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Proposed Rule

Seismic Safety

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Rural Utilities Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Proposed rule.

SUMMARY:

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) proposes to amend its regulations to update and simplify the requirements of the agency. This revised rule would provide RUS borrowers, grant recipients, Rural Telephone Bank (RTB) borrowers and the public with updated rules for compliance with seismic safety requirements for new building construction using RUS or RTB loan, grant or guaranteed funds or funds provided through lien accommodations or subordinations approved by RUS or RTB. The proposed revision would identify model codes and standards found to provide a required level of seismic safety.

DATES:

Written comments must be received by RUS on or before July 25, 2000.

ADDRESSES:

Written comments should be addressed to George J. Bagnall, Director, Electric Staff Division, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service, Room 1246 South Building, Stop 1569, 14th & Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC 20250-1569. Telephone 202-720-1900. RUS requests a signed original and three copies of all comments (7 CFR 1700.4). Comments will be available for public inspection during regular business hours (7 CFR 1.27(b)).

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mr. Donald Heald, Structural Engineer, Transmission Branch, Electric Staff Division, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, STOP 1569, Washington, DC 20250-1569. Telephone: (202) 720-9102. Fax: (202) 720-7491.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Order 12866

This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866 and, therefore, has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Executive Order 12372

This proposed rule is excluded from the scope of Executive Order 12372, Intergovernmental Consultation, which may require consultation with State and local offices. See the final rule related notice entitled “Department Programs and Activities Excluded from Executive Order 12372” (50 FR 47034).

Executive Order 12988

This proposed rule has been reviewed in accordance with Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. RUS has determined that this proposed rule meets the applicable standards provided in section 3 of the Executive Order. In addition, all State and local laws and regulations that are in conflict with this rule will be preempted; no retroactive effect will be given to this rule; and, in accordance with section 212(e) of the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 (7 U.S.C. 6912(e)) administrative appeal procedures, if any are required, must be exhausted prior to initiating litigation against the Department or its agencies.

Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

The Administrator of RUS has determined that this rule will not have significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities as defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). The RUS and RTB loan programs provide borrowers with loans at interest rates and terms that are more favorable than those generally available from the private sector. Borrowers, as a result of obtaining federal financing, receive economic benefits that exceed any direct cost associated with RUS regulations and requirements.

Information Collection and Recordkeeping Requirements

In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 35), RUS invites comments on this information collection for which RUS intends to request approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Comments on this notice must be received by July 25, 2000.

Comments are invited on (a) 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; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of burden including the validity of the methodology and assumption used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques on other forms of information technology.

Comments may be sent to F. Lamont Heppe, Jr., Director, Program Development and Regulatory Analysis, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Stop 1522, Room 4034 South Building, Washington, D.C. 20250-1522.

For further information contact Mr. Donald Heald, Structural Engineer, Transmission Branch, Electric Staff Division, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, STOP 1569, Washington, DC 20250-1569. Telephone: (202) 720-9102. Fax: (202) 720-7491.

Title: Seismic Safety of New Building Construction.

OMB Control Number: 0572-0099.

Type of Request: Revision of a currently approved collection.

Abstract: The Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977 (42 U.S.C. 7701 Start Printed Page 34126 et seq.) was enacted to reduce risks to life and property through the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP). The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is designated as the agency with the primary responsibility to plan and coordinate the NEHRP. This program includes the development and implementation of feasible design and construction methods to make structures earthquake resistant. Executive Order 12699 of January 5, 1990, Seismic Safety of Federal and Federally Assisted or Regulated New Building Construction, requires that measures to assure seismic safety be imposed on federally assisted new building construction.

The revision of 7 CFR Part 1792, Subpart C, Seismic Safety of Federally Assisted New Building Construction, will reduce the requirements by the borrower or grant recipient needed to comply with this part. This revision will also include RUS water and waste water borrowers previously under the former Famers Home Administration (FmHA) (Pub. L. 103-354, 108 Stat. 3178).

Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 1.5 hours per response.

Respondents: Small business or organizations.

Estimated Number of Respondents: 1,000.

Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.

Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 800.

Copies of this information collection can be obtained from Dawn Wolfgang, Program Development and Regulatory Analysis, at (202) 720-0812.

All responses to this information collection and recordkeeping notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All comments will also become a matter of public record.

National Environmental Policy Act Certification

The Administrator of RUS has determined that this proposed rule will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment as defined by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) Therefore, this action does not require an environmental impact statement or assessment.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

The programs covered by this proposed rule are listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance programs under numbers 10.850, Rural Electrification Loans and Loan Guarantees; 10.851, Rural Telephone Loans and Loan Guarantees; 10.852, Rural Telephone Bank Loans; 10.760, Water and Waste Disposal System for Rural Communities; 10.764, Resource Conservation Development Loans, and 10.765, Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Loans.

This catalog is available on a subscription basis from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402-9325. Telephone: (202) 512-1800.

Unfunded Mandates

This rule contains no Federal mandates (under the regulatory provision of title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act) for State, local, and tribal governments or the private sector. Thus, this proposed rule is not subject to the requirements of sections 202 and 205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

Background

RUS requires borrowers and grant recipients to meet applicable requirements mandated by Federal statutes and regulations to obtain RUS financing. One such requirement is compliance with building safety provisions of the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, (42 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.) as implemented pursuant to Executive Order 12699, Seismic Safety of Federal and Federally Assisted or Regulated New Building Construction (3 CFR, 1990 Comp., pg. 269).

Subpart C of this part codifies the policies and requirements that RUS and RTB borrowers and grant recipients must meet for new building construction when using funds provided or guaranteed by RUS or RTB (or when obtained through a lien accommodation or subordination approved by RUS or RTB).

The Executive Order requires all Federal agencies to ensure that any new building which is leased for federal users or purchased or constructed with federal assistance is designed and constructed in accordance with appropriate seismic design standards. Those standards must be equivalent to or exceed the seismic safety levels in the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) recommended provisions for the development of seismic regulations for new buildings. The Executive Order charges the Interagency Committee on Seismic Safety in Construction (ICSSC) with recommending appropriate and cost-effective seismic design, construction standards and practices.

The ICSSC has identified several model codes and standards that provide an acceptable level of seismic safety. The existing regulation in this subpart would be revised to identify new model codes or standards which are equivalent to the 1994 NEHRP Recommended Provisions for the Development of Seismic Regulations for New Buildings.

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List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 1792

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For reasons set for in the preamble, chapter XVII of title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations is proposed to be amended as follows:

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PART 1792—COMPLIANCE WITH OTHER FEDERAL STATUTES, REGULATIONS, AND EXECUTIVE ORDERS

1. The authority citation for part 1792 is revised to read as follows:

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Authority: 7 U.S.C. 901 et seq., 1921 et seq., 6941 et seq., and 42 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.

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Subpart C—Seismic Safety

2. Section 1792.101 is amended by revising paragraph (b) and removing paragraphs (c), (d), & (e), to read as follows:

General.
* * * * *

(b) This subpart identifies acceptable seismic standards which must be employed in new building construction funded by loans, grants, or guarantees made by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) or the Rural Telephone Bank (RTB) (or through lien accommodations or subordinations approved by RUS or RTB).

3. Section 1792.102 is amended by revising the definitions for “RUS” and “Seismic,” removing “REA,” and adding the definition of “Model Code” to read as follows:

Definitions.
* * * * *

Model Code—A building code developed for the adoption of local or state authorities or to be used as the basis of a local or state building code.

* * * * *

RUS—Rural Utilities Service, and for the purposes of this subpart, shall include the Rural Telephone Bank. For the purposes of RTB borrowers, as used in this subpart, RUS means RTB and Administrator means Governor. Start Printed Page 34127

Seismic—Related to or caused by earthquakes.

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4. Sections 1792.103 and 1792.104 are revised to read as follows:

Seismic design and construction standards for new buildings.

(a) In the design and construction of federally assisted buildings, the borrowers and grant recipients must utilize the seismic provisions of the most recent edition of those standards and practices that are substantially equivalent to or exceed the seismic safety level in the most recent or immediately preceding edition of the NEHRP Recommended Provisions for the Development of Seismic Regulation for New Buildings.

(b) Each of the following model codes or standards has been found to provide a level of seismic safety substantially equivalent to that provided by the use of the 1994 NEHRP Recommended Provisions and appropriate for federally assisted new building construction:

(1) 1997 International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) Uniform Building Code. Copies are available from ICBO, Austin Regional Office, 9300 Jollyville Road., Suite 101, Austin, Texas 78759-7455.

(2) 1995 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 7, Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures. Copies are available from ASCE, 345 East 47th Street, New York, New York 10017-2398.

(c) The NEHRP Recommended Provisions for the Development of Seismic Regulations for New Buildings is available from the Office of Earthquakes and Natural Hazards, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 500 C Street, SW., Washington, DC 20472.

Seismic acknowledgments.

For each applicable building, borrowers and grant recipients must provide RUS a written acknowledgment from a registered architect or engineer responsible for the design stating that seismic provisions pursuant to § 1792.103(b) will be used in the design of the building. This acknowledgement will include the identification and date of the model code or standard that is used for the seismic design of the building project and the seismic factor for the building location.

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Dated: May 15, 2000.

Jill Long Thompson,

Under Secretary, Rural Development.

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[FR Doc. 00-13295 Filed 5-25-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-15-P