the mortality of 2,000 six-year old males for 25 years. This modeling approach is conservative in evaluating the population consequences for several reasons. The longer an individual survives the more likely it will survive to reproduce and contribute to the population. And because survival increases as animals approach sexual maturity, the use of the oldest available seals (six-year-olds) would be removing the seals more likely to successfully contribute to reproduction once sexually mature. A six-year old seal has a higher probability of surviving to the next year than a younger seal. For example, if killing 2,000 four-year-olds, 15-20 percent of them (400) would have died naturally. Modeling for the mortality of six-year-old seals that had survived to near-sexual maturity represents the maximum effect to reproduction and the population. Any hunting mortality of younger seals (four- or five-year-olds), which is likely, would reduce the effect relative to the possible (but unlikely) hunting mortality of exclusively six-year-olds. NMFS (2017) model results indicated a one to two percent reduction in the estimated number of adult males counted in July in the population due to a possible kill of 2,000 six-year-old males compared to a kill of 2,000 males less than 124.5 cm (i.e., males two to four years old). This low percent reduction (one to two percent) is not likely to impact the northern fur seal population overall.

    The incidental harassment of non-targeted northern fur seals during the hunting season is not likely to affect many seals. NMFS (2017) reported that due to their general solitary nature and rare occurrence on the Pribilof Islands during the majority of the hunting season, the level of incidental harassment of fur seals on or near St. Paul Island due to the use of firearms to hunt seals on St. Paul Island would be very low. NMFS (2017) reported that the average number of seals observed on St. Paul for the months of January through May was 19, 3, 1, 19, and 42 fur seals each month, respectively. Supporting the on-land observations, NMFS (2017) also estimated that fur seals spend significantly more time in the North Pacific Ocean than in the Bering Sea during the months of January, February, March and April, and May. Thus, on any particular day when a hunter would be hunting, there would be few if any seals on land (likely less than 42), and possibly a slightly higher number in the water. This alleviates concerns about the possibility of noise from firearms disturbing or harassing a significant number of seals or causing seals onshore to stampede offshore. The breeding season starts in late June and, as discussed earlier, female seals are not present and breeding males are not usually present on St. Paul Island between January and May. Therefore, limiting the use of firearms to January 1 through May 31 alleviates concerns about the possibility of harassing breeding fur seals on land. Also, limiting the use of firearms to January 1 through May 31 alleviates concerns about the safety of fur seal researchers and tourists since few, if any, researchers or visitors would be present during that timeframe.

    Public comments received on the DSEIS expressed concern that the use of firearms to kill fur seals for subsistence is a wasteful manner of taking, as this method increases the likelihood of struck and lost seals. NMFS has evaluated the taking of fur seals with firearms, and there is no viable alternative method to obtain fur seals at the time of year proposed. The traditional harvest method (see next section) is not practical in the winter and spring because the few fur seals that are present on land from January through May are not found in the inland areas typically occupied during the summer and autumn. If the proposed rule is finalized, NMFS will work with ACSPI and hunters both independently and within the co-management framework to monitor and characterize number of fur seals struck and lost and, if necessary, identify measures to reduce the number of seals lost. These estimated numbers and rates of struck and lost fur seals will be compared to those obtained for Steller sea lions and other marine mammals to determine whether the take may be considered wasteful (i.e., not likely to assure the killing and retrieval of the fur seal (51 FR 24828, 24834; July 9, 1986)), and whether the Co-management Council should consider modifying hunting practices to address waste. In addition, NMFS and ACSPI through the Co-management Council could develop alternative hunting methods. Any alternative methods would need to be non-wasteful and otherwise consistent with Section 105(a) of the FSA and 50 CFR 216.71, and would need to result in substantially similar effects (including, but not limited to, levels of harassment of non-hunted seals). Because alternative methods for hunting seals may have different effects than the methods analyzed by NMFS, NMFS would consider whether any such differences warrant additional rulemaking and NEPA analysis before being implemented.

    Harvest Season

    The proposed rule would authorize Pribilovians on St. Paul to kill juvenile northern fur seals from June 23 through December 31 by harvesting. The proposed rule specifies that subsistence harvest would be without the use of firearms and may be by traditional harvest methods of herding and stunning followed immediately by exsanguination, although alternative harvest methods consistent with the FSA and 50 CFR 216.71 could be developed by NMFS and ACPSI through the Co-management Council. The proposed harvest season is significantly longer than the currently authorized season from June 23 through August 8. When viewed in conjunction with the proposed hunting season from January 1 through May 31 and the proposed limit of 2,000 fur seals for subsistence use, the net effect is to allow the hunting and harvest of the same maximum number of fur seals annually as has been authorized under existing regulations, but spread over a longer period of time. This would allow subsistence users to obtain fresh fur seal meat during more of the year, increasing food security for ACSPI. ACSPI also has indicated they prefer the flexibility of one harvest season defined in the regulations rather than multiple regulated harvest seasons for different ages of available seals as NMFS promulgated for St. George in 2014 (79 FR 65327, November 4, 2014). This proposed rule provides for that flexibility by setting one harvest season from June 23 to December 31 for any male fur seals less than 7 years old (i.e., juvenile).

    NMFS distinguishes the harvest as a coordinated and organized effort during the harvest season of multiple subsistence users to provide many seals to meet the subsistence needs of many community members at one time, rather than individual hunters obtaining one seal at a time during the hunting season for use by a small number of individuals. Unlike the hunting season, the proposed rule would not authorize the use of firearms during the harvest season. Instead, the harvest season will continue to use methods consistent with those described as “traditional harvesting techniques” (see 51 FR 24828, July 9, 1986). Thus, the harvest of juvenile fur seals will continue to be by traditional harvest methods of herding and stunning followed immediately by exsanguination.

    In addition, NMFS and ACSPI through the Co-management Council could develop alternative harvesting methods. Any alternative methods would need to be non-wasteful and otherwise consistent with Section 105(a) of the FSA and 50 CFR 216.71, and would need to result in substantially similar effects (including, but not limited to, levels of harassment of non-harvested seals). Because alternative methods for harvesting seals may have different effects from the methods analyzed by NMFS, NMFS would consider whether any such differences warrant additional rulemaking and NEPA analysis before being implemented. This approach would allow for the development of alternative harvest methods through the Co-management Council, rather than NMFS attempting to dictate all aspects of harvest methods in regulation. This approach facilitates cooperative management of an important subsistence resource for Pribilovians and ensures Pribilovians who harvest seals will have a role in developing harvest methods that are consistent with the allowable take of fur seals at 50 CFR 216.71.

    In addition, the proposed approach recognizes the significant role the commercial harvest and Federal management has played in shaping subsistence use of northern fur seals on the Pribilof Islands and in defining a particular harvest method as “traditional.” The “traditional harvesting techniques” described in the 1986 rule were based on the commercial method of visiting a particular non-breeding fur seal resting area, preventing those seals present on land from escaping into the water, and slowly moving those seals into a group from the resting area to an area inland. The inland area was called the killing field and all seals within the harvestable size limits were killed (Bigg 1986). This was possible because it was estimated that about 80 percent of non-breeding males are not on shore on any particular harvest day (Gentry 1981), and thus escaped the commercial harvest. It was estimated that on average the commercial harvest killed about 41 percent of the three-year old males and 53 percent of the four-year old males available in the population (Marine Mammal Biological Lab 1972). NMFS maintained this level of commercial harvests of sub-adult males for over 30 consecutive years until the herd reduction program was instituted (NMFS 2007, 2014, 2017). This aspect of the “traditional harvesting technique” is known as a round-up and drive, and has been modified for subsistence uses by allowing both excess seals for the daily subsistence need or unwanted seals (e.g., large males or females) to escape prior to them being driven to the killing field. The accepted method of taking on the killing field has included seals being stunned unconscious by a blow to the head with a club and exsanguinated by severing the aorta (51 FR 24828, July 9, 1986). An independent panel of veterinarians reviewed this method of killing and determined it to be painless and humane (51 FR 24828, July 9, 1986).

    The harvest season would continue the established subsistence method as has occurred in the past on St. Paul Island and would also authorize harvesting pups using the same technique, though adapted to pup behavior. This approach would enable ACSPI to resume a traditional cultural practice (the subsistence use of fur seal pups) that is prohibited by existing regulations (for more background on the traditional harvest of pups, see the preamble to the St. George proposed rule at 79 FR 43007, 43010-11; July 24, 2014). As explained earlier, NMFS (2014, 2017) has shown that a harvest of pups has a lower biological effect on the population than a similar harvest of sub-adult or juvenile males because at least 50 percent of pups do not survive their first two years at sea after weaning (Lander 1981). NMFS (2017) modeled the mortality of 2,000 male pups, 2,000 two- to four-year-old males, and 2,000 six-year-old males annually for 25 years and estimated a possible reduction in the number of adult males in the twenty-fifth year of about four, six, and eight percent, respectively when compared to a population with no harvest mortality.

    ACSPI has indicated an interest in harvesting male pups during the latter half of the proposed harvest season. ACSPI did not identify specific regulatory dates or other regulatory restrictions to harvest pups, but instead wanted to retain the flexibility of allowing subsistence users to determine the best times, locations, and modifications to the methods to harvest pups. The proposed rule does not limit the opportunities to harvest male pups during the harvest season. Adult male fur seals' territorial behavior in July and August limits safe access by humans into areas occupied by pups. Adult males typically prevent entry of people or other seals into breeding areas until late August, when most females are no longer coming into estrous (Gentry 1998). Subsistence users can handle pups safely up until weaning in order to distinguish male from female seals prior to harvest, but this and other restrictions will be managed and monitored within the co-management process, not by regulations.

    NMFS has worked with the Traditional Council of St. George Island since 2014 to implement the regulations authorizing the harvest of pups on St. George Island (79 FR 65327, November 4, 2014). NMFS has independently monitored all pup harvests from 2014 through 2017. No female pups have been accidentally harvested by the Pribilovians on St. George Island during this timeframe. If the proposed rule is finalized, NMFS expects similar cooperation with ACSPI and a similarly low level of accidental female pup mortality on St. Paul Island.

    Authorized Mortality of Females During the Hunting and Harvest Seasons

    The 1986 emergency final rule included two harvest termination provisions regarding the taking of females during the subsistence harvest of male fur seals (51 FR 24828, July 9, 1986). The first provision established a termination threshold of one-half of one percent of the total number of seals harvested per island. Therefore, the harvest termination thresholds in 1986 based on the harvest range of 2,400 to 8,000 males would have been 12 to 40 females. The second provision established a termination threshold when the number of females harvested during any consecutive seven-day period after August 8 exceeds five. Both of these provisions were removed in 1992 when NMFS removed the option to extend the harvest after August 8 (57 FR 33900, July 31, 1992). The probability of encountering immature female fur seals on the hauling grounds increases after August 1 (57 FR 33900, July 31, 1992). Non-breeding female fur seals arrive on the hauling grounds later than similarly-aged males (Bigg 1986).

    NMFS and ACSPI are still concerned about the killing of females during the subsistence use seasons on St. Paul Island and the ability of subsistence users to distinguish young females from young males. However, rather than preclude subsistence opportunities in an attempt to prevent any female mortality, NMFS is proposing a safe threshold for female mortality associated with the subsistence hunting and harvest seasons and a female mortality termination provision similar to the previous termination provision (51 FR 24828, July 9, 1986) to minimize population consequences. Since the duration of the combined proposed hunting and harvest seasons would be longer than the current subsistence harvest season, NMFS is proposing to authorize for subsistence use the incidental mortality of up to 20 female fur seals each year (i.e., one percent of the allowable mortality). NMFS also proposes to include a provision to terminate the subsistence use on St. Paul for the rest of the year if 20 female fur seals are killed at any point during a calendar year. Although it is more likely female fur seals would be encountered and killed during the harvest season, the subsistence limit and termination provision apply once 20 female fur seals are killed at any point during a calendar year.

    The authorized level of female mortality (20) is higher than allowed under the current Co-management Agreement (8). NMFS and ACSPI will revise the Co-management Agreement so that it is consistent with the proposed regulation if it is finalized. The annual limit on female mortality will incentivize avoiding incidental take of females and other causes of accidental mortality and will not have negative consequences at a population level. NMFS modeled the potential population impact of the different female mortality thresholds of all the alternatives in the DSEIS (NMFS 2017, Towell and Williams unpublished report). NMFS modeled the mortality of 20 female pups and 20 juvenile females (less than six years old) and reported that effects included both lost adult females and changes in reproduction. For the mortality of 20 female pups per year over 25 years, that effect was estimated as a 0.04 percent loss in adult females and 0.04 percent reduction in reproduction using two different historical estimates of female survival (Towell and Williams unpublished report). For the mortality of 20 juvenile females per year over 25 years, that effect was estimated to range from a 0.07 to 0.12 percent loss in adult females and a 0.12 to 0.39 percent reduction in reproduction using two different historical estimates of female survival (Towell and Williams unpublished report). The use of two different estimates of female survival was not expected to show any difference when considering the mortality of female pups, but was expected to provide the range observed for the mortality of up to 20 juvenile females. This low percent reduction in adult females and in reproduction is not likely to impact the northern fur seal population overall.

    The Co-management Council may establish interim thresholds of female mortality below the regulatory limit of 20 in order to adjust subsistence use practices. The intent is for the revised Co-management Agreement to incentivize avoiding incidental take and mortality of females, and other sources of accidental mortality. Thus the non-regulatory measures within the management plans developed in the Co-management process would further reduce the likelihood of reaching the limit of 20 female mortalities.

    Implementation of a Revised Co-Management Agreement and Subsistence Management Plan for St. Paul Island

    NMFS evaluated ACSPI's petition for rulemaking along with other alternatives in a DSEIS (82 FR 22797, January 13, 2017) and determined that the “taking” of fur seals, including incidental taking of females, must be authorized by regulation (16 U.S.C. 1152, 1155(a)). As noted previously, the proposed rule adds a regulatory provision to the petitioned alternative to authorize the incidental or accidental mortality of up to 20 female fur seals each year. ACSPI petitioned NMFS to include a regulatory provision under the FSA that would allow ACSPI to co-manage subsistence use of northern fur seals under a co-management agreement. The proposed rule does not include this petitioned regulatory provision because co-management of subsistence use is authorized under Section 119 of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1388) and so no implementing regulations under the FSA are necessary to allow for co-management between NMFS and ACSPI. ACSPI will be able to continue co-management with NMFS under the MMPA.

    If the proposed rule is finalized, NMFS and ACSPI would revise the Co-management Agreement to reflect the new regulatory framework governing the subsistence take of fur seals on St. Paul Island. NMFS and ACSPI would also finalize an in-season monitoring and management plan, which would specify details of hunting and harvest management that the Co-management Council would implement via consensus within the parameters of the regulations. For example, the in-season monitoring and management plan could include non-regulatory provisions that limit the hunting and harvest of fur seals to particular sites, or suspend the hunting and harvest seasons temporarily if a certain number of females (below the regulatory limit of 20) are killed. This approach would strengthen co-management consistent with Section 119 of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1388), insofar as ACSPI would be an equal partner with NMFS in determining the details of how the subsistence use seasons are managed under the regulations. ACSPI would monitor the juvenile male hunting and harvest seasons with occasional independent monitoring by NMFS representatives. NMFS and ACPSI would monitor the pup harvest and hunting season consistent with the intent of the revised Co-management Agreement, while ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and any restrictions or limitations identified in the in-season monitoring and management plan.

    Additional Regulatory Changes for St. Paul and St. George Islands

    NMFS proposes to remove 50 CFR 216.74(b), which states that Pribilovians who engage in the harvest of seals are required to cooperate with scientists who may need assistance in recording tag or other data and collecting tissue or other fur seal samples for research purposes and that Pribilovians who take fur seals for subsistence uses must cooperate with NMFS representatives on the Pribilof Islands who are responsible for compiling harvest information. These requirements reflected NMFS's relationship with St. Paul subsistence users in the 1980s, but the relationship has evolved through co-management to be collaborative and cooperative, rather than hierarchical, and thus the regulatory mandates in 50 CFR 216.74(b) are unnecessary. Instead, NMFS proposes to remove the heading “St. George Island” from current section 216.74(a), which describes the co-management process and the respective roles of NMFS and the tribes, to clarify that 50 CFR 216.74(a) applies to both St. George and St. Paul. Thus, section 216.74 would no longer have subsections.

    Additional Regulatory Changes Related to St. Paul Subsistence Co-Management Agreement

    NMFS proposes to replace the regulatory restriction at 50 CFR 216.72(e), which states that seals on St. Paul Island may only be harvested from the Zapadni, English Bay, Northeast Point, Polovina, Lukanin, Kitovi, and Reef haulout areas and that no haulout area may be harvested more than once per week. When NMFS promulgated this regulation, NMFS did not indicate why haulout areas on St. Paul Island required additional protection regarding the frequency of harvest (once per week) when compared to those areas on St. George that could be harvested twice per week (51 FR 24828, July 9, 1986). It appears NMFS was simply continuing the frequency of commercial harvests on St. Paul as noted in the emergency interim rule (50 FR 27914, July 8, 1985). NMFS's decision about the frequency of subsistence harvests appears to have been influenced by concerns about overharvest and disturbance on the Islands (51 FR 24837, July 9, 1986), but those concerns were not explained relative to differences in effort (and presumably effects) between the commercial harvest and subsistence harvest and relative to different authorized practices (frequency of harvest allowed) between St. Paul Island and St. George Island. The 1986 subsistence harvest on St. Paul Island was limited in the regulations to one harvest per hauling ground for a total of 2,400-8,000 seals less than 124.5 cm in length over 19 harvest days. When examined in the context of the actual harvest effort in 1984 and 1986, and the data collected and analyzed in 1978 and 1979 by Gentry (1981) and Griben (1979) showing that there were no movements of seals from harvested areas or any evidence of a lack of seals at the end of the commercial harvest season, this concern about disturbance during the subsistence harvest appears without basis. It is also not clear whether disturbance to the rookeries from the subsistence harvest on haulout areas would be any different than that observed for the much larger commercial harvest.

    In addition, the final rule did not include a rationale for the designation of the harvestable haulout areas (51 FR 24828, July 9, 1986), and some of the place names are problematic. Northeast Point is a geographic region on St. Paul Island, not a haulout area. Northeast Point includes two rookeries, named Vostochni and Morjovi, both of which include at least three separate haulout areas. English Bay refers to a body of water on the southern coast of St. Paul Island, not a haulout area. Four different rookeries around English Bay are occupied by fur seals: Tolstoi, Zapadni Reef, Little Zapadni, and Big Zapadni. Each of these rookeries include at least one separate haulout area that was commercially harvested. Reef is a peninsula of land on the southeast coast that includes three rookeries named Reef, Gorbatch, and Ardiguen. Reef and Gorbatch rookeries each include at least two separate haulout areas, and Ardiguen is separated by a cliff on the inland side with no associated harvestable haulout area. These discrepancies and inconsistencies in identifying the haulout areas in 50 CFR 216.72(e), combined with the unclear original rationale, render that regulatory provision ineffective today. Moreover, there is no present rationale to dictate harvest frequency and location by regulation, particularly in light of the preference of NMFS and ACSPI to manage the subsistence use of fur seals through a non-regulatory, yet effective, co-management process. In lieu of identifying in regulation the specific sites where subsistence use may occur, the proposed rule would leave in-season management of the hunting and harvest seasons to the Co-management Council, including the scheduling and identification of locations and frequency of hunting and harvesting through an annual in-season monitoring and management plan, thereby supporting co-management of the subsistence use of marine mammals by Alaska Natives per Section 119 of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1388).

    NMFS proposes to replace 50 CFR 216.72(e)(1), which states that the scheduling of the harvest is at the discretion of the Pribilovians, but must minimize stress to the harvested fur seals, and that the Pribilovians must give adequate advance notice of their harvest schedules to NMFS representatives. The existing regulatory language that requires the Pribilovians to notify NMFS of their harvest schedules was based on the premise that NMFS would provide the exclusive harvest monitoring. However, under the existing Co-management Agreement, the Pribilovians on St. Paul Island have taken responsibility for regular monitoring of subsistence use, and have identified and implemented measures to reduce stress to harvested and unharvested seals. Under the Co-management agreement, they have re-instituted morning harvests, slowed the driving times from the haulout areas to the killing fields, and canceled harvests when weather conditions create a high risk for seals overheating. ACSPI has also instituted cool-down periods after the initial drive of seals to the killing fields, in between periods of stunning on the killing field, or if other unforeseen circumstances warrant. There have been no cases of seals overheating during the harvest in the past decade, in contrast to the commercial harvest and the first twenty years of the subsistence harvest (see annual harvest reports https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/pr/fur-seal). Under the proposed rule, the Pribilovians would continue to work with NMFS on the cooperative management of the proposed subsistence use seasons, and the Co-management Council would schedule subsistence use and identify the locations and frequency of hunting and harvesting in the annual in-season monitoring and management plan. These measures would help improve the quality of the meat collected for subsistence use. Moreover, allowing the Co-management Council to develop measures for the location, frequency, and timing of subsistence use would respect the cultural identity of the Pribilovians and their stewardship responsibility towards fur seals.

    NMFS proposes to replace 50 CFR 216.72(e)(3), and revise 50 CFR 216.72(e)(2) to authorize subsistence harvests without the use of firearms by traditional methods of herding and stunning followed immediately by exsanguination. Currently, 50 CFR 216.72(e)(3) prescribes that no fur seal may be taken except by experienced sealers using the traditional harvesting methods. The rationale for this provision was based on the determination by NMFS in the first years of the subsistence harvest that the traditional method of harvest was certified as humane and the premise that only experienced sealers would be able to maintain the high level of performance required to meet the humane standard. However, experienced sealers are often not available during the current subsistence season on St. Paul Island, which coincides with other limited employment opportunities on the Island, such as commercial fishing (56 FR 36735, 36739; August 1, 1991). A consequence of the regulatory requirement for experienced sealers resulted in a canceled harvest on the last day of the 1992 season (58 FR 32893; June 14, 1993). Specifically, a harvest of approximately 100 seals was scheduled to occur on St. Paul on August 8, 1992, the last available date of the 1992 harvest season. However, due to a family emergency the harvest foreman and other family members had to leave the Island on that date. Thus a lack of available experienced sealers caused the harvest to be canceled.

    NMFS (2017) evaluated the tradeoffs of using regulatory requirements to prescribe the methods, scheduling, and personnel for the subsistence use seasons on St. Paul Island, compared to whether NMFS and ACSPI could effectively use a more collaborative non-regulatory approach to meet the regulatory requirement of ensuring the subsistence use is not accomplished in a wasteful manner (50 CFR 216.71(b)). NMFS (2017) determined that subsistence use activities on St. Paul Island, including the individuals authorized to participate in the hunting and harvest seasons, would be more effectively managed by the St. Paul Co-management Council, rather than prescribed by regulation. Such a process will allow the Co-Management Council to manage the hunting and harvest seasons to accommodate the diversity of subsistence use activities on St. Paul Island. The Co-management Council can consider the availability of subsistence users to participate at different times, while ensuring that Pribilovians can preserve their cultural practices and environmental stewardship of fur seals.

    Request for Comments

    NMFS developed the proposed northern fur seal subsistence use regulations to accomplish the intent of the ACSPI's petition, remove duplicative and unnecessary regulatory provisions for Pribilovians on St. George Island, and enhance the conservation and management of northern fur seals. NMFS solicits public comment on the proposed regulations and on the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for this proposed rule.

    Classification National Environmental Policy Act

    NMFS prepared a DSEIS evaluating the impacts of the subsistence harvest of northern fur seals on St. Paul Island on the human environment, and will complete a final SEIS prior to issuing a final rule. NMFS will also prepare a Supplemental Information Report to the St. George Final SEIS prior to issuing a final rule.

    Executive Order 12866 and Regulatory Flexibility Act

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

    Regulatory Impact Review (RIR or Analysis)

    An RIR was prepared to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives. A copy of this Analysis is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). NMFS recommends this action based on those measures that maximize net benefits to the Nation. Specific aspects of the economic analysis related to the impact of the proposed rule on small entities are discussed below in the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis section.

    Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    This Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was prepared for this proposed rule, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 603), to describe the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. An IRFA describes why this action is being proposed; the objectives and legal basis for the proposed rule; the number of small entities to which the proposed rule would apply; any projected reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements of the proposed rule; any overlapping, duplicative, or conflicting Federal rules; and any significant alternatives to the proposed rule that would accomplish the stated objectives, consistent with applicable statutes, and that would minimize any significant adverse economic impacts of the proposed rule on small entities. Descriptions of this proposed rule, its purpose, and the legal basis are contained earlier in this preamble and are not repeated here.

    NMFS prepared an analysis under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) that carefully examined the potential impacts, including possible economic benefits and costs, and potential adverse economic burdens that may accrue uniquely to small entities, attributable to the action described above. NMFS affirms that the analysts have used the best available scientific data and commercial information to examine the possibility that a small entity, directly regulated by the proposed action, may potentially incur a significant adverse economic impact attributable to adoption of this action.

    Number and Description of Small Entities Regulated by This Proposed Rule

    The harvest of northern fur seals on the Pribilof Islands, Alaska, is for subsistence purposes only by Pribilovians. This action directly regulates the subsistence use of northern fur seals by Alaska Natives residing in the community of St. Paul and St. George (i.e., Pribilovians). Individual Pribilovians, through the coordination of their Tribal Governments, organize volunteer crews to take northern fur seals for subsistence use consistent with the regulations. The RFA recognizes and defines three kinds of small entities: (1) Small businesses; (2) small non-profit organizations; and (3) and small government jurisdictions. Thus, subsistence harvesters do not meet the RFA definition of small entities.

    NMFS has identified two small entities that may be affected by this action—the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, Tribal Government (ACSPI), and the Traditional Council of St. George Island, Tribal Government (Traditional Council) (i.e., both Federally-recognized tribal governments). The tribal governments on behalf of their members report on the level of the subsistence use of northern fur seals to NMFS and therefore may represent an affected small government jurisdiction.

    Description of Significant Alternatives That Minimize Adverse Impacts on Small Entities

    No significant alternatives were identified that would accomplish the stated objectives for deregulating the subsistence use of northern fur seals in the Pribilof Islands, are consistent with applicable statutes, that would reduce costs to potentially affected small entities more than the proposed rule and that is directly responsive to the ACSPI petition.

    The Alaska Native residents of St. Paul and St. George rely on a traditional subsistence lifestyle. The proposed rule would improve the management of fur seal subsistence use on St. Paul and St. George and would improve the ability of Pribilovians on both Islands to meet their subsistence needs. For both Islands, the proposed rule removes or reduces regulatory burdens on NMFS and Pribilovians by removing a requirement for NMFS to publish every three years subsistence determinations for each year, by ceasing to use a lower and upper limit to specify harvest levels, and by eliminating or revising regulations related to the lower and upper limit and the suspension and termination of the subsistence use season. For both Islands, the proposed rule also removes duplicative and therefore unnecessary regulations. The proposed rule balances an approach to streamline and simplify the regulations that govern the subsistence use of fur seals on the Pribilof Islands, while recognizing that a non-regulatory approach would prevent the subsistence use of fur seals on the Pribilof Islands. Under the FSA, all taking of fur seals is prohibited, unless authorized in regulations deemed necessary and appropriate for the conservation, management, and protection of the fur seal population (16 U.S.C. 1155(a)). NMFS will continue to regulate some aspects of subsistence use because an exclusively non-regulatory approach is not appropriate to ensure both the conservation goals for fur seals on the Pribilof Islands and the continued subsistence use of fur seals by Pribilovians. As discussed next, however, the preferred alternatives for each Island will streamline and simplify the regulations and have conservation value, while providing positive and beneficial effects for the communities of St. Paul and St. George Islands.

    For St. Paul Island, Alternative 2 (Preliminary Preferred/Petitioned Alternative) addresses the subsistence need of the St. Paul community expressed in their petition. The Petitioned Alternative recognizes a formal request by the ACSPI to maximize the use of co-management (i.e., non-regulatory) rather than Federal regulations to restrict and manage subsistence practices. Alternative 2 addresses the petition of ACSPI to reinitiate the pup harvest and winter hunting of fur seals, and Alternative 2 delegates authority to the St. Paul Co-Management Council to develop a process and implement practical, locally-supported conservation controls. These controls may include measures to manage and minimize incidental or accidental mortality of females, monitor and report the subsistence use during all seasons, and prohibit subsistence use at breeding locations where the annual pup production may not sustain such use. Alternative 2 increases opportunities for using fur seals by authorizing harvests of juvenile fur seals from June 23 through December 31, and by adding a hunting season for juvenile fur seals from January 1 through May 31 every year. As a result of this change, the availability of fresh fur seal meat outside the current summer harvest season and the opportunities to co-manage the subsistence use are improved. During the hunting season, firearms would be a permitted method to pursue fur seals on land or in the water. By allowing subsistence use of different age classes of fur seals at more locations on St. Paul, the community would have greater community resilience in meeting the demands of changing future environmental conditions to meet their subsistence need. For example, increasing ambient air temperatures on the Pribilof Islands increases the probability of over-heating seals during the round-up process in the summer, and may result in more canceled harvests. The tribal governments on both islands have begun to collect data to quantify the effects of changing environmental conditions on their ability to meet their subsistence needs. Fur seals may begin to spend more time in the Bering Sea in the winter as less seasonal sea ice forms. As a result they may haul out more frequently on the Pribilof Islands. Alternative 2 would best balance meeting the subsistence needs of the community with the conservation and management of the fur seal population. Alternative 2 also expands co-management of a resource of significant value to the community of St. Paul Island. Therefore, Alternative 2 is believed to have major beneficial effects to the Pribilovians of St. Paul Island. NMFS' preliminary preferred alternative is Alternative 2 due to the high likelihood of positive or beneficial effects on the community, and similar environmental consequences to all other alternatives.

    For St. George Island, Alternative 2 will remove duplicative and unnecessary regulations on the take of fur seals and will streamline and simplify the regulations by setting a sustainable maximum harvest level in regulation. Setting in regulation a fixed maximum harvest level for St. George Island will account for the prevailing socio-economic conditions and abundance of the fur seal population on the Pribilof Islands, as well as the variability in the availability of fur seals based on environmental factors and the availability of subsistence users to participate in the subsistence harvests. Alternative 2, as compared to Alternative 1, will reduce current survey burdens on the subsistence harvest on St. George Island while emphasizing a broader consideration of the economic, social, and environmental factors affecting the subsistence use. The result of the regulatory streamlining will improve access and utilization of subsistence resources on St. George Island. This will positively impact food security, availability, and stability for the Pribilovians on St. George Island. Therefore, Alternative 2 is believed to have major beneficial effects to the Pribilovians of St. George Island. NMFS' preliminary preferred alternative is Alternative 2 due to the high likelihood of positive or beneficial effects on the community, and similar environmental consequences to all other alternatives.

    NMFS determined that disproportionality is the appropriate standard given the regulated entities are small government jurisdictions. No large entities are allowed to hunt or harvest northern fur seals; therefore the regulatory allowance for tribal members of either the Traditional Council of St. George or the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island to use northern fur seals for subsistence does not create a disproportionate impact that would disadvantage them. NMFS expects this action to have positive economic impacts to the small governmental entities affected by the rule; no negative economic impacts are expected. Based on this analysis, NMFS preliminarily determines that, while there may be two directly regulated small entities that may be beneficially affected by this proposed rule, those entities would not be significantly affected by this proposed rule. However, NMFS has prepared this IRFA to comply with the RFA and to provide potentially affected entities an opportunity to provide comments on this IRFA. NMFS will evaluate any comments received on the IRFA and may consider certifying under section 605 of the RFA (5 U.S.C. 605) that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities prior to publication of the final rule.

    Recordkeeping, Reporting, and Other Compliance Requirements

    This proposed rule revises an existing collection-of-information requirement subject to review and approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), although certain collection-of-information requirements would remain in place for both Islands. NMFS obtained OMB control number 0648-0699 for the regulations at 50 CFR 216.71-74, which apply to both Islands. For St. Paul Island, public reporting burden for hunt and harvest reporting for ACSPI is estimated to average 40 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. There are no significant changes in the collection-of-information requirements for St. George as part of this action.

    Under the existing regulatory structure, NMFS is required to suspend the subsistence use season for each Island when the lower limit of subsistence use for that Island is reached, and if allowing the season to resume, NMFS is required to determine the number of seals needed to satisfy subsistence need. NMFS substantiates the number of seals needed above the lower limit based on additional information provided from the Pribilovians. Under the proposed rule, these regulatory requirements would be eliminated; therefore, the proposed rule would reduce the burden on the Pribilovians on both Islands to collect and submit additional household surveys or additional information to justify their annual subsistence need.

    Duplicate, Overlapping, or Conflicting Federal Rules

    No duplication, overlap, or conflict between this proposed rule and existing Federal rules has been identified.

    Executive Order 13175—Native Consultation

    The ACSPI petitioned NMFS to revise the northern fur seal subsistence use regulations. NMFS worked with ACSPI and contacted their local Native Corporation (Tanadgusix) about revising the regulations regarding the subsistence use of northern fur seals on St. Paul Island. Their input is incorporated herein. NMFS contacted the tribal government of St. George Island and their local Native Corporation (Tanaq) about revisions to the regulations applicable to the subsistence use of northern fur seals on St. George Island. Their input is incorporated herein. This proposed rule was developed through timely and meaningful consultation and collaboration with the tribal governments of St. Paul and St. George Islands and the local Native Corporations (Tanadgusix and Tanaq).

    Collection-of-Information Requirements

    This proposed rule revises a collection-of-information requirement subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). NMFS obtained OMB control number 0648-0699 for the regulations at 50 CFR 216.71-74, which apply to both St. Paul and St. George Islands. For St. Paul Island, public reporting burden for hunt and harvest reporting is estimated to average 40 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. There are no significant changes in the collection-of-information requirements for St. George as part of this action.

    NMFS seeks public comment regarding: Whether this revised collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Send comments on these or any other aspects of the collection of information to NMFS at the ADDRESSES above, and email to [email protected] or fax to (202) 395-7285.

    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB Control Number.

    Dated: August 6, 2018. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 216

    Alaska, Marine Mammals, Pribilof Islands, Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 216 is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 216—SUBPART F, PRIBILOF ISLANDS, TAKING FOR SUBSISTENCE PURPOSES 1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 216 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq., unless otherwise noted.

    2. In § 216.72: a. Revise the section heading; b. Remove and reserve paragraphs (b); c. Revise paragraphs (d) introductory text and (d)(1); d. Remove and reserve paragraphs (d)(3), (d)(5); e. Revise paragraphs (d)(6); f. Remove and reserve paragraph (d)(9) and g. Revise paragraphs (e), (f), and (g).

    The revisions are to read as follows:

    § 216.72 Restrictions on subsistence use of fur seals.

    (d) St. George Island. The subsistence fur seal harvest restrictions described in paragraphs (d)(1) through (d)(5) of this section apply exclusively to the harvest of sub-adult fur seals; restrictions that apply exclusively to the harvest of young of the year fur seals can be found in paragraphs (d)(6) through (d)(11) of this section. For the taking of fur seals for subsistence uses, Pribilovians on St. George Island may harvest up to a total of 500 male fur seals per year over the course of both the sub-adult male harvest and the male young of the year harvest. Pribilovians are authorized each year up to 3 mortalities of female fur seals associated with the subsistence seasons, which will be included in the total authorized subsistence harvest of 500 fur seals per year.

    (1) Pribilovians may only harvest sub-adult male fur seals 124.5 centimeters or less in length from June 23 through August 8 annually on St. George Island.

    (3) [RESERVED]

    (5) [RESERVED]

    (6) Pribilovians may only harvest male young of the year from September 16 through November 30 annually on St. George Island. Pribilovians may harvest up to 150 male fur seal young of the year annually.

    (9) [RESERVED]

    (e) St. Paul Island. For the taking of fur seals for subsistence uses, Pribilovians on St. Paul Island are authorized to take by hunt and harvest up to 2,000 juvenile (less than 7 years old, including pups) male fur seals per year.

    (1) Juvenile male fur seals may be killed with firearms from January 1 through May 31 annually, or may be killed using alternative hunting methods developed through the St. Paul Island Co-management Council if those methods are consistent with § 216.71 and result in substantially similar effects. A firearm is any weapon, such as a pistol or rifle, capable of firing a missile using an explosive charge as a propellant.

    (2) Juvenile male fur seals may be harvested without the use of firearms from June 23 through December 31 annually. Authorized harvest may be by traditional harvest methods of herding and stunning followed immediately by exsanguination, or by alternative harvest methods developed through the St. Paul Island Co-management Council if those methods are consistent with § 216.71 and result in substantially similar effects.

    (3) Pribilovians are authorized each year up to 20 mortalities of female fur seals associated with the subsistence seasons, which will be included in the total number of fur seals authorized per year for subsistence uses (2,000).

    (f) Harvest suspension provisions.

    (1) The Assistant Administrator is required to suspend the take provided for in § 216.71 on St. George and/or St. Paul Islands, as appropriate, when:

    (i) He or she determines that the harvest is being conducted in a wasteful manner; or

    (ii) With regard to St. George Island, two female fur seals have been killed during the subsistence seasons on St. George Island.

    (2) A suspension based on a determination under paragraph (f)(1)(i) of this section may be lifted by the Assistant Administrator if he or she finds that the conditions that led to the determination that the harvest was being conducted in a wasteful manner have been remedied.

    (3) A suspension based on a determination under paragraph (f)(1)(ii) of this section may be lifted by the Assistant Administrator if he or she finds that the conditions that led to the killing of two female fur seals on St. George Island have been remedied and additional or improved methods to detect female fur seals during the subsistence seasons are being implemented.

    (g) Harvest termination provisions. The Assistant Administrator shall terminate the annual take provided for in § 216.71 on the Pribilof Islands, as follows:

    (1) For St. Paul Island:

    (i) For the hunting of juvenile male fur seals with firearms, at the end of the day on May 31 or when 2,000 fur seals have been killed, whichever comes first;

    (ii) For the harvest of juvenile male fur seals without firearms, at the end of the day on December 31 or when 2,000 fur seals have been killed, whichever comes first; or

    (iii) When 20 female fur seals have been killed during the subsistence seasons.

    (2) For St. George Island:

    (i) For the sub-adult male harvest, at the end of the day on August 8 or when 500 sub-adult male seals have been harvested, whichever comes first;

    (ii) For the male young of the year harvest, at the end of the day on November 30 or earlier when the first of the either occurs: 150 Male young of the year fur seals have been harvested or a total of 500 male sub-adult and male young of the year fur seals have been harvested; or

    (iii) When 3 female fur seals have been killed during the subsistence seasons.

    3. Revise § 216.74 to read as follows:
    § 216.74 Cooperation between fur seal harvesters, tribal and Federal Officials.

    Federal scientists and Pribilovians cooperatively manage the subsistence harvest of northern fur seals under section 119 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 1388). The Federally recognized tribes on the Pribilof Islands have signed agreements describing a shared interest in the conservation and management of fur seals and the designation of co-management councils that meet and address the purposes of the co-management agreements for representatives from NMFS, St. George and St. Paul tribal governments. NMFS representatives are responsible for compiling information related to sources of human-caused mortality and serious injury of marine mammals. The Pribilovians are responsible for reporting their subsistence needs and actual level of subsistence take. This information is used to update stock assessment reports and make determinations under § 216.72. Pribilovians who take fur seals for subsistence uses collaborate with NMFS representatives and the respective Tribal representatives to consider best harvest practices under co-management and to facilitate scientific research.

    [FR Doc. 2018-17117 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    83 157 Tuesday, August 14, 2018 Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request August 9, 2018.

    The Department of Agriculture has submitted the following information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review and clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. Comments are requested regarding (1) whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of burden including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Comments regarding this information collection received by September 13, 2018 will be considered. Written comments should be addressed to: Desk Officer for Agriculture, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), New Executive Office Building, 725—17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20502. Commenters are encouraged to submit their comments to OMB via email to: [email protected] or fax (202) 395-5806 and to Departmental Clearance Office, USDA, OCIO, Mail Stop 7602, Washington, DC 20250-7602. Copies of the submission(s) may be obtained by calling (202) 720-8958.

    An agency may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless the collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number and the agency informs potential persons who are to respond to the collection of information that such persons are not required to respond to the collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

    Food Safety and Inspection Service

    Title: Consumer Complaint Monitoring System.

    OMB Control Number: 0583-0133.

    Summary of Collection: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has been delegated the authority to exercise the functions of the Secretary as provided in the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) (21 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) (21 U.S.C. 451 et seq.), and the Egg Product Inspection Act (EPIA) (21 U.S.C. 1031 et seq.). These statutes mandate that FSIS protect the public by ensuring that meat and poultry products are safe, wholesome, unadulterated, and properly labeled and packaged. FSIS tracks consumer complaints about meat, poultry, and egg products. Consumer complaints are usually filed because food made the consumer sick, caused an allergic reaction, was not properly labeled (misbranded).

    Need and Use of the Information: The Consumer Complaint Monitoring System web portal is used primarily to track consumer complaints regarding meat, poultry, and egg products. FSIS will use the information collected from the web portal. To not collect the information from the web portal would reduce the effectiveness of the meat, poultry, and egg products inspection program.

    Description of Respondents: Individuals or households.

    Number of Respondents: 750.

    Frequency of Responses: Reporting: On occasion.

    Total Burden Hours: 175.

    Food Safety and Inspection Service

    Title: Animal Disposition Reporting.

    OMB Control Number: 0583-0139.

    Summary of Collection: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has been delegated the authority to exercise the functions of the Secretary as provided in the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) (21 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) and the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) (21 U.S.C. 451 et seq.). These statutes mandate that FSIS protect the public by ensuring that meat and poultry products are safe, wholesome, unadulterated, and properly labeled and packaged. FSIS also inspects exotic animals and rabbits under the authority of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, as amended (7 U.S.C. 1621 et seq.). In accordance with 9 CFR 320.6, 381.180, 352.15, and 354.91, establishments that slaughter meat, poultry, exotic animals, and rabbits are required to maintain certain records regarding their business operations and to report this information to the Agency as required.

    Need and Use of the Information: FSIS will collect information from establishments using FSIS Form 6510-7, Poultry Lot Information. FSIS uses this information to plan inspection activities, to develop sampling plans, to target establishments for testing, to develop Agency budget, and to develop reports to Congress.

    Description of Respondents: Business or other for-profit.

    Number of Respondents: 1,159.

    Frequency of Responses: Reporting: Other (daily).

    Total Burden Hours: 23.180.

    Ruth Brown, Departmental Information Collection Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17397 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-DM-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food Safety and Inspection Service [Docket No. FSIS-2018-0026] Notice of Request To Renew an Approved Information Collection (Certificates of Medical Examination) AGENCY:

    Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing its intention to renew the approved information collection regarding certificates of medical examination. The approval for this information collection will expire on December 31, 2018. FSIS is making no changes to the approved collection.

    DATES:

    Submit comments on or before October 15, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    FSIS invites interested persons to submit comments on this Federal Register notice. Comments may be submitted by one of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: This website provides the ability to type short comments directly into the comment field on this web page or attach a file for lengthier comments. Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the on-line instructions at that site for submitting comments.

    Mail, including CD-ROMs, etc.: Send to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Mailstop 3758, Room 6065, Washington, DC 20250-3700.

    Hand- or courier-delivered submittals: Deliver to 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 6065, Washington, DC 20250-3700.

    Instructions: All items submitted by mail or electronic mail must include the Agency name and docket number FSIS-2018-0026. Comments received in response to this docket will be made available for public inspection and posted without change, including any personal information, to http://www.regulations.gov.

    Docket: For access to background documents or comments received, call (202) 720-5627 to schedule a time to visit the FSIS Docket Room at 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 6065, Washington, DC 20250-3700.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Gina Kouba, Office of Policy and Program Development, Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 6065, South Building, Washington, DC 20250-3700; (202) 720-5627.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Certificates of Medical Examination.

    OMB Control Number: 0583-0167.

    Expiration Date: 12/31/2018.

    Type of Request: Renewal of an approved information collection.

    Abstract: FSIS, by delegation (7 CFR 2.18, 2.53), exercises the functions of the Secretary as specified in the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) (21 U.S.C. 601, et seq.), the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) (21 U.S.C. 451, et seq.), and the Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA) (21 U.S.C. 1031, et seq.). These statutes mandate that FSIS protect the public by verifying that meat, poultry, and egg products are safe, wholesome, unadulterated, and properly labeled and packaged.

    Annually, the occupants of in-plant positions in FSIS inspect more than 8 billion birds and more than 130 million head of livestock. Veterinary Medical Officers, Food Inspectors, and Consumer Safety Inspectors check animals before and after slaughter, preventing diseased animals from entering the food supply, and examining carcasses for visible defects that can affect safety and quality. Consumer Safety Inspectors work in processed product inspection, assuring products are processed under sanitary conditions, not adulterated, and truthfully labeled. Inspection activities of Veterinary Medical Officers, Food Inspectors, and Consumer Safety Inspectors are carried out in over 6,000 privately owned establishments nationwide.

    The duties performed by in-plant inspection personnel can be arduous, requiring standing and walking eight to nine hours daily, often on slippery and hazardous surfaces. Work is typically performed in high humidity and, depending on weather conditions, warm or cold temperatures. The work involves frequent contact with animal tissues, animal body fluids, chemical sanitation rinses and water.

    FSIS is requesting a renewal of the approved information collection regarding certificates of medical examination so that FSIS can determine whether or not an applicant for a Food Inspector, Consumer Safety Inspector, or Veterinary Medical Officer in-plant position meets the Office of Personnel Management (OPM)-approved medical qualification standards for the position. The certificates of medical examination ensure accurate collection of the required data. The OPM-approved medical qualification standards apply only to positions in FSIS, not positions in other Federal agencies. FSIS is making no changes to the approved collection. The approval for this information collection will expire on December 31, 2018.

    When requesting that applicants for the positions listed above undergo the medical examination, a representative of FSIS notifies the applicants in writing of the reasons for the examination, the process, and the consequences of the failure to report for an examination or provide medical documentation. Any physical condition that would hinder an individual's full, efficient, and safe performance of his or her duties is considered disqualifying for employment, except when convincing evidence is presented that the individual can perform the essential functions of the job efficiently and without hazard.

    In accordance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008, FSIS will make reasonable accommodations for the known physical or mental limitations of qualified individuals with disabilities unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of FSIS.

    FSIS has made the following estimates on the basis of an information collection assessment.

    Estimate of Burden: FSIS estimates that it will take each respondent 90 minutes to complete the form.

    Respondents: FSIS Applicants for Food Inspector, Consumer Safety Inspector, and Veterinary Medical Officer in-plant positions.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 500 respondents.

    Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 750 hours.

    Copies of this information collection assessment can be obtained from Gina Kouba, Office of Policy and Program Development, Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 6065, South Building, Washington, DC 20250-3700; (202) 720-5627.

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of FSIS's functions, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of FSIS's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the method and assumptions used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques, or other forms of information technology. Comments may be sent to both FSIS, at the addresses provided above, and the Desk Officer for Agriculture, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Washington, DC 20253.

    Responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All comments will also become a matter of public record.

    Additional Public Notification

    Public awareness of all segments of rulemaking and policy development is important. Consequently, FSIS will announce this Federal Register publication on-line through the FSIS web page located at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/federal-register.

    FSIS also will make copies of this publication available through the FSIS Constituent Update, which is used to provide information regarding FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal Register notices, FSIS public meetings, and other types of information that could affect or would be of interest to our constituents and stakeholders. The Update is available on the FSIS web page. Through the web page, FSIS is able to provide information to a much broader, more diverse audience. In addition, FSIS offers an email subscription service which provides automatic and customized access to selected food safety news and information. This service is available at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/subscribe. Options range from recalls to export information, regulations, directives, and notices. Customers can add or delete subscriptions themselves, and have the option to password protect their accounts.

    USDA Non-Discrimination Statement

    No agency, officer, or employee of the USDA shall, on the grounds of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, or political beliefs, exclude from participation in, deny the benefits of, or subject to discrimination any person in the United States under any program or activity conducted by the USDA.

    How To File a Complaint of Discrimination

    To file a complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, which may be accessed online at http://www.ocio.usda.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2012/Complain_combined_6_8_12.pdf, or write a letter signed by you or your authorized representative.

    Send your completed complaint form or letter to USDA by mail, fax, or email: Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410, Fax: (202) 690-7442, Email: [email protected].

    Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.), should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).

    Paul Kiecker, Acting Administrator.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17424 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-DM-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food Safety and Inspection Service [Docket No. FSIS-2018-0028] Notice of Request for a New Information Collection: Foodborne Illness Outbreak Investigation Survey for FSIS Public Health Partners AGENCY:

    Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing its intention to collect information from state and territorial government partners on ways to strengthen collaborative response to illness outbreaks associated with FSIS-regulated food products. The purpose of this information collection is to inform FSIS partner outreach efforts in order to effectively investigate and prevent foodborne illnesses.

    DATES:

    Submit comments on or before October 15, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    FSIS invites interested persons to submit comments on this Federal Register notice. Comments may be submitted by one of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: This website provides the ability to type short comments directly into the comment field on this web page or attach a file for lengthier comments. Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the on-line instructions at that site for submitting comments.

    Mail, including CD-ROMs, etc.: Send to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Mailstop 3758, Room 6065, Washington, DC 20250-3700.

    Hand- or courier-delivered submittals: Deliver to 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 6065, Washington, DC 20250-3700.

    Instructions: All items submitted by mail or electronic mail must include the Agency name and docket number FSIS-2018-0028. Comments received in response to this docket will be made available for public inspection and posted without change, including any personal information, to http://www.regulations.gov.

    Docket: For access to background documents or comments received, call (202) 720-5627 to schedule a time to visit the FSIS Docket Room at 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 6065, Washington, DC 20250-3700.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Gina Kouba, Office of Policy and Program Development, Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 6065, South Building, Washington, DC 20250-3700; (202) 720-5627.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Foodborne Illness Outbreak Investigation Survey for FSIS Public Health Partners.

    Type of Request: New information collection.

    Abstract: FSIS has been delegated the authority to exercise the functions of the Secretary (7 CFR 2.18, 2.53) as specified in the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) (21 U.S.C. 601, et seq.), the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) (21 U.S.C. 451, et seq.) and the Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA) (21 U.S.C. 1031, et seq.). These statutes mandate that FSIS protect the public by verifying that meat, poultry, and egg products are safe, wholesome, unadulterated, and properly labeled and packaged.

    FSIS's Office of Public Health Science (OPHS) provides the scientific leadership necessary for the support of science-based food safety programs and policies implemented to reduce foodborne illnesses and deaths associated with FSIS-regulated products. As part of OPHS, the Applied Epidemiology Staff (AES) collaborates with public health partners in local, state, and federal government agencies to detect, respond to, and prevent foodborne illnesses, outbreaks, and food adulteration events. Effective communication between partners facilitates rapid investigation and control measures.

    To promote successful partnerships, FSIS will administer a series of surveys regarding foodborne illness outbreak investigation to state and territorial government partners. The results of these surveys will help FSIS assess communication trends and prioritize outreach efforts. The surveys will be conducted annually in Fiscal Years 2019, 2020, and 2021. The surveys will be sent to approximately 112 state and territorial government employees each fiscal year.

    Estimate of Burden:

    Estimated Annual Reporting Burden for the FY 2019 Survey Respondents Number of
  • respondents
  • Participation
  • time
  • (minutes)
  • Burden
  • (hours)
  • State and territorial government employees 112 10 18.7
    Estimated Annual Reporting Burden for the FY 2020 Survey Respondents Number of
  • respondents
  • Participation
  • time
  • (minutes)
  • Burden
  • (hours)
  • State and territorial government employees 112 10 18.7
    Estimated Annual Reporting Burden for the FY 2021 Survey Respondents Estimated
  • number of
  • respondents
  • Participation
  • time
  • (minutes)
  • Burden
  • (hours)
  • State and territorial government employees 112 10 18.7

    Respondents: State and territorial government employees.

    Estimated No. of Respondents: 336.

    Estimated No. of Annual Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Estimated Total Burden on Respondents: 56 hours.

    Copies of this information collection assessment can be obtained from Gina Kouba, Office of Policy and Program Development, Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 6065, South Building, Washington, DC 20250-3700; (202) 720-5627.

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of FSIS's functions, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of FSIS's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the method and assumptions used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques, or other forms of information technology. Comments may be sent to both FSIS, at the addresses provided above, and the Desk Officer for Agriculture, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Washington, DC 20253.

    Responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All comments will also become a matter of public record.

    Additional Public Notification

    Public awareness of all segments of rulemaking and policy development is important. Consequently, FSIS will announce this Federal Register publication on-line through the FSIS web page located at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/federal-register.

    FSIS also will make copies of this publication available through the FSIS Constituent Update, which is used to provide information regarding FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal Register notices, FSIS public meetings, and other types of information that could affect or would be of interest to our constituents and stakeholders. The Update is available on the FSIS web page. Through the web page, FSIS is able to provide information to a much broader, more diverse audience. In addition, FSIS offers an email subscription service which provides automatic and customized access to selected food safety news and information. This service is available at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/subscribe. Options range from recalls to export information, regulations, directives, and notices. Customers can add or delete subscriptions themselves, and have the option to password protect their accounts.

    USDA Non-Discrimination Statement

    No agency, officer, or employee of the USDA shall, on the grounds of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, or political beliefs, exclude from participation in, deny the benefits of, or subject to discrimination any person in the United States under any program or activity conducted by the USDA.

    How To File a Complaint of Discrimination

    To file a complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, which may be accessed online at http://www.ocio.usda.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2012/Complain_combined_6_8_12.pdf, or write a letter signed by you or your authorized representative.

    Send your completed complaint form or letter to USDA by mail, fax, or email:

    Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410.

    Fax: (202) 690-7442.

    Email: [email protected].

    Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.), should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).

    Paul Kiecker, Acting Administrator.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17427 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-DM-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Snow King Mountain Resort On-Mountain Improvements Project Environmental Impact Statement. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Jackson Ranger District, Teton County, Wyoming AGENCY:

    Forest Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Correction and extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The USDA Forest Service, Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF) published in the Federal Register on August 3, 2018 a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Snow King Mountain Resort On-mountain Improvements Project. The NOI referenced an incorrect project website address and the date the comment period ends was unclear; this notice provides a technical correction to the NOI to provide the correct website and also clarifies and extends the scoping comment period.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mary Moore, Jackson District Ranger, [email protected] or (307) 739-5410. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Correction

    In the Federal Register on August 3, 2018 (83 FR 38117), on p. 38117, in the first column, correct the DATES caption to read:

    DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by September 13, 2018.

    Correction

    In the Federal Register on August 3, 2018 (83 FR 38117) on page 38118, in the second column, correct the first paragraph (under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION caption, in the Proposed Action subheading) to read:

    A more detailed description of the proposed action, including maps, is available at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=54201.

    Dated: August 6, 2018. Kevin Heikkila, Acting Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17511 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Business-Cooperative Service Notice of Solicitation of Applications for the Rural Energy for America Program for Fiscal Year 2019 AGENCY:

    Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Rural Business-Cooperative Service (the Agency) Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA) is being issued prior to passage of a final appropriations act to allow potential applicants time to submit applications for financial assistance under Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for Federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, and give the Agency time to process applications within the current FY. This NOSA is being issued prior to enactment of full year appropriation for FY2019. The Agency will publish the amount of funding received in any continuing resolution or the final appropriations act on its website at https://www.rd.usda.gov/newsroom/notices-solicitation-applications-nosas. Expenses incurred in developing applications will be at the applicant's risk.

    The REAP has two types of funding assistance: (1) Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Assistance and (2) Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants.

    The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Assistance provides grants and guaranteed loans to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements to their operations. Eligible renewable energy systems for REAP provide energy from: Wind, solar, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydro-electric, ocean, geothermal, or hydrogen derived from these renewable resources.

    The Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grant is available to a unit of State, Tribal, or local government; instrumentality of a State, Tribal, or local government; institution of higher education; rural electric cooperative; a public power entity; or a council, as defined in 16 U.S.C. 3451. The recipient of grant funds, grantee, will establish a program to assist agricultural producers and rural small businesses with evaluating the energy efficiency and the potential to incorporate renewable energy technologies into their operations.

    DATES:

    See under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    The applicable USDA Rural Development Energy Coordinator for your respective State, as identified via the following link: https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/RBS_StateEnergyCoordinators.pdf.

    For information about this Notice, please contact Anthony Crooks, Rural Energy Policy Specialist, USDA Rural Development, Energy Division, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Stop 3225, Room 6870, Washington, DC 20250. Telephone:(202) 205-9322. Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Preface

    The Agency encourages applications that will support recommendations made in the Rural Prosperity Task Force report to help improve life in rural America (www.usda.gov/ruralprosperity). Applicants are encouraged to consider projects that provide measurable results in helping rural communities build robust and sustainable economies through strategic investments in infrastructure, partnerships, and innovation. Key strategies include:

    • Achieving e-Connectivity for Rural America • Developing the Rural Economy • Harnessing Technological Innovation • Supporting a Rural Workforce • Improving Quality of Life I. Program Description

    The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and helps meet the Nation's critical energy needs. REAP has two types of funding assistance: (1) Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Assistance and (2) Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants.

    The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Assistance provides grants and guaranteed loans to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Eligible renewable energy systems for REAP provide energy from: Wind, solar, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydro-electric, ocean, geothermal, or hydrogen derived from these renewable resources.

    The Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grant is available to a unit of State, Tribal, or local government; instrumentality of a State, Tribal, or local government; institution of higher education; rural electric cooperative; a public power entity; or a council, as defined in 16 U.S.C. 3451. The recipient of grant funds, grantee, will establish a program to assist agricultural producers and rural small businesses with evaluating the energy efficiency and the potential to incorporate renewable energy technologies into their operations.

    A. General. Applications for REAP can be submitted any time throughout the year. This Notice announces the deadlines, dates and times that applications must be received in order to be considered for REAP funds provided by the Agricultural Act of 2014, (2014 Farm Bill), and any appropriated funds that REAP may receive from the appropriation for FY 2019 for grants, guaranteed loans, and combined grants and guaranteed loans to purchase and install renewable energy systems, and make energy efficiency improvements; and for grants to conduct energy audits and renewable energy development assistance.

    The Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA) announces the acceptance of applications under REAP for FY 2019 for grants, guaranteed loans, and combined grants and guaranteed loans for the development of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency projects as provided by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill). The Notice also announces the acceptance of applications under REAP for FY 2019 for energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants as provided by the 2014 Farm Bill.

    The administrative requirements in effect at the time the application window closes for a competition will be applicable to each type of funding available under REAP and are described in 7 CFR part 4280, subpart B. In addition to the other provisions of this Notice:

    (1) The provisions specified in 7 CFR 4280.101 through 4280.111 apply to each funding type described in this Notice.

    (2) The requirements specified in 7 CFR 4280.112 through 4280.124 apply to renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements project grants.

    (3) The requirements specified in 7 CFR 4280.125 through 4280.152 apply to guaranteed loans for renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements projects. For FY 2019, the guarantee fee amount is one percent of the guaranteed portion of the loan, and the annual renewal fee is one-quarter of 1 percent (0.250 percent) of the guaranteed portion of the loan.

    (4) The requirements specified in 7 CFR 4280.165 apply to a combined grant and guaranteed loan for renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements projects.

    (5) The requirements specified in 7 CFR 4280.186 through 4280.196 apply to energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants.

    II. Federal Award Information

    A. Statutory Authority. This program is authorized under 7 U.S.C. 8107.

    B. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number. 10.868.

    C. Funds Available. This Notice is announcing deadline times and dates for applications to be submitted for REAP funds provided by the 2014 Farm Bill and any appropriated funds that REAP may receive from the congressional enactment of a full-year appropriation for FY 2019. This Notice is being published prior to the congressional enactment of a full-year appropriation for FY 2019. The Agency will continue to process applications received under this announcement and should REAP receive appropriated funds, these funds will be announced on the following website: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-energy-america-program-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency, and are subject to the same provisions in this Notice.

    To ensure that small projects have a fair opportunity to compete for the funding and are consistent with the priorities set forth in the statute, the Agency will set-aside not less than 20 percent of the FY 2019 funds until June 29, 2019, to fund grants of $20,000 or less.

    (1) Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements grant-funds. There will be allocations of grant funds to each Rural Development State Office for renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements applications. The State allocations will include an allocation for grants of $20,000 or less funds and an allocation of grant funds that can be used to fund renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements applications for either grants of $20,000 or less or grants of more than $20,000, as well as the grant portion of a combination grant and guaranteed loan. These funds are commonly referred to as unrestricted grant funds. The funds for grants of $20,000 or less can only be used to fund grants requesting $20,000 or less, which includes the grant portion of combination requests when applicable.

    (2) Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements loan guarantee funds. Rural Development's National Office will maintain a reserve of guaranteed loan funds.

    (3) Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements combined grant and guaranteed loan funds. Funding availability for combined grant and guaranteed loan applications are outlined in paragraphs II.(C)(1) and II.(C)(2) of this Notice.

    (4) Energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grant funds. The amount of funds available for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance in FY 2019 will be 4 percent of FY 2019 mandatory funds and will be maintained in a National Office reserve. Obligations of these funds will take place through March 30, 2019. Any unobligated balances will be moved to the renewable energy budget authority account and may be utilized in any of the renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements national competitions.

    D. Approximate Number of Awards. The estimated number of awards is 1,000 based on the historical average grant size and the anticipated mandatory funding of $50 million for FY 2019, but will depend on the actual amount of funds made available and on the number of eligible applicants participating in this program.

    E. Type of Instrument. Grant, guaranteed loan, and grant/guaranteed loan combinations.

    III. Eligibility Information

    The eligibility requirements for the applicant, borrower, lender, and project (as applicable) are clarified in 7 CFR part 4280 subpart B, and are summarized in this Notice. Failure to meet the eligibility criteria by the time of the competition window may result in the Agency reviewing an application, but will preclude the application from receiving funding until all eligibility criteria have been met.

    A. Eligible Applicants. This solicitation is for applications from agricultural producers and rural small businesses for grants or guaranteed loans, or a combination grant and guaranteed loan, for the purpose of purchasing and installing renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. This solicitation is also for applications for Energy Audit or a Renewable Development Assistance grants from units of State, Tribal, or local government; instrumentalities of a State, Tribal, or local government; institutions of higher education; rural electric cooperatives; public power entities; and councils, as defined in 16 U.S.C. 3451, which serve agricultural producers and rural small businesses. To be eligible for the grant portion of the program, an applicant must meet the requirements specified in 7 CFR 4280.110, and 7 CFR 4280.112, or 7 CFR 4280.186, as applicable.

    B. Eligible Lenders and Borrowers. To be eligible for the guaranteed loan portion of the program, lenders and borrowers must meet the eligibility requirements in 7 CFR 4280.125 and 7 CFR 4280.127, as applicable.

    C. Eligible Projects. To be eligible for this program, a project must meet the eligibility requirements specified in 7 CFR 4280.113, 7 CFR 4280.128, and 7 CFR 4280.187, as applicable.

    D. Cost Sharing or Matching. The 2014 Farm Bill mandates the maximum percentages of funding that REAP can provide. Additional clarification is provided in paragraphs IV.E.(1) through (3) of this Notice.

    (1) Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements funding. Requests for guaranteed loan and combined grant and guaranteed loan will not exceed 75 percent of total eligible project costs, with any Federal grant portion not to exceed 25 percent of total eligible project costs, whether the grant is part of a combination request or is a grant-only.

    (2) Energy audit and renewable energy development funds. Requests for the energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants, will indicate that the grantee that conducts energy audits must require that, as a condition of providing the energy audit, the agricultural producer or rural small business pay at least 25 percent of the cost of the energy audit. The Agency recommended practice for on farm energy audits, audits for agricultural producers, ranchers, and farmers is the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers S612 Level II audit. This audit conforms to program standards used by the Natural Resource Conservation Service. As per 7 CFR 4280.110(a), an applicant who has received one or more grants under this program must have made satisfactory progress towards completion of any previously funded projects before being considered for subsequent funding. The Agency interprets satisfactory progress as at least 50 percent of previous awards expended by January 31, 2019. Those who cannot meet this requirement will be determined to be a “risk” pursuant to 2 CFR 200.205 and may be determined in-eligible for a subsequent grant or have special conditions imposed.

    E. Other. Ineligible project costs can be found in 7 CFR 4280.114(d), 7 CFR 4280.129(f), and 7 CFR 4280.188(c), as applicable. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Departmental Regulations and Laws that contain other compliance requirements are referenced in paragraphs VI.B.(1) through (3), and IV.F of this Notice. Applicants who have been found to be in violation of applicable Federal statutes will be ineligible.

    IV. Application and Submission Information

    A. Address to Request Application Package. Application materials may be obtained by contacting one of Rural Development's Energy Coordinators, as identified via the following link: https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/RBS_StateEnergyCoordinators.pdf. In addition, for grant applications, applicants may obtain electronic grant applications for REAP from www.grants.gov.

    B. Content and Form of Application Submission. Applicants seeking to participate in this program must submit applications in accordance with this Notice and 7 CFR part 4280, subpart B. Applicants must submit complete applications by the dates identified in Section IV.C., of this Notice, containing all parts necessary for the Agency to determine applicant and project eligibility, to score the application, and to conduct the technical evaluation, as applicable, in order to be considered.

    (1) Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements grant application.

    (a) Information for the required content of a grant application to be considered complete is found in 7 CFR part 4280, subpart B.

    (i) Grant applications for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements projects with total project costs of $80,000 or less must provide information required by 7 CFR 4280.119.

    (ii) Grant applications for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements projects with total project costs of $200,000 or less, but more than $80,000, must provide information required by 7 CFR 4280.118.

    (iii) Grant applications for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements projects with total project costs of greater than $200,000 must provide information required by 7 CFR 4280.117.

    (iv) Grant applications for energy audits or renewable energy development assistance grant applications must provide information required by 7 CFR 4280.190.

    (b) All grant applications must be submitted either as hard copy to the appropriate Rural Development Energy Coordinator in the State in which the applicant's proposed project is located, or electronically using the Government-wide www.grants.gov website.

    (i) Applicants submitting a grant application as a hard copy must submit one original to the appropriate Rural Development Energy Coordinator in the State in which the applicant's proposed project is located. A list of USDA Rural Development Energy Coordinators is available via the following link: https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/RBS_StateEnergyCoordinators.pdf.

    (ii) Applicants submitting a grant application to the Agency via www.grants.gov (website) will find information about submitting an application electronically through the website, and may download a copy of the application package to complete it off line, upload and submit the completed application, including all necessary assurances and certifications, via www.grants.gov. After electronically submitting an application through the website, the applicant will receive an automated acknowledgement from www.grants.gov that contains a www.grants.gov tracking number. USDA Rural Development strongly recommends that applicants do not wait until the application deadline date to begin the application process through www.grants.gov.

    (c) After successful applicants are notified of the intent to make a Federal award, applicants must meet the requirements of 7 CFR 4280.122(a) through (h) for the grant agreement to be executed.

    (2) Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements guaranteed loan application.

    (a) Information for the content required for a guaranteed loan application to be considered complete is found in 7 CFR 4280.137.

    (b) All guaranteed loan applications must be submitted as a hard copy to the appropriate Rural Development Energy Coordinator in the State in which the applicant's proposed project is located. A list of USDA Rural Development Energy Coordinators is available via the following link: https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/RBS_StateEnergyCoordinators.pdf.

    (c) After successful applicants are notified of the intent to make a Federal award, borrowers must meet the conditions prior to issuance of loan note guarantee as outlined in 7 CFR 4280.142.

    (3) Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements combined guaranteed loan and grant application.

    (a) Information for the content required for a combined guaranteed loan and grant application to be considered complete is found in 7 CFR 4280.165(c).

    (c) After successful applicants are notified of the intent to make a Federal award, applicants must meet the requirements of 7 CFR 4280.122(a) through (h) for the grant agreement to be executed.

    (2) Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements guaranteed loan application.

    (a) Information for the content required for a guaranteed loan application to be considered complete is found in 7 CFR 4280.137.

    (b) All guaranteed loan applications must be submitted as a hard copy to the appropriate Rural Development Energy Coordinator in the State in which the applicant's proposed project is located. A list of USDA Rural Development Energy Coordinators is available via the following link: https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/RBS_StateEnergyCoordinators.pdf.

    (c) After successful applicants are notified of the intent to make a Federal award, borrowers must meet the conditions prior to issuance of loan note guarantee as outlined in 7 CFR 4280.142.

    (3) Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements combined guaranteed loan and grant application.

    (a) Information for the content required for a combined guaranteed loan and grant application to be considered complete is found in 7 CFR 4280.165(c).

    (b) All combined guaranteed loan and grant applications must be submitted as hard copy to the appropriate Rural Development Energy Coordinator in the State in which the applicant's proposed project is located. A list of USDA Rural Development Energy Coordinators is available via the following link: www.rd.usda.gov/files/RBS_StateEnergyCoordinators.pdf.

    (c) After successful applicants are notified of the intent to make a Federal award, applicants must meet the requirements, including the requisite forms and certifications, specified in 7 CFR 4280.117, 4280.118, 4280.119, and 4280.137, as applicable, for the issuance of a grant agreement and loan note guarantee.

    (4) Energy audits or renewable development assistance grant applications.

    (a) Grant applications for energy audits or renewable energy development assistance must provide the information required by 7 CFR 4280.190 to be considered a complete application.

    (b) All energy audits or renewable development assistance grant applications must be submitted either as hard copy to the appropriate Rural Development Energy Coordinator in the State in which the applicant's proposed project is located, electronically using the Government-wide www.grants.gov website, or via an alternative electronic format with electronic signature followed up by providing original signatures to the appropriate Rural Development office. Instructions for submission of the application can be found at section IV.B. of this Notice.

    (c) After successful applicants are notified of the intent to make a Federal award, applicants must meet the requirements of 7 CFR 4280.195 for the grant agreement to be executed.

    5. Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number and System for Award Management (SAM). Unless exempt under 2 CFR 25.110, or who have an exception approved by the Federal awarding agency under 2 CFR 25.110(d), applicants as applicable are required to:

    (a) Grant applicants must be registered in SAM prior to submitting a grant application; which can be obtained at no cost via a toll-free request line at (866) 705-5711 or online at www.sam.gov. Registration of new entities in SAM requires an original, signed notarized letter stating that you are the authorized Entity Administrator before your registration will be activated.

    (b) Guaranteed loan applicants are required to have an active SAM registration prior to obligation and must maintain the active registration until all funds are disbursed to the lender by the Agency.

    (c) Provide a valid DUNS number in its grant or loan application.

    (d) Continue to maintain an active SAM registration with current information at all times during which it has an active Federal grant award or a grant application under consideration by the Agency.

    (e) If an applicant has not fully complied with the requirements of IV.C.(1) through (3) at the time the Agency is ready to make an award, the Agency may determine the applicant is not eligible to receive the award.

    C. Submission Dates and Times. Grant applications, guaranteed loan-only applications, and combined grant and guaranteed loan applications for financial assistance provided by the 2014 Farm Bill for FY 2019, and for appropriated funds that REAP may receive from the appropriation for FY 2019, may be submitted at any time on an ongoing basis. When an application window closes, the next application window opens on the following day. This Notice establishes the deadline dates for the applications to be received in order to be considered for funding. If an application window falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday, the application package is due the next business day. An application received after these dates will be considered with other applications received in the next application window. In order to be considered for funds under this Notice, complete applications must be received by the appropriate USDA Rural Development State Office or via www.grants.gov. The deadline for applications to be received to be considered for funding in FY 2019 are outlined in the following paragraphs and also summarized in a table at the end of this section:

    (1) Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements grant applications and combination grant and guaranteed loan applications. As per RD Instruction 4280-B Application deadlines for FY 2019 grant funds are:

    (a) For applicants requesting a grant only of $20,000 or less or a combination grant and guaranteed loan where the grant request is $20,000 or less, that wish to have their grant application compete for the “Grants of $20,000 or less set aside,” complete applications must be received no later than

    (i) 4:30 p.m. local time on October 31, 2018, or

    (ii) 4:30 p.m. local time on April 1, 2019.

    (b) For applicants requesting a grant only of over $20,000 (unrestricted) or a combination grant and guaranteed loan where the grant request is greater than $20,000, complete applications must be received no later than 4:30 p.m. local time on April 1, 2019.

    (2) Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements guaranteed loan-only applications. Eligible applications will be reviewed and processed when received for periodic competitions.

    (3) Energy audits and renewable energy development assistance grant applications. Applications must be received no later than 4:30 p.m. local time on January 31, 2019.

    Application Application window opening dates Application window closing dates Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grants ($20,000 or less grant only request or a combination grant and guaranteed loan where the grant request is $20,000 or less competing for up to approximately 50 percent of the set aside funds) May 1, 2018 October 31, 2018. Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grants ($20,000 or less grant only request or a combination grant and guaranteed loan where the grant request is $20,000 or less competing for the remaining set aside funds) November 1, 2018 April 1, 2019.* Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grants (Unrestricted grants, including combination grant and guaranteed loan where the grant request is greater than $20,000) May 1, 2018 April 1, 2019.* Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Guaranteed Loans Continuous application cycle Continuous application cycle. Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants February 1, 2018 January 31, 2019. * Applications received after this date will be considered for the next funding cycle in the subsequent FY.

    D. Intergovernmental Review. REAP is not subject to Executive Order 12372, Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs.

    E. Funding Restrictions. The following funding limitations apply to applications submitted under this Notice.

    (1) Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements projects.

    (a) Applicants can be awarded only one renewable energy system grant and one energy efficiency improvement grant in FY 2019.

    (b) For renewable energy system grants, the minimum grant is $2,500 and the maximum is $500,000. For energy efficiency improvements grants, the minimum grant is $1,500 and the maximum grant is $250,000.

    (c) For renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements loan guarantees, the minimum REAP guaranteed loan amount is $5,000 and the maximum amount of a guaranteed loan to be provided to a borrower is $25 million.

    (d) Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements guaranteed loan and grant combination applications. Paragraphs IV.E.(1)(b) and (c) of this Notice contain the applicable maximum amounts and minimum amounts for grants and guaranteed loans. Requests for guaranteed loan and combined grant and guaranteed loan will not exceed 75 percent of eligible project costs, with any Federal grant portion not to exceed 25 percent of the eligible project costs, whether the grant is part of a combination request or is a grant-only.

    (2) Energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants.

    (a) Applicants may submit only one energy audit grant application and one renewable energy development assistance grant application for FY 2019 funds.

    (b) The maximum aggregate amount of energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants awarded to any one recipient under this Notice cannot exceed $100,000 for FY 2019.

    (c) The 2014 Farm Bill mandates that the recipient of a grant that conducts an energy audit for an agricultural producer or a rural small business must require the agricultural producer or rural small business to pay at least 25 percent of the cost of the energy audit, which shall be retained by the eligible entity for the cost of the audit.

    (3) Maximum grant assistance to an entity. For the purposes of this Notice, the maximum amount of grant assistance to an entity will not exceed $750,000 for FY 2019 based on the total amount of the renewable energy system, energy efficiency improvements, energy audit, and renewable energy development assistance grants awarded to an entity under REAP.

    F. Other Submission Requirements.

    (1) Environmental information. For the Agency to consider an application, the application must include all environmental review documents with supporting documentation in accordance with 7 CFR part 1970. Any required environmental review must be completed prior to obligation of funds or the approval of the application. Applicants are advised to contact the Agency to determine environmental requirements as soon as practicable to ensure adequate review time.

    (2) Felony conviction and tax delinquent status. Corporate applicants submitting applications under this Notice must include Form AD 3030, “Representations Regarding Felony Conviction and Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants.” Corporate applicants who receive an award under this Notice will be required to sign Form AD 3031, “Assurance Regarding Felony Conviction or Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants.” Both forms can be found online at http://www.ocio.usda.gov/document/ad3030 and http://www.ocio.usda.gov/document/ad3031.

    (3) Original signatures. USDA Rural Development may request that the applicant provide original signatures on forms submitted through www.grants.gov at a later date.

    (4) Transparency Act Reporting. All recipients of Federal financial assistance are required to report information about first-tier sub-awards and executive compensation in accordance with 2 CFR part 170. If an applicant does not have an exception under 2 CFR 170.110(b), the applicant must then ensure that they have the necessary processes and systems in place to comply with the reporting requirements to receive funding.

    (5) Race, ethnicity, and gender. The Agency is requesting that each applicant provide race, ethnicity, and gender information about the applicant. The information will allow the Agency to evaluate its outreach efforts to under-served and under-represented populations. Applicants are encouraged to furnish this information with their applications, but are not required to do so. An applicant's eligibility or the likelihood of receiving an award will not be impacted by furnishing or not furnishing this information. However, failure to furnish this information may preclude the awarding of State Director and Administrator points in Section V.E.(3) of this Notice.

    (6) Transfer of obligations. REAP grant obligations will be serviced in accordance with 7 CFR 4280.123 and 7 CFR 4280.196 as applicable. Transfer of obligations will no longer be considered by the Agency.

    V. Application Review Information

    A. Criteria. In accordance with 7 CFR part 4280 subpart B, the application dates published in Section IV.C. of this Notice identify the times and dates by which complete applications must be received in order to compete for the funds available.

    (1) Renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements grant applications. Complete renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements grant applications are eligible to compete in competitions as described in 7 CFR 4280.121.

    (a) Complete renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements grant applications requesting $20,000 or less are eligible to compete in up to five competitions within the FY as described in 7 CFR 4280.121(b). If the application remains unfunded after the final National Office competition for the FY it must be withdrawn. Pursuant to the publication of this announcement, all complete and eligible applications will be limited to competing in the FY that the application was received, versus rolling into the following FY, which may result in less than five total competitions. This was effective for any application submitted on or after April 1, 2017.

    (b) Complete renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements grant applications, regardless of the amount of funding requested, are eligible to compete in two competitions a FY—a State competition and a national competition as described in 7 CFR 4280.121(a).

    (2) Renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements guaranteed loan applications. Complete guaranteed loan applications are eligible for periodic competitions as described in 7 CFR 4280.139(a).

    (3) Renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements combined guaranteed loan and grant applications. Complete combined guaranteed loan and grant applications with requests of $20,000 or less are eligible to compete in up to five competitions within the FY as described in 7 CFR 4280.121(b). Combination applications where the grant request is greater than $20,000, are eligible to compete in two competitions a FY—a State competition and a national competition as described in 7 CFR 4280.121(a).

    (4) Energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grant applications. Complete energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants applications are eligible to compete in one national competition per FY as described in 7 CFR 4280.193.

    B. Review and Selection Process. All complete applications will be scored in accordance with 7 CFR part 4280 subpart B and this section of the Notice. Specifically, sections C and D below outline revisions to the scoring criteria found in 7 CFR 4280.120.

    (1) Renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements grant applications. Renewable energy system and energy efficiency grant applications will be scored in accordance with 7 CFR 4280.120 and selections will be made in accordance with 7 CFR 4280.121. For grant applications requesting greater than $250,000 for renewable energy systems, and/or greater than $125,000 for energy efficiency improvements a maximum score of 90 points is possible. For grant applications requesting $250,000 or less for renewable energy systems and/or $125,000 or less for energy efficiency improvements, an additional 10 points may be awarded such that a maximum score of 100 points is possible. Due to the competitive nature of this program, applications are competed based on submittal date. The submittal date is the date the Agency receives a complete application. The complete application date is the date the Agency receives the last piece of information that allows the Agency to determine eligibility and to score, rank, and compete the application for funding.

    (a) Funds for renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements grants of $20,000 or less will be allocated to the States. Eligible applications must be submitted by April 1, 2019, in order to be considered for these set-aside funds. Approximately 50 percent of these funds will be made available for those complete applications the Agency receives by October 31, 2018, and approximately 50 percent of the funds for those complete applications the Agency receives by April 1, 2019. All unused State allocated funds for grants of $20,000 or less will be pooled to the National Office.

    (b) Eligible applications received by April 1, 2019, for renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements grants of $20,000 or less, that are not funded by State allocations can be submitted to the National Office to compete against grant applications of $20,000 or less from other States at a national competition. Obligations of these funds will take place prior to June 28, 2019.

    (c) Eligible applications for renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements, regardless of the amount of the funding request, received by April 30, 2019, can compete for unrestricted grant funds. Unrestricted grant funds will be allocated to the States. All unused State allocated unrestricted grant funds will be pooled to the National Office.

    (d) National unrestricted grant funds for all eligible renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements grant applications received by April 30, 2019, which include grants of $20,000 or less, that are not funded by State allocations can be submitted to the National Office to compete against grant applications from other States at a final national competition.

    (2) Renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements guaranteed loan applications. Renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements guaranteed loan applications will be scored in accordance with 7 CFR 4280.135 and selections will be made in accordance with 7 CFR 4280.139. The National Office will maintain a reserve for renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements guaranteed loan funds. Applications will be reviewed and processed when received. Those applications that meet the Agency's underwriting requirements, are credit worthy, and score a minimum of 40 points will compete in national competitions for guaranteed loan funds periodically. All unfunded eligible guaranteed loan-only applications received that do not score at least 40 points will be competed against other guaranteed loan-only applications from other States at a final national competition, if the guaranteed loan reserves have not been completely depleted, on September 2, 2019. If funds remain after the final guaranteed loan-only national competition, the Agency may elect to utilize budget authority to fund additional grant-only applications.

    (3) Renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements combined grant and guaranteed loan applications. Renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements combined grant and guaranteed loan applications will be scored in accordance with 7 CFR 4280.120 and selections will be made in accordance with 7 CFR 4280.121. For combined grant and guaranteed loan applications requesting grant funds of $250,000 or less for renewable energy systems, or $125,000 or less for energy efficiency improvements, a maximum score of 100 points is possible. For combined grant and guaranteed loan applications requesting grant funds of more than $250,000 for renewable energy systems, or more than $125,000 for energy efficiency improvements, a maximum score of 90 points is possible.

    Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements combined grant and guaranteed loan applications will compete with grant-only applications for grant funds allocated to their State. If the application is ranked high enough to receive State allocated grant funds, the State will request funding for the guaranteed loan portion of any combined grant and guaranteed loan applications from the National Office guaranteed loan reserve, and no further competition will be required. All unfunded eligible applications for combined grant and guaranteed loan applications that are received by April 30, 2019, and that are not funded by State allocations can be submitted to the National Office to compete against other grant and combined grant and guaranteed loan applications from other States at a final national competition.

    (4) Energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grant applications. Energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants will be scored in accordance with 7 CFR 4280.192 and selections will be made in accordance with 7 CFR 4280.193. Energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grant funds will be maintained in a reserve at the National Office. Applications received by January 31, 2019, will compete for funding at a national competition, based on the scoring criteria established under 7 CFR 4280.192. If funds remain after the energy audit and renewable energy development assistance national competition, the Agency may elect to transfer budget authority to fund additional renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements grants from the National Office reserve after pooling.

    C. Size of Agricultural Producer or Rural Small Business. In alignment with the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, the criterion noted in 7 CFR 4280.120(d) which allows for a maximum of 10 points to be awarded based on the size of the Applicant's agricultural operation or business concern, as applicable, compared to the SBA Small Business size standards categorized by NAICS found in 13 CFR 121.201, is being removed for applications for renewable energy systems or energy efficiency improvements effective as of the date of this publication.

    D. State Director and Administrator Points. The criterion noted in 7 CFR 4280.120(g) allows for the State Director and the Administrator to take into consideration paragraphs V.D.(1) through (5) below in the awarding of up to 10 points for eligible renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvement grant applications submitted in FY 2019:

    (1) May allow for applications for an under-represented technology to receive additional points.

    (2) May allow for applications that help achieve geographic diversity to receive additional points. This may include priority points for smaller grant requests which enhances geographic diversity.

    (3) May allow for applicants who are members of unserved or under-served populations to receive additional points if one of the following criteria are met:

    (a) Owned by a veteran, including but not limited to individuals as sole proprietors, members, partners, stockholders, etc., of not less than 20 percent. In order to receive points, applicants must provide a statement in their applications to indicate that owners of the project have veteran status; or

    (b) Owned by a member of a socially-disadvantaged group, which are groups whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic, or gender prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities. In order to receive points, the application must include a statement to indicate that the owners of the project are members of a socially-disadvantaged group.

    (4) May allow for applications that further a Presidential initiative, or a Secretary of Agriculture priority, including Federally declared disaster areas, to receive additional points.

    (5) The proposed project is located in an impoverished area, has experienced long-term population decline or loss of employment.

    E. Other Submission Requirements. Grant-only applications, guaranteed loan-only applications, and combined grant and guaranteed loan applications for financial assistance may be submitted at any time. In order to be considered for funds, complete applications must be received by the appropriate USDA Rural Development State Office in which the applicant's proposed project is located, or via www.grants.gov, as identified in Section IV.C., of this Notice.

    (1) Insufficient funds. If funds are not sufficient to fund the total amount of an application:

    (a) For State allocated funds:

    (i) The applicant must be notified that they may accept the remaining funds or submit the total request for National Office reserve funds available after pooling. If the applicant agrees to lower its grant request, the applicant must certify that the purposes of the project will be met and provide the remaining total funds needed to complete the project.

    (ii) If two or more grant or combination applications have the same score and remaining funds in the State allocation are insufficient to fully award them, the Agency will notify the applicants that they may either accept the proportional amount of funds or submit their total request for National Office reserve funds available after pooling. If the applicant agrees to lower its grant request, the applicant must certify that the purposes of the project will be met and provide the remaining total funds needed to complete the project.

    (b) The applicant notification for national funds will depend on the competition as follows:

    (i) For an application requesting a grant of $20,000 or less or a combination application where the grant amount is $20,000 or less from set-aside pooled funds, the applicant must be notified that they may accept the remaining funds, or submit the total request to compete in the unrestricted state competition. If the applicant agrees to lower the grant request, the applicant must certify that the purposes of the project will be met and provide the remaining total funds needed to complete the project. A declined partial award counts as a competition.

    (ii) For an application requesting a grant of $20,000 or less or a combination application where the grant amount is $20,000 or less from unrestricted pooled funds, in which this is the final competition or for those applications requesting grants of over $20,000 and combined grant and guaranteed loan application, the applicant must be notified that they may accept the remaining funds or their grant application will be withdrawn. If the applicant agrees to lower the grant request, the applicant must certify that the purposes of the project will be met and provide the remaining total funds needed to complete the project.

    (iii) If two or more grant or combination applications have the same score and remaining funds are insufficient to fully award them, the Agency will notify the applicants that they may either accept the proportional amount of funds or be notified in accordance with V.D.(1)(b)(i) or (ii), as applicable.

    (iv) At its discretion, the Agency may instead allow the remaining funds to be carried over to the next FY rather than selecting a lower scoring application(s) or distributing funds on a pro-rata basis.

    (2) Award considerations. All award considerations will be on a discretionary basis. In determining the amount of a renewable energy system or energy efficiency improvements grant or loan guarantee, the Agency will consider the six criteria specified in 7 CFR 4280.114(e) or 7 CFR 4280.129(g), as applicable.

    (3) Notification of funding determination. As per 7 CFR 4280.111(c) all applicants will be informed in writing by the Agency as to the funding determination of the application.

    VI. Federal Award Administration Information

    A. Federal Award Notices. The Agency will award and administer renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements grants, guaranteed loans in accordance with 7 CFR 4280.122, and 7 CFR 4280.139, as applicable. The Agency will award and administer the energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants in accordance with 7 CFR 4280.195. Notification requirements of 7 CFR 4280.111, apply to this Notice.

    B. Administrative and National Policy Requirements.

    (1) Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination. The Agency will ensure that equal opportunity and nondiscrimination requirements are met in accordance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15 U.S.C. 1691 et seq. and 7 CFR part 15d, Nondiscrimination in Programs and Activities Conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Agency will not discriminate against applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age (provided that the applicant has the capacity to contract); because all or part of the applicant's income derives from any public assistance program; or because the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.

    (2) Civil Rights Compliance. Recipients of grants must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq., and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 794. This may include collection and maintenance of data on the race, sex, and national origin of the recipient's membership/ownership and employees. These data must be available to conduct compliance reviews in accordance with 7 CFR 1901.204.

    (3) Environmental Analysis. Environmental procedures and requirements for this subpart are specified in 7 CFR part 1970. Prospective applicants are advised to contact the Agency to determine environmental requirements as soon as practicable after they decide to pursue any form of financial assistance directly or indirectly available through the Agency.

    (4) Appeals. A person may seek a review of an Agency decision or appeal to the National Appeals Division in accordance with 7 CFR 4280.105.

    (5) Reporting. Grants, guaranteed loans, combination guaranteed loans and grants, and energy audit and energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants that are awarded are required to fulfill the reporting requirements as specified in Departmental Regulations, the Grant Agreement, and in 7 CFR part 4280 subpart B and paragraphs VI.B.(5)(a) through (d) of this Notice.

    (a) Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements grants that are awarded are required to fulfill the reporting requirements as specified in 7 CFR 4280.123.

    (b) Guaranteed loan applications that are awarded are required to fulfill the reporting requirements as specified in 7 CFR 4280.143.

    (c) Combined guaranteed loan and grant applications that are awarded are required to fulfill the reporting requirements as specified in 7 CFR 4280.165(f).

    (d) Energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants grant applications that are awarded are required to fulfill the reporting requirements as specified in 7 CFR 4280.196.

    VII. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts

    For further information contact the applicable USDA Rural Development Energy Coordinator for your respective State, as identified via the following link: http://www.rd.usda.gov/files/RBS_StateEnergyCoordinators.pdf.

    For information about this Notice, please contact Anthony Crooks, Rural Energy Policy Specialist, USDA Rural Development, Energy Division, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Stop 3225, Room 6870, Washington, DC 20250. Telephone: (202) 205-9322. Email: [email protected]

    VIII. Other Information A. Paperwork Reduction Act

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the information collection requirements associated with renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvements grants and guaranteed loans, as covered in this Notice, have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control Number 0570-0067 The information collection requirements associated with energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants have also been approved by OMB under OMB Control Number 0570-0067.

    B. Nondiscrimination Statement

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

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

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

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

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

    (3) Email: [email protected]

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

    Dated: August 8, 2018. Bette B. Brand, Administrator, Rural Business-Cooperative Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17513 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-XY-P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Agenda and Notice of Public Meeting of the Maryland Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    Commission on Civil Rights.

    ACTION:

    Announcement of briefing meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission), and the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), that a briefing meeting of the Maryland Advisory Committee to the Commission will convene at 9:00 a.m. (EDT) on Friday, August 24, 2018 in the First Floor Lecture Hall of the Martin D. Jenkins Behavorial & Social Sciences Building, 1700 E. Cold Spring Lane, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD 21251. The purpose of the briefing is to hear from state and county officials, advocates, and others about the discipline, suspension, and expulsion rates for students of color and students with disabilities.

    DATES:

    Friday, August 24, 2018 (EDT).

    Time: 9:00 a.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    First Floor Lecture Hall of the Martin D. Jenkins Behavorial & Social Sciences Building, 1700 E. Cold Spring Lane, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD 21251.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Evelyn Bohor at [email protected], or 202-376-7533.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    If other persons who plan to attend the meeting require other accommodations, please contact Evelyn Bohor at [email protected] at the Eastern Regional Office at least ten (10) working days before the scheduled date of the meeting.

    Time will be set aside at the end of the briefing so that members of the public may address the Committee after the formal presentations have been completed. Persons interested in the issue are also invited to submit written comments; the comments must be received in the regional office by Monday, September 24, 2018. Written comments may be mailed to the Eastern Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 1150, Washington, DC 20425, faxed to (202) 376-7548, or emailed to Evelyn Bohor at [email protected] Persons who desire additional information may contact the Eastern Regional Office at (202) 376-7533.

    Records and documents discussed during the meeting will be available for public viewing as they become available at https://facadatabase.gov/committee/meetings.aspx?cid=253 and clicking on the “Meeting Details” and “Documents” links. Records generated from this meeting may also be inspected and reproduced at the Eastern Regional Office, as they become available, both before and after the meeting. Persons interested in the work of this advisory committee are advised to go to the Commission's website, www.usccr.gov, or to contact the Eastern Regional Office at the above phone number, email or street address.

    Tentative Agenda Friday, August 24, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. I. Welcome and Introductions II. Briefing Panel One: State and County Perspectives Panel Two: Advocates Panel Three: Students and Families Panel Four: Opportunities Going Forward III. Open Session IV. Adjournment Dated: August 9, 2018. David Mussatt, Supervisory Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17401 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Agenda and Notice of Public Meeting of the Colorado Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    Commission on Civil Rights.

    ACTION:

    Announcement of meetings.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission), and the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), that a planning meeting of the Colorado Advisory Committee to the Commission will by teleconference at 2:00 p.m. (MDT) on Friday, September 7, 2018. The purpose of the meeting is for project planning and potential vote on project proposal.

    DATES:

    Friday, September 7, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. MDT.

    Public Call-In Information: Conference call-in number: 1-888-395-3237 and conference call 1659256.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Evelyn Bohor, at [email protected] or by phone at 303-866-1040.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Interested members of the public may listen to the discussion by calling the following toll-free conference call-in number: 1-888-395-3237 and conference call 1659256. Please be advised that before placing them into the conference call, the conference call operator will ask callers to provide their names, their organizational affiliations (if any), and email addresses (so that callers may be notified of future meetings). Callers can expect to incur charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, and the Commission will not refund any incurred charges. Callers will incur no charge for calls they initiate over land-line connections to the toll-free conference call-in number.

    Persons with hearing impairments may also follow the discussion by first calling the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 and providing the operator with the toll-free conference call-in number: 1-888-395-3237 and conference call 1659256.

    Members of the public are invited to make statements during the open comment period of the meeting or submit written comments. The comments must be received in the regional office approximately 30 days after each scheduled meeting. Written comments may be mailed to the Rocky Mountain Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1961 Stout Street, Suite 13-201, Denver, CO 80294, faxed to (303) 866-1040, or emailed to Evelyn Bohor at [email protected] Persons who desire additional information may contact the Rocky Mountain Regional Office at (303) 866-1040.

    Records and documents discussed during the meeting will be available for public viewing as they become available at https://www.facadatabase.gov/committee/meetings.aspx?cid=238; click the “Meeting Details” and “Documents” links. Records generated from this meeting may also be inspected and reproduced at the Rocky Mountain Regional Office, as they become available, both before and after the meeting. Persons interested in the work of this advisory committee are advised to go to the Commission's website, www.usccr.gov, or to contact the Rocky Mountain Regional Office at the above phone numbers, email or street address.

    Agenda: Friday, September 7, 2018, 2:00 (MDT) • Rollcall and Welcome • Project Planning • Potential Vote on Project Proposal • Open Comment • Adjourn Dated: August 9, 2018. David Mussatt, Supervisory Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17400 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Census Bureau Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Quarterly Survey of Public Pensions AGENCY:

    U.S. Census Bureau, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

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

    DATES:

    To ensure consideration, written comments must be submitted on or before October 15, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument(s) and instructions should be directed to Phillip Vidal, Chief, Pension Statistics Branch, International Trade Management Division, U.S. Census Bureau, Headquarters: 5K069, Washington, DC 20233; telephone: 301.763.1749; email: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Abstract

    The Census Bureau plans to request clearance for the form necessary to conduct the Quarterly Survey of Public Pensions. The quarterly survey was initiated by the Census Bureau in 1968 at the request of both the Council of Economic Advisers and the Federal Reserve Board.

    The Quarterly Survey of Public Pensions currently provides national summary data on the revenues, expenditures, and composition of assets of the largest pension systems of state and local governments. The Census Bureau plans to cease collection of revenue and expenditure data on a quarterly basis and focus the collection on asset holdings of the largest pension systems. Revenue and Expenditure data will continue to be provided on an annual basis through the related Annual Survey of Public Pensions.

    These data are used by the Federal Reserve Board to track the public sector portion of the Flow of Funds Accounts. Economists and public policy analysts use these data to assess general economic conditions and state and local government financial activities.

    Data are collected from a panel of defined benefit plans of the 100 largest state and local government pension systems as determined by their total cash and security holdings reported in the 2012 Census of Governments. The defined benefit plans of these 100 largest pension systems comprise 87.2 percent of financial activity among such entities, based on the 2012 Census of Governments.

    II. Method of Collection

    Survey data are collected through the Census Bureau's web collection system that enables public entities to respond to the questionnaire via the internet. The questionnaire is available online for respondents to print when they choose to mail or fax. Most respondents choose to report their data online. In addition to reporting current quarter data, respondents may provide initial data for the previous seven quarters or submit revisions to their data submitted in the previous seven quarters.

    III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0607-0143.

    Form Number(s): F-10.

    Type of Review: Regular submission.

    Affected Public: State and locally-administered public pension plans.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 100.

    Estimated Time per Response: 45 minutes.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 300.

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $0. (This is not the cost of respondents' time, but the indirect costs respondents may incur for such things as purchases of specialized software or hardware needed to report, or expenditures for accounting or records maintenance services required specifically by the collection.)

    Respondent's Obligation: Voluntary.

    Legal Authority: Title 13 U.S.C. 161 and 182.

    IV. Request for Comments

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

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

    Sheleen Dumas, Department Lead PRA Officer, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17449 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-07-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-27-2018] Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 81—Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Authorization of Production Activity; Albany Safran Composites LLC; (Carbon Fiber Composite Aircraft Engine Parts); Rochester, New Hampshire

    On April 6, 2018, Albany Safran Composites LLC (ASC), submitted a notification of proposed production activity to the FTZ Board for its facility within FTZ 81, in Rochester, New Hampshire. There is an application pending for FTZ designation at the ASC facility under FTZ 81 (FTZ Docket S-97-2018).

    The notification was processed in accordance with the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR part 400), including notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment (83 FR 17644, April 23, 2018). On August 6, 2018, the applicant was notified of the FTZ Board's decision that no further review of the activity is warranted at this time. The production activity described in the notification was authorized, subject to the FTZ Act and the FTZ Board's regulations, including Section 400.14.

    Dated: August 8, 2018. Elizabeth Whiteman, Acting Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17415 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-24-2018] Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 293—Limon, Colorado; Authorization of Production Activity Laser Galicia America LLC (Bending and Assembly of Trafo Wall); Aurora, Colorado

    On April 6, 2018, the Town of Limon, Colorado, grantee of FTZ 293, submitted a notification of proposed production activity to the FTZ Board on behalf of Laser Galicia America LLC, within FTZ 293, in Aurora, Colorado.

    The notification was processed in accordance with the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR part 400), including notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment (83 FR 17143, April 18, 2018). On August 6, 2018, the applicant was notified of the FTZ Board's decision that no further review of the activity is warranted at this time. The production activity described in the notification was authorized, subject to the FTZ Act and the FTZ Board's regulations, including Section 400.14.

    Dated: August 8, 2018. Elizabeth Whiteman, Acting Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17419 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-49-2018] Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 18—San Jose, California; Notification of Proposed Production Activity; Tesla, Inc. (Electric Passenger Vehicles and Components); Fremont and Palo Alto, California

    Tesla, Inc. (Tesla) submitted a notification of proposed production activity to the FTZ Board for its facilities in Palo Alto and Fremont, California. The notification conforming to the requirements of the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR 400.22) was received on August 1, 2018.

    Tesla already has authority to produce electric vehicles and components of electric vehicles within Subzone 18G. The current request would add one foreign status material/component to the scope of authority. Pursuant to 15 CFR 400.14(b), additional FTZ authority would be limited to the specific foreign-status material/component described in the submitted notification (as described below) and subsequently authorized by the FTZ Board.

    Production under FTZ procedures could exempt Tesla from customs duty payments on the foreign-status material/component used in export production. On its domestic sales, for the foreign-status material/component noted below, Tesla would be able to choose the duty rates during customs entry procedures that apply to electric passenger vehicles and related components (duty-free to 3.4%). Tesla would be able to avoid duty on foreign-status components which become scrap/waste. Customs duties also could possibly be deferred or reduced on foreign-status production equipment.

    The material/component sourced from abroad is an automotive navigation apparatus (electronic control unit) (duty-free).

    Public comment is invited from interested parties. Submissions shall be addressed to the Board's Executive Secretary at the address below. The closing period for their receipt is September 24, 2018.

    A copy of the notification will be available for public inspection at the Office of the Executive Secretary, Foreign-Trade Zones Board, Room 21013, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230-0002, and in the “Reading Room” section of the Board's website, which is accessible via www.trade.gov/ftz.

    For further information, contact Juanita Chen at [email protected] or 202-482-1378.

    Dated: August 8, 2018. Elizabeth Whiteman, Acting Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17417 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-25-2018] Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 81—Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Authorization of Production Activity Textiles Coated International Inc. (Polytetrafluoroethylene Products) Manchester and Londonderry, New Hampshire

    On April 10, 2018, Textiles Coated International Inc., submitted a notification of proposed production activity to the FTZ Board for its facilities within Site 4 of FTZ 81, in Manchester and Londonderry, New Hampshire.

    The notification was processed in accordance with the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR part 400), including notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment (83 FR 17790, April 24, 2018). On August 8, 2018, the applicant was notified of the FTZ Board's decision that no further review of the activity is warranted at this time. The production activity described in the notification was authorized, subject to the FTZ Act and the FTZ Board's regulations, including Section 400.14, and to a restriction that woven glass fiber mats and woven glass fiber fabrics (colored and not colored) be admitted to the zone in privileged foreign status (19 CFR 146.41).

    Dated: August 8, 2018. Elizabeth Whiteman, Acting Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17418 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-21-2018] Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 249—Pensacola, Florida; Authorization of Production Activity; GE Renewables North America, LLC (Wind Turbine Nacelles, Hubs, and Drivetrains); Pensacola, Florida

    On April 9, 2018, GE Renewables North America, LLC, submitted a notification of proposed production activity to the FTZ Board for its facility within Subzone 249A, in Pensacola, Florida.

    The notification was processed in accordance with the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR part 400), including notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment (83 FR 17143-17144, April 18, 2018). On August 7, 2018, the applicant was notified of the FTZ Board's decision that no further review of the activity is warranted at this time. The production activity described in the notification was authorized, subject to the FTZ Act and the FTZ Board's regulations, including Section 400.14, and to a restriction that steel bars be admitted to the subzone in privileged foreign status (19 CFR 146.41).

    Dated: August 8, 2018. Elizabeth Whiteman, Acting Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17416 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-570-075, C-570-076] Certain Plastic Decorative Ribbon From the People's Republic of China: Postponement of Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (Commerce) is postponing the deadline for issuing the final determination in the less than fair value (LTFV) investigation of certain plastic decorative ribbon from the People's Republic of China (China) until December 21, 2018, and is extending the provisional measures period from a four-month period to a period of not more than six months.

    DATES:

    Applicable August 14, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Nancy Decker, Lauren Caserta, or Caitlin Monks, AD/CVD Operations, Office VII, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-0196, (202) 482-4737, or (202) 482-2670, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    On January 23, 2018, Commerce initiated the LTFV investigation of imports of certain plastic decorative ribbon from China.1 The period of investigation is April 1, 2017, through September 31, 2017. On August 8, 2018, Commerce published its Preliminary Determination in the LTFV investigation.2

    1See Certain Plastic Decorative Ribbon from the People's Republic of China: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigation, 83 FR 3126 (January 23, 2018) (Initiation Notice).

    2See Certain Plastic Decorative Ribbon From the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value, 83 FR 39058 (August 8, 2018) (Preliminary Determination).

    Postponement of Final Determination

    Section 735(a)(2) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act), and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(2) provide that a final determination may be postponed until not later than 135 days after the date of the publication of the preliminary determination if, in the event of an affirmative preliminary determination, a request for such postponement is made by the exporters or producers who account for a significant proportion of exports of the subject merchandise, or in the event of a negative preliminary determination, a request for such postponement is made by the petitioners. Further, 19 CFR 351.210(e)(2) requires that such postponement requests by exporters be accompanied by a request for extension of provisional measures from a four-month period to a period of not more than six months, in accordance with section 733(d) of the Act.

    On July 19, 2018, Dongguan Mei Song Plastic Industry Co., Ltd. (Mei Song) and Ningbo Junlong Craft Gift Co., Ltd. (Junlong), two mandatory respondents that account for a “significant portion” of subject merchandise in the LTFV investigation, requested that Commerce fully extend the deadline for the final determination and extend the application of the provisional measures from a four-month period to a period of not more than six months.3

    3See Letter from Mei Song and Junlong, “Certain Plastic Decorative Ribbon from the People's Republic of China—Request for Extension of Final Determination,” dated July 19, 2018.

    In accordance with section 735(a)(2)(A) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(2)(ii), because: (1) The preliminary determination was affirmative; (2) the request was made by exporters who account for a significant proportion of exports of the subject merchandise from the country at issue; and (3) no compelling reasons for denial exist, Commerce is postponing the final determination of the investigation until no later than 135 days after the date of the publication of the relevant preliminary determination, and extending the provisional measures from a four-month period to a period of not more than six months. Accordingly, Commerce will issue its final determination in the LTFV investigation no later than December 21, 2018.4

    4 The final determination of the accompanying countervailing duty (CVD) investigation has been previously aligned with the LTFV investigation. Thus, the deadline for issuing the final determination of the CVD investigation is also December 21, 2018. See Certain Plastic Decorative Ribbon From the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Affirmative Countervailing Duty Determination and Alignment of Final Determination With Final Antidumping Duty Determination, 83 FR 29096 (June 22, 2018).

    This notice is issued and published pursuant to 19 CFR 351.210(g).

    Dated: August 8, 2018. James Maeder, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations performing the duties of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17413 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-565-801] Stainless Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings From the Philippines: Initiation of Antidumping Duty Changed Circumstances Review AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    In response to a request from Core Pipe Products, Inc., Shaw Alloy Piping Products, Inc., and Taylor Forge Stainless, Inc. (the petitioners), the Department of Commerce (Commerce) is initiating a changed circumstances review of the antidumping duty order on stainless steel butt-weld pipe fittings (pipe fittings) from the Philippines.

    DATES:

    Applicable August 14, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Julie Geiger or Fred Baker, AD/CVD Operations, Office VI, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-2057 or (202) 482-2924, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    As a result of the antidumping duty order 1 issued following the completion of the less-than-fair-value (LTFV) investigation of pipe fittings from the Philippines, imports of pipe fittings from respondent Enlin Steel Corporation (Enlin) became subject to a cash deposit rate of 33.81 percent.2 The “all others” rate established in the LTFV investigation was 7.59 percent.3

    1See Antidumping Duty Orders: Stainless Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings from Italy, Malaysia, and the Philippines, 66 FR 11257 (February 23, 2001) (the Order).

    2Id.; see also Stainless Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings from the Philippines Amended Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value Pursuant to Court Remand, 70 FR 30086 (May 25, 2005) (Amended Order).

    3See the Order and Amended Order.

    On May 24, 2018, the petitioners requested that Commerce initiate a changed circumstances review of the Order, alleging that since imposition of the Order, Enlin has been evading the cash deposit rates established in the investigation by shipping its production through its affiliates Vinox Corporation (Vinox) (or Vinoc Corporation) and E N Corporation, which enter merchandise under the lower “all others” rate.4 The petitioners also filed a supplement to their request on May 31, 2018, which provided further support for their allegation.5 On June 26, 2018, Enlin, Vinox, and E N Corporation filed comments requesting that Commerce deny the petitioners' request.6 The petitioners filed a rebuttal to these comments on June 26, 2018, requesting that Commerce disregard Enlin's opposition letter.7 On July 5, 2018, Commerce issued a 30-day extension for its decision on whether or not to initiate a changed circumstances review, citing the complexities of the request.8

    4See Petitioners' Letter, “Stainless Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings from the Philippines—Petitioners' Request for Initiation of Changed Circumstances Review A-565-801,” dated May 24, 2018 (Petitioners' Request).

    5See Petitioners' Letter, “Stainless Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings from the Philippines—Petitioners' Supplement to Changed Circumstances Review Request,” dated May 31, 2018 (Petitioners' Supplement).

    6See Enlin's Letter, dated June 26, 2018.

    7See Petitioners' Letter, “Antidumping Duty Order on Stainless Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings from the Philippines—Petitioners' Rebuttal to Respondents' Opposition to Changed Circumstances Review Request,” dated June 26, 2018.

    8See Commerce's Letter, “Stainless Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings from the Philippines: Extension of Time for Changed Circumstances Review Initiation Decision,” dated July 5, 2018.

    Scope of the Order

    The products covered by the order are certain stainless steel butt-weld pipe fittings that are under 14 inches in outside diameter (based on nominal pipe size), whether finished or unfinished. For a full description of the scope of the order, see the Appendix to this notice.

    Initiation of Changed Circumstances Review

    Pursuant to section 751(b)(1) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act), Commerce will conduct a changed circumstances review upon receipt of information concerning, or a request from an interested party of, an antidumping duty order which shows changed circumstances sufficient to warrant a review of the order. In its request for initiation, the petitioners provided information indicating that since the issuance of the Order, there has been a change in the trading patterns and activities of Enlin, Vinox, and E N Corporation. The petitioners assert that the information provided demonstrates that the Order is being evaded. In accordance with 19 CFR 351.216(d), based on the information provided by the petitioners regarding new trading patterns and possible evasion of the Order, Commerce finds that changed circumstances sufficient to warrant the initiation of a changed circumstances review exist. Therefore, we are initiating a changed circumstances administrative review, pursuant to section 751(b)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.216(b) and (d) to determine whether action is necessary to maintain the integrity of the Order. Commerce intends to publish in the Federal Register a notice of preliminary results of the antidumping duty changed circumstances review, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.221(b)(4) and 351.221(c)(3)(i), which will set forth Commerce's preliminary factual and legal conclusions. Commerce will issue its final results of review in accordance with the time limits set forth in 19 CFR 351.216(e).

    We are issuing this notice in accordance with sections 751(b)(1) and 777(i)(l) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.216.

    Dated: August 6, 2018. James Maeder Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations performing the duties of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations. Appendix Scope of the Order

    The products covered by the order are certain stainless steel butt-weld pipe fittings. Certain stainless steel butt-weld pipe fittings are under 14 inches in outside diameter (based on nominal pipe size), whether finished or unfinished. The products encompass all grades of stainless steel and “commodity” and “specialty” fittings. Specifically excluded from the definition are threaded, grooved, and bolted fittings, and fittings made from any material other than stainless steel.

    The fittings subject to the order are generally designated under specification ASTM A403/A403M, the standard specification for Wrought Austenitic Stainless Steel Piping Fittings, or its foreign equivalents (e.g., DIN or JIS specifications). This specification covers two general classes of fittings, WP and CR, of wrought austenitic stainless steel fittings of seamless and welded construction covered by the latest revision of ANSI B16.9, ANSI B16.11, and ANSI B16.28. Pipe fittings manufactured to specification ASTM A774, or its foreign equivalents, are also covered by the order.

    The order does not apply to cast fittings. Cast austenitic stainless steel pipe fittings are covered by specifications A351/A351M, A743/743M, and A744/A744M.

    The stainless steel butt-weld pipe fittings subject to the order are currently classifiable under subheading 7307.23.0000 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Although the HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes, the written description of the scope of this order is dispositive.

    [FR Doc. 2018-17411 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [C-489-825] Heavy Walled Rectangular Welded Carbon Steel Pipes and Tubes From the Republic of Turkey: Preliminary Results of Countervailing Duty Administrative Review; 2016 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (Commerce) is conducting an administrative review of the countervailing duty (CVD) order on heavy walled rectangular welded carbon steel pipes and tubes (HWR pipes and tubes) from the Republic of Turkey (Turkey) for the period of review December 28, 2015, through April 25, 2016, and September 12, 2016, through December 31, 2016. Commerce preliminarily determines that countervailable subsidies are being provided to Ozdemir Boru Profil San. Ve Tic. Ltd. Sti. (Ozdemir), the sole producer/exporter of HWR pipes and tubes from Turkey subject to this review.

    DATES:

    Applicable August 14, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Brian Smith or Janae Martin, 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) 482-1766 or (202) 482-0238, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    On November 13, 2017, Commerce published a notice of initiation of an administrative review of the CVD order on HWR pipes and tubes from Turkey.1 On June 1, 2018, Commerce extended the deadline for the preliminary results to August 6, 2018.2 For a complete description of the events that followed the initiation of this review, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.3 A list of topics discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum is included as an Appendix 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 Initiation of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Administrative Reviews, 82 FR 52268 (November 13, 2017).

    2See Memorandum, “Heavy Walled Rectangular Welded Carbon Steel Pipes and Tubes from the Republic of Turkey: Extension of Deadline for Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2015-2016,” dated June 1, 2018; see also Memorandum for The Record from Christian Marsh, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, “Deadlines Affected by the Shutdown of the Federal Government” (Tolling Memorandum), dated January 23, 2018. All deadlines in this segment of the proceeding have been extended by 3 days.

    3See Memorandum, “Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Results: Administrative Review of the Countervailing Duty Order on Heavy Walled Rectangular Welded Carbon Steel Pipes and Tubes from the Republic of Turkey,” dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by, this notice (Preliminary Decision Memorandum).

    Scope of the Order

    The merchandise covered by the order is HWR pipes and tubes. For a complete description of the scope of the order, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    Methodology

    Commerce is conducting this review in accordance with section 751(a)(1)(A) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). For each of the subsidy programs found countervailable, we preliminarily determine that there is a subsidy, i.e., a government financial contribution that gives rise to a benefit to the recipient, and that the subsidy is specific.4 For a full description of the methodology underlying our conclusions, see the accompanying Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    4See sections 771(5)(B) and (D) of the Act regarding financial contribution; section 771(5)(E) of the Act regarding benefit; and section 771(5A) of the Act regarding specificity.

    Preliminary Results of Review

    In accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b)(4)(i), we calculated a countervailable subsidy rate for Ozdemir, the sole respondent in this review. We preliminarily determine that the following subsidy rate exists for Ozdemir for the period December 28, 2015, through April 25, 2016, and September 12, 2016, through December 31, 2016:

    Company Subsidy rate
  • (percent)
  • Ozdemir Boru Profil San. Ve Tic. Ltd. Sti. 1.18
    Assessment Rate

    Consistent with section 751(a)(1) of the Act, upon issuance of the final results, Commerce shall determine, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shall assess, countervailing duties on all appropriate entries covered by this review. We intend to issue instructions to CBP 15 days after publication of the final results of this review.

    Cash Deposit Rate

    Pursuant to section 751(a)(1) of the Act, Commerce intends to instruct CBP to collect cash deposits of estimated countervailing duties in the amount indicated for Ozdemir with regard to shipments of subject merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication of the final results of this review. For all non-reviewed firms, we will instruct CBP to continue to collect cash deposits of estimated countervailing duties at the most recent company-specific or all-others rate applicable to the company, as appropriate. These cash deposit instructions, when imposed, shall remain in effect until further notice.

    Disclosure and Public Comment

    We will disclose to parties to this proceeding the calculations performed in reaching the preliminary results within five days of the date of publication of these preliminary results.5 Interested parties may submit written comments (case briefs) within 30 days of publication of the preliminary results and rebuttal comments (rebuttal briefs) within five days after the time limit for filing case briefs.6 Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309(d)(2), rebuttal briefs must be limited to issues raised in the case briefs. Parties who submit arguments are requested to submit with the argument: (1) A statement of the issue; (2) a brief summary of the argument; and (3) a table of authorities.7

    5See 19 CFR 224(b).

    6See 19 CFR 351.309(c)(1)(ii) and 351.309(d)(1).

    7See 19 CFR 351.309(c)(2) and 351.309(d)(2).

    Interested parties who wish to request a hearing must do so within 30 days of publication of these preliminary results by submitting a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance using Enforcement and Compliance's ACCESS system.8 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 will inform parties of the scheduled date of the hearing which will be held at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined.9 Issues addressed during the hearing will be limited to those raised in the briefs.10 Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    8See 19 CFR 351.310(c).

    9See 19 CFR 351.310.

    10See 19 CFR 351.310(c).

    Parties are reminded that all briefs and hearing requests must be filed electronically using ACCESS and received successfully in their entirety by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on the due date.

    Unless the deadline is extended pursuant to section 751(a)(3)(A) of the Act, Commerce intends to issue the final results of this administrative review, including the results of our analysis of the issues raised by the parties in their comments, within 120 days after publication of these preliminary results.

    This administrative review and notice are in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.213.

    Dated: August 6, 2018. James Maeder, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations performing the duties of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations. Appendix List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Scope of the Order IV. Subsidies Valuation Information V. Benchmarks and Interest Rates VI. Analysis of Programs VII. Conclusion
    [FR Doc. 2018-17380 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-570-985] Xanthan Gum From the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Results of the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review, and Preliminary Determination of No Shipments; 2016-2017 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (Commerce) preliminarily determines that certain exporters for which this review was requested did make sales of subject merchandise at prices below normal value (NV) during the period of review (POR) July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. We invite interested parties to comment on these preliminary results.

    DATES:

    Applicable August 14, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Aleksandras Nakutis or Eli Lovely, AD/CVD Operations, Office IV, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-3147 and (202) 482-1593, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    This administrative review is being conducted in accordance with section 751(a) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). On July 3, 2017, Commerce published in the Federal Register a notice of opportunity to request an administrative review of the antidumping duty (AD) order on xanthan gum from the People's Republic of China (China).1 Commerce published the notice of initiation of this administrative review on September 13, 2017.2 On January 23, 2018, Commerce exercised its discretion to toll all deadlines affected by the closure of the Federal Government from January 20 through 22, 2018.3 Commerce extended the preliminary results deadline until August 3, 2018.4

    1See Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Order, Finding, or Suspended Investigation; Opportunity To Request Administrative Review, 82 FR 30833 (July 3, 2017).

    2See Initiation of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Administrative Reviews, 82 FR 42974 (September 13, 2017).

    3See Memorandum to James Maeder, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations performing the duties of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, “Xanthan Gum from the People's Republic of China: Extension of Deadline for Preliminary Results of Administrative Review,” dated March 14, 2018.

    4See Memorandum to James Maeder, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations performing the duties of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, “Xanthan Gum from the People's Republic of China: Extension of Deadline for Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review,” dated March 14, 2018.

    Scope of the Order

    The product covered by the order includes dry xanthan gum, whether or not coated or blended with other products. Xanthan gum is included in this order regardless of physical form, including, but not limited to, solutions, slurries, dry powders of any particle size, or unground fiber.

    Merchandise covered by the scope of the order is classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States at subheading 3913.90.20. This tariff classification is provided for convenience and customs purposes; however, the written description of the scope is dispositive. A full description of the scope of the order is contained in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.5

    5 For a complete description of the Scope of the Order, see “Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Results in the Fourth Antidumping Duty Administrative Review of Xanthan Gum from the People's Republic of China,” (Preliminary Decision Memorandum) from James Maeder, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, performing the duties of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, 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, dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by, this notice.

    Preliminary Determination of No Shipments

    On October 10, 2017 and October 13, 2017, Jianlong Biotechnology Co., Ltd. (Jianlong) (previously known as Inner Mongolia Jianlong Biochemical Co., Ltd. (IMJ)), and A.H.A. International Co., Ltd. (AHA), respectively, timely filed certifications that they had no exports, sales, or entries of subject merchandise during the POR. Based on an analysis of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) information and Jianlong's, IMJ's, and AHA's no shipment certifications, Commerce preliminarily determines that Jianlong, IMJ, and AHA had no shipments, and, therefore, no reviewable transactions, during the POR.6 For additional information regarding this determination, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    6See Memorandum to The File, “Antidumping Duty Administrative Review of Xanthan Gum from the People's Republic of China: Automated Commercial System Shipment Query,” dated September 15, 2017; see also Memorandum to The File, “Xanthan gum from China (A-570-985),” dated June 14, 2018.

    Consistent with our practice in non-market economy (NME) cases, Commerce is not rescinding this administrative review with respect to Jianlong, IMJ, or AHA for which it has preliminarily found no shipments during the POR, but intends to complete the review, and issue appropriate instructions to CBP based on the final results of the review.7

    7See Non-Market Economy Antidumping Proceedings: Assessment of Antidumping Duties, 76 FR 65694 (October 24, 2011) (NME AD Assessment) and the “Assessment Rates” section, below.

    Methodology

    Commerce is conducting this review in accordance with section 751(a)(1)(B) of the Act. We calculated, where applicable, export price and constructed export price for the mandatory respondents Neimenggu Fufeng Biotechnologies Co., Ltd. (a.k.a., Inner Mongolia Fufeng Biotechnologies Co., Ltd.), Xinjiang Fufeng Biotechnologies Co., Ltd., and Shandong Fufeng Fermentation Co., Ltd. (collectively Fufeng) and Meihua Group International Trading (Hong Kong) Limited, Langfang Meihua Biotechnology Co., Ltd., and Xinjiang Meihua Amino Acid Co., Ltd. (collectively Meihua) in accordance with section 772 of the Act. Because China is an NME country 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, which is hereby adopted by this notice. The Preliminary Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at https://access.trade.gov, and to all parties in the Central Records Unit, room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/. The signed Preliminary Decision Memorandum and the electronic version of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum are identical in content. A list of topics included in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum is provided at the Appendix to this notice.

    Preliminary Results of Review

    Consistent with prior segments of this proceeding, we have continued to treat Fufeng as a single entity and Meihua as a single entity pursuant to 19 CFR 351.401(f)(1)-(2). For additional information, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    Additionally, Commerce preliminary determines that the information placed on the record by Fufeng, Meihua, and the other companies listed in the rate table below demonstrates that these companies are entitled to separate rate status. However, we preliminarily determine that Hebei Xinhe Biochemical Co., Ltd. did not demonstrate their entitlement to separate rates status. Therefore, we are preliminarily treating Hebei Xinhe Biochemical Co., Ltd. as part of the China-wide entity. For additional information, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    The statute and Commerce's regulations do not address what rate to apply to respondents not selected for individual examination when Commerce limits its examination in an administrative review pursuant to section 777A(c)(2) of the Act. Generally, Commerce looks to section 735(c)(5) of the Act, which provides instructions for calculating the all-others rate in an investigation, for guidance when calculating the rate for non-selected respondents that are not examined individually in an administrative review. Section 735(c)(5)(A) of the Act states that the all-others rate should be calculated by averaging the weighted-average dumping margins for individually-examined respondents, excluding rates that are zero, de minimis, or based entirely on facts available. Where the rates for the individually examined companies are all zero, de minimis, or based entirely on facts available, section 735(c)(5)(B) of the Act provides that Commerce may use “any reasonable method” to establish the all others rate. In this instant, we have assigned the rate calculated to Fufeng (i.e., 1.18 percent) to all separate rate entities.

    Commerce preliminarily determines that the following weighted-average dumping margins exist for the period July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017:

    Exporter Weighted-
  • average
  • dumping
  • margin
  • (percent)
  • Meihua Group International Trading (Hong Kong) Limited/Langfang Meihua Biotechnology Co., Ltd.,/Xinjiang Meihua Amino Acid Co., Ltd 0.00 Neimenggu Fufeng Biotechnologies Co., Ltd. (aka Inner Mongolia Fufeng Biotechnologies Co., Ltd.)/Shandong Fufeng Fermentation Co., Ltd./Xinjiang Fufeng Biotechnologies Co., Ltd 1.18 CP Kelco (Shandong) Biological Company Limited 1.18 Deosen Biochemical Ltd./Deosen Biochemical (Ordos) Ltd 1.18 Shanghai Smart Chemicals Co., Ltd 1.18
    Disclosure and Public Comment

    Commerce intends to disclose the calculations performed for these preliminary results of review within five days of the date of publication of this notice in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b). Case briefs or other written comments may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than 30 days after the publication of these preliminary results of review, unless the Secretary alters the time limit.8 Rebuttal briefs, limited to responding to issues raised in case briefs, may be submitted no later than five days after the deadline for case briefs.9 Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309(c)(2) and (d)(2), parties who submit case briefs or rebuttal briefs in this 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.

    8See 19 CFR 351.309(c).

    9See 19 CFR 351.309; see also 19 CFR 351.303 (for general filing requirements).

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing, limited to issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, 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 of review, Commerce will determine, and CBP shall assess, antidumping duties on all appropriate entries covered by this review.10 Commerce intends to issue appropriate assessment instructions to CBP 15 days after the publication of the final results of this review. We will calculate importer-specific assessment rates equal to the ratio of the total amount of dumping calculated for examined sales with a particular importer to the total entered value of the sales in accordance with 19 CFR 351.212(b)(1).11 Where either the respondent's ad valorem weighted-average dumping margin is zero or de minimis, or an importer-specific ad valorem assessment rate is zero or de minimis, 12 we will instruct CBP to liquidate the appropriate entries without regard to antidumping duties.

    10See 19 CFR 351.212(b)(1).

    11 We applied the assessment rate calculation method adopted in Antidumping Proceedings: Calculation of the Weighted-Average Dumping Margin and Assessment Rate in Certain Antidumping Proceedings: Final Modification, 77 FR 8101 (February 14, 2012).

    12See 19 CFR 351.106(c)(2).

    For the respondents that were not selected for individual examination in this administrative review but which qualified for a separate rate, the assessment rate will be equal to the weighted-average dumping margin assigned to the respondents in the final results of this review.13

    13See 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 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).

    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 that Jianlong, IMJ, and AHA had no shipments of subject merchandise during the POR, any suspended entries of subject merchandise from either Jianlong, IMJ, or AHA will be liquidated at the China-wide rate.14

    14 For a full discussion of this practice, see NME AD Assessment.

    Cash Deposit Requirements

    The following cash deposit requirements will be effective for all shipments of xanthan gum from China entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication of the notice of the final results of this administrative review, 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 zero or de minimis, then a cash deposit rate of zero will be required); (2) for previously investigated or reviewed China and non-China 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 China 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 154.07 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 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 the Secretary'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 351.213.

    Dated: August 3, 2018. James Maeder, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations performing the duties of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations. Appendix List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Period of Review IV. Extension of the Preliminary Results V. Scope of the Order VI. Selection of Respondents VII. Duty Absorption VIII. Preliminary Determination of No Shipments IX. Single Entity Treatment X. Discussion of the Methodology A. Non-Market Economy Country B. Separate Rates C. Separate Rate Analysis 1. Wholly Foreign-Owned Applicant 2. Joint Ventures Between Chinese and Foreign Companies or Wholly Chinese-Owned Companies a. Absence of De Jure Control b. Absence of De Facto Control 3. Companies Not Receiving a Separate Rate D. Dumping Margin for the Separate Rate Companies Not Individually Examined E. Surrogate Country 1. Same Level of Economic Development 2. Significant Producers of Identical or Comparable Merchandise 3. Data Availability F. Date of Sale G. Comparisons to Normal Value 1. Determination of Comparison Method 2. Results of the Differential Pricing Analysis H. U.S. Price 1. Export Price 2. Constructed Export Price 3. Value-Added Tax I. Normal Value 1. Factor Valuations 1. Direct and Packing Materials 2. Energy 3. Labor 4. Movement Services 5. Financial Ratios J. Currency Conversion XI. Recommendation
    [FR Doc. 2018-17412 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Availability and Application of Socioeconomic Data in Resource Management in the U.S. Pacific Islands AGENCY:

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

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

    DATES:

    Written comments must be submitted on or before October 15, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to Supin Wongbusarakum, Ecosystem Sciences Division, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, 1845 Wasp Blvd., Building 176, Honolulu, HI 96818, (808) 725 5487, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Abstract

    This request is for a new collection of information. The objective of the study is to understand the types of available socioeconomic data, types of data used and data gaps identified, regarding coastal conservation management, fisheries and other marine conservation management, and efforts (including opportunities and barriers) in integrating biophysical and socioeconomic data. The voluntary survey and interviews will assess the degree to which the available socioeconomic data are being used and have met the needs of the different natural resource management and conservation programs in the U.S. jurisdictions and affiliations in the Pacific island region. Results of the survey and interviews are expected to assist in guiding any future modifications of socioeconomic and biophysical indicators, data collecting tools, approaches, and communications of results.

    II. Method of Collection

    The survey will be conducted using two modes, internet based surveys, surveys and in-person interviews.

    III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0648-xxxx.

    Form Number(s): None.

    Type of Review: Regular submission (request for a new information collection).

    Affected Public: Individuals, Not-for-profit institution staff; State, local, and federal government agency officers.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 80.

    Estimated Time per Response: 30 minutes for survey and 1 hour per interview.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 50 hours.

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $0 in record keeping/reporting.

    IV. Request for Comments

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

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

    Dated: August 9, 2018. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17410 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-JS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Transshipment Requirements Under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) AGENCY:

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

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

    DATES:

    Written comments must be submitted on or before October 15, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to Rini Ghosh, Pacific Islands Regional Office, (808) 725-5033 or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Abstract

    This request is for an extension of a currently approved information collection. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has issued regulations under authority of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act (WCPFCIA; 16 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.) to carry out the obligations of the United States under the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (Convention). The regulations include requirements for the owners and operators of U.S. vessels to: (1) Complete and submit a Pacific Transshipment Declaration form for each transshipment of highly migratory species in the area of application of the Convention (Convention Area) and each transshipment of highly migratory species caught in the Convention Area; (2) submit a notice containing specific information at least 36 hours prior to each transshipment on the high seas in the Convention Area or within 12 hours of an emergency transshipment that would otherwise be prohibited; (3) provide notice to NMFS at least 72 hours before leaving port of the need for an observer, in the event that a vessel anticipates a transshipment where an observer is required; (4) complete and submit a U.S. Purse Seine Discard form within 48 hours after any discard; and (5) submit certain information regarding purse seine fishing activities. The information collected from these requirements is used by NOAA and the WCPFC to help ensure compliance with domestic laws and the Commission's conservation and management measures, and are necessary in order for the United States to satisfy its obligations under the Convention.

    II. Method of Collection

    Respondents must submit some of the information by mail or in person via paper forms, and must submit other information electronically by fax or email.

    III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0648-0649.

    Form Number(s): None.

    Type of Review: Regular submission (extension of a currently approved information collection).

    Affected Public: Business or other for-profit organizations.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 214.

    Estimated Time per Response: Transshipment Report: 60 minutes; Notice for Transshipment: 15 minutes; Pre-trip Notification for Observer Placement: 1 minute; Purse Seine Discard Report: 30 minutes; Purse Seine Fishing Activity Information: 10 minutes.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 2,499.

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $12,369.

    IV. Request for Comments

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

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

    Dated: August 9, 2018. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17399 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; High Seas Fishing Permit Application Information AGENCY:

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

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

    DATES:

    Written comments must be submitted on or before October 15, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to Kent LaBorde, 301-427-8364 or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Abstract

    United States (U.S.) vessels that fish on the high seas (waters beyond the U.S. exclusive economic zone) are required to possess a permit issued under the High Seas Fishing Compliance Act. Applicants for this permit must submit information to identify their vessels, owners and operators of the vessels, and intended fishing areas. The application information is used to process permits and to maintain a register of vessels authorized to fish on the high seas.

    The HSFCA also requires vessels be marked for identification and enforcement purposes. Vessels must be marked in three locations (port and starboard sides of the deckhouse or hull, and on a weatherdeck) with their official number or radio call sign.

    These requirements apply to all vessels fishing on the high seas.

    II. Method of Collection

    Owners or operators of high seas fishing vessels must submit paper permit application forms and paper logbook pages to NMFS. No information is submitted for the vessel marking requirement. The markings are only displayed on the vessel.

    III. Data

    OMB Number: 0648-0304.

    Form Number: None.

    Type of Review: Regular submission (extension of a currently approved information collection).

    Affected Public: Business or other for-profit organizations.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 600.

    Estimated Time per Response: 30 minutes per application form; for logbook reports, 6 minutes per day for days fish are caught, 1 minute per day for days when fish are not caught; 45 minutes (15 minutes for each of 3 locations) for vessel markings.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 539.

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $183,876.

    IV. Request for Comments

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

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

    Dated: August 9, 2018. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17398 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XG030 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Office of Naval Research Arctic Research Activities AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments on proposed authorization and possible renewal.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS has received a request from the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to Arctic Research Activities in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to incidentally take marine mammals during the specified activities. NMFS will consider public comments prior to making any final decision on the issuance of the requested MMPA authorizations and agency responses will be summarized in the final notice of our decision. ONR's activities are considered military readiness activities pursuant to the MMPA, as amended by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (NDAA).

    DATES:

    Comments and information must be received no later than September 13, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should be sent to 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and electronic comments should be sent to [email protected].

    Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. Comments received electronically, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25-megabyte file size. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel or Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-military-readiness-activities without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Amy Fowler, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401. Electronic copies of the application and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, may be obtained online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-military-readiness-activities. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

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

    Authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for taking for subsistence uses (where relevant). Further, NMFS must prescribe the permissible methods of taking and other means of effecting the least practicable [adverse] impact on the affected species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for certain subsistence uses (referred to in shorthand as “mitigation”); and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth.

    The NDAA (Pub. L. 108-136) removed the “small numbers” and “specified geographical region” limitations indicated above and amended the definition of “harassment” as it applies to a “military readiness activity.” The activity for which incidental take of marine mammals is being requested addressed here qualifies as a military readiness activity. The definitions of all applicable MMPA statutory terms cited above are included in the relevant sections below.

    The proposed action constitutes a military readiness activity because these proposed scientific research activities directly support the adequate and realistic testing of military equipment, vehicles, weapons, and sensors for proper operation and suitability for combat use by providing critical data on the changing natural and physical environment in which such materiel will be assessed and deployed. This proposed scientific research also directly supports fleet training and operations by providing up to date information and data on the natural and physical environment essential to training and operations.

    National Environmental Policy Act

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

    NMFS plans to adopt the Navy's Environmental Assessment/Overseas Environmental Assessment (EA/OEA), provided our independent evaluation of the document finds that it includes adequate information analyzing the effects on the human environment of issuing the IHA. The Navy's OEA is available at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-military-readiness-activities.

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

    Summary of Request

    On April 6, 2018, NMFS received a request from ONR for an IHA to take marine mammals incidental to Arctic Research Activities in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. ONR's application was determined adequate and complete on May 1, 2018. ONR's request is for take of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas), bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus), and ringed seals (Pusa hispida hispida) by Level B harassment only. Neither ONR nor NMFS expects serious injury or mortality to result from this activity and, therefore, an IHA is appropriate.

    This proposed IHA would cover one year of a larger project for which ONR intends to request take authorization for subsequent facets of the project. This IHA would be valid from September 15, 2018 through September 14, 2019. The larger three-year project involves several scientific objectives which support the Arctic and Global Prediction Program, as well as the Ocean Acoustics Program and the Naval Research Laboratory, for which ONR is the parent command.

    Description of Proposed Activity Overview

    ONR's Arctic Research Activities include scientific experiments to be conducted in support of the Arctic and Global Prediction Program, the Ocean Acoustics Program, and the Naval Research Laboratory, for which ONR is the parent command. Specifically, the project includes the Stratified Ocean Dynamics of the Arctic (SODA), Arctic Mobile Observing System (AMOS), Ocean Acoustics field work, and Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) experiments in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. These experiments involve deployment of moored and ice-tethered active acoustic sources as well as towed acoustic sources from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) HEALY and the Research Vessel (R/V) Sikuliaq. CGC HEALY may also be required to perform icebreaking to deploy the moored and ice-tethered sources in deep water. Increased underwater sound from the acoustic sources and icebreaking may result in behavioral harassment of marine mammals.

    Dates and Duration

    ONR's Arctic Research Activities are proposed to begin in August 2018, but these activities include use of autonomous gliders that do not have the potential to result in take of marine mammals. Activities with the potential to result in take of marine mammals (i.e., use of acoustic sources and icebreaking) would begin in September 2018. A maximum of four research cruises (one cruise per vessel in each calendar year) of up to 30 days are proposed. Each vessel may tow sources for up to 8 hours per day for 15 days during each cruise in open water or marginal ice. Once deployed, moored and drifting sources would operate intermittently each day for up to three years. Icebreaking may occur on up to 4 days. This IHA would authorize take for the first year of the proposed project.

    Specific Geographic Region

    The proposed actions would occur in either the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) or the high seas north of Alaska (see Figure 1-1 in the IHA application). The study area consists of a deep water area and a shallow water area on the continental shelf. The total area of the study area is 257,723 square mi (667,500 square kilometers (km2)). All activities, except for the transit of ships, would take place outside U.S. territorial waters. The closest active acoustic source (aside from de minimis sources described below) within the study area is approximately 141 miles (mi; 227 kilometers (km)) from land.

    Detailed Description of Specific Activity

    The ONR Arctic and Global Prediction Program supports two major projects (SODA and AMOS). Of those, only the SODA project will occur during the time period covered by this IHA. The SODA project would begin field work in August 2018 with research cruises and the deployment of autonomous measurement devices for year-round observation of water properties (temperature and salinity) and the associated stratification and circulation. These physical processes are related to the ice cover and as the properties of the ice cover change, the water properties will change as well. Warm water feeding into the Arctic Ocean also plays an important role in changing the environment. Observations of these phenomena require geographical sampling of areas of varying ice cover and temperature profile, and year-round temporal sampling to understand what happens during different parts of the year. Autonomous systems are needed for this type of year-round observation of a representative sample of active waters. Geolocation of autonomous platforms requires the use of acoustic navigation signals, and therefore, year-long use of active acoustic signals. The deployment of navigational sources (shown by the 12 red dots in Figure 1-1 of the IHA application) would occur in the deep water area of the study area off of the continental shelf.

    The ONR Ocean Acoustics Program also supports Arctic field work. The emphasis of the Ocean Acoustics Program field efforts is to understand how the changing environment affects acoustic propagation and the noise environment. These experiments are also spatially and temporally dependent, so observations in different locations on a year-round basis would be required. The potential for understanding the large-scale (range and depth) temperature structure of the ocean requires the use of long-range acoustic transmissions. The use of specialized waveforms and acoustic arrays allows signals to be received over 100 km from a source, while only requiring moderate source levels. The Ocean Acoustics Program may perform these experiments in conjunction with the Arctic and Global Prediction Program by operating in the same location and with the same research vessels.

    NRL would also conduct Arctic research in the same timeframe with the same general scientific purpose as the Arctic and Global Prediction and Ocean Acoustics Programs. NRL's field work would begin in March 2019 at the earliest. NRL's field work would include measurements of ice with aircraft and the deployment of sources using helicopters. Up to 10 ice-tethered acoustic buoys are expected to be deployed for real-time environmental sensing and mid-frequency sonar performance predictions. Real-time assimilation of acoustic data into an ocean model is also planned. The ice-tethered acoustic buoys are designed to be operational for up to two years. In addition, the NRL Acoustics Division has sources designed for long-range transmissions in the Arctic and can perform acoustic experiments in conjunction with other ongoing experiments.

    Below are descriptions of the equipment and platforms that would be deployed at different times during the proposed action.

    Research Vessels

    CGC HEALY and/or the R/V Sikuliaq would be the two primary vessels to perform research cruises as part of the proposed action. Research cruises are proposed for 2018 and 2019 calendar years. The R/V Sikuliaq has a maximum speed of 12 knots (University of Alaska Fairbanks 2014) and a nominal tow speed of 4 knots (Naval Sea Systems Command 2015). CGC HEALY has a maximum speed of 17 knots and a cruising speed of 12 knots (U.S. Coast Guard 2013) but a maximum speed of 3 knots when traveling through 3.5 feet (ft; 1.07 meters (m)) of ice (Murphy 2010). CGC HEALY may be required to perform icebreaking to deploy the moored and ice-tethered acoustic sources in deep water. Icebreaking would only occur during the warm season, presumably in the August through October timeframe. CGC HEALY is capable of breaking ice up to 8 ft (2.4 m) thick while backing and ramming (Roth et al., 2013). A study in the western Arctic Ocean was conducted while CGC HEALY was mapping the seafloor north of the Chukchi Cap in August 2008. During this study, CGC HEALY icebreaker events generated signals with center frequencies near 10, 50, and 100 Hertz (Hz) with maximum source levels of 190 to 200 decibels (dB) re 1 microPascal (µPa) at 1 m (Roth et al., 2013). Icebreaking would only occur in the deep water portion of the study area while deploying moored and ice-tethered sources..

    The R/V Sikuliaq and CGC HEALY may perform the activities listed below during their research cruises (some of these activities may result in take of marine mammals, while others may not, as described further below):

    • Towing of active acoustic sources (see below);

    • Deployment of moored and/or ice-tethered passive sensors (e.g., oceanographic measurement devices, acoustic receivers);

    • Deployment of moored and/or ice-tethered active acoustic sources to transmit acoustic signals for up to three years after deployment. Transmissions could be terminated during ice-free periods (August to October) each year if needed;

    • Deployment of unmanned surface, underwater, and air vehicles; and

    • Recovery of equipment.

    Additional oceanographic measurements would be made using ship-based systems, including the following:

    • Modular Microstructure Profiler, a tethered profiler that would measure oceanographic parameters within the top 984 ft (300 m) of the water column;

    • Shallow Water Integrated Mapping System, a winched towed body with a Conductivity Temperature Depth sensor, upward and downward looking Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs), and a temperature sensor within the top 328 ft (100 m) of the water column;

    • Three-dimensional Sonic Anemometer, which would measure wind stress from the foremast of the ship;

    • Surface Wave Instrument Float with Tracking (SWIFTs) buoys are freely drifting buoys measuring winds, waves, and other parameters with deployments spanning from hours to days; and

    • A single mooring would be deployed to perform measurements of currents with an ADCP.

    Towed Active Acoustic Sources

    CGC HEALY and/or R/V Sikuliaq may tow active acoustic sources in transit to deploying moored or ice-tethered acoustic sources. Each vessel may tow sources for up to 15 days in the deep area during each cruise only in open water or marginal ice. Towing cannot be conducted while icebreaking. Navy acoustic sources are categorized into “bins” based on frequency, source level, and mode of usage (Department of the Navy 2013a). The towed sources associated with the proposed action fall within bins LF4, LF5, and MF9 (Table 1). LF4 sources are characterized as low-frequency sources (signals less than 1 kHz) with source levels equal to 180 dB up to 200 dB. LF5 sources are low-frequency sources with source levels below 180 dB. MF9 sources are mid-frequency sources (tactical and non-tactical sources with signals between 1 and 10 kHz) with source levels equal to 180 dB up to 200 dB.

    Table 1—Source Characteristics of Modeled Acoustic Sources for the Proposed Action Source name Number
  • deployed
  • Frequency range
  • (Hz)
  • Sound
  • pressure
  • level
  • (dB re 1 μPa
  • at 1 m)
  • Pulse
  • length
  • (milliseconds)
  • Duty
  • cycle
  • (percent)
  • Source type Usage
    LF4 towed source N/A 100 to 1,000 200 10,000 50 Towed 4 hours per day for 15 days. LF5 towed source N/A 100 to 1,000 180 10,000 50 Towed 4 hours per day for 15 days. MF9 towed source N/A 1,000 to 10,000 200 10,000 50 Towed 8 hours per day for 15 days. Spiral Wave Source Up to 3 2,500 183 50 <1 Moored 24 hours per day for 7 days. Navigation and real-time sensing sources Up to 15 700 185 60,000 <1 Moored or Drifting 1 minute every 4 hours, up to 3 years.1 Tomography sources Up to 6 250 185 135,000 <1 Moored 2.25 minutes every 4 hours, up to 3 years.1 1 For the purposes of this proposed IHA, the deployment period would be for one year, which may be continued under subsequent IHAs.
    Moored and Drifting Acoustic Sources

    Moored and drifting acoustic sources would be deployed from either CGC HEALY or the R/V Sikuliaq in the deep water area. Each vessel may deploy up to three moored spiral wave sources that would operate for up to seven days per year (Table 1). The spiral wave sources would be separated by distances similar to the deep water source locations in Figure 1-1 of the IHA application (approximately 35 mi (56 km)). The two vessels (combined) would deploy a maximum of 15 acoustic navigation sources (moored and/or drifting) in the deep water area during September 2018 at the deep water source locations shown in Figure 1-1 of the IHA application. Source transmits would be offset by 15 minutes from each other (i.e., sources would not be transmitting at the same time). During the initial cruise it is unlikely that all 15 sources would be deployed. Subsequent cruises would continue to deploy the navigation sources until the maximum number of 15 sources is reached. The navigation sources would also be used for rapid environmental characterization in addition to the SODA project.

    CGC HEALY and R/V Sikuliaq (combined) would deploy a maximum of six moored tomography sources in the deep water area during September 2018 at the six SODA source locations closest to the coast (see Figure 1-1 of the IHA application). Source transmits would be offset by six minutes from each other (i.e., sources would not be transmitting at the same time). When the acoustic navigation sources and tomography sources are both transmitting they would be offset from each other by at least three minutes.

    All moorings would be anchored on the seabed and held in the water column with subsurface buoys. All sources would be deployed by shipboard winches, which would lower sources and receivers in a controlled manner. Anchors would be steel “wagon wheels” typically used for this type of deployment. All moored and drifting sources would be recovered.

    Activities Not Likely To Result in Take

    The following in-water activities have been determined to be unlikely to result in take of marine mammals. These activities are described here but their effects are not described further in this document.

    Glider Surveys—The proposed action would begin in August 2018 with the deployment of gliders from a small vessel outside U.S. territorial waters. All gliders would be recovered during the cruises of the CGC HEALY and/or R/V Sikuliaq. Although the Navy is not requesting an IHA for these activities as they involve only passive oceanographic measurements with slow-moving gliders that do not have the potential to result in take of marine mammals, they are mentioned here because they are the start of ONR's research activities in the Arctic.

    De minimis Sources—De minimis sources have the following parameters: Low source levels, narrow beams, downward directed transmission, short pulse lengths, frequencies outside known marine mammal hearing ranges, or some combination of these factors (Department of the Navy 2013b). For further detail regarding the de minimis sources planned for use by the Navy, which are not quantitatively analyzed, please see the Navy's application. Descriptions of example sources are provided below and in Table 2.

    Table 2—Parameters for De Minimis Sources Source name Frequency range
  • (kHz)
  • Sound
  • pressure
  • level
  • (dB re 1 μPa at
  • 1 m)
  • Pulse
  • length
  • (milli-
  • seconds)
  • Duty
  • cycle
  • (percent)
  • Beamwidth
  • (degree)
  • De minimis justification
    PIES 12 170-180 6 <0.01 45 Extremely low duty cycle, low source level, very short pulse length. ADCP >200, 150, or 75 190 <1 <0.1 2.2 Very short pulse length, narrow beamwidth, moderate source level. Chirp sonar 2-16 200 20 <1 Narrow Very short pulse length, low duty cycle, narrow beamwidth. EMATT 700-1100 Hz and 1100-4000 Hz <150 N/A 25-100 Omni Low source level. Coring system 25-200 158-162 <1 16 Omni Low source level.1 Conductivity Temperature Depth attached Echosounder 5-20 160 4 2 Omni Low source level. 1 Within sediment, not within the water column.

    Drifting Oceanographic Sensors—Observations of ocean-ice interactions require the use of sensors which are moored and embedded in the ice. Sensors are deployed within a few dozen meters of each other on the same ice floe. Their initial locations are depicted as the yellow arrow symbols in Figure 1-1 of the IHA application. Three types of sensors would be used: Autonomous Ocean Flux Buoys, Integrated Autonomous Drifters, and Ice Tethered Profilers. The autonomous ocean flux buoys measure oceanographic properties just below the ocean-ice interface. The autonomous ocean flux buoys would have ADCPs and temperature chains attached, to measure temperature, salinity, and other ocean parameters in the top 20 ft (6 m) of the water column. Integrated Autonomous Drifters would have a long temperature string extending down to 656 ft (200 m) depth and would incorporate meteorological sensors, and a temperature string to estimate ice thickness. The Ice Tethered Profilers would collect information on ocean temperature, salinity, and velocity down to 820 ft (250 m) depth.

    Fifteen autonomous floats (Air-Launched Autonomous Micro Observers) would be deployed during the proposed action to measure seasonal evolution of the ocean temperature and salinity, as well as currents. They would be deployed on the eastern edge of the Chukchi Sea in water less than 3,280 ft (1,000 m) deep. Three autonomous floats would act as virtual moorings by originating on the seafloor, then moving up the water column to the surface and returning to the seafloor. The other 12 autonomous floats would sit on the sea floor and at intervals begin to move toward the surface. At programmed intervals, a subset of the floats would release anchors and begin their profiling mission. Up to 15 additional floats may be deployed by ships of opportunity in the Beaufort Gyre. The general locations for the autonomous floats are depicted by the blue squares in Figure 1-1 of the IHA application.

    The drifting oceanographic sensors described above use only de minimis sources and are therefore not anticipated to have the potential for impacts on marine mammals or their habitat.

    Moored Oceanographic Sensors—Moored sensors would capture a range of ice, ocean, and atmospheric conditions on a year-round basis. The location of the bottom-anchored sub-surface moorings are depicted by the purple stars in Figure 1-1 of the IHA application. These would be bottom-anchored, sub-surface moorings measuring velocity, temperature, and salinity in the upper 1,640 ft (500 m) of the water column. The moorings also collect high-resolution acoustic measurements of the ice using the ice profilers described above. Ice velocity and surface waves would be measured by 500 kHz multibeam sonars.

    Additionally, Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project moorings BGOS-A and BGOS-B (depicted by the black plus signs in Figure 1-1 of the IHA application) would be augmented with McLane Moored Profilers. BGOS-A and BGOS-B would provide measurements near the Northwind Ridge, with considerable latitudinal distribution. Existing deployments of Nortek Acoustic Wave and Current Profilers on BGOS-A and BGOS-B would also be continued as part of the proposed action.

    The moored oceanographic sensors described above use only de minimis sources and are therefore not anticipated to have the potential for impacts on marine mammals or their habitat.

    Fixed and Towed Receiving Arrays—Horizontal and vertical arrays may be used to receive acoustic signals. The Distributed Vertical Line Array is a long line acoustic receiver that would be deployed within the SODA sensor locations. The Distributed Vertical Line Array would be moored to the seafloor by a 1,940 pound (lb) (880 kilograms (kg)) anchor. An array (horizontal and vertical) may also be placed on the seabed in the shallow water area over the continental shelf. Other receiving arrays are the Single Hydrophone Recording Units and Autonomous Multichannel Acoustic Recorder. All these arrays would be moored to the seafloor and remain in place throughout the activity. CGC HEALY and R/V Sikuliaq may also tow arrays of acoustic receivers. These are passive acoustic sensors and therefore are not anticipated to have the potential for impacts on marine mammals or their habitat.

    Activities Involving Aircraft and Unmanned Air Vehicles—Naval Research Laboratory would be conducting flights to characterize the ice structure and character, ice edge and wave heights across the open water and marginal ice zone to the ice. Up to 4 flights, lasting approximately 3 hours in duration would be conducted over a 10 day period during February or March for ice structure and character measurements and during late summer/early fall for ice edge and wave height studies. Flights would be conducted with a Twin Otter aircraft over the seafloor mounted acoustic sources and receivers. Most flights would transit at 1,500 ft or 10,000 ft (457 or 3,048 m) above sea level. Twin Otters have a typical survey speed of 90 to 110 knots, 66 ft (20 m) wing span, and a total length of 26 ft (8 m) (U.S. Department of Commerce and NOAA 2015). At a distance of 2,152 ft (656 m) away, the received pressure levels of a Twin Otter range from 80 to 98.5 A-weighted dB (expression of the relative loudness in the air as perceived by the human ear) and frequency levels ranging from 20 Hz to 10 kHz, though they are more typically in the 500 Hz range (Metzger 1995). The objective of the flights is to characterize thickness and physical properties of the ice mass overlying the experiment area.

    Rotary wing aircraft may also be used during the activity. Helicopter transit would be no longer than two hours to and from the ice location. A twin engine helicopter may be used to transit scientists from land to an offshore floating ice location. Once on the floating ice, the team would drill holes with up to a 10 inch (in; 25.4 centimeter (cm)) diameter to deploy scientific equipment (e.g., source, hydrophone array, EMATT) into the water column. The science team would depart the area and return to land after three hours of data collection and leave the equipment behind for a later recovery.

    The proposed action includes the use of an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). The UAS would be deployed ahead of the ship to ensure a clear passage for the vessel and would have a maximum flight time of 20 minutes. The UAS would not be used for marine mammal observations or hover close to the ice near marine mammals. The UAS that would be used during the proposed action is a small commercially available system that generates low sound levels and is smaller than military grade systems. The dimensions of the proposed UAS are, 11.4 in (29 cm) by 11.4 in (29 cm) by 7.1 in (18 cm) and weighs 2.5 lb (1.13 kg). The UAS can operate up to 984 ft (300 m) away, which would keep the device in close proximity to the ship. The planned operation of the UAS is to fly it vertically above the ship to examine the ice conditions in the path of the ship and around the area (i.e., not flown at low altitudes around the vessel). Currently acoustic parameters are not available for the proposed models of UASs to be used. As stated previously, these systems are small and are similar to a remote control helicopter. It is likely marine mammals would not hear the device since the noise generated would likely not be audible from greater than 5 ft (1.5 m) away (Christiansen et al., 2016).

    All aircraft (manned and unmanned) would be required to maintain a minimum separation distance of 1,000 ft (305 m) from any pinnipeds hauled out on the ice. Therefore, no take of marine mammals is anticipated from these activities.

    On-Ice Measurement Systems—On-ice measurement systems would be used to collect weather data. These would include an Autonomous Weather Station and an Ice Mass Balance Buoy. The Autonomous Weather Station would be deployed on a tripod; the tripod has insulated foot platforms that are frozen into the ice. The system would consist of an anemometer, humidity sensor, and pressure sensor. The Autonomous Weather Station also includes an altimeter that is de minimis due to its very high frequency (200 kHz). The Ice Mass Balance Buoy is a 20 ft (6 m) sensor string, which is deployed through a 2 in (5 cm) hole drilled into the ice. The string is weighted by a 2.2 lb (1 kg) lead weight, and is supported by a tripod. The buoy contains a de minimis 200 kHz altimeter and snow depth sensor. Autonomous Weather Stations and Ice Mass Balance Buoys will be deployed in fall 2018, and will drift with the ice, making measurements, until their host ice floes melt, thus destroying the instruments (likely in summer, roughly one year after deployment). After the on-ice instruments are destroyed they cannot be recovered, and would sink to the seafloor as their host ice floes melted.

    All personnel conducting experiments on the ice would be required to maintain a minimum separation distance of 1,000 ft (305 m) from any pinnipeds hauled out on the ice. Therefore, no take of marine mammals is anticipated from these activities.

    Bottom Interaction Systems—Coring of bottom sediment could occur anywhere within the study area to obtain a more complete understanding of the Arctic environment. Coring equipment would take up to 50 samples of the ocean bottom in the study area annually. The samples would be roughly cylindrical, with a 3.1 in (8 cm) diameter cross-sectional area; the corings would be between 10 and 20 ft (3 and 6 m) long. Coring would only occur while the research vessel or the CGC HEALY are deployed, during the summer or early fall. The coring equipment moves very slowly through the muddy bottom, at a speed of approximately 1 m per hour, and would not create any detectable acoustic signal within the water column, though very low levels of acoustic transmissions may be created in the mud (Table 2). The source levels of the coring equipment are so low that take of marine mammals as a result of acoustic exposure is not considered a potential outcome of the activity.

    Weather Balloons—To support weather observations, up to 40 Kevlar or latex balloons would be launched per year for the duration of the proposed action. These balloons and associated radiosondes (a sensor package that is suspended below the balloon) are similar to those that have been deployed by the National Weather Service since the late 1930s. When released, the balloon is approximately 5 to 6 ft (1.5-1.8 m) in diameter and gradually expands as it rises due to the decrease in air pressure. When the balloon reaches a diameter of 13-22 ft (4-7 m), it bursts and a parachute is deployed to slow the descent of the associated radiosonde. Weather balloons would not be recovered.

    The deployment of weather balloons does not include the use of active acoustics and is therefore not anticipated to have the potential for impacts on marine mammals or their habitat.

    Proposed mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures are described in detail later in this document (please see “Proposed Mitigation” and “Proposed Monitoring and Reporting”).

    Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities

    Sections 3 and 4 of the application summarize available information regarding status and trends, distribution and habitat preferences, and behavior and life history, of the potentially affected species. Additional information regarding population trends and threats may be found in NMFS's Stock Assessment Reports (SAR; https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-stock-assessment-reports-region) and more general information about these species (e.g., physical and behavioral descriptions) may be found on NMFS's website (https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/find-species).

    Table 3 lists all species with expected potential for occurrence in the study area and summarizes information related to the population or stock, including regulatory status under the MMPA and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and potential biological removal (PBR), where known. For taxonomy, we follow Committee on Taxonomy (2017). PBR is defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population (as described in NMFS's SARs). While no mortality is anticipated or authorized here, PBR and annual serious injury and mortality from anthropogenic sources are included here as gross indicators of the status of the species and other threats.

    Marine mammal abundance estimates presented in this document represent the total number of individuals that make up a given stock or the total number estimated within a particular study or survey area. NMFS's stock abundance estimates for most species represent the total estimate of individuals within the geographic area, if known, that comprises that stock. For some species, this geographic area may extend beyond U.S. waters. All managed stocks in this region are assessed in NMFS's U.S. 2017 SARs (e.g., Muto et al., 2018, Carretta et al., 2018). All values presented in Table 3 are the most recent available at the time of publication and are available in the 2017 SARs (Muto et al., 2018; Carretta et al., 2018).

    Table 3—Marine Mammal Species Potentially Present in the Project Area Common name Scientific name Stock ESA/MMPA status; strategic
  • (Y/N) 1
  • Stock
  • abundance
  • (CV, Nmin, most recent
  • abundance survey) 2
  • PBR Annual M/SI 3
    Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family Eschrichtiidae: Gray whale Eschrichtius robustus Eastern North Pacific -/- ; N 20,900 (0.05, 20,125, 2011) 624 4.25 Family Balaenidae: Bowhead whale Balaena mysticetus Western Arctic E/D ; Y 16,820 (0.052, 16,100, 2011) 161 43 Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family Delphinidae: Beluga whale Delphinapterus leucas Beaufort Sea -/- ; N 39,258 (0.229, N/A, 1992) Undet.4 139 Beluga whale Delphinapterus leucas Eastern Chukchi Sea -/- ; N 20,752 (0.70, 12.194, 2012) 244 67 Order Carnivora—Superfamily Pinnipedia Family Phocidae (earless seals): Bearded seal 5 Erignathus barbatus Alaska T/D ; Y 299,174 (-, 273,676, 2013) 8,210 391 Ribbon seal Histriophoca fasciata Alaska -/- ; N 184,000 (-, 163,086, 2013) 9,785 3.8 Ringed seal 5 Pusa hispida hispida Alaska T/D ; Y 170,000 (-, 170,000, 2013) 5,100 1,054 Spotted seal Phoca largha Alaska -/- ; N 461,625 (-, 423,237, 2013) 12,697 329 1 Endangered Species Act (ESA) status: Endangered (E), Threatened (T)/MMPA status: Depleted (D). A dash (-) indicates that the species is not listed under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. Under the MMPA, a strategic stock is one for which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds PBR or which is determined to be declining and likely to be listed under the ESA within the foreseeable future. Any species or stock listed under the ESA is automatically designated under the MMPA as depleted and as a strategic stock. 2 NMFS marine mammal stock assessment reports online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-stock-assessment-reports-region/. CV is coefficient of variation; Nmin is the minimum estimate of stock abundance. In some cases, CV is not applicable. 3 These values, found in NMFS's SARs, represent annual levels of human-caused mortality plus serious injury from all sources combined (e.g., commercial fisheries, ship strike). Annual M/SI often cannot be determined precisely and is in some cases presented as a minimum value or range. A CV associated with estimated mortality due to commercial fisheries is presented in some cases. 4 The 2016 guidelines for preparing SARs state that abundance estimates older than 8 years should not be used to calculate PBR due to a decline in the reliability of an aged estimate. Therefore, the PBR for this stock is considered undetermined. 5 Abundances and associated values for bearded and ringed seals are for the U.S. population in the Bering Sea only. Note: Italicized species are not expected to be taken or proposed for authorization.

    All species that could potentially occur in the proposed survey areas are included in Table 3. Activities conducted during the proposed action are expected to cause harassment, as defined by the MMPA as it applies to military readiness, to the beluga whale (of the Beaufort and Eastern Chukchi Sea stocks), bearded seal, and ringed seal. Due to the location of the study area (i.e., northern offshore, deep water), there were no calculated exposures for the bowhead whale, gray whale, spotted seal, and ribbon seal from quantitative modeling of non-impulsive acoustic and icebreaking sources. Bowhead and gray whales remain closely associated with the shallow waters of the continental shelf in the Beaufort Sea and are unlikely to be exposed to acoustic harassment (Carretta et al., 2017; Muto et al., 2018). Similarly, spotted seals tend to prefer pack ice areas with water depths less than 200 m during the spring and move to coastal habitats in the summer and fall, found as far north as 69-72° N (Muto et al., 2018). Although the study area includes waters south of 72° N, the acoustic sources with the potential to result in take of marine mammals are not found below that latitude and spotted seals are not expected to be exposed. Ribbon seals are found year-round in the Bering Sea but may seasonally range into the Chukchi Sea (Muto et al., 2018). The proposed action occurs primarily in the Beaufort Sea, outside of the core range of ribbon seals, thus ribbon seals are not expected to be behaviorally harassed. Narwhals are considered extralimital in the project area and are not expected to be encountered or taken. As no harassment is expected of bowhead whales, gray whales, spotted seals, and ribbon seals, these species will not be discussed further in this IHA.

    Beluga Whale

    Beluga whales are distributed throughout seasonally ice-covered arctic and subarctic waters of the Northern Hemisphere (Gurevich 1980), and are closely associated with open leads and polynyas in ice-covered regions (Hazard 1988). Belugas are both migratory and residential (non-migratory), depending on the population. Seasonal distribution is affected by ice cover, tidal conditions, access to prey, temperature, and human interaction (Frost et al., 1985).

    There are five beluga stocks recognized within U.S. waters: Cook Inlet, Bristol Bay, eastern Bering Sea, eastern Chukchi Sea, and Beaufort Sea. Two stocks, the Beaufort Sea and eastern Chukchi Sea stocks, have the potential to occur in the Study Area.

    There are two migration areas used by Beaufort Sea belugas that overlap the Study Area. One, located in the Eastern Chukchi and Alaskan Beaufort Sea, is a migration area in use from April to May. The second, located in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea, is used by migrating belugas from September to October (Calambokidis et al., 2015). During the winter, they can be found foraging in offshore waters associated with pack ice. When the sea ice melts in summer, they move to warmer river estuaries and coastal areas for molting and calving (Muto et al., 2017). Annual migrations can span over thousands of kilometers. The residential Beaufort Sea populations participate in short distance movements within their range throughout the year. Based on satellite tags (Suydam et al., 2001) there is some overlap in distribution with the eastern Chukchi Sea beluga whale stock.

    During the winter, eastern Chukchi Sea belugas occur in offshore waters associated with pack ice. In the spring, they migrate to warmer coastal estuaries, bays, and rivers where they may molt (Finley 1982; Suydam 2009) and give birth to and care for their calves (Sergeant and Brodie 1969). Eastern Chukchi Sea belugas move into coastal areas, including Kasegaluk Lagoon (outside of the Study Area), in late June and animals are sighted in the area until about mid-July (Frost and Lowry 1990; Frost et al., 1993). Satellite tags attached to eastern Chukchi Sea belugas captured in Kaseguluk Lagoon during the summer showed these whales traveled 593 nm (1,100 km) north of the Alaska coastline, into the Canadian Beaufort Sea within three months (Suydam et al., 2001). Satellite telemetry data from 23 whales tagged during 1998-2007 suggest variation in movement patterns for different age and/or sex classes during July-September (Suydam et al., 2005). Adult males used deeper waters and remained there for the duration of the summer; all belugas that moved into the Arctic Ocean (north of 75° N) were males, and males traveled through 90 percent pack ice cover to reach deeper waters in the Beaufort Sea and Arctic Ocean (79-80° N) by late July/early August. Adult and immature female belugas remained at or near the shelf break in the south through the eastern Bering Strait into the northern Bering Sea, remaining north of Saint Lawrence Island over the winter. A whale tagged in the eastern Chukchi Sea in 2007 overwintered in the waters north of Saint Lawrence Island during 2007/2008 and moved to near King Island in April and May before moving north through the Bering Strait in late May and early June (Suydam 2009).

    Bearded Seal

    Bearded seals are a boreoarctic species with circumpolar distribution (Burns 1967; Burns 1981; Burns and Frost 1979; Fedoseev 1965; Johnson et al., 1966; Kelly 1988a; Smith 1981). Their normal range extends from the Arctic Ocean (85° N) south to Sakhalin Island (45° N) in the Pacific and south to Hudson Bay (55° N) in the Atlantic (Allen 1880; King 1983; Ognev 1935). Bearded seals are widely distributed throughout the northern Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas and are most abundant north of the ice edge zone (MacIntyre et al., 2013). Bearded seals inhabit the seasonally ice-covered seas of the Northern Hemisphere, where they whelp and rear their pups and molt their coats on the ice in the spring and early summer. The overall summer distribution is quite broad, with seals rarely hauled out on land, and some seals, mostly juveniles, may not follow the ice northward but remain near the coasts of Bering and Chukchi seas (Burns 1967; Burns 1981; Heptner et al., Nelson 1981). As the ice forms again in the fall and winter, most seals move south with the advancing ice edge through the Bering Strait into the Bering Sea where they spend the winter (Boveng and Cameron 2013; Burns and Frost 1979; Cameron and Boveng 2007; Cameron and Boveng 2009; Frost et al., 2005; Frost et al., 2008). This southward migration is less noticeable and predictable than the northward movements in late spring and early summer (Burns 1981; Burns and Frost 1979; Kelly 1988a). During winter, the central and northern parts of the Bering Sea shelf have the highest densities of bearded seals (Braham et al., 1981; Burns 1981; Burns and Frost 1979; Fay 1974; Heptner et al., 1976; Nelson et al., 1984). In late winter and early spring, bearded seals are widely but not uniformly distributed in the broken, drifting pack ice ranging from the Chukchi Sea south to the ice front in the Bering Sea. In these areas, they tend to avoid the coasts and areas of fast ice (Burns 1967; Burns and Frost 1979).

    Bearded seals along the Alaskan coast tend to prefer areas where sea ice covers 70 to 90 percent of the surface, and are most abundant 20 to 100 nautical miles (nmi) (37 to 185 (km) offshore during the spring season (Bengston et al., 2000; Bengston et al., 2005; Simpkins et al., 2003). In spring, bearded seals may also concentrate in nearshore pack ice habitats, where females give birth on the most stable areas of ice (Reeves et al., 2003) and generally prefer to be near polynyas (areas of open water surrounded by sea ice) and other natural openings in the sea ice for breathing, hauling out, and prey access (Nelson et al., 1984; Stirling 1997). While molting between April and August, bearded seals spend substantially more time hauled out than at other times of the year (Reeves et al., 2002).

    In their explorations of the Canada Basin, Harwood et al. (2005) observed bearded seals in waters of less than 656 ft (200 m) during the months from August to September. These sightings were east of 140° W. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management conducted an aerial survey from June through October that covered the shallow Beaufort and Chukchi Sea shelf waters, and observed bearded seals from Point Barrow to the border of Canada (Clarke et al., 2014). The farthest from shore that bearded seals were observed was the waters of the continental slope.

    On December 28, 2012, NMFS listed both the Okhotsk and the Beringia distinct population segments (DPSs) of bearded seals as threatened under the ESA (77 FR 76740). The Alaska stock of bearded seals consists of only Beringia DPS seals.

    Ringed Seal

    Ringed seals are the most common pinniped in the Study Area and have wide distribution in seasonally and permanently ice-covered waters of the Northern Hemisphere (North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission 2004). Throughout their range, ringed seals have an affinity for ice-covered waters and are well adapted to occupying both shore-fast and pack ice (Kelly 1988c). Ringed seals can be found further offshore than other pinnipeds since they can maintain breathing holes in ice thickness greater than 6.6 ft (2 m) (Smith and Stirling 1975). Breathing holes are maintained by ringed seals' sharp teeth and claws on their fore flippers. They remain in contact with ice most of the year and use it as a platform for molting in late spring to early summer, for pupping and nursing in late winter to early spring, and for resting at other times of the year (Muto et al., 2017).

    Ringed seals have at least two distinct types of subnivean lairs: Haulout lairs and birthing lairs (Smith and Stirling 1975). Haulout lairs are typically single-chambered and offer protection from predators and cold weather. Birthing lairs are larger, multi-chambered areas that are used for pupping in addition to protection from predators. Ringed seals pup on both land-fast ice as well as stable pack ice. Lentfer (1972) found that ringed seals north of Barrow, Alaska build their subnivean lairs on the pack ice near pressure ridges. Since subnivean lairs were found north of Barrow, Alaska, in pack ice, they are also assumed to be found within the sea ice in the Study Area. Ringed seals excavate subnivean lairs in drifts over their breathing holes in the ice, in which they rest, give birth, and nurse their pups for 5-9 weeks during late winter and spring (Chapskii 1940; McLaren 1958; Smith and Stirling 1975). Snow depths of at least 20-26 in (50-65 cm) are required for functional birth lairs (Kelly 1988b; Lydersen 1998; Lydersen and Gjertz 1986; Smith and Stirling 1975), and such depths typically are found only where 8-12 in (20-30 cm) or more of snow has accumulated on flat ice and then drifted along pressure ridges or ice hummocks (Hammill 2008; Lydersen et al., 1990; Lydersen and Ryg 1991; Smith and Lydersen 1991). Ringed seals are born beginning in March, but the majority of births occur in early April. About a month after parturition, mating begins in late April and early May.

    In Alaska waters, during winter and early spring when sea ice is at its maximum extent, ringed seals are abundant in the northern Bering Sea, Norton and Kotzebue Sounds, and throughout the Chukchi and Beaufort seas (Frost 1985; Kelly 1988c). Passive acoustic monitoring of ringed seals from a high frequency recording package deployed at a depth of 787 ft (240 m) in the Chukchi Sea 65 nmi (120 km) north-northwest of Barrow, Alaska detected ringed seals in the area between mid-December and late May over the 4 year study (Jones et al., 2014). With the onset of fall freeze, ringed seal movements become increasingly restricted and seals will either move west and south with the advancing ice pack with many seals dispersing throughout the Chukchi and Bering Seas, or remaining in the Beaufort Sea (Crawford et al., 2012; Frost and Lowry 1984; Harwood et al., 2012). Kelly et al. (2010a) tracked home ranges for ringed seals in the subnivean period (using shore-fast ice); the size of the home ranges varied from less than 1 up to 279 km2 (median is 0.62 km2 for adult males and 0.65 km2 for adult females). Most (94 percent) of the home ranges were less than 3 km2 during the subnivean period (Kelly et al., 2010a). Near large polynyas, ringed seals maintain ranges, up to 7,000 km2 during winter and 2,100 km2 during spring (Born et al., 2004). Some adult ringed seals return to the same small home ranges they occupied during the previous winter (Kelly et al., 2010a). The size of winter home ranges can, however, vary by up to a factor of 10 depending on the amount of fast ice; seal movements were more restricted during winters with extensive fast ice, and were much less restricted where fast ice did not form at high levels (Harwood et al., 2015).

    Most taxonomists recognize five subspecies of ringed seals. The Arctic ringed seal subspecies occurs in the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea and is the only stock that occurs in U.S. waters (referred to as the Alaska stock). NMFS listed the Arctic ringed seal subspecies as threatened under the ESA on December 28, 2012 (77 FR 76706), primarily due to anticipated loss of sea ice through the end of the 21st century.

    Marine Mammal Hearing

    Hearing is the most important sensory modality for marine mammals underwater, and exposure to anthropogenic sound can have deleterious effects. To appropriately assess the potential effects of exposure to sound, it is necessary to understand the frequency ranges marine mammals are able to hear. Current data indicate that not all marine mammal species have equal hearing capabilities (e.g., Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok and Ketten, 1999; Au and Hastings, 2008). To reflect this, Southall et al. (2007) recommended that marine mammals be divided into functional hearing groups based on directly measured or estimated hearing ranges on the basis of available behavioral response data, audiograms derived using auditory evoked potential techniques, anatomical modeling, and other data. Note that no direct measurements of hearing ability have been successfully completed for mysticetes (i.e., low-frequency cetaceans). Subsequently, NMFS (2016) described generalized hearing ranges for these marine mammal hearing groups. Generalized hearing ranges were chosen based on the approximately 65 dB threshold from the normalized composite audiograms, with the exception for lower limits for low-frequency cetaceans where the lower bound was deemed to be biologically implausible and the lower bound from Southall et al. (2007) retained. The functional groups and the associated frequencies are indicated below (note that these frequency ranges correspond to the range for the composite group, with the entire range not necessarily reflecting the capabilities of every species within that group):

    • Low-frequency cetaceans (mysticetes): Generalized hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 7 Hz and 35 kHz;

    • Mid-frequency cetaceans (larger toothed whales, beaked whales, and most delphinids): Generalized hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 150 Hz and 160 kHz;

    • High-frequency cetaceans (porpoises, river dolphins, and members of the genera Kogia and Cephalorhynchus; including two members of the genus Lagenorhynchus, on the basis of recent echolocation data and genetic data): Generalized hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 275 Hz and 160 kHz.

    • Pinnipeds in water; Phocidae (true seals): Generalized hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 50 Hz to 86 kHz;

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

    The pinniped functional hearing group was modified from Southall et al. (2007) on the basis of data indicating that phocid species have consistently demonstrated an extended frequency range of hearing compared to otariids, especially in the higher frequency range (Hemilä et al., 2006; Kastelein et al., 2009; Reichmuth and Holt, 2013).

    For more detail concerning these groups and associated frequency ranges, please see NMFS (2016) for a review of available information. Three marine mammal species (one cetacean and two pinniped (both phocid)) have the reasonable potential to co-occur with the proposed survey activities. Please refer to Table 3. Beluga whales are classified as mid-frequency cetaceans.

    Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    This section includes a summary and discussion of the ways that components of the specified activity may impact marine mammals and their habitat. The “Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment” section later in this document includes a quantitative analysis of the number of individuals that are expected to be taken by this activity. The “Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination” section considers the content of this section, the “Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment” section, and the “Proposed Mitigation” section to draw conclusions regarding the likely impacts of these activities on the reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and how those impacts on individuals are likely to impact marine mammal species or stocks.

    Description of Sound Sources

    Here, we first provide background information on marine mammal hearing before discussing the potential effects of the use of active acoustic sources on marine mammals.

    Sound travels in waves, the basic components of which are frequency, wavelength, velocity, and amplitude. Frequency is the number of pressure waves that pass by a reference point per unit of time and is measured in Hz or cycles per second. Wavelength is the distance between two peaks of a sound wave; lower frequency sounds have longer wavelengths than higher frequency sounds and attenuate (decrease) more rapidly in shallower water. Amplitude is the height of the sound pressure wave or the `loudness' of a sound and is typically measured using the dB scale. A dB is the ratio between a measured pressure (with sound) and a reference pressure (sound at a constant pressure, established by scientific standards). It is a logarithmic unit that accounts for large variations in amplitude; therefore, relatively small changes in dB ratings correspond to large changes in sound pressure. When referring to sound pressure levels (SPLs; the sound force per unit area), sound is referenced in the context of underwater sound pressure to 1 μPa. One pascal is the pressure resulting from a force of one newton exerted over an area of one square meter. The source level (SL) represents the sound level at a distance of 1 m from the source (referenced to 1 μPa). The received level is the sound level at the listener's position. Note that all underwater sound levels in this document are referenced to a pressure of 1 μPa.

    Root mean square (rms) is the quadratic mean sound pressure over the duration of an impulse. RMS is calculated by squaring all of the sound amplitudes, averaging the squares, and then taking the square root of the average (Urick 1983). RMS accounts for both positive and negative values; squaring the pressures makes all values positive so that they may be accounted for in the summation of pressure levels (Hastings and Popper 2005). This measurement is often used in the context of discussing behavioral effects, in part because behavioral effects, which often result from auditory cues, may be better expressed through averaged units than by peak pressures.

    When underwater objects vibrate or activity occurs, sound-pressure waves are created. These waves alternately compress and decompress the water as the sound wave travels. Underwater sound waves radiate in all directions away from the source (similar to ripples on the surface of a pond), except in cases where the source is directional. The compressions and decompressions associated with sound waves are detected as changes in pressure by aquatic life and man-made sound receptors such as hydrophones.

    Even in the absence of sound from the specified activity, the underwater environment is typically loud due to ambient sound. Ambient sound is defined as environmental background sound levels lacking a single source or point (Richardson et al., 1995), and the sound level of a region is defined by the total acoustical energy being generated by known and unknown sources. These sources may include physical (e.g., waves, earthquakes, ice, atmospheric sound), biological (e.g., sounds produced by marine mammals, fish, and invertebrates), and anthropogenic sound (e.g., vessels, dredging, aircraft, construction). A number of sources contribute to ambient sound, including the following (Richardson et al., 1995):

    Wind and waves: The complex interactions between wind and water surface, including processes such as breaking waves and wave-induced bubble oscillations and cavitation, are a main source of naturally occurring ambient noise for frequencies between 200 Hz and 50 kHz (Mitson, 1995). Under sea ice, noise generated by ice deformation and ice fracturing may be caused by thermal, wind, drift and current stresses (Roth et al., 2012);

    Precipitation: Sound from rain and hail impacting the water surface can become an important component of total noise at frequencies above 500 Hz, and possibly down to 100 Hz during quiet times. In the ice-covered study area, precipitation is unlikely to impact ambient sound;

    Biological: Marine mammals can contribute significantly to ambient noise levels, as can some fish and shrimp. The frequency band for biological contributions is from approximately 12 Hz to over 100 kHz; and

    Anthropogenic: Sources of ambient noise related to human activity include transportation (surface vessels and aircraft), dredging and construction, oil and gas drilling and production, seismic surveys, sonar, explosions, and ocean acoustic studies. Shipping noise typically dominates the total ambient noise for frequencies between 20 and 300 Hz. In general, the frequencies of anthropogenic sounds are below 1 kHz and, if higher frequency sound levels are created, they attenuate rapidly (Richardson et al., 1995). Sound from identifiable anthropogenic sources other than the activity of interest (e.g., a passing vessel) is sometimes termed background sound, as opposed to ambient sound. Anthropogenic sources are unlikely to significantly contribute to ambient underwater noise during the late winter and early spring in the study area as most anthropogenic activities will not be active due to ice cover (e.g. seismic surveys, shipping) (Roth et al., 2012).

    The sum of the various natural and anthropogenic sound sources at any given location and time—which comprise “ambient” or “background” sound—depends not only on the source levels (as determined by current weather conditions and levels of biological and shipping activity) but also on the ability of sound to propagate through the environment. In turn, sound propagation is dependent on the spatially and temporally varying properties of the water column and sea floor, and is frequency-dependent. As a result of the dependence on a large number of varying factors, ambient sound levels can be expected to vary widely over both coarse and fine spatial and temporal scales. Sound levels at a given frequency and location can vary by 10-20 dB from day to day (Richardson et al., 1995). The result is that, depending on the source type and its intensity, sound from the specified activity may be a negligible addition to the local environment or could form a distinctive signal that may affect marine mammals.

    Underwater sounds fall into one of two general sound types: Impulsive and non-impulsive (defined in the following paragraphs). The distinction between these two sound types is important because they have differing potential to cause physical effects, particularly with regard to hearing (e.g., Ward, 1997 in Southall et al., 2007). Please see Southall et al., (2007) for an in-depth discussion of these concepts.

    Impulsive sound sources (e.g., explosions, gunshots, sonic booms, impact pile driving) produce signals that are brief (typically considered to be less than one second), broadband, atonal transients (ANSI 1986; Harris 1998; NIOSH 1998; ISO 2003; ANSI 2005) and occur either as isolated events or repeated in some succession. Impulsive sounds are all characterized by a relatively rapid rise from ambient pressure to a maximal pressure value followed by a rapid decay period that may include a period of diminishing, oscillating maximal and minimal pressures, and generally have an increased capacity to induce physical injury as compared with sounds that lack these features.

    Non-impulsive sounds can be tonal, narrowband, or broadband, brief or prolonged, and may be either continuous or non-continuous (ANSI 1995; NIOSH 1998). Some of these non-impulsive sounds can be transient signals of short duration but without the essential properties of pulses (e.g., rapid rise time). Examples of non-impulsive sounds include those produced by vessels, aircraft, machinery operations such as drilling or dredging, vibratory pile driving, and active sonar sources that intentionally direct a sound signal at a target that is reflected back in order to discern physical details about the target. These active sources are used in navigation, military training and testing, and other research activities such as the activities planned by the U.S. Navy as part of the proposed action. Icebreaking is also considered a non-impulsive sound. The duration of such sounds, as received at a distance, can be greatly extended in a highly reverberant environment.

    Acoustic Impacts

    Please refer to the information given previously regarding sound, characteristics of sound types, and metrics used in this document. Anthropogenic sounds cover a broad range of frequencies and sound levels and can have a range of highly variable impacts on marine life, from none or minor to potentially severe responses, depending on received levels, duration of exposure, behavioral context, and various other factors. The potential effects of underwater sound from active acoustic sources can potentially result in one or more of the following: temporary or permanent hearing impairment, non-auditory physical or physiological effects, behavioral disturbance, stress, and masking (Richardson et al., 1995; Gordon et al., 2004; Nowacek et al., 2007; Southall et al., 2007; Gotz et al., 2009). The degree of effect is intrinsically related to the signal characteristics, received level, distance from the source, and duration of the sound exposure. In general, sudden, high level sounds can cause hearing loss, as can longer exposures to lower level sounds. Temporary or permanent loss of hearing will occur almost exclusively for noise within an animal's hearing range. In this section, we first describe specific manifestations of acoustic effects before providing discussion specific to the proposed activities in the next section.

    Permanent Threshold Shift —Marine mammals exposed to high-intensity sound, or to lower-intensity sound for prolonged periods, can experience hearing threshold shift (TS), which is the loss of hearing sensitivity at certain frequency ranges (Finneran 2015). TS can be permanent (PTS), in which case the loss of hearing sensitivity is not fully recoverable, or temporary (TTS), in which case the animal's hearing threshold would recover over time (Southall et al., 2007). Repeated sound exposure that leads to TTS could cause PTS. In severe cases of PTS, there can be total or partial deafness, while in most cases the animal has an impaired ability to hear sounds in specific frequency ranges (Kryter 1985).

    When PTS occurs, there is physical damage to the sound receptors in the ear (i.e., tissue damage), whereas TTS represents primarily tissue fatigue and is reversible (Southall et al., 2007). In addition, other investigators have suggested that TTS is within the normal bounds of physiological variability and tolerance and does not represent physical injury (e.g., Ward, 1997). Therefore, NMFS does not consider TTS to constitute auditory injury.

    Relationships between TTS and PTS thresholds have not been studied in marine mammals—PTS data exists only for a single harbor seal (Kastak et al., 2008)—but are assumed to be similar to those in humans and other terrestrial mammals. PTS typically occurs at exposure levels at least several decibels above (a 40-dB threshold shift approximates PTS onset; e.g., Kryter et al., 1966; Miller, 1974) that inducing mild TTS (a 6-dB threshold shift approximates TTS onset; e.g., Southall et al., 2007). Based on data from terrestrial mammals, a precautionary assumption is that the PTS thresholds for impulse sounds (such as impact pile driving pulses as received close to the source) are at least six dB higher than the TTS threshold on a peak-pressure basis and PTS cumulative sound exposure level (SEL) thresholds are 15 to 20 dB higher than TTS cumulative SEL thresholds (Southall et al., 2007).

    Temporary Threshold Shift—TTS is the mildest form of hearing impairment that can occur during exposure to sound (Kryter, 1985). While experiencing TTS, the hearing threshold rises, and a sound must be at a higher level in order to be heard. In terrestrial and marine mammals, TTS can last from minutes or hours to days (in cases of strong TTS). In many cases, hearing sensitivity recovers rapidly after exposure to the sound ends.

    Marine mammal hearing plays a critical role in communication with conspecifics, and interpretation of environmental cues for purposes such as predator avoidance and prey capture. Depending on the degree (elevation of threshold in dB), duration (i.e., recovery time), and frequency range of TTS, and the context in which it is experienced, TTS can have effects on marine mammals ranging from discountable to serious. For example, a marine mammal may be able to readily compensate for a brief, relatively small amount of TTS in a non-critical frequency range that occurs during a time where ambient noise is lower and there are not as many competing sounds present. Alternatively, a larger amount and longer duration of TTS sustained during time when communication is critical for successful mother/calf interactions could have more serious impacts.

    Currently, TTS data only exist for four species of cetaceans (bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), beluga whale, harbor porpoise, and Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocoena asiaeorientalis)) and three species of pinnipeds (northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), harbor seal, and California sea lion (Zalophus californianus)) exposed to a limited number of sound sources (i.e., mostly tones and octave-band noise) in laboratory settings (Finneran 2015). TTS was not observed in trained spotted and ringed seals exposed to impulsive noise at levels matching previous predictions of TTS onset (Reichmuth et al., 2016). In general, harbor seals and harbor porpoises have a lower TTS onset than other measured pinniped or cetacean species. Additionally, the existing marine mammal TTS data come from a limited number of individuals within these species. There are no data available on noise-induced hearing loss for mysticetes. For summaries of data on TTS in marine mammals or for further discussion of TTS onset thresholds, please see Southall et al. (2007), Finneran and Jenkins (2012), and Finneran (2015).

    Behavioral Effects—Behavioral disturbance may include a variety of effects, including subtle changes in behavior (e.g., minor or brief avoidance of an area or changes in vocalizations), more conspicuous changes in similar behavioral activities, and more sustained and/or potentially severe reactions, such as displacement from or abandonment of high-quality habitat. Behavioral responses to sound are highly variable and context-specific and any reactions depend on numerous intrinsic and extrinsic factors (e.g., species, state of maturity, experience, current activity, reproductive state, auditory sensitivity, time of day), as well as the interplay between factors (e.g., Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok et al., 2003; Southall et al., 2007; Weilgart, 2007; Archer et al., 2010). Behavioral reactions can vary not only among individuals but also within an individual, depending on previous experience with a sound source, context, and numerous other factors (Ellison et al., 2012), and can vary depending on characteristics associated with the sound source (e.g., whether it is moving or stationary, number of sources, distance from the source). Please see Appendices B-C of Southall et al. (2007) for a review of studies involving marine mammal behavioral responses to sound.

    Habituation can occur when an animal's response to a stimulus wanes with repeated exposure, usually in the absence of unpleasant associated events (Wartzok et al., 2003). Animals are most likely to habituate to sounds that are predictable and unvarying. It is important to note that habituation is appropriately considered as a “progressive reduction in response to stimuli that are perceived as neither aversive nor beneficial,” rather than as, more generally, moderation in response to human disturbance (Bejder et al., 2009). The opposite process is sensitization, when an unpleasant experience leads to subsequent responses, often in the form of avoidance, at a lower level of exposure. As noted, behavioral state may affect the type of response. For example, animals that are resting may show greater behavioral change in response to disturbing sound levels than animals that are highly motivated to remain in an area for feeding (Richardson et al. 1995; NRC 2003; Wartzok et al. 2003). Controlled experiments with captive marine mammals have showed pronounced behavioral reactions, including avoidance of loud sound sources (Ridgway et al. 1997; Finneran et al. 2003). Observed responses of wild marine mammals to loud impulsive sound sources (typically seismic airguns or acoustic harassment devices) have been varied but often consist of avoidance behavior or other behavioral changes suggesting discomfort (Morton and Symonds 2002; see also Richardson et al., 1995; Nowacek et al., 2007).

    Available studies show wide variation in response to underwater sound; therefore, it is difficult to predict specifically how any given sound in a particular instance might affect marine mammals perceiving the signal. If a marine mammal does react briefly to an underwater sound by changing its behavior or moving a small distance, the impacts of the change are unlikely to be significant to the individual, let alone the stock or population. However, if a sound source displaces marine mammals from an important feeding or breeding area for a prolonged period, impacts on individuals and populations could be significant (e.g., Lusseau and Bejder 2007; Weilgart 2007; NRC 2003). However, there are broad categories of potential response, which we describe in greater detail here, that include alteration of dive behavior, alteration of foraging behavior, effects to breathing, interference with or alteration of vocalization, avoidance, and flight.

    Changes in dive behavior can vary widely, and may consist of increased or decreased dive times and surface intervals as well as changes in the rates of ascent and descent during a dive (e.g., Frankel and Clark 2000; Costa et al., 2003; Ng and Leung, 2003; Nowacek et al., 2004; Goldbogen et al., 2013). Variations in dive behavior may reflect interruptions in biologically significant activities (e.g., foraging) or they may be of little biological significance. The impact of an alteration to dive behavior resulting from an acoustic exposure depends on what the animal is doing at the time of the exposure and the type and magnitude of the response.

    Disruption of feeding behavior can be difficult to correlate with anthropogenic sound exposure, so it is usually inferred by observed displacement from known foraging areas, the appearance of secondary indicators (e.g., bubble nets or sediment plumes), or changes in dive behavior. As for other types of behavioral response, the frequency, duration, and temporal pattern of signal presentation, as well as differences in species sensitivity, are likely contributing factors to differences in response in any given circumstance (e.g., Croll et al., 2001; Nowacek et al.; 2004; Madsen et al., 2006; Yazvenko et al., 2007). A determination of whether foraging disruptions incur fitness consequences would require information on or estimates of the energetic requirements of the affected individuals and the relationship between prey availability, foraging effort and success, and the life history stage of the animal.

    Variations in respiration naturally vary with different behaviors and alterations to breathing rate as a function of acoustic exposure can be expected to co-occur with other behavioral reactions, such as a flight response or an alteration in diving. However, respiration rates in and of themselves may be representative of annoyance or an acute stress response. Various studies have shown that respiration rates may either be unaffected or could increase, depending on the species and signal characteristics, again highlighting the importance in understanding species differences in the tolerance of underwater noise when determining the potential for impacts resulting from anthropogenic sound exposure (e.g., Kastelein et al., 2001, 2005b, 2006; Gailey et al., 2007).

    Marine mammals vocalize for different purposes and across multiple modes, such as whistling, echolocation click production, calling, and singing. Changes in vocalization behavior in response to anthropogenic noise can occur for any of these modes and may result from a need to compete with an increase in background noise or may reflect increased vigilance or a startle response. For example, in the presence of potentially masking signals, humpback whales and killer whales have been observed to increase the length of their songs (Miller et al., 2000; Fristrup et al., 2003; Foote et al., 2004), while right whales have been observed to shift the frequency content of their calls upward while reducing the rate of calling in areas of increased anthropogenic noise (Parks et al., 2007b). In some cases, animals may cease sound production during production of aversive signals (Bowles et al., 1994).

    Avoidance is the displacement of an individual from an area or migration path as a result of the presence of a sound or other stressors, and is one of the most obvious manifestations of disturbance in marine mammals (Richardson et al., 1995). For example, gray whales are known to change direction—deflecting from customary migratory paths—in order to avoid noise from seismic surveys (Malme et al., 1984). Avoidance may be short-term, with animals returning to the area once the noise has ceased (e.g., Bowles et al., 1994; Goold, 1996; Morton and Symonds, 2002; Gailey et al., 2007). Longer-term displacement is possible, however, which may lead to changes in abundance or distribution patterns of the affected species in the affected region if habituation to the presence of the sound does not occur (e.g., Blackwell et al., 2004; Bejder et al., 2006).

    A flight response is a dramatic change in normal movement to a directed and rapid movement away from the perceived location of a sound source. The flight response differs from other avoidance responses in the intensity of the response (e.g., directed movement, rate of travel). Relatively little information on flight responses of marine mammals to anthropogenic signals exist, although observations of flight responses to the presence of predators have occurred (Connor and Heithaus 1996). The result of a flight response could range from brief, temporary exertion and displacement from the area where the signal provokes flight to, in extreme cases, marine mammal strandings (Evans and England 2001). However, it should be noted that response to a perceived predator does not necessarily invoke flight (Ford and Reeves 2008), and whether individuals are solitary or in groups may influence the response.

    Behavioral disturbance can also impact marine mammals in more subtle ways. Increased vigilance may result in costs related to diversion of focus and attention (i.e., when a response consists of increased vigilance, it may come at the cost of decreased attention to other critical behaviors such as foraging or resting). These effects have generally not been demonstrated for marine mammals, but studies involving fish and terrestrial animals have shown that increased vigilance may substantially reduce feeding rates (e.g., Beauchamp and Livoreil, 1997; Fritz et al., 2002; Purser and Radford 2011). In addition, chronic disturbance can cause population declines through reduction of fitness (e.g., decline in body condition) and subsequent reduction in reproductive success, survival, or both (e.g., Harrington and Veitch 1992; Daan et al., 1996; Bradshaw et al., 1998). However, Ridgway et al. (2006) reported that increased vigilance in bottlenose dolphins exposed to sound over a five-day period did not cause any sleep deprivation or stress effects.

    Many animals perform vital functions, such as feeding, resting, traveling, and socializing, on a diel cycle (24-hour cycle). Disruption of such functions resulting from reactions to stressors such as sound exposure are more likely to be significant if they last more than one diel cycle or recur on subsequent days (Southall et al., 2007). Consequently, a behavioral response lasting less than one day and not recurring on subsequent days is not considered particularly severe unless it could directly affect reproduction or survival (Southall et al., 2007). Note that there is a difference between multi-day substantive behavioral reactions and multi-day anthropogenic activities. For example, just because an activity lasts for multiple days does not necessarily mean that individual animals are either exposed to activity-related stressors for multiple days or, further, exposed in a manner resulting in sustained multi-day substantive behavioral responses.

    For non-impulsive sounds (i.e., similar to the sources used during the proposed action), data suggest that exposures of pinnipeds to sources between 90 and 140 dB re 1 μPa do not elicit strong behavioral responses; no data were available for exposures at higher received levels for Southall et al. (2007) to include in the severity scale analysis. Reactions of harbor seals were the only available data for which the responses could be ranked on the severity scale. For reactions that were recorded, the majority (17 of 18 individuals/groups) were ranked on the severity scale as a 4 (defined as moderate change in movement, brief shift in group distribution, or moderate change in vocal behavior) or lower; the remaining response was ranked as a 6 (defined as minor or moderate avoidance of the sound source). Additional data on hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) indicate avoidance responses to signals above 160-170 dB re 1 μPa (Kvadsheim et al., 2010), and data on grey (Halichoerus grypus) and harbor seals indicate avoidance response at received levels of 135-144 dB re 1 μPa (Götz et al., 2010). In each instance where food was available, which provided the seals motivation to remain near the source, habituation to the signals occurred rapidly. In the same study, it was noted that habituation was not apparent in wild seals where no food source was available (Götz et al. 2010). This implies that the motivation of the animal is necessary to consider in determining the potential for a reaction. In one study aimed to investigate the under-ice movements and sensory cues associated with under-ice navigation of ice seals, acoustic transmitters (60-69 kHz at 159 dB re 1 μPa at 1 m) were attached to ringed seals (Wartzok et al., 1992a; Wartzok et al., 1992b). An acoustic tracking system then was installed in the ice to receive the acoustic signals and provide real-time tracking of ice seal movements. Although the frequencies used in this study are at the upper limit of ringed seal hearing, the ringed seals appeared unaffected by the acoustic transmissions, as they were able to maintain normal behaviors (e.g., finding breathing holes).

    Seals exposed to non-impulsive sources with a received sound pressure level within the range of calculated exposures (142-193 dB re 1 μPa), have been shown to change their behavior by modifying diving activity and avoidance of the sound source (Götz et al., 2010; Kvadsheim et al., 2010). Although a minor change to a behavior may occur as a result of exposure to the sources in the proposed action, these changes would be within the normal range of behaviors for the animal (e.g., the use of a breathing hole further from the source, rather than one closer to the source, would be within the normal range of behavior) (Kelly et al. 1988).

    Some behavioral response studies have been conducted on odontocete responses to sonar. In studies that examined sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) and false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) (both in the mid-frequency cetacean hearing group), the marine mammals showed temporary cessation of calling and avoidance of sonar sources (Akamatsu et al., 1993; Watkins and Schevill 1975). Sperm whales resumed calling and communication approximately two minutes after the pings stopped (Watkins and Schevill 1975). False killer whales moved away from the sound source but returned to the area between 0 and 10 minutes after the end of transmissions (Akamatsu et al., 1993). Many of the contextual factors resulting from the behavioral response studies (e.g., close approaches by multiple vessels or tagging) would not occur during the proposed action. Odontocete behavioral responses to acoustic transmissions from non-impulsive sources used during the proposed action would likely be a result of the animal's behavioral state and prior experience rather than external variables such as ship proximity; thus, if significant behavioral responses occur they would likely be short term. In fact, no significant behavioral responses such as panic, stranding, or other severe reactions have been observed during monitoring of actual training exercises (Department of the Navy 2011, 2014; Smultea and Mobley 2009; Watwood et al., 2012).

    Icebreaking noise has the potential to disturb marine mammals and elicit an alerting, avoidance, or other behavioral reaction (Huntington et al., 2015; Pirotta et al., 2015; Williams et al., 2014). Icebreaking in fast ice during the spring can cause behavioral reactions in beluga whales. However, icebreaking associated with the proposed action would only occur from August through October, which lessens the probability of a whale encountering the vessel (in comparison to other sources in the proposed action that would be active year-round).

    Ringed seals and bearded seals on pack ice showed various behaviors when approached by an icebreaking vessel. A majority of seals dove underwater when the ship was within 0.5 nautical miles (0.93 km) while others remained on the ice. However, as icebreaking vessels came closer to the seals, most dove underwater. Ringed seals have also been observed foraging in the wake of an icebreaking vessel (Richardson et al., 1995). In studies by Alliston (1980; 1981), there was no observed change in the density of ringed seals in areas that had been subject to icebreaking. Alternatively, ringed seals may have preferentially established breathing holes in the ship tracks after the icebreaker moved through the area. Due to the time of year of the activity (August through October), ringed seals are not expected to be within the subnivean lairs nor pupping (Chapskii 1940; McLaren 1958; Smith and Stirling 1975).

    Adult ringed seals spend up to 20 percent of the time in subnivean lairs during the winter season (Kelly et al., 2010a). Ringed seal pups spend about 50 percent of their time in the lair during the nursing period (Lydersen and Hammill 1993). During the warm season both bearded seals and ringed seals haul out on the ice. In a study of ringed seal haul out activity by Born et al. (2002), ringed seals spent 25-57 percent of their time hauled out in June which is during their molting season. Bearded seals also spend a large amount of time hauled out during the molting season between April and August (Reeves et al., 2002). Ringed seal lairs are typically used by individual seals (haulout lairs) or by a mother with a pup (birthing lairs); large lairs used by many seals for hauling out are rare (Smith and Stirling 1975). If the non-impulsive acoustic transmissions are heard and are perceived as a threat, ringed seals within subnivean lairs could react to the sound in a similar fashion to their reaction to other threats, such as polar bears (their primary predators), although the type of sound would be novel to them. Responses of ringed seals to a variety of human-induced sounds (e.g., helicopter noise, snowmobiles, dogs, people, and seismic activity) have been variable; some seals entered the water and some seals remained in the lair. However, in all instances in which observed seals departed lairs in response to noise disturbance, they subsequently reoccupied the lair (Kelly et al., 1988).

    Ringed seal mothers have a strong bond with their pups and may physically move their pups from the birth lair to an alternate lair to avoid predation, sometimes risking their lives to defend their pups from potential predators (Smith 1987). If a ringed seal mother perceives the proposed acoustic sources as a threat, the network of multiple birth and haulout lairs allows the mother and pup to move to a new lair (Smith and Hammill 1981; Smith and Stirling 1975). The acoustic sources and icebreaking noise from this proposed action are not likely to impede a ringed seal from finding a breathing hole or lair, as captive seals have been found to primarily use vision to locate breathing holes and no effect to ringed seal vision would occur from the acoustic disturbance (Elsner et al., 1989; Wartzok et al., 1992a). It is anticipated that a ringed seal would be able to relocate to a different breathing hole relatively easily without impacting their normal behavior patterns.

    Stress responses—An animal's perception of a threat may be sufficient to trigger stress responses consisting of some combination of behavioral responses, autonomic nervous system responses, neuroendocrine responses, or immune responses (e.g., Seyle 1950; Moberg 2000). In many cases, an animal's first and sometimes most economical (in terms of energetic costs) response is behavioral avoidance of the potential stressor. Autonomic nervous system responses to stress typically involve changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and gastrointestinal activity. These responses have a relatively short duration and may or may not have a significant long-term effect on an animal's fitness.

    Neuroendocrine stress responses often involve the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal system. Virtually all neuroendocrine functions that are affected by stress—including immune competence, reproduction, metabolism, and behavior—are regulated by pituitary hormones. Stress-induced changes in the secretion of pituitary hormones have been implicated in failed reproduction, altered metabolism, reduced immune competence, and behavioral disturbance (e.g., Moberg, 1987; Blecha, 2000). Increases in the circulation of glucocorticoids are also equated with stress (Romano et al., 2004).

    The primary distinction between stress (which is adaptive and does not normally place an animal at risk) and “distress” is the cost of the response. During a stress response, an animal uses glycogen stores that can be quickly replenished once the stress is alleviated. In such circumstances, the cost of the stress response would not pose serious fitness consequences. However, when an animal does not have sufficient energy reserves to satisfy the energetic costs of a stress response, energy resources must be diverted from other functions. This state of distress will last until the animal replenishes its energetic reserves sufficient to restore normal function.

    Relationships between these physiological mechanisms, animal behavior, and the costs of stress responses are well-studied through controlled experiments and for both laboratory and free-ranging animals (e.g., Holberton et al., 1996; Hood et al., 1998; Jessop et al., 2003; Krausman et al., 2004; Lankford et al., 2005). Stress responses due to exposure to anthropogenic sounds or other stressors and their effects on marine mammals have also been reviewed (Fair and Becker, 2000; Romano et al., 2002b) and, more rarely, studied in wild populations (e.g., Romano et al., 2002a). These and other studies lead to a reasonable expectation that some marine mammals will experience physiological stress responses upon exposure to acoustic stressors and that it is possible that some of these would be classified as “distress.” In addition, any animal experiencing TTS would likely also experience stress responses (NRC, 2003).

    Auditory masking—Sound can disrupt behavior through masking, or interfering with, an animal's ability to detect, recognize, or discriminate between acoustic signals of interest (e.g., those used for intraspecific communication and social interactions, prey detection, predator avoidance, navigation) (Richardson et al., 1995). Masking occurs when the receipt of a sound is interfered with by another coincident sound at similar frequencies and at similar or higher intensity, and may occur whether the sound is natural (e.g., snapping shrimp, wind, waves, precipitation) or anthropogenic (e.g., shipping, sonar, seismic exploration) in origin. The ability of a noise source to mask biologically important sounds depends on the characteristics of both the noise source and the signal of interest (e.g., signal-to-noise ratio, temporal variability, direction), in relation to each other and to an animal's hearing abilities (e.g., sensitivity, frequency range, critical ratios, frequency discrimination, directional discrimination, age or TTS hearing loss), and existing ambient noise and propagation conditions.

    Under certain circumstances, marine mammals experiencing significant masking could also be impaired from maximizing their performance fitness in survival and reproduction. Therefore, when the coincident (masking) sound is anthropogenic, it may be considered harassment when disrupting or altering critical behaviors. It is important to distinguish TTS and PTS, which persist after the sound exposure, from masking, which occurs during the sound exposure. Because masking (without resulting in TS) is not associated with abnormal physiological function, it is not considered a physiological effect, but rather a potential behavioral effect.

    The frequency range of the potentially masking sound is important in determining any potential behavioral impacts. For example, low-frequency signals may have less effect on high-frequency echolocation sounds produced by odontocetes but are more likely to affect detection of mysticete communication calls and other potentially important natural sounds such as those produced by surf and some prey species. The masking of communication signals by anthropogenic noise may be considered as a reduction in the communication space of animals (e.g., Clark et al., 2009) and may result in energetic or other costs as animals change their vocalization behavior (e.g., Miller et al., 2000; Foote et al., 2004; Parks et al., 2007b; Di Iorio and Clark, 2009; Holt et al., 2009). Masking can be reduced in situations where the signal and noise come from different directions (Richardson et al., 1995), through amplitude modulation of the signal, or through other compensatory behaviors (Houser and Moore, 2014). Masking can be tested directly in captive species (e.g., Erbe, 2008), but in wild populations it must be either modeled or inferred from evidence of masking compensation. There are few studies addressing real-world masking sounds likely to be experienced by marine mammals in the wild (e.g., Branstetter et al., 2013).

    Masking affects both senders and receivers of acoustic signals and can potentially have long-term chronic effects on marine mammals at the population level as well as at the individual level. Low-frequency ambient sound levels have increased by as much as 20 dB (more than three times in terms of SPL) in the world's ocean from pre-industrial periods, with most of the increase from distant commercial shipping (Hildebrand 2009). All anthropogenic sound sources, but especially chronic and lower-frequency signals (e.g., from vessel traffic), contribute to elevated ambient sound levels, thus intensifying masking.

    Potential Effects on Prey—The marine mammal species in the study area feed on marine invertebrates and fish. Studies of sound energy effects on invertebrates are few, and primarily identify behavioral responses. It is expected that most marine invertebrates would not sense the frequencies of the acoustic transmissions from the acoustic sources associated with the proposed action. Although acoustic sources used during the proposed action may briefly impact individuals, intermittent exposures to non-impulsive acoustic sources are not expected to impact survival, growth, recruitment, or reproduction of widespread marine invertebrate populations. Impacts to invertebrates from icebreaking noise is unknown, but it is likely that some species including crustaceans and cephalopods would be able to perceive the low frequency sounds generated from icebreaking. Icebreaking associated with the proposed action would be short-term and temporary as the vessel moves through an area, and it is not anticipated that this short-term noise would result in significant harm, nor is it expected to result in more than a temporary behavioral reaction of marine invertebrates in the vicinity of the icebreaking event.

    The fish species residing in the study area include those that are closely associated with the deep ocean habitat of the Beaufort Sea. Nearly 250 marine fish species have been described in the Arctic, excluding the larger parts of the sub-Arctic Bering, Barents, and Norwegian Seas (Mecklenburg et al., 2011). However, only about 30 are known to occur in the Arctic waters of the Beaufort Sea (Christiansen and Reist 2013). Although hearing capability data only exist for fewer than 100 of the 32,000 named fish species, current data suggest that most species of fish detect sounds from 50 to 100 Hz, with few fish hearing sounds above 4 kHz (Popper 2008). It is believed that most fish have the best hearing sensitivity from 100 to 400 Hz (Popper 2003). Fish species in the study area are expected to hear the low-frequency sources associated with the proposed action, but most are not expected to detect sound from the mid-frequency sources. Human generated sound could alter the behavior of a fish in a manner than would affect its way of living, such as where it tries to locate food or how well it could find a mate. Behavioral responses to loud noise could include a startle response, such as the fish swimming away from the source, the fish “freezing” and staying in place, or scattering (Popper 2003). Icebreaking noise has the potential to expose fish to both sound and general disturbance, which could result in short-term behavioral or physiological responses (e.g., avoidance, stress, increased heart rate). Misund (1997) found that fish ahead of a ship showed avoidance reactions at ranges of 160 to 489 ft (49 to 149 m). Avoidance behavior of vessels, vertically or horizontally in the water column, has been reported for cod and herring, and was attributed to vessel noise. While acoustic sources and icebreaking associated with the proposed action may influence the behavior of some fish species, other fish species may be equally unresponsive. Overall effects to fish from the proposed action would be localized, temporary, and infrequent.

    Effects to Physical and Foraging Habitat—Icebreaking activities include the physical pushing or moving of ice to allow vessels to proceed through ice-covered waters. Breaking of pack ice that contains hauled out seals may result in the animals becoming startled and entering the water, but such effects would be brief. Bearded and ringed seals haul out on pack ice during the spring and summer to molt (Reeves et al. 2002; Born et al., 2002). Due to the time of year of the icebreaking activity (August through October), ringed seals are not expected to be within the subnivean lairs nor pupping (Chapskii 1940; McLaren 1958; Smith and Stirling 1975). Additionally, studies by Alliston (Alliston 1980; Alliston 1981) suggested that ringed seals may preferentially establish breathing holes in ship tracks after icebreakers move through the area. The amount of ice habitat disturbed by icebreaking activities is small relative to the amount of overall habitat available. There will be no permanent loss or modification of physical ice habitat used by bearded or ringed seals. Icebreaking would have no effect on physical beluga habitat as beluga habitat is solely within the water column.

    Testing of towed sources and icebreaking noise would be limited in duration and the deployed sources that would remain in use after the vessels have left the survey area have low duty cycles and lower source levels. There would not be any expected habitat-related effects from non-impulsive acoustic sources or icebreaking noise that could impact the in-water habitat of ringed seal, bearded seal, or beluga whale foraging habitat.

    Estimated Take

    This section provides an estimate of the number of incidental takes proposed for authorization through this IHA, which will inform both NMFS' consideration of “small numbers” and the negligible impact determination.

    Harassment is the only type of take expected to result from these activities.

    For this military readiness activity, the MMPA defines “harassment” as: (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A Harassment); or (ii) Any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered (Level B Harassment).

    Authorized takes would be by Level B harassment only, in the form of disruption of behavioral patterns and TTS for individual marine mammals resulting from exposure to acoustic transmissions and icebreaking noise. Based on the nature of the activity, Level A harassment is neither anticipated nor proposed to be authorized.

    As described previously, no mortality is anticipated or proposed to be authorized for this activity. Below we describe how the take is estimated.

    Described in the most basic way, we estimate take by considering: 1) acoustic thresholds above which NMFS believes the best available science indicates marine mammals will be behaviorally harassed or incur some degree of permanent hearing impairment; 2) the area or volume of water that will be ensonified above these levels in a day; 3) the density or occurrence of marine mammals within these ensonified areas; and, 4) and the number of days of activities. For the proposed IHA, ONR employed a sophisticated model known as the Navy Acoustic Effects Model (NAEMO) for assessing the impacts of underwater sound.

    Acoustic Thresholds

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

    Level B Harassment for non-explosive sources—In coordination with NMFS, the Navy developed behavioral thresholds to support environmental analyses for the Navy's testing and training military readiness activities utilizing active sonar sources; these behavioral harassment thresholds are used here to evaluate the potential effects of the active sonar components of the proposed action. The response of a marine mammal to an anthropogenic sound will depend on the frequency, duration, temporal pattern and amplitude of the sound as well as the animal's prior experience with the sound and the context in which the sound is encountered (i.e., what the animal is doing at the time of the exposure). The distance from the sound source and whether it is perceived as approaching or moving away can also affect the way an animal responds to a sound (Wartzok et al. 2003). For marine mammals, a review of responses to anthropogenic sound was first conducted by Richardson et al. (1995). Reviews by Nowacek et al. (2007) and Southall et al. (2007) address studies conducted since 1995 and focus on observations where the received sound level of the exposed marine mammal(s) was known or could be estimated. Multi-year research efforts have conducted sonar exposure studies for odontocetes and mysticetes (Miller et al. 2012; Sivle et al. 2012). Several studies with captive animals have provided data under controlled circumstances for odontocetes and pinnipeds (Houser et al. 2013a; Houser et al. 2013b). Moretti et al. (2014) published a beaked whale dose-response curve based on passive acoustic monitoring of beaked whales during U.S. Navy training activity at Atlantic Underwater Test and Evaluation Center during actual Anti-Submarine Warfare exercises. This new information necessitated the update of the behavioral response criteria for the U.S. Navy's environmental analyses.

    Southall et al. (2007) synthesized data from many past behavioral studies and observations to determine the likelihood of behavioral reactions at specific sound levels. While in general, the louder the sound source the more intense the behavioral response, it was clear that the proximity of a sound source and the animal's experience, motivation, and conditioning were also critical factors influencing the response (Southall et al. 2007). After examining all of the available data, the authors felt that the derivation of thresholds for behavioral response based solely on exposure level was not supported because context of the animal at the time of sound exposure was an important factor in estimating response. Nonetheless, in some conditions, consistent avoidance reactions were noted at higher sound levels depending on the marine mammal species or group, allowing conclusions to be drawn.

    Odontocete behavioral criteria for non-impulsive sources were updated based on controlled exposure studies for dolphins and sea mammals, sonar, and safety (3S) studies where odontocete behavioral responses were reported after exposure to sonar (Antunes et al., 2014; Houser et al., 2013b); Miller et al., 2011; Miller et al., 2014; Miller et al., 2012). For the 3S study the sonar outputs included 1-2 kHz up- and down-sweeps and 6-7 kHz up-sweeps; source levels were ramped up from 152-158 dB re 1 μPa to a maximum of 198-214 re 1 μPa at 1 m. Sonar signals were ramped up over several pings while the vessel approached the mammals. The study did include some control passes of ships with the sonar off to discern the behavioral responses of the mammals to vessel presence alone versus active sonar. The controlled exposure studies included exposing the Navy's trained bottlenose dolphins to mid-frequency sonar while they were in a pen. Mid-frequency sonar was played at 6 different exposure levels from 125-185 dB re 1 μPa (rms). The behavioral response function for odontocetes resulting from the studies described above has a 50 percent probability of response at 157 dB re 1 μPa. Additionally, distance cutoffs (20 km for MF cetaceans and 10 km for pinnipeds) were applied to exclude exposures beyond which the potential of significant behavioral responses is considered to be unlikely.

    The pinniped behavioral threshold was updated based on controlled exposure experiments on the following captive animals: Hooded seal, gray seal, and California sea lion (Götz et al. 2010; Houser et al. 2013a; Kvadsheim et al. 2010). Hooded seals were exposed to increasing levels of sonar until an avoidance response was observed, while the grey seals were exposed first to a single received level multiple times, then an increasing received level. Each individual California sea lion was exposed to the same received level ten times. These exposure sessions were combined into a single response value, with an overall response assumed if an animal responded in any single session. The resulting behavioral response function for pinnipeds has a 50 percent probability of response at 166 dB re 1 μPa. Additional details regarding these criteria may be found in the technical report, Criteria and Thresholds for U.S. Navy Acoustic and Explosive Effects Analysis (2017a) which may be found at: http://aftteis.com/Portals/3/docs/newdocs/Criteria%20and%20Thresholds_TR_Submittal_05262017.pdf. This technical report was included as part of the Navy's Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS) (Navy 2017b) which is located at: http://www.aftteis.com/.

    NMFS is proposing to adopt the Navy's approach to estimating incidental take by Level B harassment from the active acoustic sources for this action, which includes use of these dose response functions. The Navy's dose response functions were developed to estimate take from sonar and similar transducers and are not applicable to icebreaking. NMFS predicts that marine mammals are likely to be behaviorally harassed in a manner we consider Level B harassment when exposed to underwater anthropogenic noise above received levels of 120 dB re 1 μPa (rms) for continuous (e.g., vibratory pile-driving, drilling, icebreaking) and above 160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) for non-explosive impulsive (e.g., seismic airguns) or intermittent (e.g., scientific sonar) sources. Thus, take of marine mammals by Level B harassment due to icebreaking has been calculated using the Navy's NAEMO model with a step-function at 120 dB re 1 μPa (rms) received level for behavioral response.

    Level A harassment for non-explosive sources—NMFS' Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing (Version 2.0) (Technical Guidance, 2018) identifies dual criteria to assess auditory injury (Level A harassment) to five different marine mammal groups (based on hearing sensitivity) as a result of exposure to noise from two different types of sources (impulsive or non-impulsive). ONR's proposed activities involve only non-impulsive sources.

    These thresholds are provided in Table 4 below. The references, analysis, and methodology used in the development of the thresholds are described in NMFS 2018 Technical Guidance, which may be accessed at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-acoustic-technical-guidance.

    Table 4—Injury (PTS) Thresholds for Underwater Sounds Hearing group PTS onset acoustic thresholds *
  • (received level)
  • Impulsive Non-impulsive
    Low-Frequency (LF) Cetaceans Cell 1: L pk,flat: 219 dB; L E,LF,24h: 183 dB Cell 2: L E,LF,24h: 199 dB. Mid-Frequency (MF) Cetaceans Cell 3: L pk,flat: 230 dB; L E,MF,24h: 185 dB Cell 4: L E,MF,24h: 198 dB. High-Frequency (HF) Cetaceans Cell 5: L pk,flat: 202 dB; L E,HF,24h: 155 dB Cell 6: L E,MF,24h: 173 dB. Phocid Pinnipeds (PW) (Underwater) Cell 7: L pk,flat: 218 dB; L E,PW,24h: 185 dB Cell 8: L E,PW,24h: 201 dB. Otariid Pinnipeds (OW) (Underwater) Cell 9: L pk,flat: 232 dB; L E,OW,24h: 203 dB Cell 10: L E,OW,24h: 219 dB. * Dual metric acoustic thresholds for impulsive sounds: Use whichever results in the largest isopleth for calculating PTS onset. If non-impulsive sound has the potential of exceeding the peak sound pressure level thresholds associated with impulsive sounds, these thresholds should also be considered. Note: Peak sound pressure (L pk) has a reference value of 1 μPa, and cumulative sound level (L E) has a reference value of 1μPa2s. In this Table, thresholds are abbreviated to reflect American National Standards Institute standards (ANSI 2013). However, peak sound pressure is defined by ANSI as incorporating frequency weighting, which is not the intent for this Technical Guidance. Hence, the subscript “flat” is being included to indicate peak sound pressure should be flat weighted or unweighted within the generalized hearing range. The subscript associated with cumulative sound exposure level thresholds indicates the designated marine mammal auditory weighting function (LF, MF, and HF cetaceans, PW and OW pinnipeds) and that the recommended accumulation period is 24 hours. The cumulative sound exposure level thresholds could be exceeded in a multitude of ways (i.e., varying exposure levels and durations, duty cycle). When possible, it is valuable for action proponents to indicate the conditions under which these acoustic thresholds will be exceeded.
    Quantitative Modeling

    The Navy performed a quantitative analysis to estimate the number of mammals that could be harassed by the underwater acoustic transmissions during the proposed action. Inputs to the quantitative analysis included marine mammal density estimates, marine mammal depth occurrence distributions (Navy 2017a), oceanographic and environmental data, marine mammal hearing data, and criteria and thresholds for levels of potential effects. The quantitative analysis consists of computer modeled estimates and a post-model analysis to determine the number of potential animal exposures. The model calculates sound energy propagation from the proposed non-impulsive acoustic sources and icebreaking, the sound received by animat (virtual animal) dosimeters representing marine mammals distributed in the area around the modeled activity, and whether the sound received by animats exceeds the thresholds for effects.

    The Navy developed a set of software tools and compiled data for estimating acoustic effects on marine mammals without consideration of behavioral avoidance or mitigation. These tools and data sets serve as integral components of NAEMO. In NAEMO, animats are distributed non-uniformly based on species-specific density, depth distribution, and group size information and animats record energy received at their location in the water column. A fully three-dimensional environment is used for calculating sound propagation and animat exposure in NAEMO. Site-specific bathymetry, sound speed profiles, wind speed, and bottom properties are incorporated into the propagation modeling process. NAEMO calculates the likely propagation for various levels of energy (sound or pressure) resulting from each source used during the training event.

    NAEMO then records the energy received by each animat within the energy footprint of the event and calculates the number of animats having received levels of energy exposures that fall within defined impact thresholds. Predicted effects on the animats within a scenario are then tallied and the highest order effect (based on severity of criteria; e.g., PTS over TTS) predicted for a given animat is assumed. Each scenario, or each 24-hour period for scenarios lasting greater than 24 hours (which NMFS recommends in order to ensure more consistent quantification of take across actions), is independent of all others, and therefore, the same individual marine animal (as represented by an animat in the model environment) could be impacted during each independent scenario or 24-hour period. In few instances, although the activities themselves all occur within the study area, sound may propagate beyond the boundary of the study area. Any exposures occurring outside the boundary of the study area are counted as if they occurred within the study area boundary. NAEMO provides the initial estimated impacts on marine species with a static horizontal distribution (i.e., animats in the model environment do not move horizontally).

    There are limitations to the data used in the acoustic effects model, and the results must be interpreted within this context. While the best available data and appropriate input assumptions have been used in the modeling, when there is a lack of definitive data to support an aspect of the modeling, conservative modeling assumptions have been chosen (i.e., assumptions that may result in an overestimate of acoustic exposures):

    • Animats are modeled as being underwater, stationary, and facing the source and therefore always predicted to receive the maximum potential sound level at a given location (i.e., no porpoising or pinnipeds' heads above water);

    • Animats do not move horizontally (but change their position vertically within the water column), which may overestimate physiological effects such as hearing loss, especially for slow moving or stationary sound sources in the model;

    • Animats are stationary horizontally and therefore do not avoid the sound source, unlike in the wild where animals would most often avoid exposures at higher sound levels, especially those exposures that may result in PTS;

    • Multiple exposures within any 24-hour period are considered one continuous exposure for the purposes of calculating potential threshold shift, because there are not sufficient data to estimate a hearing recovery function for the time between exposures; and

    • Mitigation measures were not considered in the model. In reality, sound-producing activities would be reduced, stopped, or delayed if marine mammals are detected by visual monitoring.

    Because of these inherent model limitations and simplifications, model-estimated results should be further analyzed, considering such factors as the range to specific effects, avoidance, and the likelihood of successfully implementing mitigation measures. This analysis uses a number of factors in addition to the acoustic model results to predict acoustic effects on marine mammals.

    The underwater radiated noise signature for icebreaking in the central Arctic Ocean by CGC HEALY during different types of ice cover was characterized in Roth et al. (2013). The radiated noise signatures were characterized for various fractions of ice cover (out of 10). For modeling, the 8/10 and 3/10 ice cover were used based on the data available. Each modeled day of icebreaking consisted of 16 hours of 8/10 ice cover and 8 hours of 3/10 ice cover, which was considered a fairly conservative way of representing the expected ice cover based on what is known. Icebreaking was modeled for 4 days each year. The sound signature of each of the ice coverage levels was broken into 1-octave bins (Table 5). In the model, each bin was included as a separate source on the modeled vessel. When these independent sources go active concurrently, they simulate the sound signature of CGC HEALY. The modeled source level summed across these bins was 196.2 dB for the 8/10 signature and 189.3 dB for the 3/10 ice signature. These source levels are a good approximation of the icebreaker's observed source level (Roth et al., 2013). Each frequency and source level was modeled as an independent source, and applied simultaneously to all of the animats within the model environment. Each second was summed across frequency to estimate sound pressure level (SPLrms). This value was incorporated into NAEMO using NMFS' 120 dB re 1 µPa continuous sound source threshold to estimate Level B harassment. For PTS and TTS determinations, sound exposure levels were summed over the duration of the test and the transit to the deep water deployment level.

    Table 5—Modeled Bins for Icebreaking in Fractional Ice Coverage on CGC HEALY Frequency
  • (Hz)
  • 8/10 ice
  • coverage
  • (full
  • power)
  • Source level
  • (dB)
  • 3/10 ice
  • coverage
  • (quarter power)
  • Source level
  • (dB)
  • 25 189 187 50 188 182 100 189 179 200 190 177 400 188 175 800 183 170 1600 177 166 3200 176 171 6400 172 168 12800 167 164

    For the other non-impulsive sources, NAEMO calculates the SPL and SEL for each active emission during an event. This is done by taking the following factors into account over the propagation paths: Bathymetric relief and bottom types, sound speed, and attenuation contributors such as absorption, bottom loss, and surface loss. Platforms such as a ship using one or more sound sources are modeled in accordance with relevant vehicle dynamics and time durations by moving them across an area whose size is representative of the testing event's operational area. Table 6 provides range to effects for non-impulsive sources and icebreaking noise proposed for the Arctic research activities to mid-frequency cetacean and pinniped specific criteria. Marine mammals within these ranges would be predicted to receive the associated effect. Range to effects is important information in not only predicting non-impulsive acoustic impacts, but also in verifying the accuracy of model results against real-world situations and determining adequate mitigation ranges to avoid higher level effects, especially physiological effects in marine mammals. Therefore, the ranges in Table 6 provide realistic maximum distances over which the specific effects from the use of non-impulsive sources during the proposed action would be possible.

    Table 6—Range to PTS, TTS, and Behavioral Effects in the Study Area Source Range to behavioral effects
  • (m)
  • MF Cetacean Pinniped Range to TTS effects (m) MF Cetacean Pinniped Range to PTS effects (m) MF Cetacean Pinniped
    LF4 towed source 20,000 10,000 0 1 0 0 LF5 towed source 20,000 10,000 0 1 0 0 MF9 towed source 20,000 10,000 4 50 0 4 Navigation and real-time sensing sources 20,000 10,000 0 6 0 0 Tomography sources 20,000 10,000 0 2 0 0 Spherical Wave source 20,000 10,000 0 0 0 0 Icebreaking noise 4,275 4,525 3 12 0 0

    A behavioral response study conducted on and around the Navy range in Southern California (SOCAL BRS) observed reactions to sonar and similar sound sources by several marine mammal species, including Risso's dolphins (Grampus griseus), a mid-frequency cetacean (DeRuiter et al., 2013; Goldbogen et al., 2013; Southall et al., 2011; Southall et al., 2012; Southall et al., 2013; Southall et al., 2014). In preliminary analysis, none of the Risso's dolphins exposed to simulated or real mid-frequency sonar demonstrated any overt or obvious responses (Southall et al., 2012, Southall et al., 2013). In general, although the responses to the simulated sonar were varied across individuals and species, none of the animals exposed to real Navy sonar responded; these exposures occurred at distances beyond 10 km, and were up to 100 km away (DeRuiter et al., 2013; B. Southall pers. comm.). These data suggest that most odontocetes (not including beaked whales and harbor porpoises) likely do not exhibit significant behavioral reactions to sonar and other transducers beyond approximately 10 km. Therefore, the Navy uses a cutoff distance for odontocetes of 10 km for moderate source level, single platform training and testing events, and 20 km for all other events, including the proposed Arctic Research Activities (Navy 2017a).

    Southall et al., (2007) report that pinnipeds do not exhibit strong reactions to SPLs up to 140 dB re 1 µPa from non-impulsive sources. While there are limited data on pinniped behavioral responses beyond about 3 km in the water, the Navy uses a distance cutoff of 5 km for moderate source level, single platform training and testing events, and 10 km for all other events, including the proposed Arctic Research Activities (Navy 2017a).

    NMFS and the Navy conservatively propose a distance cutoff of 5.4 nmi (10 km) for pinnipeds, and 10.8 nmi (20 km) for mid-frequency cetaceans (Navy 2017a). Regardless of the received level at that distance, take is not estimated to occur beyond 10 and 20 km from the source for pinnipeds and cetaceans, respectively. Sources that show a range of zero do not rise to the specified level of effects (e.g., there is no chance of PTS for beluga whales from the navigation source).

    As discussed above, within NAEMO animats do not move horizontally or react in any way to avoid sound. Furthermore, mitigation measures that reduce the likelihood of physiological impacts are not considered in quantitative analysis. Therefore, the model may overestimate acoustic impacts, especially physiological impacts near the sound source. The behavioral criteria used as a part of this analysis acknowledges that a behavioral reaction is likely to occur at levels below those required to cause hearing loss. At close ranges and high sound levels approaching those that could cause PTS, avoidance of the area immediately around the sound source is the assumed behavioral response for most cases.

    In previous environmental analyses, the Navy has implemented analytical factors to account for avoidance behavior and the implementation of mitigation measures. The application of avoidance and mitigation factors has only been applied to model-estimated PTS exposures given the short distance over which PTS is estimated. Given that no PTS exposures were estimated during the modeling process for this proposed action, the quantitative consideration of avoidance and mitigation factors were not included in this analysis.

    If exposure were to occur, beluga whales, bearded seals, and ringed seals could exhibit behavioral responses such as avoidance, increased swimming speeds, increased surfacing time, or decreased foraging. Additionally, ringed seals may exhibit a TTS. Most likely, animals affected by non-impulsive acoustic sources or icebreaking noise resulting from the proposed action would move away from the sound source and be temporarily displaced from their foraging, migration, or breeding areas or haulout sites within the study area. For the reasons included above, Level A harassment is not anticipated for any of the exposed species or stocks.

    Table 7 shows the exposures expected for the beluga whale, bearded seal, and ringed seal based on NAEMO modeled results. While density estimates for the two stocks of beluga whales are equal (Kaschner et al., 2006; Kaschner 2004), take of the Eastern Chukchi Sea beluga whale stock has been reduced to account for the lower likelihood of this stock being present in the study area.

    Table 7—Quantitative Modeling Results of Potential Exposures Species Density estimate within study area
  • (animals per square km) 1
  • Level B
  • harassment from towed and deployed sources
  • Level B
  • harassment from
  • icebreaking
  • Level A
  • harassment
  • Total proposed
  • take
  • Percentage
  • of stock
  • taken
  • Beluga Whale (Beaufort Sea Stock) 0.0087 60 24 0 84 0.21 Beluga Whale (Eastern Chukchi Sea stock) 0.0087 6 2 0 8 0.04 Bearded Seal 0.0332 1 0 0 1 < 0.01 Ringed Seal 0.3760 1,826 1,245 0 3,071 1.81 1 Kaschner et al. (2006); Kaschner (2004).
    Effects of Specified Activities on Subsistence Uses of Marine Mammals

    Subsistence hunting is important for many Alaska Native communities. A study of the North Slope villages of Nuiqsut, Kaktovik, and Barrow identified the primary resources used for subsistence and the locations for harvest (Stephen R. Braund & Associates 2010), including terrestrial mammals (caribou, moose, wolf, and wolverine), birds (geese and eider), fish (Arctic cisco, Arctic char/Dolly Varden trout, and broad whitefish), and marine mammals (bowhead whale, ringed seal, bearded seal, and walrus). Bearded seals, ringed seals, and beluga whales are located within the study area during the proposed action. The permitted sources would be placed outside of the range for subsistence hunting and the study plans have been communicated to the Native communities. The closest active acoustic source within the study area (aside from the de minimis sources), is approximately 141 mi (227 km) from land. As stated above, the range to effects for non-impulsive acoustic sources in this experiment is relatively small (20 km). In addition, the proposed action would not remove individuals from the population. Therefore, there would be no impacts caused by this action to the availability of bearded seal, ringed seal, or beluga whale for subsistence hunting. Therefore, subsistence uses of marine mammals would not be impacted by the proposed action.

    Proposed Mitigation

    In order to issue an IHA under Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses. NMFS regulations require applicants for incidental take authorizations to include information about the availability and feasibility (economic and technological) of equipment, methods, and manner of conducting such activity or other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact upon the affected species or stocks and their habitat (50 CFR 216.104(a)(11)). The NDAA for FY 2004 amended the MMPA as it relates to military readiness activities and the incidental take authorization process such that “least practicable impact” shall include consideration of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity.

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

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

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

    Mitigation for Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    Ships operated by or for the Navy have personnel assigned to stand watch at all times, day and night, when moving through the water. While in transit, ships must use extreme caution and proceed at a safe speed such that the ship can take proper and effective action to avoid a collision with any marine mammal and can be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.

    Exclusion zones for active acoustics involve turning off towed sources when a marine mammal is sighted within 200 yards (yd; 183 m) from the source. Active transmission will re-commence if any one of the following conditions are met: (1) The animal is observed exiting the exclusion zone, (2) the animal is thought to have exited the exclusion zone based on its course and speed and relative motion between the animal and the source, (3) the exclusion zone has been clear from any additional sightings for a period of 15 minutes for pinnipeds and 30 minutes for cetaceans, or (4) the ship has transited more than 400 yd (366 m) beyond the location of the last sighting.

    During mooring deployment, visual observation would start 30 minutes prior to and continue throughout the deployment within an exclusion zone of 60 yd (55 m) around the deployed mooring. Deployment will stop if a marine mammal is visually detected within the exclusion zone. Deployment will re-commence if any one of the following conditions are met: (1) The animal is observed exiting the exclusion zone, (2) the animal is thought to have exited the exclusion zone based on its course and speed, or (3) the exclusion zone has been clear from any additional sightings for a period of 15 minutes for pinnipeds and 30 minutes for cetaceans. Visual monitoring will continue through 30 minutes following the deployment of sources.

    Ships would avoid approaching marine mammals head on and would maneuver to maintain an exclusion zone of 500 yd (457 m) around observed whales, and 200 yd (183 m) around all other marine mammals, provided it is safe to do so in ice free waters.

    Moored and drifting sources are left in place and cannot be turned off until the following year during ice free months. Once they are programmed, they will operate at the specified pulse lengths and duty cycles until they are either turned off the following year or there is failure of the battery and are not able to operate. Due to the ice covered nature of the Arctic, it is not possible to recover the sources or interfere with their transmit operations in the middle of the year.

    These requirements do not apply if a vessel's safety is at risk, such as when a change of course would create an imminent and serious threat to safety, person, vessel, or aircraft, and to the extent vessels are restricted in their ability to maneuver. No further action is necessary if a marine mammal other than a whale continues to approach the vessel after there has already been one maneuver and/or speed change to avoid the animal. Avoidance measures should continue for any observed whale in order to maintain an exclusion zone of 500 yd (457 m).

    All personnel conducting on-ice experiments, as well as all aircraft operating in the study area, are required to maintain a separation distance of 1,000 ft (305 m) from any sighted pinniped.

    Based on our evaluation of the applicant's proposed measures, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the proposed mitigation measures provide the means effecting the least practicable impact on the affected species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stock for subsistence uses.

    Proposed Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue an IHA for an activity, Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104(a)(13) indicate that requests for authorizations must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present in the proposed action area. Effective reporting is critical both to compliance as well as ensuring that the most value is obtained from the required monitoring.

    Monitoring and reporting requirements prescribed by NMFS should contribute to improved understanding of one or more of the following:

    • Occurrence of marine mammal species or stocks in the area in which take is anticipated (e.g., presence, abundance, distribution, density);

    • Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment (e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) co-occurrence of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) biological or behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas);

    • Individual marine mammal responses (behavioral or physiological) to acoustic stressors (acute, chronic, or cumulative), other stressors, or cumulative impacts from multiple stressors;

    • How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) Long-term fitness and survival of individual marine mammals; or (2) populations, species, or stocks;

    • Effects on marine mammal habitat (e.g., marine mammal prey species, acoustic habitat, or other important physical components of marine mammal habitat); and

    • Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness.

    While underway, the ships (including non-Navy ships operating on behalf of the Navy) utilizing active acoustics and towed in-water devices will have at least one watch person during activities. Watch personnel undertake extensive training in accordance with the U.S. Navy Lookout Training Handbook or civilian equivalent, including on the job instruction and a formal Personal Qualification Standard program (or equivalent program for supporting contractors or civilians), to certify that they have demonstrated all necessary skills (such as detection and reporting of floating or partially submerged objects). Their duties may be performed in conjunction with other job responsibilities, such as navigating the ship or supervising other personnel. While on watch, personnel employ visual search techniques, including the use of binoculars, using a scanning method in accordance with the U.S. Navy Lookout Training Handbook or civilian equivalent. A primary duty of watch personnel is to detect and report all objects and disturbances sighted in the water that may be indicative of a threat to the ship and its crew, such as debris, or surface disturbance. Per safety requirements, watch personnel also report any marine mammals sighted that have the potential to be in the direct path of the ship as a standard collision avoidance procedure.

    The U.S. Navy has coordinated with NMFS to develop an overarching program plan in which specific monitoring would occur. This plan is called the Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Program (ICMP) (Navy 2011). The ICMP has been developed in direct response to Navy permitting requirements established through various environmental compliance efforts. As a framework document, the ICMP applies by regulation to those activities on ranges and operating areas for which the Navy is seeking or has sought incidental take authorizations. The ICMP is intended to coordinate monitoring efforts across all regions and to allocate the most appropriate level and type of effort based on set of standardized research goals, and in acknowledgement of regional scientific value and resource availability.

    The ICMP is focused on Navy training and testing ranges where the majority of Navy activities occur regularly as those areas have the greatest potential for being impacted. ONR's Arctic Research Activities in comparison is a less intensive test with little human activity present in the Arctic. Human presence is limited to a minimal amount of days for possible towed source operations and source deployments, in contrast to the large majority (>95%) of time that the sources will be left behind and operate autonomously. Therefore, a dedicated monitoring project is not warranted.

    ONR previously conducted experiments in the Beaufort Sea as part of the Canadian Basin Acoustic Propagation Experiments (CANAPE) project in 2016 and 2017. The goal of the CANAPE project was to determine the fundamental limits to the use of acoustic methods and signal processing imposed by ice and ocean processes in the changing Arctic. The CANAPE project included ten moored receiver arrays (frequencies ranging from 200 Hz to 16 kHz) that recorded 24 hours per day for one year. Recordings from the CANAPE arrays are currently being compiled and analyzed by Defense Research and Development Canada, University of Delaware, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI). Researchers from WHOI are planning to do marine mammal analysis of the recordings, including density estimation. ONR is planning to release the marine mammal data collected from the CANAPE receivers to other researchers.

    As part of the proposed Arctic Research Activities, ONR is considering deploying a moored receiver array similar to those used in CANAPE. The receiver array would be deployed during the SODA research cruises in 2018 and be recovered one year later. While a single array is a modest effort compared to the ten arrays used in CANAPE, it would provide new marine mammal monitoring data for the 2018-2019 time frame. The array would be deployed at one of the locations labeled on Figure 1-1 of the IHA application. There would be no active sources associated with the array. The deployment of the single array in 2018 depends on the load capacity of the dock used by ONR and is not yet certain. If ONR is able to deploy the array in 2018, the recordings would be shared alongside the CANAPE data.

    The Navy is committed to documenting and reporting relevant aspects of research and testing activities to verify implementation of mitigation, comply with permits, and improve future environmental assessments. If any injury or death of a marine mammal is observed during the 2018-19 Arctic Research Activities, the Navy will immediately halt the activity and report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS. The following information must be provided:

    • Time, date, and location of the discovery;

    • Species identification (if known) or description of the animal(s) involved;

    • Condition of the animal(s) (including carcass condition if the animal is dead);

    • Observed behaviors of the animal(s), if alive;

    • If available, photographs or video footage of the animal(s); and

    • General circumstances under which the animal(s) was discovered (e.g., during use of towed acoustic sources, deployment of moored or drifting sources, during on-ice experiments, or by transiting vessel).

    ONR will provide NMFS with a draft exercise monitoring report within 90 days of the conclusion of the proposed activity. The draft exercise monitoring report will include data regarding acoustic source use and any mammal sightings or detection will be documented. The report will include the estimated number of marine mammals taken during the activity. The report will also include information on the number of shutdowns recorded. If no comments are received from NMFS within 30 days of submission of the draft final report, the draft final report will constitute the final report. If comments are received, a final report must be submitted within 30 days after receipt of comments.

    Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination

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

    Underwater acoustic transmissions associated with the Arctic Research Activities, as outlined previously, have the potential to result in Level B harassment of beluga whales, ringed seals, and bearded seals in the form of TTS and behavioral disturbance. No serious injury, mortality, or Level A harassment are anticipated to result from this activity.

    Minimal takes of marine mammals by Level B harassment would be due to TTS since the range to TTS effects is small at only 50 m or less while the behavioral effects range is significantly larger extending up to 20 km (Table 6). TTS is a temporary impairment of hearing and can last from minutes or hours to days (in cases of strong TTS). In many cases, however, hearing sensitivity recovers rapidly after exposure to the sound ends. Though TTS may occur in a single ringed seal, the overall fitness of the individual seal is unlikely to be affected and negative impacts to the entire stock of ringed seals are not anticipated.

    Effects on individuals that are taken by Level B harassment could include alteration of dive behavior, alteration of foraging behavior, effects to breathing rates, interference with or alteration of vocalization, avoidance, and flight. More severe behavioral responses are not anticipated due to the localized, intermittent use of active acoustic sources. Most likely, individuals will simply be temporarily displaced by moving away from the sound source. As described previously in the behavioral effects section, seals exposed to non-impulsive sources with a received sound pressure level within the range of calculated exposures (142-193 dB re 1 μPa), have been shown to change their behavior by modifying diving activity and avoidance of the sound source (Götz et al., 2010; Kvadsheim et al., 2010). Although a minor change to a behavior may occur as a result of exposure to the sound sources associated with the proposed action, these changes would be within the normal range of behaviors for the animal (e.g., the use of a breathing hole further from the source, rather than one closer to the source, would be within the normal range of behavior). Thus, even repeated Level B harassment of some small subset of the overall stock is unlikely to result in any significant realized decrease in fitness for the affected individuals, and would not result in any adverse impact to the stock as a whole.

    The project is not expected to have significant adverse effects on marine mammal habitat. While the activities may cause some fish to leave the area of disturbance, temporarily impacting marine mammals' foraging opportunities, this would encompass a relatively small area of habitat leaving large areas of existing fish and marine mammal foraging habitat unaffected. Icebreaking may temporarily affect the availability of pack ice for seals to haul out but the proportion of ice disturbed is small relative to the overall amount of available ice habitat. Icebreaking will not occur during the time of year when ringed seals are expected to be within subnivean lairs or pupping (Chapskii 1940; McLaren 1958; Smith and Stirling 1975). As such, the impacts to marine mammal habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term negative consequences. In summary and as described above, the following factors primarily support our preliminary determination that the impacts resulting from this activity are not expected to adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival:

    • No injury, serious injury, or mortality is anticipated or authorized;

    • Impacts will be limited to Level B harassment;

    • Minimal takes by Level B harassment will be due to TTS; and

    • There will be no permanent or significant loss or modification of marine mammal prey or habitat.

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

    Unmitigable Adverse Impact Analysis and Determination

    Impacts to subsistence uses of marine mammals resulting from the proposed action are not anticipated. The closest active acoustic source within the study area is approximately 141 mi (227 km) from land, outside of known subsistence use areas. Based on this information, NMFS has preliminarily determined that there will be no unmitigable adverse impact on subsistence uses from ONR's proposed activities.

    Endangered Species Act

    Section 7(a)(2) of the ESA of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, NMFS consults internally, in this case with the NMFS Alaska Regional Office (AKR), whenever we propose to authorize take for endangered or threatened species.

    NMFS is proposing to authorize take of ringed seals and bearded seals, which are listed under the ESA. The Permits and Conservation Division has requested initiation of Section 7 consultation with the Protected Resources Division of AKR for the issuance of this IHA. NMFS will conclude the ESA consultation prior to reaching a determination regarding the proposed issuance of the authorization.

    Proposed Authorization

    As a result of these preliminary determinations, NMFS proposes to issue an IHA to ONR for conducting Arctic Research Activities in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. This section contains a draft of the IHA itself. The wording contained in this section is proposed for inclusion in the IHA (if issued).

    1. This Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) is valid from September 15, 2018 through September 14, 2019.

    2. This IHA is valid only for use of active acoustic sources and icebreaking associated with the Arctic Research Activities project in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.

    3. General Conditions.

    (a) A copy of this IHA must be in the possession of the ONR, its designees, and work crew personnel operating under the authority of this IHA.

    (b) The incidental taking of marine mammals, by Level B harassment only, is limited to the following species and associated authorized take numbers shown below:

    (i) 92 beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas);

    (ii) 1 bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus);

    (iii) 3,071 ringed seals (Pusa hispida hispida).

    (c) The taking by injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or death of any of the species listed in condition 3(b) of the Authorization or any taking of any other species of marine mammal is prohibited and may result in the modification, suspension, or revocation of this IHA.

    4. Mitigation Measures.

    The holder of this Authorization is required to implement the following mitigation measures:

    (a) All ships operated by or for the Navy are required to have personnel assigned to stand watch at all times while underway.

    (b) For all towed active acoustic sources, ONR must implement a minimum shutdown zone of 200 yards (183 meters (m)) radius from the source. If a marine mammal comes within or approaches the shutdown zone, such operations must cease.

    (i) Active transmission may recommence if any one of the following conditions are met:

    A. The animal is observed exiting the shutdown zone;

    B. The animal is thought to have exited the shutdown zone based on its course and speed and relative motion between the animal and the source;

    C. The shutdown zone has been clear from any additional sightings for a period of 15 minutes for pinnipeds or 30 minutes for cetaceans; or

    D. The ship has transited more than 400 yards (366 m) beyond the location of the last sighting.

    (c) During mooring deployment, ONR is required to implement a shutdown zone of 60 yards (55 m) around the deployed mooring. Deployment must cease if a marine mammal comes within or approaches the shutdown zone.

    (i) Deployment may recommence if any one of the following conditions are met:

    A. The animal is observed exiting the shutdown zone;

    B. The animal is thought to have exited the shutdown zone based on its course and speed; or

    C. The shutdown zone has been clear from any additional sightings for a period of 15 minutes for pinnipeds or 30 minutes for cetaceans.

    (d) Ships must avoid approaching marine mammals head-on and must maneuver to maintain an exclusion zone of 500 yards (457 m) around observed whales and 200 yards (183 m) from observed pinnipeds, provided it is safe to do so.

    (e) All personnel conducting on-ice experiments, as well as all aircraft operating in the study area, must maintain a separation distance of 1,000 ft (305 m) from any sighted pinniped.

    (f) If a species for which authorization has not been granted or for which authorization has been granted but the take limit has been met approaches or enters the Level B harassment zone, activities must cease and the Navy must contact the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS.

    5. Monitoring.

    The holder of this Authorization is required to conduct marine mammal monitoring during Arctic Research Activities.

    (a) While underway, all ships utilizing active acoustics and towed in-water devices are required to have at least one person on watch during all activities.

    (b) During deployment of moored sources, visual observation must begin 30 minutes prior to deployment and continue through 30 minutes after the source deployment.

    6. Reporting.

    The holder of this Authorization is required to:

    (a) Submit a draft report on all monitoring conducted under the IHA within 90 calendar days of the completion of marine mammal monitoring. The report must include data regarding acoustic source use and any marine mammal sightings, as well as the total number of marine mammals taken during the activity. If no comments are received from NMFS within 30 days of submission of the draft final report, the draft final report will constitute the final report. If comments are received, a final report must be submitted within 30 days after receipt of comments.

    (b) Report injured or dead marine mammals. In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by this IHA, such as an injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or mortality, ONR must immediately cease the specified activities and report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS. The Navy must provide NMFS with the following information:

    A. Time, date, and location of the discovery;

    B. Species identification (if known) or description of the animal(s) involved;

    C. Condition of the animal(s) (including carcass condition if the animal is dead);

    D. Observed behaviors of the animal(s), if alive;

    E. If available, photographs or video footage of the animal(s); and

    F. General circumstances under which the animal(s) was discovered (e.g., during use of towed acoustic sources, deployment of moored or drifting sources, during on-ice experiments, or by transiting vessel).

    7. This Authorization may be modified, suspended or withdrawn if the holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein, or if NMFS determines the authorized taking is having more than a negligible impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammals.

    Request for Public Comments

    We request comment on our analyses, the proposed authorization, and any other aspect of this Notice of Proposed IHA for the proposed Arctic Research Activities. We also request comment on the potential for renewal of this proposed IHA as described in the paragraph below. Please include with your comments any supporting data or literature citations to help inform our final decision on the request for MMPA authorization.

    On a case-by-case basis, NMFS may issue a second one-year IHA without additional notice when (1) another year of identical or nearly identical activities as described in the Specified Activities section is planned or (2) the activities would not be completed by the time the IHA expires and a second IHA would allow for completion of the activities beyond that described in the Dates and Duration section, provided all of the following conditions are met:

    • A request for renewal is received no later than 60 days prior to expiration of the current IHA;

    • The request for renewal must include the following:

    (1) An explanation that the activities to be conducted beyond the initial dates either are identical to the previously analyzed activities or include changes so minor (e.g., reduction in pile size) that the changes do not affect the previous analyses, take estimates, or mitigation and monitoring requirements; and

    (2) A preliminary monitoring report showing the results of the required monitoring to date and an explanation showing that the monitoring results do not indicate impacts of a scale or nature not previously analyzed or authorized.

    • Upon review of the request for renewal, the status of the affected species or stocks, and any other pertinent information, NMFS determines that there are no more than minor changes in the activities, the mitigation and monitoring measures remain the same and appropriate, and the original findings remain valid.

    Dated: August 7, 2018. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17227 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XG133 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Port of Kalama Expansion Project on the Lower Columbia River AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS received a request from the Port of Kalama (POK) to issue an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) previously issued to the POK to incidentally take three species of marine mammal, by Level B harassment only, during construction activities associated with an expansion project at the Port of Kalama on the Lower Columbia River, Washington. The current IHA was issued in 2017 and is in effect until August 31, 2018 (2017-2018 IHA). However, the project has been delayed such that none of the work covered by the 2017-2018 IHA has been initiated and, therefore, the POK requested that an IHA be issued to conduct their work beginning on or about September 1, 2018 (2018-2019 IHA). NMFS is seeking public comment on its proposal to issue the 2018-2019 IHA to cover the incidental take analyzed and authorized in the 2017-2018 IHA. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to POK to incidentally take, by Level B harassment, small numbers of marine mammals during the specified activities. The authorized take numbers and related analyses would be the same as for the 2017-2018 IHA, and the required mitigation, monitoring, and reporting would remain the same as authorized in the 2017-2018 IHA referenced above. NMFS will consider public comments prior to making any final decision on the issuance of the requested MMPA authorization and agency responses will be summarized in the final notice of our decision.

    DATES:

    Comments and information must be received no later than September 13, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should be sent to 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and electronic comments should be sent to [email protected]

    Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. Comments received electronically, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25-megabyte file size. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel or Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-construction-activities without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.

    An electronic copy of the proposed and final Authorization issued in 2017 and supporting material along with an updated IHA request memo from POK may be obtained by visiting https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-construction-activities. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed below (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dale Youngkin, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

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

    Authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for taking for subsistence uses (where relevant). Further, NMFS must prescribe the permissible methods of taking and other “means of effecting the least practicable [adverse] impact” on the affected species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for certain subsistence uses (referred to in shorthand as “mitigation”); and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth.

    The NDAA (Pub. L. 108-136) removed the “small numbers” and “specified geographical region” limitations indicated above and amended the definition of “harassment” as it applies to a “military readiness activity.” The definitions of all applicable MMPA statutory terms cited above are included in the relevant sections below.

    National Environmental Policy Act

    In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), as implemented by the regulations published by the Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), NMFS prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) to consider the direct, indirect and cumulative effects to the human environment resulting from our action (issuance of an IHA for incidental take of marine mammals due to the POK Expansion project). NMFS made the EA available to the public for review and comment in order to assess the impacts to the human environment of issuance of the 2017-2018 IHA to the POK. Also in compliance with NEPA and the CEQ regulations, as well as NOAA Administrative Order 216-6, NMFS signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on October 24, 2016 for issuance of the 2017-2018 IHA. These NEPA documents are available at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/incidental-take-authorizations-construction-activities.

    Since this IHA covers the same work covered in the 2017-2018 IHA, NMFS has reviewed our previous EA and FONSI, and has preliminarily determined that this action is consistent with categories of activities identified in CE B4 of the Companion Manual for NOAA Administrative Order 216-6A, which do not individually or cumulatively have the potential for significant impacts on the quality of the human environment and for which we have not identified any extraordinary circumstances that would preclude this categorical exclusion. Accordingly, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the issuance of the proposed IHA qualifies to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review. We will review all comments submitted in response to this notice prior to concluding our NEPA process or making a final decision on the 2018-2019 IHA request.

    History of Request

    On September 28, 2015, we received a request from the POK for authorization of the taking, by Level B harassment only, of marine mammals incidental to the construction associated with the Port of Kalama Expansion Project, which involved construction of the Kalama Marine Manufacturing and Export Facility including a new marine terminal for the export of methanol, and installation of engineered log jams, restoration of riparian wetlands, and the removal of existing wood piles in a side channel as mitigation activities. The specified activity is expected to result in the take of three species of marine mammals (harbor seals, California sea lions, and Steller sea lions). A final version of the application, which we deemed adequate and complete, was submitted on December 10, 2015. We published a notice of a proposed IHA and request for comments on March 21, 2016 (81 FR 715064). After the public comment period and before we issued the final IHA, POK requested that we issue the IHA for 2017 instead of the 2016 work season. We subsequently published the final notice of our issuance of the IHA on December 12, 2016 (81 FR 89436), effective from September 1, 2017-August 31, 2018. In-water work associated with the project was expected to be completed within the one-year timeframe of the IHA.

    On June 21, 2018, POK informed NMFS that work relevant to the specified activity considered in the MMPA analysis for the 2017-2018 IHA was postponed and would not be completed. POK requested that the IHA be issued to be effective for the period from September 1, 2018-August 31, 2019. In support of that request, POK submitted an application addendum affirming that no change in the proposed activities is anticipated and that no new information regarding the abundance of marine mammals is available that would change the previous analysis and findings.

    Description of the Activity and Anticipated Impacts

    The 2017-2018 IHA covered the construction of a marine terminal and dock/pier for the export of methanol, and associated compensatory mitigation activities for the purposes of offsetting habitat effects from the action. The marine terminal will be approximately 45,000 square feet in size, supported by 320 concrete piles (24-inch precast octagonal piles to be driven by impact hammer) and 16 steel piles (12 x 12-inch and 4 x 18-inch anticipated to be driven by vibratory hammer, and impact hammering will only be done to drive/proof if necessary). The compensatory mitigation includes installation of 8 engineered log jams (ELJs), which will be anchored by untreated wooden piles driven by impact hammer at low tides (not in water). The compensatory mitigation also includes removal of approximately 320 untreated wooden piles from an abandoned U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) dike in a nearby backwater area. The piles will be removed either by direct pull or vibratory extraction. Finally, the compensatory mitigation includes wetland restoration and enhancement by removal of invasive species and replacement with native wetland species.

    NMFS refers the reader to the documents related to the 2017-2018 IHA for more detailed description of the project activities. These previous documents include the Federal Register notice of the issuance of the 2017-2018 IHA for the POK's Port of Kalama Expansion Project (81 FR 89436, December 12, 2016), the Federal Register notice of the proposed IHA (81 FR 15064, March 21, 2016), POK's application (and 2018 application addendum), and all associated references.

    Detailed Description of the Action—A detailed description of the pile driving activities at the Port of Kalama is found in these previous documents and the updated 2018-2019 IHA application addendum. The location, timing (e.g., seasonality), and nature of the pile driving operations, including the type and size of piles and the methods of pile driving, are identical to those described in the previous Federal Register notices referenced above.

    Description of Marine Mammals—A description of the marine mammals in the area of the activities is found in the previous documents referenced above, which remain applicable to this IHA as well. In addition, NMFS has reviewed recent Stock Assessment Reports, information on relevant Unusual Mortality Events, and recent scientific literature. Since the submittal of the 2015 IHA application, the USACE has published updated data on pinniped presence at the Bonneville Dam (Tidwell et al., 2017). This information reveals that in both 2016 and 2017 the numbers of pinnipeds present at Bonneville Dam were within the range of historical variability. The latest USACE data does not suggest a trend that would require a modification to the take estimates or to the effects analysis (see Table 1 below for a summary of monitoring data by year from Tidwell et al., 2017). Therefore, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the updated information does not affect our analysis of impacts for the 2018-2019 IHA.

    Table 1—Minimum Estimated Number of Individual Pinnipeds Observed at Bonneville Dam Tailrace Areas and the Hours of Observation During the Focal Sampling Period, 2002 to 2017 [From Tidwell et al., 2017] Year Total hours
  • observed
  • California
  • sea lions
  • Steller sea
  • lions
  • Harbor seals Total
  • pinnipeds
  • 2002 662 30 0 1 31 2003 1,356 104 3 2 109 2004 516 99 3 2 104 2005 * 1,109 81 4 1 86 2006 3,650 72 11 3 86 2007 4,433 71 9 2 82 2008 5,131 82 39 2 123 2009 3,455 54 26 2 82 2010 3,609 89 75 2 166 2011 3,315 54 89 1 144 2012 3,404 39 73 0 112 2013 3,247 56 80 0 136 2014 2,947 71 65 1 137 2015 2,995 195 a 69 0 264 2016 1,974 149 a 54 0 203 2017 1,142 92 a 63 1 156 * Observations did not begin until March 18 in 2005. a In 2015, 2016, and 2017 the minimum estimated number of Steller sea lions was 55, 41, and 32, respectively. These counts were less than the maximum number of Steller sea lions observed on one day, so Tidwell et al. (2017) used the maximum number observed on one day as the minimum number. This difference was driven by a focus on California sea lions and lack of branding or unique markers on Steller sea lions.

    Potential Effects on Marine Mammals—A description of the potential effects of the specified activities on marine mammals and their habitat is found in the previous documents referenced above, and remain applicable to this proposed IHA. There is no new information on potential effects that would change our analyses or determinations under the 2018-2019 IHA.

    Estimated Take—A description of the methods and inputs used to estimate take anticipated to occur and, ultimately, the take that was authorized is found in the previous documents referenced above. The methods of estimating take for this proposed IHA are identical to those used in the 2017-2018 IHA, as is the density of marine mammals. The source levels, also remain unchanged from the 2017-2018 IHA, and NMFS' 2016 Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing (NMFS 2016) was used to address new acoustic thresholds in the notice of issuance of the 2017-2018 IHA (see Table 2 for NMFS User Spreadsheet inputs). As stated above, since the submittal of the application for the 2017-2018 IHA (in effect from September 1, 2017 through August 31, 2018), the USACE has published updated data on pinniped presence at the Bonneville Dam, and this data does not suggest a trend that would require a modification to the take estimates or effects analysis. Consequently, the proposed authorized Level B harassment take for this proposed 2018-2019 IHA is identical to the 2017-2018 IHA, as presented in Table 3 below. However, the originally issued IHA did not authorize any Level A harassment take. As harbor seals are smaller and may be more difficult to detect at larger Level A harassment zones, and to account for the potential that they may be unseen/may linger longer than expected, a small number of takes by Level A harassment is currently being proposed.

    Table 2—Inputs for NMFS User Spreadsheet Input parameter Vibratory pile driving
  • (steel)
  • Impact pile driving
  • (steel)
  • Impact pile driving
  • (concrete)
  • Weighting Factor Adjustment 1 2.5 2 2. Source Level (SL) 2 170 178 166. Duration 1 hour 1 hour 1 hour. Strikes per pile 1,025 1,025. Piles per day 3 1 (1 hour duration) (1 pile/hour) (1 pile/hour). Propagation (xlogR) 15 15 15. Distance from SL measurement 10 10 10. 1 In instances where full auditory weighting functions associated with the SELcum metric cannot be applied, NMFS has recommended the default, single frequency weighting factor adjustments (WFAs) provided here. As described in Appendix D of NMFS' Technical Guidance (NMFS, 2016), the intent of the WFA is to broadly account for auditory weighting functions below the 95 frequency contour percentile. Use of single frequency WFA is likely to over-predict Level A harassment distances. 2 SLs from CalTrans (2012). SL for all steel piles are based on 18″ steel pipe (4 of the piles are 18″ and 12 of the piles are 12″). 3 A 1-hour duration was used as there are no haul-outs in the project area. Animals are transiting through the project area, and are not anticipated to be present for a full 8-hour day of pile driving activity. POK estimates 6-8 piles/day, or approximately 1 pile/hour. Animals are anticipated to be present for the duration of 1 pile being driven (1 hour) at most.
    Table 3—Estimated Take Proposed for Authorization and Proportion of Population Potentially Affected Estimated
  • take by
  • Level B
  • harassment
  • Estimated
  • take by
  • Level A
  • harassment
  • Abundance
  • of stock
  • Percentage
  • of stock
  • potentially
  • affected
  • Population trend
    Harbor seal 1,530 10 24,732 6.2 Stable. California sea lion 372 0 153,337 0.2 Stable. Steller sea lion 372 0 59,968 0.6 Increasing.

    Description of Mitigation, Monitoring and Reporting Measures—A description of mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures is found in the previous documents referenced above, and remain unchanged for this proposed IHA. In summary, mitigation includes implementation of shut down procedures if any marine mammal approaches or enters the Level A harassment zone for pile driving (16.5 m [54 ft] for vibratory pile driving of steel piles; 40 m [131 ft] for impact driving of concrete piles; and 252 m [828 ft] for impact driving of steel piles) and for in-water heavy machinery work other than pile driving (e.g. standard barges, barge-mounted cranes, excavators, etc.), if a marine mammal comes within 10 m operations shall cease and vessels shall reduce speed to the minimum level required to maintain steerage and safe working conditions. One trained observer shall monitor to implement shutdowns and collect information at each active pile driving location (whether vibratory or impact driving of steel or concrete piles).

    At least three observers shall be on duty during impact driving at all times. As discussed above, one observer shall monitor and implement shutdowns and collect information at each pile driving location at all times. In addition, two shore-based observers (one upstream of the project and another downstream of the project), whose primary responsibility shall be to record pinnipeds in the Level B harassment zone and to alert the barge-based observer to the presence of pinnipeds, thus creating a redundant alert system for prevention of injurious interaction as well as increasing the probability of detecting pinnipeds in the disturbance zone. At least three observers shall be on duty during vibratory pile driving activity for the first two days, and thereafter on every third day to allow for estimation of Level B takes. Similar to requirements for impact driving, the first observer shall be positioned on a work platform or barge where the entirety of the shutdown zone can be monitored. Shore based observers shall be positioned to observe the disturbance zone from the bank of the river. Protocols will be implemented to ensure that coordinated communication of sightings occurs between observers in a timely manner.

    Pile driving activities shall only be conducted during daylight hours. If the shutdown zone is obscured by fog or poor lighting conditions, pile driving will not be initiated until the entire shutdown zone is visible. Work that has been initiated appropriately in conditions of good visibility may continue during poor visibility. The shutdown zone will be monitored for 30 minutes prior to initiating the start of pile driving, during the activity, and for 30 minutes after activities have ceased. If pinnipeds are present within the shutdown zone prior to pile driving, the start will be delayed until the animals leave the shutdown zone of their own volition, or until 15 minutes elapse without re-sighting the animal(s).

    Soft start procedures shall be implemented at the start of each day's impact pile driving and at any time following cessation of impact driving for a period of thirty minutes or longer. If steel piles require impact installation or proofing, a bubble curtain will be used for sound attenuation. If water velocity is 1.6 feet per second (1.1 miles per hour) or less for the entire installation period, the pile being driven will be surrounded by a confined or unconfined bubble curtain that will distribute small air bubbles around 100 percent of the pile perimeter for the full depth of the water column. If water velocity is greater than 1.6 feet per second (1.1 miles per hour) at any point during installation, the pile being driven will be surrounded by a confined bubble curtain (e.g., a bubble ring surrounded by a fabric or non-metallic sleeve) that will distribute air bubbles around 100 percent of the pile perimeter for the full depth of the water column.

    Determinations

    The POK proposes to conduct activities in 2018-2019 that are identical to those covered in the currently 2017-2018 IHA. As described above, the number of estimated takes of the same stocks of harbor seals (OR/WA Coast stock), California sea lion (U.S. stock), and Steller sea lion (Eastern DPS) is the same for this proposed IHA as those authorized in the 2017-2018 IHA, which were found to meet the negligible impact and small numbers standards. The authorized take of 1,540 harbor seals; 372 California sea lions, and 372 Steller sea lions represent 6.2 percent, 0.2 percent, and 0.6 percent of these stocks of marine mammals, respectively. We evaluated the impacts of the additional authorization of 10 Level A harassment takes of harbor seal, and find that consideration of impacts to these 10 individuals accruing a small degree of PTS does not meaningfully change our analysis, nor does it change our findings/determinations. This proposed IHA includes identical required mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures as the 2017-2018 IHA, and there is no new information suggesting that our prior analyses or findings should change.

    Based on the information contained here and in the referenced documents, NMFS has preliminarily determined the following: (1) The authorized takes will have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks; (2) the required mitigation measures will effect the least practicable impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat; (3) the authorized takes represent small numbers of marine mammals relative to the affected species or stock abundances; and (4) the POK's activities will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on taking for subsistence purposes, as no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals are implicated by this action.

    Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, NMFS consults internally whenever we propose to authorize take for endangered or threatened species. No incidental take of ESA-listed species is expected to result from this activity, and none would be authorized. Therefore, NMFS has determined that consultation under section 7 of the ESA is not required for this action.

    Proposed Authorization

    NMFS proposes to issue an IHA to POK for in-water construction work activities beginning September 2018 through August 2019, with the proposed mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements. The proposed IHA language is provided next.

    This section contains a draft of the IHA itself. The wording contained in this section is proposed for inclusion in the IHA (if issued).

    The Port of Kalama (POK), 110 West Marine Drive, Kalama, Washington, 98625, is hereby authorized under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(5)(D)) and 50 CFR 216.107 to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting in-water construction work for the Port of Kalama Expansion Project contingent upon the following conditions:

    1. This Authorization is valid from September 1, 2018 through August 31, 2019

    2. (a) Timing of Activities Anticipated to Result in Take of Marine Mammals: In-water construction/pile installation (including installation and removal of temporary piles for construction) shall be conducted between September 1, 2018 and January 31, 2019.

    (b) Timing of Activities Not Anticipated to Result in Take of Marine Mammals

    (i) Dredging would be conducted between September 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017

    (ii) Construction/installation of engineered log jams (ELJ) may be conducted year-round

    (iii) Construction that will take place below the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM), but outside of the wetted perimeter of the river (in the dry) may be conducted year-round

    (iv) Removal of wooden piles from former trestle in the freshwater intertidal backwater channel portion of the project site (compensatory mitigation measure of removal of 157 wooden piles) may be conducted year-round.

    3. This Authorization is valid only for activities associated with in-water construction work for the Port of Kalama Expansion Project on approximately 100 acres (including uplands) at the northern end of the Port of Kalama's North Port site (Lat. 46.049, Long. −122.874), located at approximately river mile 72 along the lower Columbia River along the east bank in Cowlitz County, Washington.

    4. (a) The species authorized for taking are: Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi), California sea lion (Zalophus californianus), and Steller sea lion (Eumatopius jubatus).

    (b) The Authorization for taking by harassment is limited to the following acoustic sources and activities:

    (i) Impact pile driving; and

    (ii) Vibratory pile driving activities (including vibratory removal of temporary construction piles).

    (c) The taking of any marine mammal in a manner prohibited under this Authorization must be reported within 24 hours of the taking to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) West Coast Regional Administrator at (206) 526-6150 and the NMFS Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division at (301) 427-8401.

    5. The taking is limited to the species listed, and by the numbers listed, under condition 4(a) above. The taking or death of the species identified or any taking of any other species of marine mammal is prohibited and may result in the modification, suspension, or revocation of this Authorization.

    6. Mitigation

    (a) Activities authorized for take of marine mammals by this Authorization must occur only during daylight hours.

    (b) A bubble curtain shall be used for sound attenuation if steel piles require impact installation or proofing

    (c) Exclusion Zone and Level B Harassment Zones of Influence

    (i) Exclusion zones out to 16 m (54 ft) for vibratory driving of steel piles; 40 m (131 ft) for impact driving of concrete piles; 252 m (828 ft) for impact driving of steel piles, encompassing the Level A harassment zones; and 10 m for operation of in-water heavy machinery must be implemented to avoid Level A take of marine mammals due to pile driving and avoid potential for injury or mortality due to operation of heavy machinery.

    (ii) Disturbance zones must be established to include 117 m for impact driving of concrete piles; 1,848 m for impact driving of steel piles; and the full line of sight (maximum of 5.7 km) for vibratory driving of steel piles.

    (d) Monitoring of marine mammals must take place starting 30 minutes before pile driving begins and must continue until 30 minutes after pile driving ends.

    (e) Soft Start

    (i) Soft start procedures must be implemented at the start of each day's impact pile driving and at any time following cessation of impact pile driving for a period of 30 minutes or longer.

    (ii) Soft start procedures require that the contractor provides an initial set of three strikes at reduced energy followed by a 30-second waiting period, then two subsequent reduced energy strike sets.

    (f) Shutdown Measures

    (i) POK must implement shutdown measures if a marine mammal is sighted within, or is perceived to be approaching, the exclusion zones identified in 6(c)(i) above and the associated construction or pile driving activities shall immediately cease. Pile driving or in-water construction work will not be resumed until the exclusion zone has been observed as being clear of marine mammals for at least 15 minutes.

    (ii) If marine mammals are present within the exclusion zones established in 6(c)(i) above prior to the start of in-water construction activities, these activities would be delayed until the animals leave the exclusion zone of their own volition, or until 15 minutes elapse without resighting the animal, at which time it may be assumed that the animal(s) have left the exclusion zone.

    7. Monitoring

    The holder of this Authorization is required to conduct marine mammal monitoring during all in-water construction work. Monitoring and reporting shall be conducted in accordance with the Monitoring Plan.

    (a) Marine Mammal Observers—POK shall employ observers to conduct marine mammal monitoring for its construction project. Observers shall have the following minimum qualifications:

    (i) Visual acuity in both eyes (correction is permissible) sufficient for discernment of moving targets at the water's surface with the ability to estimate target size and distance. Use of binoculars may be necessary to correctly identify the target.

    (ii) Experience and ability to conduct field observations and collect data according to assigned protocols (this may include academic experience).

    (iii) Experience or training in the field identification of the marine mammals that could potentially be encountered.

    (iv) Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the construction operation to provide for personal safety during observations.

    (v) Writing skills sufficient to prepare a report of observations that will include such information as the number and types of marine mammals observed; the behavior of marine mammals in the project area during construction; the dates and times when observations were conducted; the dates and times when in-water construction activities were conducted; the dates and times when marine mammals were present at or within the defined disturbance zone; and the dates and times when in-water construction activities were suspended to avoid incidental harassment by disturbance from construction noise.

    (vi) Ability to communicate orally, by radio or in person, with project personnel to provide real time information on marine mammals observed in the area.

    (b) Individuals meeting the minimum qualifications identified in 7(a), above, shall be present on site (on land or dock/barge) at all times during pile driving activities conducted for the project.

    (c) During all impact pile driving activities, observers will be stationed to allow a clear line of sight of the exclusion zone (10 m [33 ft] for all in-water heavy machinery operations except for pile driving; the entirety of the Level A harassment zone, and the entire disturbance zone for pile driving activity, as identified in 6(c)(i).

    (d) Marine mammal observers will monitor for the first two days of vibratory pile driving, and thereafter on every third day of vibratory pile driving. Monitoring will be conducted by three observers during vibratory pile driving activities. One observer will be stationed in the general vicinity of the pile being driven and will have clear line of sight views of the entire inner harbor. Another observer will be stationed at an accessible location downstream (such as northern tip of Prescott Beach County Park) and would observe the northern (downstream) portion of the disturbance zone. A third observer will be stationed at an accessible location upstream and would observe the southern (upstream) portion of the disturbance zone.

    (e) Marine mammal observers will scan the waters within each monitoring zone activity using binoculars (Vector 10 X 42 or equivalent), spotting scopes (Swarovski 20-60 zoom or equivalent; Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 2000), and visual observation.

    (f) Marine mammal presence within the Level B harassment zones of influence (disturbance zones) will be monitored, but pile driving activity will not be stopped if marine mammals are found present unless they enter or approach the exclusion zone. Any marine mammal observed within the disturbance zone will be documented and counted as a Level B take. Monitoring during vibratory pile driving will occur during the first two days of activity and during every three days thereafter to estimate the number of individuals present within the Level B harassment area.

    (g) If waters exceed a sea-state which restrict the observers' ability to make observations within the Level A injury exclusion zone, relevant activities will cease until conditions allow the resumption of monitoring. Vibratory pile installation would continue under these conditions.

    (h) The waters will be scanned 30 minutes prior to commencing pile driving activities and during all pile driving activities. If marine mammals enter or are observed within the designated exclusion zones during, or 15 minutes prior to, impact pile driving, the monitors will notify the on-site construction manager to not begin, or cease, work until the animal(s) leave of their own volition, or have not been observed within the zone for 15 minutes.

    8. Reporting

    (a) POK shall provide NMFS with a draft monitoring report within 90 days of the expiration of this Authorization, or within conclusion of the construction work, whichever comes first. This report shall detail the monitoring protocol, summarize the data recorded during monitoring, and estimate the number of marine mammals that may have been harassed.

    (b) If comments are received from NMFS (West Coast Regional Administrator or NMFS Office of Protected Resources) on the draft report within 30 days, a final report shall be submitted to NMFS within 30 days thereafter. If no comments are received from NMFS within 30 days after receipt of the draft report, the draft report will be considered final.

    (c) In the unanticipated event that the construction activities clearly cause the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by this Authorization, such as an injury, serious injury, or mortality (Level A take), POK shall immediately cease all operations and immediately report the incident to the NMFS Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources and the NMFS West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinators. The report must include the following information:

    (i) Time, date, and location (latitude and longitude) of the incident;

    (ii) Description of the incident;

    (iii) Status of all sound sources used in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

    (iv) Environmental conditions (wind speed, wind direction, sea state, cloud cover, visibility, water depth);

    (v) Description of the marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

    (vi) Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;

    (vii) The fate of the animal(s); and

    (viii) Photographs or video footage of the animal(s), if equipment is available.

    Activities shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS shall work with POK to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. POK may not resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone.

    (d) In the event that POK discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the marine mammal observer determines that the cause of injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (less than a moderate state of decomposition), POK will immediately report the incident to the NMFS Chief of Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, and the NMFS West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator. The report must include the same information identified above. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with POK to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate.

    (e) In the event that POK discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the marine mammal observer determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA (previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), POK shall report the incident to the NMFS Chief of Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, and the NMFS West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator within 24 hours of the discovery. POK shall provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal(s) to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. POK may continue its operations under such a case.

    Request for Public Comments

    We request comment on our analyses, the draft authorization, and any other aspect of this Notice of Proposed IHA for the proposed POK construction activities. Please include with your comments any supporting data or literature citations to help inform our final decision on the request for MMPA authorization.

    On a case-by-case basis, NMFS may issue a second one-year IHA without additional notice when (1) another year of identical or nearly identical activities as described in the Specified Activities section is planned, or (2) the activities would not be completed by the time the IHA expires and renewal would allow completion of the activities beyond that described in the Dates and Duration section, provided all of the following conditions are met:

    • A request for renewal is received no later than 60 days prior to expiration of the current IHA;

    • The request for renewal must include the following:

    (1) An explanation that the activities to be conducted beyond the initial dates either are identical to the previously analyzed activities or include changes so minor (e.g., reduction in pile size) that the changes do not affect the previous analyses, take estimates, or mitigation and monitoring requirements; and

    (2) A preliminary monitoring report showing the results of the required monitoring to date and an explanation showing that the monitoring results do not indicate impacts of a scale or nature not previously analyzed or authorized;

    • Upon review of the request for renewal, the status of the affected species or stocks, and any other pertinent information, NMFS determines that there are no more than minor changes in the activities, the mitigation and monitoring measures remain the same and appropriate, and the original findings remain valid.

    Dated: August 8, 2018. Donna S. Wieting, <E T="03">Director,</E> Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17387 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary Charter Renewal of Department of Defense Federal Advisory Committees AGENCY:

    Department of Defense.

    ACTION:

    Renewal of federal advisory committee.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense is publishing this notice to announce that it is renewing the charter for the Board of Visitors, National Defense University (“the Board”).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jim Freeman, Advisory Committee Management Officer for the Department of Defense, 703-692-5952.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Board's charter is being renewed in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) of 1972 (5 U.S.C., Appendix, as amended) and 41 CFR 102-3.50(d). The Board's charter and contact information for the Board's Designated Federal Officer (DFO) can be found at http://www.facadatabase.gov/.

    The Board provides the Secretary of Defense and the Deputy Secretary of Defense, through the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the President of the National Defense University (NDU), independent advice and recommendations on accreditation compliance, organizational management, strategic planning, resource management, and other matters of interest to the NDU in fulfilling its mission. Additionally, the Board provides an assessment of University leadership, fulfilling essential Middle States Accreditation compliance.

    The Board shall be composed of no more than 12 members, appointed in accordance to DoD policies and procedures. The members shall be eminent authorities in the fields of defense, management, leadership, academia, national military strategy or joint planning at all levels of war, joint doctrine, joint command and control, or joint requirements and development. Each Board member is appointed to provide advice to the Government on the basis of their best judgment without representing any particular point of view and in a manner that is free from conflict of interest. Except for reimbursement of official Board-related travel and per diem, Board members serve without compensation.

    The public or interested organizations may submit written statements to the Board membership about the Board's mission and functions. Written statements may be submitted at any time or in response to the stated agenda of planned meeting of the Board. All written statements shall be submitted to the DFO for the Board, and this individual will ensure that the written statements are provided to the membership for their consideration.

    Dated: August 9, 2018. Shelly Finke, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17453 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No.: ED-2018-ICCD-0060] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Temporary Expansion of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TE-PSLF) AGENCY:

    Federal Student Aid (FSA), 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 September 13, 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-2018-ICCD-0060. 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, 550 12th Street SW, PCP, Room 9086, Washington, DC 20202-0023.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Beth Grebeldinger, 202-377-4018.

    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: Temporary Expansion of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TE-PSLF).

    OMB Control Number: 1845-0151.

    Type of Review: An extension of an existing information collection.

    Respondents/Affected Public: Individuals or Households.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 10,899.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 4,380.

    Abstract: This is the request for the 30 public comment period for OMB Information Collection 1845-0151. This collection is used to enable FSA to ensure that the required operation changes can be implemented to allow for the benefits to be available to federal student loan borrowers as well as to remain in compliance with the statutory requirements.

    Section 315 of Title III, Division H in the Consolidation Appropriations Act, 2018, (Pub. L. 115-141) included a provision for ED to implement “. . . a simple method for borrowers to apply for loan cancellation . . .” under a temporary expansion of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The Consolidation Appropriations Act, 2018, required ED to implement an application process within 60 days of enactment. ED is requesting public comment on this collection to use information obtained from federal student loan borrowers to make a determination of their eligibility for participation in the loan forgiveness program mandated by the new appropriations law. This loan forgiveness is only available to Direct Loan borrowers who otherwise qualify for the PSLF program and meet other new requirements.

    Dated: August 9, 2018. Kate Mullan, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17430 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket ID ED-2016-FSA-0011] Privacy Act of 1974; System of Records AGENCY:

    Federal Student Aid, Department of Education.

    ACTION:

    Notice of a modified system of records.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (Privacy Act), the Chief Operating Officer for Federal Student Aid (FSA) of the U.S. Department of Education (Department) publishes this notice to modify the system of records entitled “Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program” (18-11-20), last published in the Federal Register on January 23, 2017.

    Under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 and the Public Health Service Act, the authority to administer the HEAL program, including servicing, collecting, and enforcing any loans made under the program that remain outstanding, was transferred from the Secretary of Health and Human Services to the Secretary of Education on July 1, 2014, the date of the enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014.

    The HEAL program system of records covers records for all activities that the Department carries out with regard to servicing, collecting, and enforcing Federal student loans made under the Public Health Service Act that remain outstanding. The HEAL program system also contains records of transactions performed by the Department to carry out the purposes of this system of records.

    DATES:

    Submit your comments on this modified system of records notice on or before September 13, 2018.

    In general, this modified system of records will become applicable upon publication in the Federal Register on August 14, 2018, unless the modified system of records notice needs to be changed as a result of public comment. New and significantly modified routine uses (1)(m), (2), (4), (6), (10), (11), (13), (14), (15), (16), and (17) in the paragraph entitled “ROUTINE USES OF RECORDS MAINTAINED IN THE SYSTEM, INCLUDING CATEGORIES OF USERS AND PURPOSES OF SUCH USES” will become applicable on the expiration of the 30-day period of public comment on September 13, 2018, unless the modified system of records notice needs to be changed as a result of public comment. The Department will publish any significant changes to the modified system of records notice that result from public comment.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. We will not accept comments submitted by fax or by email or those submitted after the comment period. To ensure that we do not receive duplicate copies, please submit your comments only once. In addition, please include the Docket ID at the top of your comments.

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov to submit your comments electronically. Information on using Regulations.gov, including instructions for accessing agency documents, submitting comments, and viewing the docket, is available on the site under the “help” tab.

    Postal Mail, Commercial Delivery, or Hand Delivery: If you mail or deliver your comments about this modified system of records, address them to: Director, Systems Integration Division, Systems Operations and Aid Delivery Management Services, Business Operations, Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, 830 First Street NE, Union Center Plaza (UCP), Room 44F1, Washington, DC 20202-5454.

    Privacy Note: The Department's policy is to make all comments received from members of the public available for public viewing in their entirety on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. Therefore, commenters should be careful to include in their comments only information that they wish to make publicly available.

    Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking Record: On request, we will supply an appropriate accommodation or auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability who needs assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public rulemaking record for this notice. If you want to schedule an appointment for this type of accommodation or auxiliary aid, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Valerie Sherrer, Director, Systems Integration Division, Systems Operations and Aid Delivery Management Services, Business Operations, Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, UCP, 830 First Street NE, Room 44F1, Washington, DC 20202-5454. Telephone number: (202) 377-3547.

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

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Introduction

    Under division H, title V, section 525 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (Pub. L. 113-76) and title VII, part A, subpart I of the Public Health Service Act, the authority to administer the HEAL program, including servicing, collecting, and enforcing any loans made under the program that remain outstanding, was transferred from the Secretary of Health and Human Services to the Secretary of Education on July 1, 2014, the date of the enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014.

    The HEAL program system of records covers records for all activities that the Department carries out with regard to servicing, collecting, and enforcing Federal student loans made under title VII, part A, subpart I of the Public Health Service Act that remain outstanding. The HEAL program system also contains records of transactions performed by the Department to carry out the purposes of this system of records.

    The Department published a notice of a modified system of records in the Federal Register on January 23, 2017 (82 FR 7807-7812) proposing to revise a programmatic routine use and to include a Defaulted Borrowers website as a location where the Department may publish the names of defaulted HEAL program borrowers. In addition, the Department added or made conforming changes both to the programmatic routine uses to make them consistent with the routine uses that the Department uses in its other system of records notice for the servicing and collection of Federal student aid and to the standard routine uses to make them consistent with those used in most other Department systems of records notices.

    This notice makes a number of needed updates and additions to this previous version of the system of records notice, which include: Revising the paragraph on the system's security classification to indicate that this system is not classified; updating the paragraph on system location to reference the current location of the system; revising programmatic purpose (13), and removing former programmatic purpose (15); and modifying the information regarding disclosures to consumer reporting agencies to specify which information will be disclosed.

    The section entitled “RECORD SOURCE CATEGORIES” has been updated to include information obtained from other Federal agencies and from other persons or entities to which records may be disclosed as described in the routine uses set forth in the system of records notice.

    This notice updates the section entitled “POLICIES AND PRACTICES FOR RETENTION AND DISPOSAL OF RECORDS” to reflect the current Department records retention and disposition schedule covering records in this system.

    This notice is modifying the safeguards to remove reference to implementation guidance when this system of records was under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at the previous system location.

    This notice is also revising the record access, contesting, and notification procedures to explicitly indicate which necessary particulars individuals are required to provide to the system manager.

    This notice also removes former programmatic routine use 1(o), routine use (3) “Disclosure for Use by Other Law Enforcement Agencies,” and routine use (16) “Disclosures to Third Parties through Computer Matching Programs;” adds citations to authorizing statutes in routine uses 1(i) and 13; revises routine uses 1(m) to remove language referencing disclosures to update information or correct errors contained in Department records, (2) to remove guaranty agencies and their authorized representatives as entities to which the Department may disclose records, (4) to insert the word “person” in place of the word “individual”, (6) to standardize it with other language used by the Department to permit disclosures of records from its systems of records where they are relevant and necessary to employee grievances, complaints, or disciplinary actions, (10) to remove the reference to “Privacy Act safeguards as required under 5 U.S.C. 552(m)” to now require that all contractors agree to maintain safeguards to protect the security and confidentiality of the records in the system, (11) to remove the requirement for a researcher to maintain “Privacy Act safeguards” with respect to the disclosed records and instead adding a requirement that a researcher must maintain safeguards to protect the security and confidentiality of the disclosed records, (13) to include reference to the Congressional Budget Office as an entity to which the Department may disclose records to, (14) to replace references of “compromise” with references to “breach” to be compliant OMB's requirements as set forth in OMB M-17-12, (16) to allow disclosures to subcontractors of Federal or State agencies and their agents and to the judicial or legislative branches of the United States, and (17) to remove language that specified that the Department may elect to reestablish a Defaulted Borrowers website, or a similar website; adds routine use (15) “Disclosure in Assisting another Agency in Responding to a Breach of Data.”

    Pursuant to the requirements of Office of Management and Budget Circular No. A-108, the Department has also added a section entitled “HISTORY.”

    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an accessible format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Electronic Access to This Document:The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. You may access the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations 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.

    Dated: August 9, 2018. James F. Manning, Acting Chief Operating Officer, Federal Student Aid.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid (FSA), U.S. Department of Education (Department or ED), publishes a notice of a modified system of records to read as follows:

    SYSTEM NAME AND NUMBER:

    Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program (18-11-20).

    SECURITY CLASSIFICATION:

    Unclassified.

    SYSTEM LOCATION:

    Dell Perot Systems, 2300 West Plano Parkway, Plano, TX 75075-8247. (This is the location for the HEAL program Virtual Data Center (VDC)).

    SYSTEM MANAGER(S):

    Director, Systems Integration Division, Systems Operations and Aid Delivery Management Services, Business Operations, Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, 830 First Street NE, Room 44F1, UCP, Washington, DC 20202-5454. Telephone: (202) 377-3547.

    AUTHORITY FOR MAINTENANCE OF THE SYSTEM:

    The authority for maintenance of the system includes sections 701 and 702 of the Public Health Service Act, as amended (PHS Act) (42 U.S.C. 292 and 292a), which authorize the establishment of a Federal program of student loan insurance; section 715 of the PHS Act (42 U.S.C. 292n), which directs the Secretary of Education to require institutions to provide information for each student who has a loan; section 709(c) of the PHS Act (42 U.S.C. 292h(c)), which authorizes disclosure and publication of HEAL defaulters; the Debt Collection Improvement Act (31 U.S.C. 3701 and 3711-3720E); and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, Div. H, title V, section 525 of Public Law 113-76, which transferred the authority to administer the HEAL program from the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the Secretary of Education.

    PURPOSE(S) OF THE SYSTEM:

    The information maintained in this system of records is used for the following purposes:

    (1) To verify the identity of an individual;

    (2) To determine program benefits;

    (3) To enforce the conditions or terms of a loan;

    (4) To service, collect, assign, adjust, transfer, refer, or discharge a loan;

    (5) To counsel a borrower in repayment efforts;

    (6) To investigate possible fraud or abuse or verify compliance with any applicable statutory, regulatory, or legally binding requirement;

    (7) To locate a delinquent or defaulted borrower or an individual obligated to repay a loan;

    (8) To prepare a debt for litigation, provide support services for litigation on a debt, litigate a debt, or audit the results of litigation on a debt;

    (9) To prepare for, conduct, enforce, or assist in the conduct or enforcement of a Medicare Exclusion of the individual in default on a HEAL loan;

    (10) To ensure that program requirements are met by HEAL program participants;

    (11) To verify whether a debt qualifies for discharge, cancellation, or forgiveness;

    (12) To conduct credit checks or respond to inquiries or disputes arising from information on the debt already furnished to a credit-reporting agency;

    (13) To investigate complaints;

    (14) To refund credit balances to the individual or loan holder;

    (15) To report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) information required by law to be reported, including, but not limited to, reports required by 26 U.S.C. 6050P and 6050S;

    (16) To compile and generate managerial and statistical reports; and

    (17) To carry out the statutory requirement to compile and publish a list of the HEAL program borrowers who are in default.

    CATEGORIES OF INDIVIDUALS COVERED BY THE SYSTEM:

    The HEAL program system covers recipients of HEAL program loans that remain outstanding. This system also contains records on HEAL program loans that are paid in full.

    CATEGORIES OF RECORDS IN THE SYSTEM:

    Each HEAL recipient record contains the borrower's name, contact information (such as email address and telephone number), area of practice, Social Security number (SSN) or other identifying number, birth date, demographic background, educational status, loan location and status, and financial information about the individual for whom the record is maintained. Each loan record contains lender and school identification information.

    RECORD SOURCE CATEGORIES:

    Record source categories include individual loan recipients, HEAL schools, lenders, holders of HEAL loans and their agents, HHS, and other Federal agencies. Information in this system also may be obtained from other persons or entities to which records may be disclosed as described in the routine uses set forth below.

    ROUTINE USES OF RECORDS MAINTAINED IN THE SYSTEM, INCLUDING CATEGORIES OF USERS AND PURPOSES OF SUCH USES:

    The Department may disclose information contained in a record in this system of records under the routine uses listed in this system of records without the consent of the individual if the disclosure is compatible with the purposes for which the information in the record was collected. These disclosures may be made on a case-by-case basis, or, if the Department has complied with the computer matching requirements of the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (Privacy Act), under a computer matching agreement. Return information that the Department obtains from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (i.e., taxpayer mailing address) under the authority in 26 U.S.C. 6103(m)(2) or (m)(4) may be disclosed only as authorized by 26 U.S.C. 6103.

    (1) Program Disclosures. The Department may disclose records for the following program purposes:

    (a) To verify the identity of the individual whom records indicate has received the loan, disclosures may be made to HEAL program participants, and their authorized representatives; Federal, State, or local agencies, and their authorized representatives; private parties, such as relatives and business and personal associates; educational and financial institutions; present and former employers; collection agencies; creditors; consumer reporting agencies; adjudicative bodies; and the individual whom the records identify as the party obligated to repay the debt;

    (b) To determine program benefits, disclosures may be made to HEAL program participants, and their authorized representatives; Federal, State, or local agencies, and their authorized representatives; private parties, such as relatives and business and personal associates; educational and financial institutions; present and former employers; creditors; consumer reporting agencies; and adjudicative bodies;

    (c) To enforce the conditions or terms of the loan, disclosures may be made to HEAL program participants; educational and financial institutions, and their authorized representatives; Federal, State, or local agencies, and their authorized representatives; private parties, such as relatives and business and personal associates; present and former employers; creditors; consumer reporting agencies; and adjudicative bodies;

    (d) To permit servicing, collecting, assigning, adjusting, transferring, referring, or discharging a loan, disclosures may be made to HEAL program participants; educational institutions, or financial institutions that made, held, serviced, or have been assigned the debt, and their authorized representatives; a party identified by the debtor as willing to advance funds to repay the debt; Federal, State, or local agencies, and their authorized representatives; private parties, such as relatives and business and personal associates; present and former employers; creditors; consumer reporting agencies; and adjudicative bodies;

    (e) To counsel a borrower in repayment efforts, disclosures may be made to HEAL program participants; educational and financial institutions, and their authorized representatives; and Federal, State, or local agencies, and their authorized representatives;

    (f) To investigate possible fraud or abuse or verify compliance with any applicable statutory, regulatory, or legally binding requirement, disclosures may be made to HEAL program participants; educational and financial institutions, and their authorized representatives; Federal, State, or local agencies, and their authorized representatives; private parties, such as relatives and business and personal associates; present and former employers; creditors; consumer reporting agencies; and adjudicative bodies;

    (g) To locate a delinquent or defaulted borrower, or an individual obligated to repay a loan, disclosures may be made to HEAL program participants; educational and financial institutions, and their authorized representatives; Federal, State, or local agencies, and their authorized representatives; private parties, such as relatives and business and personal associates; present and former employers; creditors; consumer reporting agencies; and adjudicative bodies;

    (h) To prepare a debt for litigation, to provide support services for litigation on a debt, to litigate a debt, or to audit the results of litigation on a debt, disclosures may be made to HEAL program participants, and their authorized representatives; Federal, State, or local agencies, and their authorized representatives; and adjudicative bodies;

    (i) To prepare for, conduct, enforce, or assist in the conduct or enforcement of a Medicare exclusion action in accordance with 42 U.S.C. 1320a-7(b)(14), disclosures may be made to HEAL program participants; educational or financial institutions, and their authorized representatives; Federal, State, or local agencies, and their authorized representatives; and adjudicative bodies;

    (j) To ensure that HEAL program requirements are met by HEAL program participants, disclosures may be made to HEAL program participants; educational or financial institutions, and their authorized representatives; auditors engaged to conduct an audit of a HEAL program participant or of an educational or financial institution; Federal, State, or local agencies, and their authorized representatives; accrediting agencies; and adjudicative bodies;

    (k) To verify whether a debt qualifies for discharge, forgiveness, or cancellation, disclosures may be made to HEAL program participants; educational and financial institutions, and their authorized representatives; Federal, State, or local agencies, and their authorized representatives; private parties, such as relatives and business and personal associates; present and former employers; creditors; consumer reporting agencies; and adjudicative bodies;

    (l) To conduct credit checks or to respond to inquiries or disputes arising from information on the debt already furnished to a credit reporting agency, disclosures may be made to credit reporting agencies; HEAL program participants; educational and financial institutions, and their authorized representatives; Federal, State, or local agencies, and their authorized representatives; private parties, such as relatives and business and personal associates; present and former employers; creditors; and adjudicative bodies;

    (m) To investigate complaints, disclosures may be made to HEAL program participants; educational and financial institutions, and their authorized representatives; Federal, State, or local agencies, and their authorized representatives; private parties, such as relatives; present and former employers; creditors; credit reporting agencies; and adjudicative bodies;

    (n) To refund credit balances that are processed through the Department's systems, as well as the U.S. Department of the Treasury's (Treasury's) payment applications, to the individual or loan holder, disclosures may be made to HEAL program participants; educational and financial institutions, and their authorized representatives; Federal, State, or local agencies, and their authorized representatives; private parties, such as relatives and business and personal associates; present and former employers; and creditors;

    (o) To report information required by law to be reported, including, but not limited to, reports required by 26 U.S.C. 6050P and 6050S, disclosures may be made to the IRS; and

    (p) To allow the Department to make disclosures to governmental entities at the Federal, State, local, or Tribal levels regarding the practices of Department contractors who have been provided with access to the HEAL program system with regards to all aspects of loans made under the HEAL program, in order to permit these governmental entities to verify the contractors' compliance with debt collection, financial, and other applicable statutory, regulatory, or local requirements. Before making a disclosure to these Federal, State, local, or Tribal governmental entities, the Department will require them to maintain safeguards to protect the security and confidentiality of the disclosed records.

    (2) Feasibility Study Disclosure. The Department may disclose information from this system of records to other Federal agencies to determine whether pilot matching programs should be conducted by the Department for purposes such as to locate a delinquent or defaulted debtor or to verify compliance with program regulations.

    (3) Enforcement Disclosure. In the event that information in this system of records indicates, either alone or in connection with other information, a violation or potential violation of any applicable statutory, regulatory, or legally binding requirement, the Department may disclose the relevant records to an entity charged with the responsibility for investigating or enforcing those violations or potential violations.

    (4) Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Disclosure.

    (a) Introduction. In the event that one of the parties listed in sub-paragraphs (i) through (v) is involved in judicial or administrative litigation or ADR, or has an interest in such litigation or ADR, the Department may disclose certain records to the parties described in paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) of this routine use under the conditions specified in those paragraphs:

    (i) The Department or any of its components;

    (ii) Any Department employee in his or her official capacity;

    (iii) Any Department employee in his or her individual capacity where the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been requested to or agrees to provide or arrange for representation for the employee;

    (iv) Any Department employee in his or her individual capacity where the Department requests representation for or has agreed to represent the employee; and

    (v) The United States, where the Department determines that the litigation is likely to affect the Department or any of its components.

    (b) Disclosure to the DOJ. If the Department determines that disclosure of certain records to the DOJ is relevant and necessary to the judicial or administrative litigation or ADR, the Department may disclose those records as a routine use to the DOJ.

    (c) Adjudicative Disclosure. If the Department determines that disclosure of certain records to an adjudicative body before which the Department is authorized to appear or to a person or an entity designated by the Department or otherwise empowered to resolve or mediate disputes is relevant and necessary to the judicial or administrative litigation or ADR, the Department may disclose those records as a routine use to the adjudicative body, person, or entity.

    (d) Disclosure to Parties, Counsel, Representatives, and Witnesses. If the Department determines that disclosure of certain records to a party, counsel, representative, or witness is relevant and necessary to the judicial or administrative litigation or ADR, the Department may disclose those records as a routine use to the party, counsel, representative, or witness.

    (5) Employment, Benefit, and Contracting Disclosure.

    (a) For Decisions by the Department. The Department may disclose a record to a Federal, State, or local agency maintaining civil, criminal, or other relevant enforcement or other pertinent records, or to another public authority or professional organization, if necessary to obtain information relevant to a Department decision concerning the hiring or retention of an employee or other personnel action, the issuance of a security clearance, the letting of a contract, or the issuance of a license, grant, or other benefit.

    (b) For Decisions by Other Public Agencies and Professional Organizations. The Department may disclose a record to a Federal, State, local, or other public authority or professional organization, in connection with the hiring or retention of an employee or other personnel action, the issuance of a security clearance, the reporting of an investigation of an employee, the letting of a contract, or the issuance of a license, grant, or other benefit, to the extent that the record is relevant and necessary to the receiving entity's decision on the matter.

    (6) Employee Grievance, Complaint, or Conduct Disclosure. If a record is relevant and necessary to an employee grievance, complaint, or disciplinary action involving a present or former employee of the Department, the Department may disclose a record in this system of records in the course of investigation, fact-finding, or adjudication, to any party to the grievance, complaint or action; to the party's counsel or representative; to a witness; to a designated fact-finder, mediator, or other person designated to resolve issues or decide the matter.

    (7) Labor Organization Disclosure. The Department may disclose a record from this system of records to an arbitrator to resolve disputes under a negotiated grievance procedure or to officials of a labor organization recognized under 5 U.S.C. chapter 71 when relevant and necessary to their duties of exclusive representation.

    (8) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Privacy Act Advice Disclosure. The Department may disclose records to the DOJ or to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) if the Department determines that disclosure is desirable or necessary in determining whether particular records are required to be disclosed under the FOIA or the Privacy Act.

    (9) Disclosure to the DOJ. The Department may disclose records to the DOJ, or the authorized representative of DOJ, to the extent necessary for obtaining DOJ advice on any matter relevant to an audit, inspection, or other inquiry related to the programs covered by this system.

    (10) Contracting Disclosure. If the Department contracts with an entity for the purposes of performing any function that requires disclosure of records in this system to employees of the contractor, the Department may disclose the records to those employees. As part of such a contract, the Department will require the contractor to agree to establish and maintain safeguards to protect the security and confidentiality of the records in the system.

    (11) Research Disclosure. The Department may disclose records to a researcher if an official of the Department determines that the individual or organization to which the disclosure would be made is qualified to carry out specific research related to functions or purposes of this system of records. The official may disclose records from this system of records to that researcher solely for the purpose of carrying out that research related to the functions or purposes of this system of records. The researcher shall be required to agree to maintain safeguards to protect the security and confidentiality of the disclosed records.

    (12) Congressional Member Disclosure. The Department may disclose the records of an individual to a Member of Congress in response to an inquiry from the Member made at the written request of that individual whose records are being disclosed. The Member's right to the information is no greater than the right of the individual who requested the inquiry.

    (13) Disclosure to OMB for Credit Reform Act (CRA) Support. The Department may disclose records to OMB or the Congressional Budget Office as necessary to fulfill CRA requirements in accordance with 2 U.S.C. 661b.

    (14) Disclosure in the Course of Responding to a Breach of Data. The Department may disclose records to appropriate agencies, entities, and persons when (a) the Department suspects or has confirmed that there has been a breach of the system of records; (b) the Department has determined that as a result of the suspected or confirmed breach there is a risk of harm to individuals, the Department (including its information systems, programs, and operations), the Federal Government, or national security; and (c) the disclosure made to such agencies, entities, and persons is reasonably necessary to assist in connection with the Department's efforts to respond to the suspected or confirmed breach or to prevent, minimize, or remedy such harm.

    (15) Disclosure in Assisting another Agency in Responding to a Breach of Data. The Department may disclose records from this system to another Federal agency or Federal entity, when the Department determines that information from this system of records is reasonably necessary to assist the recipient agency or entity in (a) responding to a suspected or confirmed breach or (b) preventing, minimizing, or remedying the risk of harm to individuals, the recipient agency or entity (including its information systems, programs, and operations), the Federal Government, or national security, resulting from a suspected or confirmed breach.

    (16) Disclosure of Information to Treasury. The Department may disclose records from this system to (a) a Federal or State agency, its employees, agents (including contractors or subcontractors of its agents), or contractors or subcontractors, (b) a fiscal or financial agent designated by the Treasury, including employees, agents, or contractors of such agent, or (c) the judicial or legislative branches of the United States, as defined in paragraphs (2) and (3), respectively, in 18 U.S.C. 202(e), for the purpose of identifying, preventing, or recouping improper payments to an applicant for, or recipient of, Federal funds, including funds disbursed by a State in a State-administered, federally funded program.

    (17) Disclosure of Defaulted Debtors in Federal Register Publication. In accordance with the directive in 42 U.S.C. 292h(c), ED must publish in the Federal Register a list of borrowers who are in default on a HEAL loan. The Department will publish the names of the defaulted borrowers, last known city and State, area of practice, and amount of HEAL loan in default. The Department will publish the information about the borrower, as well as the names, in order to correctly identify the person in default and to provide relevant information to the authorized recipients of this information, such as State licensing boards and hospitals.

    (18) Disclosure of Defaulted Debtors to Other Authorized Parties. In accordance with the directive in 42 U.S.C. 292h(c)(2), disclosure of borrowers who are in default on a HEAL loan may be made to relevant Federal agencies, schools, school associations, professional and specialty associations, State licensing boards, hospitals with which a HEAL loan defaulter may be associated, or other similar organizations.

    DISCLOSURE TO CONSUMER REPORTING AGENCIES:

    Disclosures pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(12) (as set forth in 31 U.S.C. 3711(e)): Disclosures may be made from this system to “consumer reporting agencies,” as defined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681a(f)) or the Debt Collection Improvement Act (31 U.S.C. 3701(a)(3)). Disclosures may only be made regarding a valid, overdue claim of the Department; such information is limited to: (1) The name, address, taxpayer identification number, and other information necessary to establish the identity of the individual responsible for the claim; (2) the amount, status, and history of the claim; and (3) the program under which the claim arose. The Department may disclose the information specified in this paragraph under 5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(12) and the procedures contained in 31 U.S.C. 3711(e). The purpose of these disclosures is to provide an incentive for debtors to repay delinquent Federal Government debts by making these debts part of their credit records.

    POLICIES AND PRACTICES FOR STORAGE OF RECORDS:

    Records are maintained in database servers, file folders, compact discs, digital versatile discs, and magnetic tapes.

    POLICIES AND PRACTICES FOR RETRIEVAL OF RECORDS:

    Records are retrieved by SSN or other identifying number.

    POLICIES AND PRACTICES FOR RETENTION AND DISPOSAL OF RECORDS:

    All records are retained and disposed of in accordance with Department records schedule, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) disposition authority DAA-0441-2017-002 (“FSA Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program Online Processing System (HOPS)”). Records shall be destroyed seven years after cutoff. Cutoff is annually upon final payment or discharge of the loan.

    ADMINISTRATIVE, TECHNICAL, AND PHYSICAL SAFEGUARDS:

    All users of the HEAL System will have a unique user ID with a password. All physical access to the data housed within the VDC is controlled and monitored by security personnel who check each individual entering the building for his or her employee or visitor badge. The computer system employed by the Department offers a high degree of resistance to tampering and circumvention with firewalls, encryption, and password protection. This security system limits data access to Department and contract staff on a “need-to-know” basis, and controls individual users' ability to access and alter records within the system.

    RECORD ACCESS PROCEDURES:

    If you wish to gain access to your record in the system of records, provide the System Manager with necessary particulars such as your name, date of birth, SSN, and any other identifying information requested by the Department while processing the request to distinguish between individuals with the same name. Requests by an individual for access to a record must meet the requirements of the regulations in 34 CFR 5b.5, including proof of identity.

    CONTESTING RECORD PROCEDURES:

    If you wish to contest the content of your record in the system of records, provide the System Manager with necessary particulars such as your name, date of birth, SSN, and any other identifying information requested by the Department while processing the request to distinguish between individuals with the same name. You must also provide a reasonable description of the record, specify the information being contested, the corrective action sought, and the reasons for requesting the correction, along with supporting information to show how the record is inaccurate, incomplete, untimely, or irrelevant. Requests by an individual to amend a record must meet the requirements of the regulations in 34 CFR 5b.7.

    NOTIFICATION PROCEDURES:

    If you wish to determine whether a record exists about you in the system of records, provide the System Manager with necessary particulars such as your name, date of birth, SSN, and any other identifying information requested by the Department while processing the request to distinguish between individuals with the same name. Your request must meet the requirements of the regulations in 34 CFR 5b.5, including proof of identity.

    EXEMPTIONS PROMULGATED FOR THE SYSTEM:

    None.

    HISTORY:

    The system of records entitled “Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program” (18-11-20) was previously maintained by the HHS, at which time it was entitled “Health Education Assistance On-Line Processing System (HOPS)” (09-15-0044). HHS last published that system of records in the Federal Register on February 1, 2010 (75 FR 5094-5097). The system was modified in the transfer from HHS to the Department. The Department published a revised system of records notice in the Federal Register on June 26, 2014 (79 FR 36299-36302), changing the name and numbering of the system of records to the “Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) program” (18-11-20). The Department published a notice of a modified system of records in the Federal Register on January 23, 2017 (82 FR 7807-7812) Through this notice, the Department modifies the January 23, 2017, notice of a modified system of records and republishes in full the HEAL program system of records notice in the required format found in OMB Circular No. A-108, issued on December 23, 2016.

    [FR Doc. 2018-17512 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Electricity Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    Office of Electricity, Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of renewal.

    SUMMARY:

    Pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and in accordance with Title 41 of the Code of Federal Regulations, and following consultation with the Committee Management Secretariat, General Services Administration, notice is hereby given that the Electricity Advisory Committee's (EAC) charter has been renewed for a two-year period beginning on August 8, 2018.

    The Committee will provide advice and recommendations to the Assistant Secretary for Electricity on programs to modernize the Nation's electric power system.

    Additionally, the renewal of the EAC has been determined to be essential to conduct Department of Energy business and to be in the public interest in connection with the performance of duties imposed upon the Department of Energy by law and agreement. The Committee will continue to operate in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, adhering to the rules and regulations in implementation of that Act.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Matt Rosenbaum, Designated Federal Officer at (202) 586-1060.

    Issued at Washington, DC, on August 8, 2018. Wayne D. Smith, Committee Management Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17436 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY [FE Docket No. 18-78-LNG] Corpus Christi Liquefaction Stage III, LLC; Application for Long-Term Authorization To Export Liquefied Natural Gas to Non-Free Trade Agreement Nations AGENCY:

    Office of Fossil Energy, DOE.

    ACTION:

    Notice of application.

    SUMMARY:

    The Office of Fossil Energy (FE) of the Department of Energy (DOE) gives notice of receipt of an application (Application), filed on June 29, 2018, by Corpus Christi Liquefaction Stage III, LLC (CCL Stage III), a wholly owned subsidiary of Cheniere Energy, Inc. The Application requests long-term, multi-contract authorization to export domestically produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) in a volume equivalent to 582.14 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per year (Bcf/yr) of natural gas (1.59 Bcf per day). CCL Stage III seeks to export this LNG from the proposed natural gas liquefaction and export facilities (Stage 3 LNG Facilities) associated with the Stage 3 Project at the existing Corpus Christi LNG Terminal in San Patricio and Nueces Counties, Texas. CCL Stage III requests authorization to export this LNG to any country with which the United States has not entered into a free trade agreement (FTA) requiring national treatment for trade in natural gas, and with which trade is not prohibited by U.S. law or policy (non-FTA countries). CCL Stage III notes that, in DOE/FE Order No. 3638, DOE previously authorized the export of LNG from the Corpus Christi LNG Terminal by its affiliates—Corpus Christi Liquefaction, LLC and Cheniere Marketing, LLC—to non-FTA countries in a volume equivalent to 767 Bcf/yr of LNG. CCL Stage III seeks to export the requested volume of LNG on its own behalf and as agent for other entities who hold title to the natural gas at the time of export. CCL Stage III requests the authorization for a 20-year term to commence on the earlier of the date of first commercial export of LNG produced by the Stage 3 LNG Facilities or seven years from the issuance of the requested authorization. CCL Stage III filed the Application under section 3 of the Natural Gas Act (NGA). Additional details and related procedural history can be found in CCL Stage III's Application, posted on the DOE/FE website at: https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2018/07/f53/18-78-LNG.pdf.

    Protests, motions to intervene, notices of intervention, and written comments are invited.

    DATES:

    Protests, motions to intervene or notices of intervention, as applicable, requests for additional procedures, and written comments are to be filed using procedures detailed in the Public Comment Procedures section no later than 4:30 p.m., Eastern time, October 15, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Electronic Filing by Email: [email protected].

    Regular Mail: U.S. Department of Energy (FE-34), Office of Regulation and International Engagement, Office of Fossil Energy, P.O. Box 44375, Washington, DC 20026-4375.

    Hand Delivery or Private Delivery Services (e.g., FedEx, UPS, etc.): U.S. Department of Energy (FE-34), Office of Regulation and International Engagement, Office of Fossil Energy, Forrestal Building, Room 3E-042, 1000 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20585.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Benjamin Nussdorf or Larine Moore, U.S. Department of Energy (FE-34), Office of Regulation and International Engagement, Office of Fossil Energy, Forrestal Building, Room 3E-042, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585, (202) 586-7970; (202) 586-9478 Cassandra Bernstein or Ronald (R.J.) Colwell, U.S. Department of Energy (GC-76), Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Electricity and Fossil Energy, Forrestal Building, 1000 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20585, (202) 586-9793; (202) 586-8499 SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: DOE/FE Evaluation

    In the Application, CCL Stage III requests authorization to export LNG from the proposed Stage 3 LNG Facilities to both FTA countries and non-FTA countries. This Notice applies only to the portion of the Application requesting authority to export LNG to non-FTA countries pursuant to section 3(a) of the NGA, 15 U.S.C. 717b(a). DOE/FE will review CCL Stage III's request for a FTA export authorization separately pursuant to section 3(c) of the NGA, 15 U.S.C. 717b(c).

    In reviewing CCL Stage III's request for a non-FTA authorization, DOE will consider any issues required by law or policy. DOE will consider domestic need for the natural gas, as well as any other issues determined to be appropriate, including whether the arrangement is consistent with DOE's policy of promoting competition in the marketplace by allowing commercial parties to freely negotiate their own trade arrangements. As part of this analysis, DOE will consider one or more of the following studies examining the cumulative impacts of exporting domestically produced LNG:

    Effect of Increased Levels of Liquefied Natural Gas on U.S. Energy Markets, conducted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration upon DOE's request (2014 EIA LNG Export Study); 1

    1 The 2014 EIA LNG Export Study, published on Oct. 29, 2014, is available at: https://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/fe/.

    The Macroeconomic Impact of Increasing U.S. LNG Exports, conducted jointly by the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy and Oxford Economics, on behalf of DOE (2015 LNG Export Study); 2 and

    2 The 2015 LNG Export Study, dated Oct. 29, 2015, is available at: http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2015/12/f27/20151113_macro_impact_of_lng_exports_0.pdf.

    Macroeconomic Outcomes of Market Determined Levels of U.S. LNG Exports, conducted by NERA Economic Consulting on behalf of DOE (2018 LNG Export Study).3

    3 The 2018 LNG Export Study, dated June 7, 2018, is available at: https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2018/06/f52/Macroeconomic%20LNG%20Export%20Study%202018.pdf. DOE is currently evaluating public comments received on this Study (83 FR 27314).

    Additionally, DOE will consider the following environmental documents:

    Addendum to Environmental Review Documents Concerning Exports of Natural Gas From the United States, 79 FR 48132 (Aug. 15, 2014); 4 and

    4 The Addendum and related documents are available at: https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/08/f18/Addendum.pdf.

    Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Perspective on Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas from the United States, 79 FR 32260 (June 4, 2014).5

    5 The Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Report is available at: http://energy.gov/fe/life-cycle-greenhouse-gas-perspective-exporting-liquefied-natural-gas-united-states.

    Parties that may oppose this Application should address these issues and documents in their comments and/or protests, as well as other issues deemed relevant to the Application.

    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., requires DOE to give appropriate consideration to the environmental effects of its proposed decisions. No final decision will be issued in this proceeding until DOE has met its environmental responsibilities.

    Public Comment Procedures

    In response to this Notice, any person may file a protest, comments, or a motion to intervene or notice of intervention, as applicable. Interested parties will be provided 60 days from the date of publication of this Notice in which to submit comments, protests, motions to intervene, or notices of intervention.

    Any person wishing to become a party to the proceeding must file a motion to intervene or notice of intervention. The filing of comments or a protest with respect to the Application will not serve to make the commenter or protestant a party to the proceeding, although protests and comments received from persons who are not parties will be considered in determining the appropriate action to be taken on the Application. All protests, comments, motions to intervene, or notices of intervention must meet the requirements specified by the regulations in 10 CFR part 590.

    Filings may be submitted using one of the following methods: (1) Emailing the filing to [email protected], with FE Docket No. 18-78-LNG in the title line; (2) mailing an original and three paper copies of the filing to the Office of Regulation and International Engagement at the address listed in ADDRESSES; or (3) hand delivering an original and three paper copies of the filing to the Office of Regulation and International Engagement at the address listed in ADDRESSES. All filings must include a reference to FE Docket No. 18-78-LNG. PLEASE NOTE: If submitting a filing via email, please include all related documents and attachments (e.g., exhibits) in the original email correspondence. Please do not include any active hyperlinks or password protection in any of the documents or attachments related to the filing. All electronic filings submitted to DOE must follow these guidelines to ensure that all documents are filed in a timely manner. Any hardcopy filing submitted greater in length than 50 pages must also include, at the time of the filing, a digital copy on disk of the entire submission.

    A decisional record on the Application will be developed through responses to this notice by parties, including the parties' written comments and replies thereto. Additional procedures will be used as necessary to achieve a complete understanding of the facts and issues. If an additional procedure is scheduled, notice will be provided to all parties. If no party requests additional procedures, a final Opinion and Order may be issued based on the official record, including the Application and responses filed by parties pursuant to this notice, in accordance with 10 CFR 590.316.

    The Application is available for inspection and copying in the Office of Regulation and International Engagement docket room, Room 3E-042, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585. The docket room is open between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The Application and any filed protests, motions to intervene or notice of interventions, and comments will also be available electronically by going to the following DOE/FE Web address: http://www.fe.doe.gov/programs/gasregulation/index.html.

    Signed in Washington, DC, on August 7, 2018. Shawn Bennett, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Oil and Natural Gas. [FR Doc. 2018-17437 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0318; FRL-9980-23-OEI] Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Request for Contractor Access to TSCA CBI (Renewal) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection agency (EPA) has submitted the following information collection request (ICR) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA): Request for Contractor Access to TSCA CBI (EPA ICR No. 1250.11, OMB Control No. 2070-0075). This is a request to renew the approval of an existing ICR, which is currently approved through August 31, 2018. EPA did not receive any relevant comments in response to the previously provided public review opportunity issued in the Federal Register of December 19, 2017. With this submission to OMB, EPA is providing an additional 30 days for public review and comment.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before September 13, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0318, to both EPA and OMB as follows:

    To EPA online using http://www.regulations.gov (our preferred method) or by mail to: EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460, and

    • To 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:

    Brandon Mullings, Environmental Assistance Division (7507-M), Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: (202) 564-4826; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Docket: Supporting documents, including the ICR that explains in detail the information collection activities and the related burden and cost estimates that are summarized in this document, are available in the docket for this ICR. The docket can be viewed online at http://www.regulations.gov or in person at the EPA Docket Center, West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 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.

    ICR status: This ICR is currently scheduled to expire on August 31, 2018. Under OMB regulations, an agency may continue to conduct or sponsor the collection of information while this submission is pending at OMB. Under PRA, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., an agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. The OMB control numbers are displayed either by publication in the Federal Register or by other appropriate means, such as on the related collection instrument or form, if applicable. The display of OMB control numbers for certain EPA regulations is consolidated in 40 CFR part 9.

    Abstract: This ICR covers the information collection activities associated with the Agency's for allowing contractors to handle Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Confidential Business Information (CBI). Certain employees of companies working under contract to EPA require access to CBI collected under the authority of TSCA in order to perform their official duties. All individuals desiring access to TSCA CBI must obtain and annually renew official clearance to access the TSCA CBI. As part of the process for obtaining TSCA CBI clearance, EPA requires certain information about the contracting company and about each contractor employee requesting TSCA CBI clearance, primarily the name, Social Security Number and EPA identification badge number of the employee, the type of TSCA CBI clearance requested, the justification for such clearance, and the signature of the employee to an agreement with respect to access to and use of TSCA CBI. This information collection applies to the reporting activities associated with contractor personnel applying for new or renewed clearance for TSCA CBI.

    Responses to the collection of information are voluntary but failure to provide the requested information will prevent a contractor employee from obtaining clearance to access TSCA CBI. Respondents may claim all or part of a response confidential. EPA will disclose information that is covered by a claim of confidentiality only to the extent permitted by, and in accordance with, the procedures in TSCA section 14 and 40 CFR part 2.

    Form Numbers: EPA Form No. 7740-06.

    Respondents/affected entities: Entities potentially affected by this ICR are companies under contract to EPA to provide certain services, whose employees must have access to TSCA CBI to perform their duties.

    Estimated number of respondents: 21 (total).

    Frequency of response: Annual.

    Total estimated burden: 341 hours (per year). Burden is defined at 5 CFR 1320.3(b).

    Total estimated cost: $19,305 (per year), which includes $0 annualized capital investment or maintenance and operational costs.

    Changes in the estimates: There is a decrease of 142 hours in the total estimated respondent burden compared with that identified in the ICR currently approved by OMB. This decrease reflects EPA's a decrease in the number of contractor employees that need TSCA CBI clearance. This change is an adjustment.

    Courtney Kerwin, Director, Collection Strategies Division.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17438 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OPP-2018-0006; FRL-9981-10] Receipt of Several Pesticide Petitions Filed for Residues of Pesticide Chemicals in or on Various Commodities AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of filing of petitions and request for comment.

    SUMMARY:

    This document announces the Agency's receipt of several initial filings of pesticide petitions requesting the establishment or modification of regulations for residues of pesticide chemicals in or on various commodities.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before September 13, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by docket identification (ID) number and the pesticide petition number (PP) of interest as shown in the body of this document, by one of the following methods:

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

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

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

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michael Goodis, Registration Division (7505P), main telephone number: (703) 305-7090, email address: [email protected]. The mailing address for each contact person is: Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460-0001. As part of the mailing address, include the contact person's name, division, and mail code. The division to contact is listed at the end of each pesticide petition summary.

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

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

    • Crop production (NAICS code 111).

    • Animal production (NAICS code 112).

    • Food manufacturing (NAICS code 311).

    • Pesticide manufacturing (NAICS code 32532).

    If you have any questions regarding the applicability of this action to a particular entity, consult the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT for the division listed at the end of the pesticide petition summary of interest.

    B. What should I consider as I prepare my comments for EPA?

    1. Submitting CBI. Do not submit this information to EPA through regulations.gov or email. Clearly mark the part or all of the information that you claim to be CBI. For CBI information in a disk or CD-ROM that you mail to EPA, mark the outside of the disk or CD-ROM as CBI and then identify electronically within the disk or CD-ROM the specific information that is claimed as CBI. In addition to one complete version of the comment that includes information claimed as CBI, a copy of the comment that does not contain the information claimed as CBI must be submitted for inclusion in the public docket. Information so marked will not be disclosed except in accordance with procedures set forth in 40 CFR part 2.

    2. Tips for preparing your comments. When preparing and submitting your comments, see the commenting tips at http://www.epa.gov/dockets/comments.html.

    3. Environmental justice. EPA seeks to achieve environmental justice, the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of any group, including minority and/or low-income populations, in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. To help address potential environmental justice issues, the Agency seeks information on any groups or segments of the population who, as a result of their location, cultural practices, or other factors, may have atypical or disproportionately high and adverse human health impacts or environmental effects from exposure to the pesticides discussed in this document, compared to the general population.

    II. What action is the agency taking?

    EPA is announcing its receipt of several pesticide petitions filed under section 408 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), 21 U.S.C. 346a, requesting the establishment or modification of regulations in 40 CFR part 180 for residues of pesticide chemicals in or on various food commodities. The Agency is taking public comment on the requests before responding to the petitioners. EPA is not proposing any particular action at this time. EPA has determined that the pesticide petitions described in this document contain the data or information prescribed in FFDCA section 408(d)(2), 21 U.S.C. 346a(d)(2); however, EPA has not fully evaluated the sufficiency of the submitted data at this time or whether the data support granting of the pesticide petitions. After considering the public comments, EPA intends to evaluate whether and what action may be warranted. Additional data may be needed before EPA can make a final determination on these pesticide petitions.

    Pursuant to 40 CFR 180.7(f), a summary of each of the petitions that are the subject of this document, prepared by the petitioner, is included in a docket EPA has created for each rulemaking. The docket for each of the petitions is available at http://www.regulations.gov.

    As specified in FFDCA section 408(d)(3), 21 U.S.C. 346a(d)(3), EPA is publishing notice of the petitions so that the public has an opportunity to comment on these requests for the establishment or modification of regulations for residues of pesticides in or on food commodities. Further information on the petitions may be obtained through the petition summaries referenced in this unit.

    III. Amended Tolerances

    1. PP 8E8665. (EPA-HQ-OPP-2018-0162). Interregional Research Project No. 4 (IR-4), IR-4 Project Headquarters, Rutgers, The State University of NJ, 500 College Road East, Suite 201 W, Princeton, NJ 08540, requests to amend 40 CFR 180.566 by removing the established tolerances for residues of fenpyroximate determined by measuring only the sum of fenpyroximate, (E)-1,1-dimethylethyl 4-[[[[(1,3-dimethyl-5-phenoxy-1H-pyrazol-4-yl)methylene]amino]oxy]methyl] benzoate and its Z-isomer, (Z)-1,1-dimethylethyl 4-[[[[(1,3-dimethyl-5-phenoxy-1H-pyrazol-4-yl)methylene]amino]oxy]methyl] benzoate, calculated as the stoichiometric equivalent of fenpyroximate in or on the raw agricultural commodities: Bean, snap, succulent at 0.40 parts per million (ppm); cotton, undelinted seed at 0.10 ppm; cucumber at 0.40 ppm; nut, tree, group 14 at 0.10 ppm; and pistachio at 0.10 ppm. An enforcement method has been developed which involves extraction of fenpyroximate and the M-1 Metabolite from crops with ethyl acetate in the presence of anhydrous sodium sulfate, dilution with methanol, and then analysis by high performance LC/MS/MS. The method has undergone independent laboratory validation as required by PR Notice 88-5 and 96-1. Contact: RD.

    2. PP 8F8668. (EPA-HQ-OPP-2018-0207). Bayer CropScience, 2 T.W. Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 requests to amend a tolerance in 40 CFR 180 for residues of the herbicide glufosinate-ammonium, in or on the raw agricultural commodities olive at 0.50 ppm; soybean hulls at 10.0 ppm; stone fruit (Crop Group 12-12) at 0.30 ppm; and tree nuts (Crop Group 14-12) at 0.50 ppm. The LC/MS/MS method is used to measure and evaluate the chemical glufosinate-ammonium (ammonium (butanoic acid, 2-amino-4-(hydroxymethylphosphinyl)-monoammonium salt) and its metabolites, 2-acetamido-4-methylphosphinico-butanoic acid and 3-methylphosphinico-propionic acid, expressed as 2-amino-4-(hydroxymethylphosphinyl) butanoic acid equivalents. Contact: RD.

    IV. New Tolerance Exemptions for Inerts (Except PIPS)

    PP IN-11127. (EPA-HQ-OPP-2018-0289). Spring Trading Company on behalf of Akzo Nobel Surface Chemistry LLC, 525 West Van Buren, Chicago, IL 60607-3823 requests to establish an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for residues of maltodextrin-vinylpyrrolidone copolymer (CAS Reg. No. 1323833-56-2), when used as an inert ingredient in pesticide formulations under 40 CFR 180.960. The petitioner believes no analytical method is needed because it is not required for an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance.

    V. New Tolerances for Non-Inerts

    1. EPA Registration Numbers: 59639-97, 59639-193, 59639-206, 59639-207. Docket ID number: EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0333. Applicant: Valent U.S.A. Corporation. Active ingredient: Flumioxazin. Product type: Herbicide. Proposed use: Grass, forage; grass, hay. Contact: RD.

    2. PP 8E8665. (EPA-HQ-OPP-2018-0162). IR-4, IR-4 Project Headquarters, Rutgers, The State University of NJ, 500 College Road East, Suite 201 W, Princeton, NJ 08540, requests to establish tolerances for residues of fenpyroximate determined by measuring only the sum of fenpyroximate, (E)-1,1-dimethylethyl 4-[[[[(1,3-dimethyl-5-phenoxy-1H-pyrazol-4-yl)methylene]amino]oxy]methyl]benzoate and its Z-isomer, (Z)-1,1-dimethylethyl 4-[[[[(1,3-dimethyl-5-phenoxy-1H-pyrazol-4-yl)methylene]amino]oxy]methyl] benzoate, calculated as the stoichiometric equivalent of fenpyroximate in or on the raw agricultural commodities: Banana at 1.0 ppm; blackeyed pea, succulent shelled at 0.40 ppm; broad bean, succulent shelled at 0.40 ppm; bushberry subgroup 13-07B at 3.0 ppm; caneberry subgroup 13-07A at 3.0 ppm; chickpea, succulent shelled at 0.40 ppm; cottonseed subgroup 20C at 0.10 ppm; cowpea, succulent shelled at 0.40 ppm; crowder pea, succulent shelled at 0.40 ppm; goa bean, pods, succulent shelled at 0.40 ppm; lablab bean, succulent shelled at 0.40 ppm; leaf petiole vegetable subgroup 22B at 4.0 ppm; lima bean, succulent shelled at 0.40 ppm; nut, tree, group 14-12 at 0.10 ppm; southern pea, succulent shelled at 0.40 ppm; soybean, edible, succulent shelled at 0.40 ppm; squash/cucumber subgroup 9B at 0.40 ppm; succulent bean, succulent shelled at 0.40 ppm; and velvet bean, succulent shelled at 0.40 ppm. An enforcement method has been developed which involves extraction of fenpyroximate and the M-1 Metabolite from crops with ethyl acetate in the presence of anhydrous sodium sulfate, dilution with methanol, and then analysis by high performance liquid chromatography using tandem mass spectrometric detection (LC/MS/MS). The method has undergone independent laboratory validation as required by PR Notice 88-5 and 96-1. Contact: RD.

    3. PP 8E8687. (EPA-HQ-OPP-2018-0424). Mitsui Chemicals Agro, Inc., c/o Landis International, Inc, P.O. Box 5126, Valdosta, GA 31603-5126, requests to establish a tolerance in 40 CFR part 180 for residues of the insecticide, dinotefuran (N-methyl-N′-nitro-N″-[(tetrahydro-3-furanyl)methyl)] guanidine) and metabolites DN (1-methyl-3-(tetrahydro-3-furymethyl)guanidine) and UF (1-methyl-3-(tetrahydro-3-furymethyl)-urea), in or on persimmon at 2 ppm. The High-Performance Liquid Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer (LC-MS/MS) is used to measure and evaluate the chemical dinotefuran. Contact: RD.

    Authority:

    21 U.S.C. 346a.

    Dated: July 23, 2018. Delores Barber, Director, Information Technology and Resources Management Division, Office of Pesticide Programs.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17450 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OAR-2008-0707; FRL-9981-65-OEI] Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Data Reporting Requirements for State and Local Vehicle Emission Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) Programs (Renewal) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has submitted an information collection request (ICR), Data Reporting Requirements for State and Local Vehicle Emission Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) Programs (EPA ICR No.1613.06, OMB Control No. 2060-0252) 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 October 31, 2018. Public comments were previously requested via the Federal Register on April 11, 2018 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 September 13, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, referencing Docket ID Number EPA-HQ-OAR-2008-0707, to (1) EPA online using www.regulations.gov (our preferred method), 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:

    Dave Sosnowski, Office of Transportation and Air Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2000 Traverwood, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105; telephone number: 734-214-4823; fax number: 734-214-4052; 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 www.regulations.gov or in person at the EPA Docket Center, WJC West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460. 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: Clean Air Act section 182 and EPA's regulations (40 CFR part 51, subpart S) establish the requirements for state and local I/M programs that are included in state implementation plans (SIPs). To provide general oversight and support to these programs, EPA requires that state agencies with basic and enhanced I/M programs collect two varieties of reports for submission to the Agency:

    • An annual report providing general program operating data and summary statistics, addressing the program's current design and coverage, a summary of testing data, enforcement program efforts, quality assurance and quality control efforts, and other miscellaneous information allowing for an assessment of the program's relative effectiveness; and

    • A biennial report on any changes to the program over the two-year period and the impact of such changes, including any deficiencies discovered and corrections made or planned.

    General program effectiveness is determined by the degree to which a program misses, meets, or exceeds the emission reductions committed to in the state's approved SIP, which, in turn, must meet or exceed the minimum emission reductions expected from the relevant performance standard, as promulgated under 40 CFR part 51, subpart S, in response to requirements established in section 182 of the Clean Air Act. This information is used by EPA to determine a program's progress toward meeting requirements under 40 CFR part 51, subpart S, and to provide background information in support of program evaluations. Additional information regarding the current renewal of this ICR as well as previous renewals can be found in Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2008-0707.

    Form numbers: None.

    Respondents/affected entities: State I/M program managers.

    Respondent's obligation to respond: Mandatory (40 CFR 51.366).

    Estimated number of respondents: 28 (total).

    Frequency of response: Annual and biennial.

    Total estimated burden: 2,408 hours (per year). Burden is defined at 5 CFR 1320.03(b).

    Total estimated cost: $152,544 (per year), includes $0 annualized capital or operation and maintenance costs.

    Changes in estimates: There is no change in the total estimated respondent burden compared with the ICR currently approved by OMB.

    Courtney Kerwin, Director, Regulatory Support Division.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17444 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OARM-2018-0065; FRL-9981-87-OEI] Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Drug Testing for Contractor Employees (Renewal) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has submitted an information collection request (ICR), Drug Testing for Contractor Employees (EPA ICR No. 2183.07, OMB Control No. 2030-0044), 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 August 31, 2018. Public comments were previously requested via the Federal Register on May 11, 2018, 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 September 13, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, referencing Docket ID Number EPA-HQ-OARM-2018-0065, 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:

    Thomas Valentino, Policy, Training and Oversight Division, Office of Acquisition Management (3802R), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: (202) 564-4522; 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 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: This ICR applies to a contractor who performs response services at sensitive sites with serious security concerns where the Agency and public interest would best be protected through drug testing of contractor employees. The contractor will test employees for the use of marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP), and any other controlled substances. Only contractor employees who have been tested within the previous 90 calendar days and have passing drug test results may be directly engaged in on-site response work and/or on-site related activities at designated sites with significant security concerns. The Agency may request contractors responding to any of these types of incidents to conduct drug testing and apply Government-established suitability criteria in Title 5 CFR Administrative Personnel 731.104 Appointments Subject to Investigation, 732.201 Sensitivity Level Designations and Investigative Requirements, and 736.102 Notice to Investigative Sources, when determining whether employees are acceptable to perform on given sites or on specific projects.

    Form Numbers: None.

    Respondents/affected entities: Private Contractors.

    Respondent's obligation to respond: Required to obtain a benefit per Title 5 CFR Administrative Personnel 731.104 Appointments Subject to Investigation, 732.201 Sensitivity Level Designations and Investigative Requirements, and 736.102 Notice to Investigative Sources.

    Estimated number of respondents: 500 (total).

    Frequency of response: Annual.

    Total estimated burden: 1,125 hours (per year). Burden is defined at 5 CFR 1320.03(b).

    Total estimated cost: $129,100 (per year), includes $0 annualized capital or operation & maintenance costs.

    Changes in the Estimates: There is an increase of 112 hours in the total estimated respondent burden compared with the ICR currently approved by OMB. This increase is an adjustment due to more awarded contracts/orders performed on sensitive sites that require this drug testing for contractor employees.

    Courtney Kerwin, Director, Regulatory Support Division.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17439 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OLEM-2018-0102, FRL-9982-09-OEI] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; RCRA Expanded Public Participation (Renewal) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has submitted an information collection request (ICR), RCRA Expanded Public Participation (EPA ICR No. 1688.09, OMB Control No. 2050-0149), 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 August 31, 2018. Public comments were previously requested via the Federal Register on March 21, 2018 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 September 13, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, referencing Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OLEM-2018-0102, to (1) EPA, either online using www.regulations.gov (our preferred method), or by email to [email protected], or by mail to: RCRA Docket (2822T), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue 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:

    Michael Pease, (5303P), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: 703-308-0008; fax number: 703-308-8433; 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 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 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976, as amended by the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) of 1984, requires EPA to establish a national regulatory program to ensure that hazardous wastes are managed in a manner protective of human health and the environment. Section 7004(b) of RCRA gives EPA broad authority to provide for, encourage, and assist public participation in the development, revision, implementation, and enforcement of any regulation, guideline, information, or program under RCRA. In addition, the statute specifies certain public notices (i.e., radio, newspaper, and a letter to relevant agencies) that EPA must provide before issuing any RCRA permit. The statute also establishes a process by which the public can dispute a permit and request a public hearing to discuss it. EPA carries out much of its RCRA public involvement at 40 CFR parts 124 and 270.

    Form numbers: None.

    Respondents/affected entities: Businesses and other for-profit.

    Respondent's obligation to respond: Mandatory (RCRA 7004(b)).

    Estimated number of respondents: 46.

    Frequency of response: On occasion.

    Total estimated burden: 4,375 hours per year. Burden is defined at 5 CFR 1320.03(b).

    Total estimated cost: $326,263 (per year), which includes $321,833 annualized labor and $4,430 annualized capital and operation & maintenance costs.

    Changes in the estimates: There is a decrease in overall burden for the ICR of 1,239 hours in the total estimated respondent burden compared with the ICR currently approved by OMB. This decrease is due to the decrease in the respondent universe from 59 to 46.

    Courtney Kerwin, Director, Regulatory Support Division.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17441 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OECA-2014-0099; FRL—9982-13-OEI] Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; NESHAP for Ferroalloys Production Area Sources (Renewal) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has submitted an information collection request (ICR), NESHAP for Ferroalloys Production Area Sources (40 CFR part 63, subpart YYYYYY) (EPA ICR No. 2303.05, OMB Control No. 2060-0625), 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 August 31, 2018. Public comments were previously requested via the Federal Register on June 29, 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 neither conduct nor 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 September 13, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, referencing Docket ID Number EPA-HQ-OECA-2014-0099, to: (1) EPA online using www.regulations.gov (our preferred method), or 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:

    Patrick Yellin, Monitoring, Assistance, and Media Programs Division, Office of Compliance, Mail Code 2227A, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: (202) 564-2970; fax number: (202) 564-0050; 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 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 National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Ferroalloys Production Area Sources (40 CFR part 63, subpart YYYYYY) apply to existing and new ferroalloy production facilities that are an area source of hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions. In general, all NESHAP standards require initial notifications, performance tests, and periodic reports by the owners/operators of the affected facilities. They are also required to maintain records of the occurrence and duration of any startup, shutdown, or malfunction in the operation of an affected facility, or any period during which the monitoring system is inoperative. These notifications, reports, and records are essential in determining compliance, and are required of all affected facilities subject to NESHAP.

    Form Numbers: None.

    Respondents/affected entities: Owners and operators of area source ferroalloys production facilities.

    Respondent's obligation to respond: Mandatory (40 CFR part 63, subpart YYYYYY).

    Estimated number of respondents: 10 (total).

    Frequency of response: Initially, annually, and periodically.

    Total estimated burden: 391 hours (per year). Burden is defined at 5 CFR 1320.3(b).

    Total estimated cost: $41,100 (per year), which includes $0 for annualized capital/startup and/or operation & maintenance costs.

    Changes in the Estimates: The increase in burden from the most recently approved ICR is due to an adjustment. Hours were added to approximate the time spent by each source to familiarize with the rule requirements.

    Courtney Kerwin, Director, Regulatory Support Division.
    [FR Doc. 2018-17440 Filed 8-13-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA CERCLA Docket No. V-W-18-C-012; FRL-9982-26-Region 5] Proposed CERCLA/RCRA/TSCA Administrative Settlement Agreement and Covenant Not To Sue; MSC Land Company, LLC, and Crown Enterprises, Inc.; Former McLouth Steel Facility, Trenton and Riverview, Michigan AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed settlement agreement and request for public comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hereby gives notice of a proposed Administrative Settlement Agreement and Covenant Not to Sue (Settlement) pertaining to a 183-acre portion of the former McLouth Steel facility in Trenton and Riverview, Michigan. EPA also announces a public meeting regarding the Settlement and invites public comment on the Settlement for thirty (30) days following publication of this notice. The Settlement requires MSC Land Company, LLC (“MSC”) to do specified work, meet a demolition requirement that includes demolition of approximately 45 buildings and structures located within the property, and comply with specified property requirements. Satisfying the work and demolition requirements, and complying with the property requirements safeguards human health and the environment by reducing the risk of exposure to certain hazardous wastes and substances.

    DATES:

    Comments must be post marked or received on or before September 13, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    The proposed settlement agreement and related site documents can be viewed at the Superfund Records Center, (SRC-7J), United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, 77 W Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60604, (312) 886-4465 and on-line at www.epa.gov/superfund/mclouth-steel.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Further information or a copy of the Settlement may be obtained from either Steven P. Kaiser, Office of Regional Counsel (C-14J), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, 77 W Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60604, (312) 353-3804 or [email protected] or Community Involvement Coordinator Kirstin Safakas, Superfund Division (SI-6J), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, 77 W Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60604, (312) 886-6015 or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background Information

    In accordance with Section 122(i) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, as amended (“CERCLA”), 42 U.S.C. 9622(i) and Section 7003(d) of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. 6973(d), notice is hereby given of a proposed Settlement pertaining to the former McLouth Steel facility in Trenton and Riverview, Michigan with the following settling parties: MSC and Crown Enterprises, Inc. The Settlement requires MSC to perform certain work, meet demolition requirements, and comply with specified property requirements. MSC will also fence and otherwise secure the approximately 183-acre site to prevent direct contact with contaminants and keep out trespassers. Prior to commencement of the work or actions in furtherance of the demolition requirement, MSC will prepare a Traffic Management Plan in consultation with EPA, MDEQ and the Cities of Trenton and Riverview. The work required by MSC includes the removal of contaminated water and sludges from 23 specified subsurface structures; cleaning or removal of the subsurface structures; and filling the subsurface structures with clean fill materials. These actions will reduce migration of contaminants to ground and surface waters. MSC will investigate five areas where PCBs may have been released. If PCBs are found above action levels, MSC will implement defined interim measures to prevent direct contact with PCB