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Notice

Agency Information Collection Activities: Continuing Collection; Comment Request; Confidentiality Rules

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), this document announces that EPA is planning to submit the following continuing Information Collection Request (ICR) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB): Confidentiality Rules, EPA ICR No. 1665.03, OMB Control No. 2020-0003, expiration date May 31, 2000. Before submitting the ICR to OMB for review and approval, EPA is soliciting comments on specific aspects of the proposed information collection as described below.

DATES:

Comments must be submitted on or before June 12, 2000.

ADDRESSES:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Environ-mental Information, Office of Information Collection, Mailstop 2822, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20460. Interested persons may obtain a copy of the ICR without charge.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Rebecca Moser, Office of Information Collection, Collection Strategies Division, Information Strategies Branch; Phone, 202-260-6780; Fax, 202-260-8550; Email, moser.rebecca@epa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Affected entities: Entities potentially affected by this action are those who characterize the information they provide to EPA as confidential business information (CBI).

Title: Confidentiality Rules, OMB Control No. 2020-0003, EPA ICR No. 1665.03, expiring May 31, 2000.

Abstract: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers a number of environmental protection statutes (e.g., the Clean Water Act; the Clean Air Act; the Toxic Substances Control Act; the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; the Comprehensive Start Printed Page 19751Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act; the Federal Water Pollution Control Act; and others), which require it to collect data from thousands of facilities in many economic sectors. The data often provide information on toxic chemicals, industrial processes, waste streams, regulatory compliance; and in many cases, businesses that submit the data claim it as confidential business information (CBI). EPA established the procedures described in 40 CFR Part 2, Subpart B, to protect the confidentiality of information as well as the rights of the public under FOIA. In accordance with these regulations, when EPA finds it necessary to make a final confidentiality determination (e.g., in response to a FOIA request or in the course of rulemaking or litigation), it notifies the affected business and provides it with an opportunity to submit comments (i.e., a substantiation). This ICR relates to the collection of information that will assist EPA in determining whether previously submitted information is entitled to confidential treatment.

An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. The OMB control numbers for EPA's regulations are listed in 40 CFR part 9 and 48 CFR Chapter 15.

The EPA would like to solicit comments to:

(i) evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

(ii) evaluate the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

(iii) enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

(iv) minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

Burden Statement: EPA estimates that in response to the procedures outlined in 40 CFR Part 2, Subpart B, the Agency would notify 543 businesses and provide them with an opportunity to submit comments explaining why previously submitted information should be treated as confidential. Of the 543 businesses, EPA estimates that approximately 443 industries would respond by submitting substantiations. The Agency estimates that it takes industry approximately 14 hours and $464.43 in labor costs to prepare and submit each substantiation; or a total of 6,202 hours at a cost of $205,742.49 in labor for all 443 substantiations. For those 100 businesses that do not submit substantiations, they are still likely to spend approximately 1 hour at a cost of $32.04 in labor to review EPA's notice, examine the information in question, and make a decision not to respond; or a total of 100 hours at a cost of $3,204.00 in labor costs for reviewing and deciding not to respond in 100 cases. The total burden on industry to review and, if desired, respond to 543 EPA substantiation requests is 6,302 hours at a cost of $208,946.49 in labor.

In addition, when EPA utilizes the services of contractors/subcontractors in implementing 40 CFR, Part 2, Subpart B, all contractor/subcontractor employees who may be given access to confidential information must first sign confidentiality agreements stating that they will honor the terms of the contract/subcontract which requires the protection of CBI.

In addition, contractor/subcontractor businesses must maintain a file of all such agreements. EPA estimates that there are about 129 contractor/subcontractor businesses that handle CBI in connection with their work for EPA each year. These 129 contractor/subcontractor businesses together have a total of approximately 658 employees who must sign confidentiality agreements each year. Each employee would need approximately 0.1 hour to review and sign an agreement, at a cost of $3.34 in labor; employees' review and signature of all agreements would require approximately 65.8 hours at a cost of $2197.72 in labor per year. In addition, each subcontractor/contractor business would need approximately 0.5 hour at a cost of $8.07 in labor per year to maintain a file of employee confidentiality agreements; the 129 contractor/subcontractor businesses together would require a total of 64.5 hours at a labor cost of $1041.03 to maintain a file of confidentiality agreements. The total burden for signing and maintaining confidentiality agreements would thus be 130.3 hours at a cost of $3238.75.

The overall burden for handling confidentiality claims—including the substantiation process and the signing and maintaining of confidentiality agreements—would be 6432.3 hours at a total labor cost of $212,185.24 per year. EPA estimates that no capital costs or operation and maintenance costs would be incurred as a result of this information collection.

Burden means the total time, effort, or financial resources expended by persons to generate, maintain, retain, or disclose or provide information to or for a Federal agency. This includes the time needed to review instructions; develop, acquire, install, and utilize technology and systems for the purposes of collecting, validating, and verifying information, processing and maintaining information, and disclosing and providing information; adjusting the existing ways to comply with any previously applicable instructions and requirements; train personnel to be able to respond to a collection of information; search data sources; complete and review the collection of information; and transmit or otherwise disclose the information.

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Dated: April 4, 2000.

Oscar Morales,

Director, Collection Strategies Divisio, Office of Information Collection

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[FR Doc. 00-9094 Filed 4-11-00; 8:45 am]

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