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Disaster Assistance; Public Assistance Program and Community Disaster Loan Program Statutory Changes

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

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:

Federal Emergency Management Agency, Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate, Department of Homeland Security.

ACTION:

Adoption of interim final rule as final.

SUMMARY:

This final rule adopts the interim final rule, published in the Federal Register on May 4, 2001, to implement portions of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 that affect large in-lieu contributions (alternate projects), irrigation facilities, critical/non-critical private nonprofit facilities, and community disaster loans.

DATES:

The Interim Final Rule published on May 4, 2001 at 66 FR Start Printed Page 3454622443 became effective on October 30, 2000.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

James Walke, FEMA, 500 C Street, SW., Washington, DC 20472, (facsimile) (202) 646-3304, or e-mail james.walke@dhs.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On May 4, 2001, FEMA published in the Federal Register an interim final rule to implement portions of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 that affect large in-lieu contributions (alternate projects), irrigation facilities, critical/non-critical private nonprofit facilities, and community disaster loans (66 FR 22443, May 4, 2001). The closing date for the submission of comments was July 3, 2001.

Comments on the Interim Final Rule

By the close of the comment period, FEMA received one comment on the interim final rule from an emergency management association. The major concern expressed by the membership of the association was the reduction from 90% to 75% of the Federal share for alternate projects. The association recognized that this reduction is a statutory change to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act), 42 U.S.C. 5172 and therefore beyond the scope of FEMA's rulemaking authority.

Adoption as Final Rule

Accordingly, the interim final rule to implement portions of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 that affect large in-lieu contributions (alternate projects), irrigation facilities, critical/non-critical private nonprofit facilities, and community disaster loans which was published at 66 FR 22443 on May 4, 2001, is adopted as a final rule without change.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

NEPA imposes requirements for considering the environmental impacts of agency decisions. It requires that an agency prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for “major federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.” If an action may or may not have a significant impact, the agency must prepare an environmental assessment (EA). If, as a result of this study, the agency makes a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), no further action is necessary. If it will have a significant effect, then the agency uses the EA to develop an EIS.

Categorical Exclusions. Agencies can categorically identify actions (for example, repair of a building damaged by a disaster) that do not normally have a significant impact on the environment. The purpose of this final rule is to amend our Stafford Act rules to incorporate part of the changes mandated by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 for the Public Assistance Program and for Community Disaster Loans. Accordingly, we have determined that this rule is excluded from the preparation of an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement under 44 CFR 10.8(d)(2)(ii), where the rule is related to actions that qualify for categorical exclusion. The changes reflected in this rule are exempt from NEPA because they reflect administrative changes to the programs that have no potential to affect the environment. We would perform an environmental review under 44 CFR part 10, Environmental Considerations, on each proposed project that we would fund and implement under the authorities covered in this rule.

Paperwork Reduction Act

This rule is not subject to the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act. It does not require any new information collections and therefore would not revise the number and types of responses, frequency, and burden hours.

Regulatory Planning and Review

We have prepared and reviewed this final rule under the provisions of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review. Under Executive Order 12866, 58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993, a significant regulatory action is subject to OMB review and the requirements of the Executive Order. The Executive Order defines “significant regulatory action” as one that is likely to result in a rule that may:

(1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities;

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

(3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, 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 set forth in the Executive Order.

This final rule implements certain mandatory provisions of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 that relate to the Public Assistance Program and the Community Disaster Loan Program. The authorities mandated would not of themselves have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. We anticipate that the impacts of the alternate projects provision will be neutral, expecting that the savings from reducing the Federal share of the Federal estimate from 90 percent to 75 percent will be offset by fewer applications for assistance under this authority. We do not anticipate any change in costs by adding irrigation facilities to the definition of eligible private nonprofit facilities inasmuch as the rule reflects the statute and codifies our current policy and practices. Most of the private nonprofit organizations that will have to apply for SBA disaster loans before being eligible to apply for FEMA disaster assistance have damages well below the SBA loan limit of $1,500,000. We do not expect this provision will have an impact of $100,000,000 or more per year. Finally, we do not anticipate that savings from amendments to the Community Disaster Loan provision will exceed $100,000,000 over a several-year period—our experience is that disaster loan forgiveness rates are between 60 and 70 percent. Over the last 25 years, the annual amount of money forgiven has been an average of $2.7 million. We know of no conditions that would qualify the rule as a significant regulatory action” within the definition of section 3(f) of the Executive Order. To the extent possible this rule adheres to the principles of regulation as set forth in Executive Order 12866. The Office of Management and Budget has not reviewed this rule under the provisions of Executive Order 12866.

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

Executive Order 13132 sets forth principles and criteria that agencies must adhere to in formulating and implementing policies that have federalism implications, that is, regulations that have substantial direct effects on the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Federal agencies must closely examine the statutory authority supporting any action that would limit the policymaking discretion of the States, and to the extent practicable, must consult with State and local officials before implementing any such action.

We have reviewed this final rule under Executive Order 13132 and have Start Printed Page 34547determined that the rule does not have federalism implications as defined by the Executive Order. The rule would define and establish the conditions and criteria under which FEMA would grant public assistance and make community disaster loans. The rule would in no way that we foresee affect the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government or limit the policymaking discretion of the States.

The interim final rule published on May 4, 2001 at 66 FR 22443 is adopted as final without change.

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Dated: June 2, 2003.

Michael D. Brown,

Under Secretary, Emergency Preparedness and Response.

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[FR Doc. 03-14487 Filed 6-9-03; 8:45 am]

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