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Rule

Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees

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:

Rural Utilities Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Direct final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency delivering the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Utilities Programs, is amending its regulations to revise the definition for “eligible rural community” as it relates to the rural access broadband loans and loan guarantees program.

DATES:

This rule will become effective May 19, 2005, unless we receive written adverse comments or a written notice of intent to submit adverse comments on or before May 4, 2005. 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 May 4, 2005.

ADDRESSES:

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 “Broadband Loans and Loan Guarantees”.
  • Mail: Addressed to Richard Annan, 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, 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 “Broadband Loans and Loan Guarantees”. 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.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jonathan Claffey, Acting Assistant Administrator, Telecommunications Program, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., STOP 1590, Room 4056, Washington, DC 20250-1590. Telephone number (202) 720-9554, Facsimile (202) 720-0810.

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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 12988

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 that 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 the 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 must be exhausted before an action against the Department or its agencies may be initiated.

Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

RUS certifies 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 broadband program provides loans to borrowers at interest rates and terms that are more favorable than those generally available from the private sector. RUS borrowers, as a result of obtaining Federal financing, receive economic benefits that exceed any direct cost associated with complying with RUS regulations and requirements.

Information Collection and Recordkeeping Requirements

The reporting and recordkeeping requirements contained in the rule has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control Number 0572-0130, pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 35).

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

The program described by this rule is listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Programs under No. 10.851, Rural Telephone Loans and Loan Guarantees; No. 10.852, Rural Telephone Bank Loans; and No. 10.857, Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees. This catalog is available on a subscription basis from the Superintendent of Documents, the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. Telephone: (202) 512-1800.

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. See the final rule related notice entitled “Department Programs and Activities Excluded from Executive Order 12372,” (50 FR 47034).

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

The policies contained in this rule do not have any substantial direct effect on States, on the relationship between the National Government and the States, or Start Printed Page 16931on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Nor does this rule impose substantial direct compliance costs on State and local governments. Therefore, consultation with States is not required.

Unfunded Mandates

This rule contains no Federal mandates (under the regulatory provision of Title II of the Unfunded Mandate 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 Mandate Reform Act of 1995.

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.

Background

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) published in the Federal Register on January 30, 2003, at 68 FR 4684, a final rule amending its regulations in order to establish the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program as authorized by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (Pub. L. 101-171) (2002 Act). Section 6103 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 amended the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, as amended (RE Act), to add Title VI, Rural Broadband Access, to provide loans and loan guarantees to fund the cost of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment for the provision of broadband service in eligible rural communities.

This rule amends § 1738.2, Definitions, to conform the rule to substantive changes in authority. The definition for “eligible rural community” in section 601(b)(2) of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 (7 U.S.C. 950bb(b)(2)) was amended on January 23, 2004, by section 772 of Public Law 108-199, of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004 to eliminate the requirement that a community exist outside a standard metropolitan statistical area. This rule incorporates the language of the revised statute and explains RUS' interpretation of the language.

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List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 1738

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

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PART 1738—RURAL BROADBAND ACCESS LOANS AND LOAN GUARANTEES

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1. The authority citation for part 1738 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: Public Law 107-171, 7 U.S.C. 901 et seq.

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2. Amend § 1738.2 to revise the definition to “Eligible rural community” to read as follows:

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Definitions.
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Eligible rural community is defined in the RE Act as any area of the United States that is not contained in an incorporated city or town with a population in excess of 20,000 inhabitants. For purposes of this part, RUS interprets:

(1) “United States” to include its territories and insular possessions (including the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau);

(2) “Area” to mean any identifiable place that has no more than 20,000 inhabitants based on the most recent available information of the Bureau of the Census; and

(3) “An incorporated city or town with a population in excess of 20,000 inhabitants” to mean any incorporated city or town with a population in excess of 20,000 inhabitants based on the most recent available information of the Bureau of the Census.

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Start Signature

Dated: March 28, 2005.

Curtis M. Anderson,

Acting Administrator, Rural Utilities Service.

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[FR Doc. 05-6537 Filed 4-1-05; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-15-P