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Notice

Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Environmental Impact Assessment of Nongovernmental Activities in Antarctica (Renewal), EPA ICR Number 1808.04, OMB Control Number 2020-0007

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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:

Environmental Protection Agency.

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 a continuing Information Collection Request (ICR) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This is a request to renew an existing approved collection. This ICR is scheduled to expire on October 31, 2004. 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 July 13, 2004.

ADDRESSES:

Submit your comments, referencing docket ID number OECA-2004-0026, to EPA online using EDOCKET (our preferred method), by e-mail to docket.oeca@epa.gov, or by mail to: EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Enforcement and Compliance Docket and Information Center, Mail Code: 2201T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Katherine Biggs, Office of Federal Activities, Mail Code 2252A, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: (202) 564-7144; fax number: (202) 564-0072; Start Printed Page 26815e-mail address: biggs.katherine@epa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

EPA has established a public docket for this ICR under Docket ID number OECA-2004-0026, which is available for public viewing at the Enforcement and Compliance Docket and Information Center in the EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC), EPA West, Room B102, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC. The EPA Docket Center Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the Enforcement and Compliance Docket and Information Center is (202) 564-1927. An electronic version of the public docket is available through EPA Dockets (EDOCKET) at http://www.epa.gov/​edocket. Use EDOCKET to obtain a copy of the draft collection of information, submit or view public comments, access the index listing of the contents of the public docket, and to access those documents in the public docket that are available electronically. Once in the system, select “search,” then key in the docket ID number identified above.

Any comments related to this ICR should be submitted to EPA within 60 days of this notice. EPA's policy is that public comments, whether submitted electronically or in paper, will be made available for public viewing in EDOCKET as EPA receives them and without change, unless the comment contains copyrighted material, CBI, or other information whose public disclosure is restricted by statute. When EPA identifies a comment containing copyrighted material, EPA will provide a reference to that material in the version of the comment that is placed in EDOCKET. The entire printed comment, including the copyrighted material, will be available in the public docket. Although identified as an item in the official docket, information claimed as CBI, or whose disclosure is otherwise restricted by statute, is not included in the official public docket, and will not be available for public viewing in EDOCKET. For further information about the electronic docket, see EPA's Federal Register notice describing the electronic docket at 67 FR 38102 (May 31, 2002), or go to http://www.epa.gov/​edocket.

Affected entities: Entities potentially affected by this action are all nongovernmental operators with activities in Antarctica, including tour operators, for which the United States is required to give advance notice under paragraph 5 of Article VII of the Antarctic Treaty of 1959; this includes all nongovernmental expeditions to and within Antarctica organized in or proceeding from the territory of the United States.

Title: Environmental Impact Assessment of Nongovernmental Activities in Antarctica (Renewal), EPA ICR Number 1808.04, OMB Control Number 2020-0007.

Abstract: The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) regulations at 40 CFR Part 8, Environmental Impact Assessment of Nongovernmental Activities in Antarctica (Final Rule), were promulgated pursuant to the Antarctic Science, Tourism, and Conservation Act of 1996 (Act), 16 U.S.C. 2401 et seq., as amended, 16 U.S.C. 2403a, which implements the Protocol on Environmental Protection (Protocol) to the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 (Treaty). The Final Rule provides for assessment of the environmental impacts of nongovernmental activities in Antarctica, including tourism, for which the United States is required to give advance notice under Paragraph 5 of Article VII of the Treaty, and for coordination of the review of information regarding environmental impact assessments received from other Parties under the Protocol. The requirements of the Final Rule apply to operators of nongovernmental expeditions organized in or proceeding from the territory of the United States to Antarctica and include commercial and non-commercial expeditions. Expeditions may include ship-based tours; yacht, skiing or mountaineering expeditions; privately funded research expeditions; and other nongovernmental activities. The Final Rule does not apply to individual U.S. citizens or groups of citizens planning to travel to Antarctica on an expedition for which they are not acting as an operator. (Operators, for example, typically acquire use of vessels or aircraft, hire expedition staff, plan itineraries, and undertake other organizational responsibilities.) The Final Rule provides nongovernmental operators with the specific requirements they need to meet in order to comply with the requirements of Article 8 and Annex I to the Protocol. The provisions of the Final Rule are intended to ensure that potential environmental effects of nongovernmental activities undertaken in Antarctica are appropriately identified and considered by the operator during the planning process and that to the extent practicable, appropriate environmental safeguards which would mitigate or prevent adverse impacts on the Antarctic environment are identified by the operator.

Environmental Documentation. Persons subject to the Final Rule must prepare environmental documentation to support the operator's determination regarding the level of environmental impact of the proposed expedition. Environmental documentation includes a Preliminary Environmental Review Memorandum (PERM), an Initial Environmental Evaluation (IEE), or a Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation (CEE). The environmental document is submitted to the Office of Federal Activities (OFA). If the operator determines that an expedition may have: (1) Less than a minor or transitory impact, a PERM needs to be submitted no later than 180 days before the proposed departure to Antarctica; (2) no more than minor or transitory impacts, an IEE needs to be submitted no later than 90 days before the proposed departure; or (3) more than minor or transitory impacts, a CEE needs to be submitted. Operators who anticipate such activities are encouraged to consult with EPA as soon as possible regarding the date for submittal of the CEE. (Article 3(4), of Annex I of the Protocol requires that draft CEEs be distributed to all Parties and the Committee for Environmental Protection 120 days in advance of the next Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) at which the CEE may be addressed.)

The Protocol and the Final Rule also require an operator to employ procedures to assess and provide a regular and verifiable record of the actual impacts of an activity which proceeds on the basis of an IEE or CEE. The record developed through these measures needs to be designed to: (a) Enable assessments to be made of the extent to which environmental impacts of nongovernmental expeditions are consistent with the Protocol; and (b) provide information useful for minimizing and mitigating those impacts and, where appropriate, on the need for suspension, cancellation, or modification of the activity. Moreover, an operator needs to monitor key environmental indicators for an activity proceeding on the basis of a CEE. An operator may also need to carry out monitoring in order to assess and verify the impact of an activity for which an IEE would be prepared. For activities that require an IEE, an operator should be able to use procedures currently being voluntarily utilized by operators to provide the required information. Should an activity require a CEE, the operator should consult with EPA to: (a) Identify the monitoring regime appropriate to that activity, and (b) Start Printed Page 26816determine whether and how the operator might utilize relevant monitoring data collected by the U.S. Antarctic Program. OFA would consult with the National Science Foundation and other interested Federal agencies regarding the monitoring regime.

In cases of emergency relating to the safety of human life or of ships, aircraft, equipment and facilities of high value, or the protection of the environment which would require an activity to be undertaken without completion of the documentation procedures set out in the Final Rule, the operator would need to notify the Department of State within 15 days of any activities which would have otherwise required preparation of a CEE, and provide a full explanation of the activities carried out within 45 days of those activities. (During the time the Interim Final and Final Rules have been in effect, there were no emergencies requiring notification by U.S. operators. An Interim Final Rule was in effect from April 30, 1997, until replaced on December 6, 2001, by the Final Rule.)

Environmental documents (e.g., PERM, IEE, CEE) are submitted to OFA. Environmental documents are reviewed by OFA, in consultation with the National Science Foundation and other interested Federal agencies, and also made available to other Parties and the public as required under the Protocol or otherwise requested. OFA notifies the public of document availability via the World Wide Web at: http://www.epa.gov/​compliance/​nepa/​international/​antarctica/​index.html. The types of nongovernmental activities currently being carried out (e.g., ship-based tours, land-based tours, flights, and privately funded research expeditions) are typically unlikely to have impacts that are more than minor or transitory, thus an IEE is the typical level of environmental documentation submitted. For the 1997-1998 through 2003-2004 austral summer seasons during the time the Interim Final Rule and Final Rule have been in effect, all respondents submitted IEEs with the exception of one PERM. Paperwork reduction provisions in the Final Rule that are used by the operators include: (a) Incorporation of material into the environmental document by referring to it in the IEE; (b) inclusion of all proposed expeditions by one operator within one IEE; (c) use of one IEE to address expeditions being carried out by more than one operator; and (d) use of multi-year environmental documentation to address proposed expeditions for a period of up to five consecutive austral summer seasons.

Coordination of Review of Information Received from Other Parties to the Treaty. The Final Rule also provides for the coordination of review of information received from other Parties and the public availability of that information including: (1) A description of national procedures for considering the environmental impacts of proposed activities; (2) an annual list of any IEEs and any decisions taken in consequence thereof; (3) significant information obtained and any action taken in consequence thereof with regard to monitoring from IEEs and CEEs; and (4) information in a final CEE. This provision fulfills the United States' obligation to meet the requirements of Article 6 of Annex I to the Protocol. The Department of State is responsible for coordination of these reviews of drafts with interested Federal agencies, and for public availability of documents and information. This portion of the Final Rule does not impose paperwork requirements on any nongovernmental person subject to U.S. regulation.

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 in 40 CFR are listed in 40 CFR part 9.

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: The Supporting Statement for this ICR renewal, available at the public docket for this ICR under Docket ID number OECA-2004-0026, describes the models used for calculating the estimated respondent burden and cost for the various levels of environmental impact assessment documentation that may be submitted by the respondents under the Final Rule, including assessment and verification procedures and operation and maintenance (O&M). The Supporting Statement also describes the model used for the estimated respondent burden and cost for emergency reporting.

Based on the environmental documentation submitted by operators for the past seven austral summer seasons and EPA's expectation of the types of nongovernmental activities likely to continue to be undertaken by U.S.-based operators, EPA anticipates that during the three-year period this information collection will be in effect, 17 operators with multi-year IEEs will submit supplemental information as annual updates. EPA further anticipates that two operators may submit revised IEEs, and three additional IEEs may be submitted for one-time only expeditions during each of the three years. EPA does not anticipate receiving any PERMs, CEEs, or emergency reporting. EPA expects the paperwork reduction measures in the Final Rule will continue to be used by the operators, and that the annual assessment and verification procedures associated with IEEs will continue. The burden and cost estimates include assessment and verification procedures and O&M. Based on these assumptions, the estimated 3-year total and annual average respondent burden is estimated as 1,275 hours, or 25 hours per operator per year. The estimated average time annually per respondent ranges from 25 to 185 hours depending on the level of environmental documentation and the paperwork reduction provisions employed by the respondent. The estimated 3-year total and annual average respondent cost is estimated as $96,107, or $1,884 per operator per year. The estimated average cost per respondent to prepare and submit environmental documentation for the first year ranges from $1,820 to $13,531, and the estimated average cost per respondent to prepare and submit environmental documentation for the subsequent two years this ICR would be in effect would range from $1,917 to $14,396, depending on the level of environmental documentation and the paperwork reduction provisions employed by the respondent.

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; adjust the existing ways to comply with any Start Printed Page 26817previously 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: May 11, 2004.

Anne Norton Miller,

Director, Office of Federal Activities.

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[FR Doc. 04-10991 Filed 5-13-04; 8:45 am]

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