Rural Utilities Service, USDA.
Direct final rule.
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency delivering the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Utilities Programs, is amending its regulations to update the seismic safety requirements of the agency. These amendments will 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.
This rule will become effective June 14, 2004, unless we receive written adverse comments or a written notice of intent to submit adverse comments on or before June 1, 2004. If we receive such comments or notice, we will publish a timely document in the Federal Register withdrawing the rule. Comments received will be considered under the proposed rule published in this edition of the Federal Register in the proposed rule section. A second public comment period will not be held.
Written comments must be received by RUS or carry a postmark or equivalent no later than June 1, 2004.
Submit adverse comments or notice of intent to submit adverse comments by any of the following methods:
- Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
- Agency Web site: http://www.usda.gov/rus/index2/Comments.htm. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
- E-mail: RUSComments@usda.gov. Include in the subject line of the message “Seismic Safety”.
- Mail: Addressed to Richard Annan, Acting Director, Program Development and Regulatory Analysis, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., STOP 1522, Washington, DC 20250-1522.
- Hand Delivery/Courier: Addressed to Richard Annan, Acting Director, Program Development and Regulatory Analysis, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 5168 South Building, Washington, DC 20250-1522.
Instructions: All submissions received must include that agency name and the subject heading “Seismic Safety”. All comments received must identify the name of the individual (and the name of the entity, if applicable) who is submitting the comment. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.usda.gov/rus/index2/Comments.htm, including any personal information provided.Start Further Info
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.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
Executive Order 12866
This 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 rule is excluded from the scope of Executive Order 12372, Intergovernmental Consultation, which may require consultation with State and local officials. A notice of final rule entitled “Department Programs and Activities Excluded from Executive Order 12372,” (50 FR 47034) exempted RUS loans and loan guarantees to from coverage under this order.
This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. RUS has determined that this 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, must be exhausted before an action against the Department or its agencies may be initiated.
This regulation will not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Under Executive Order 13132, this rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to require preparation of a Federalism Assessment.
Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification
In accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) the Administrator of RUS certifies that this rule, if adopted, will not have significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The rule serves to clarify the existing regulation and to generally streamline the review process for such actions. Most of the changes in this rule should result in modest cost savings and ease the regulatory compliance burden for affected applicants.
Information Collection and Recordkeeping Requirements
The reporting and record keeping requirements contained in the rule has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control Number 0572-0099, pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 35).
National Environmental Policy Act Certification
The Administrator of RUS has determined that this rule will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment as defined by the Start Printed Page 23642National 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; 10.857, Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees, 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.
This rule contains no Federal mandates (under the regulatory provision of Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995) for State, local, and tribal governments or the private sector. Thus, this rule is not subject to the requirements of sections 202 and 205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
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, as amended (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 uses 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.
According to a recent study commissioned by the ICSSC, the model codes and standards that are equivalent to the 1997 NEHRP Recommended Provisions are the 2000 International Building Code and the ASCE 7-98 Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures. These codes will be added to the list of codes equivalent to the 1994 or 1997 NEHRP Recommended Provisions. In addition, clarification is added to the acknowledgment.Start List of Subjects
List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 1792
- Buildings and facilities
- Electric power
- Grant programs
- Loan programs
- Reporting and recordkeeping requirements
- Rural area
- Seismic safety
For reasons set for in the preamble, chapter XVII of title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:End Amendment Part Start Part
PART 1792—COMPLIANCE WITH OTHER FEDERAL STATUTES, REGULATIONS, AND EXECUTIVE ORDERSEnd Part Start Amendment Part
1. The authority citation for this part is revised to read as follows:End Amendment Part
Subpart C—Seismic Safety
2. Section 1792.102 is amended by removing the definition “seismic factor”.End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part
3. Sections 1792.103 and 1792.104 are revised to read as follows:End Amendment Part
(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 1994, 1997, or 2000 editions of the NEHRP Recommended Provisions for the Development of Seismic Regulation for New Buildings.
(b) Each of the following model codes or standards provides a level of seismic safety substantially equivalent to that provided by the 1994 or 1997 NEHRP Recommended Provisions and are appropriate for federally assisted new building construction:
(1) 1997 International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) Uniform Building Code. Copies of the book or CD-ROM are available from the International Conference of Building Officials, 5360 Workman Mill Road, Whittier, CA 90601-2298, phone: 1-800-284-4406, fax: 1-888-329-4226.
(2) 1995 or 1998 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 7, Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures. Copies are available from the American Society of Civil Engineers, Publications Marketing Department, 1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Reston, VA 20191-4400, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 1-703-295-6211.
(3) 2000 International Code Council (ICC) International Building Code. Copies of the book or CD-ROM are available from the International Conference of Building Officials, 5360 Workman Mill Road, Whittier, CA 90601-2298, phone: 1-800-284-4406, fax: 1-888-329-4226.
(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.
For each applicable building, borrowers and grant recipients must provide RUS a written acknowledgment from a registered architect or engineer responsible for the building design stating that seismic provisions pursuant to § 1792.103 of this subpart will be used in the design of the building.
(a) For projects in which plans and specifications are required to be submitted to RUS, this acknowledgement shall be on the title page of the drawings included with the final plans and specifications. This acknowledgement will include the identification and date of the model code or standard that is used in the seismic design of the building project. The plans and specifications must be dated, signed, and sealed by the registered architect or engineer.
(b) For projects in which plans and specifications are not submitted, this acknowledgement shall be in the form Start Printed Page 23643of a statement from the architect or engineer responsible for the building design. The statement shall identify the model code or standard identified that is used in the seismic design of the building or buildings and, shall be dated and signed.
Dated: April 15, 2004.
Hilda Gay Legg,
Administrator, Rural Utilities Service.
[FR Doc. 04-9611 Filed 4-29-04; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-15-P