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Federal Register Summary for week of 9 March


  • Biotechnology Regulatory Services; Changes Regarding the Solicitation of Public Comment for Petitions for Determinations of Nonregulated Status for Genetically Engineered Organisms

    AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION: Notice.

    SUMMARY: We are advising the public that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is implementing changes to the way it solicits public comment when considering petitions for determinations of nonregulated status for genetically engineered organisms to allow for early public involvement in the process. Under the updated process, APHIS will publish two separate notices in the Federal Register for petitions for which APHIS prepares an environmental assessment. The first notice will announce the availability of the petition, and the second notice will announce the availability of APHIS' decisionmaking documents. This change will provide two opportunities for public involvement in the decisionmaking process.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. T. Clint Nesbitt, Chief of Staff, Biotechnology Regulatory Services, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 147, Riverdale, MD 20737-1236; (301) 851-3917, email:

  • Commerce

  • Request for Comments on the 5-Year Review of NOAA's Policy on Partnerships in the Provision of Environmental Information

    AGENCY: National Weather Service (NWS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC).

    ACTION: Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY: The National Weather Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publishes this notice to request comments on NOAA's Policy on Partnerships in the Provision of Environmental Information. This request for comments is being made as part of a period periodic review of the Policy's effectiveness.

    DATES: Comments must be received by 5 p.m. (EDT), April 30, 2012.

    ADDRESSES: Electronic comments are preferred. A webform for comments is available at:

    Written comments may be mailed in hard copy to the following address: Partnership Policy Comments, U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA 1325 East-West Highway, Room 17205, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

    A copy of NOAA's Policy on Partnerships in the Provision of Environmental Information as well as a complete history can be found on the NOAA Web site at:

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jennifer Sprague, 301-713-0217.

  • Environmental Protection Agency

  • Assessment of Potential Large-Scale Mining on the Bristol Bay Watershed of Alaska: Nomination of Peer Reviewers

    AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION: Call for nominations; extension.

    SUMMARY: On February 24, 2012 EPA announced a two week period for the public to nominate qualified experts to be considered for the external review panel of an anticipated EPA draft report describing impacts associated with potential large-scale mining development in the Nushagak and Kvichak watersheds of Bristol Bay, Alaska. EPA is extending the nomination period by one week, in response to requests from stakeholders and the public.

    DATES: The nomination period will be extended by one week and will end March 16, 2012.

    ADDRESSES: Nominations of potential members of the Bristol Bay Assessment peer review panel are being accepted and evaluated by an independent EPA contractor. Nominations are being accepted online through an internet Web site, by U.S. Postal mail, or by an overnight/ priority mail service. Those interested in submitting nominations online should complete the form found at Mailed nominations should be addressed to the EPA contractor, Versar, Inc., 6850 Versar Center, Springfield, VA 22151, should reference Bristol Bay Nomination Form, and should include all nominee information outlined in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section. Mailed submissions must be received by March 16, 2012. Questions concerning the online form should be directed to the EPA contractor, Versar, Inc., at 6850 Versar Center, Springfield, VA 22151; by email (subject line: Bristol Bay Assessment Nomination Form); or by phone: (703) 642-6727 (ask for Betzy Colon, the Peer Review Coordinator).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For additional information concerning the Bristol Bay Assessment peer review panel nominations, contact Dr. Kate Schofield, Office of Research and Development, The National Center for Environmental Assessment. Telephone: 703-347-8533; or email:

  • Executive Office of the President

  • Proposed Revised Habitat for the Spotted Owl: Minimizing Regulatory Burdens

    Memorandum of February 28, 2012

    Proposed Revised Habitat for the Spotted Owl: Minimizing Regulatory Burdens

    Memorandum for the Secretary of the Interior

    Today, compelled by court order, the Department of the Interior (Department) proposed critical habitat for the northern spotted owl. The proposal is an initial step in gathering important information that will inform a final decision on what areas should be designated as critical habitat for the spotted owl, based on a full evaluation of all key criteria: the relevant science, economic considerations, the impact on national security, and a balancing of other factors.

    Executive Order 13563 of January 18, 2011 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review), explicitly states that our "regulatory system must protect public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation'' (emphasis added). Consistent with this mandate, Executive Order 13563 requires agencies to tailor "regulations to impose the least burden on society, consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives'' (emphasis added). Executive Order 13563 also requires agencies to "identify and consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice'' while selecting "those approaches that maximize net benefits.'' To the extent permitted by law, our regulatory system must respect these requirements.

    The Endangered Species Act (ESA) states: "[t]he Secretary shall designate critical habitat . . . on the basis of the best scientific data available and after taking into consideration the economic impact, the impact on national security, and any other relevant impact, of specifying any particular area as critical habitat'' (emphasis added). 16 U.S.C. 1533(b). The ESA also provides that "[t]he Secretary may exclude any area from critical habitat if he determines that the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying such area as part of the critical habitat, unless he determines, based on the best scientific and commercial data available, that the failure to designate such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the species concerned'' (emphasis added). Id. Under the ESA, scientific, economic, and other considerations are relevant to critical habitat designations. Under a regulation issued by the Department in 1984, however, the economic analysis follows the scientific assessment, rather than being presented simultaneously with it; one of the purposes of this memorandum is to direct you to propose revisions to that regulation.

    Consistent with the ESA and Executive Order 13563, today's proposed rule emphasizes the importance of flexibility and pragmatism. The proposed rule notes the need to consider "the economic impact'' of the proposed rule, outlines a series of potential exclusions from the proposed critical habitat, and asks for public comments on those exclusions and on other possible exclusions. Private lands and State lands are among the potential exclusions, based on a recognition that habitat typically is best protected when landowners are working cooperatively to promote forest health, and a recognition--as discussed in the proposed rule--that the benefits of excluding private lands and State lands may be greater than the benefits of including those areas in critical habitat.

    Importantly, the proposed rule recommends, on the basis of extensive scientific analysis, that areas identified as critical habitat should be subject to active management, including logging, in order to produce the variety of stands of trees required for healthy forests. The proposal rejects the traditional view that land managers should take a "hands off'' approach to forest habitat in order to promote species health; on- going logging activity may be needed to enhance forest resilience.

    In order to avoid unnecessary costs and burdens and to advance the principles of Executive Order 13563, consistent with the ESA, I hereby direct you to take the following actions:

    1. publish, within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, a full analysis of the economic impacts of the proposed rule, including job impacts, and make that analysis available for public comment;
    2. consider excluding private lands and State lands from the final revised critical habitat, consistent with applicable law and science;
    3. develop clear direction, as part of the final rule, for evaluating logging activity in areas of critical habitat, in accordance with the scientific principles of active forestry management and to the extent permitted by law;
    4. carefully consider all public comments on the relevant science and economics, including those comments that suggest potential methods for minimizing regulatory burdens;
    5. give careful consideration to providing the maximum exclusion from the final revised critical habitat, consistent with applicable law and science; and
    6. to the extent permitted by law, adopt the least burdensome means, including avoidance of unnecessary burdens on States, tribes, localities, and the private sector, of promoting compliance with the ESA, considering the range of innovative ecosystem management tools available to the Department and landowners.

    Executive Order 13563 states that our regulatory system "must promote predictability and reduce uncertainty.'' Uncertainty on the part of the public may be avoided, and public comment improved, by simultaneous presentation of the best scientific data available and the analysis of economic and other impacts. Accordingly, in order to provide more complete information in the future regarding potential economic impacts when critical habitat proposals are first offered to the public, I direct you to take prompt steps to propose revisions to the current rule (which, as noted, was promulgated in 1984 and requires that an economic analysis be completed after critical habitat has been proposed) to provide that the economic analysis be completed and made available for public comment at the time of publication of a proposed rule to designate critical habitat.

    This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

    You are hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

  • Interior

  • Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Experimental Removal of Barred Owls to Benefit Threatened Northern Spotted Owls

    AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

    ACTION: Notice of availability; announcement of public meetings; request for comments.

    SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability of a draft environmental impact statement for experimental removal of barred owls to benefit threatened northern spotted owls. The barred owl, a species recently established in western North America, is displacing the northern spotted owl and threatening its viability. The draft environmental impact statement analyzes a no-action alternative and seven action alternatives to experimentally determine if removing barred owls will benefit northern spotted owl populations and to inform decisions on whether to move forward with future management of barred owls. The action alternatives vary by the number and location of study areas, the type of experimental design, duration of study, and method of barred owl removal. We also announce plans for public meetings and the opening of a public comment period on the draft environmental impact statement. All interested parties are invited to provide information, data, comments or suggestions.

    DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive comments before close of business (4:30 p.m.) on or before June 6, 2012. We will hold at least two public meetings within the range of the northern spotted owl. We will announce meeting locations and times in local newspapers and on the Internet at:

    ADDRESSES: To request further information, obtain a copy of the draft environmental impact statement (EIS), or submit or view written comments, please use one of the following methods and clearly indicate that your request or comment is in reference to the Barred Owl EIS:


    U.S. Mail: Paul Henson, State Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, 2600 SE 98th Ave., Suite 100, Portland, OR 97266.

    In-Person Drop-off of Comments: Comments can be delivered in person to the above address during regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).

    Viewing Comments and Supporting Materials, or Picking Up a Copy of the Draft EIS: Call 503-231-6179 to make an appointment to view received comments or pick up a copy of the draft EIS at the above address.

    Internet: The draft EIS is available for review and downloading at

    Fax: Paul Henson, 503-231-6195, Attn.: Barred Owl EIS.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Henson, State Supervisor, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, at 503-231-6179. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, please call the Federal Information Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

  • National Science Foundation

  • Advisory Committee for International Science and Engineering; Notice of Meeting

    In accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub. L. 92- 463, as amended), the National Science Foundation announces the following meeting:

    Name: Advisory Committee for International Science and Engineering (25104).

    Date and Time: March 19, 2012, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. March 20, 2012, 8:30 a.m.-noon.

    Place: National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Room Stafford II-595, Arlington, VA 22230.

    Type of Meeting: Open.

    Contact Person: Robert Webber, Office of International Science and Engineering, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22230, Telephone: 703-292-7569. If you are attending the meeting and need access to the NSF, please contact the individual listed above so your name may be added to the building access list.

    Purpose of Meeting: To provide advice and recommendations concerning support for research, education and related activities involving the U.S. science and engineering community working in a global context, as well as strategic efforts to promote a more effective NSF role in international science and engineering.

    Agenda: Review NSF international activities, and discuss and develop recommendations to transform international research and educations partnerships.

  • Office of Science and Technology Policy

  • Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology Subcommittee of the Committee on Technology, National Science and Technology Council Workshop

    ACTION: Notice of public meeting.

    SUMMARY: The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO), on behalf of the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee of the Committee on Technology, National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), will hold the "2012 Regional, State, and Local (RSL) Initiatives in Nanotechnology Workshop'' on May 1-2, 2012. This workshop will bring together leaders of regional, state, and local organizations to engage in dialog with the Federal government; economic development groups; investors and entrepreneurs; technology leaders; and scientists and engineers from industry, business, government, and academia. The discussion will address a wide range of resource, organizational, and policy issues impacting RSL nanotechnology initiatives.

    The workshop, cosponsored by the Federal agencies participating in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) and the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), will examine the current landscape of U.S. RSL nanotechnology initiatives and their status; RSL best practices, business models, resources, and opportunities for partnering; and the role of nanotechnology RSLs in future U.S. economic growth and job creation.

    Dates and Addresses: The workshop will be held at the Embassy Suites Portland-Downtown Hotel, 319 SW Pine Street, Portland, OR, 97204 on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. and on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. For directions, please visit

    Registration: Due to space limitations, pre-registration for the workshop is required. Individuals planning to attend the workshop should register online at Written notices of participation by email should be sent to or mailed to RSL 2012 Workshop, c/o NNCO, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Stafford II, Suite 405, Arlington, VA 22230. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis until capacity is reached; otherwise registration will close on April 27, 2012 at 5 p.m. EST. Those interested in presenting 3-5 minutes of public comments at the meeting should also register at Written or electronic comments should be submitted by email to until April 27, 2012. The workshop will include an opportunity for any regional, state, or local nanotechnology initiative or related organization to present a poster explaining the activity.

    Meeting Accomodations: Individuals requiring special accommodation to access this public meeting should contact Halyna Paikoush by email ( or by telephone (410-467-9832) at least ten business days prior to the meeting so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information regarding this Notice, please contact James Kadtke or Halyna Paikoush at the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office by telephone (703-292-8626) or email ( Additional information about the meeting, including the agenda, is posted at

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