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Emerald Ash Borer; Quarantined Areas; Maryland

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Interim rule and request for comments.

SUMMARY:

We are amending the emerald ash borer regulations by adding Prince George's County, MD, to the list of areas quarantined because of emerald ash borer. As a result of this action, the interstate movement of regulated articles from that county is restricted. This action is necessary to prevent the artificial spread of the emerald ash borer from Prince George's County, MD, into noninfested areas of the United States.

DATES:

This interim rule is effective June 1, 2007. We will consider all comments that we receive on or before July 31, 2007.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov, select “Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service” from the agency drop-down menu, then click “Submit.” In the Docket ID column, select APHIS-2007-0028 to submit or view public comments and to view supporting and related materials available electronically. Information on using Regulations.gov, including instructions for accessing documents, submitting comments, and viewing the docket after the close of the comment period, is available through the site's “User Tips” link.
  • Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send four copies of your comment (an original and three copies) to APHIS-2007-0028, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your comment refers to APHIS-2007-0028.

Reading Room: You may read any comments that we receive on this docket in our reading room. The reading room is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, Start Printed Page 30459please call (202) 690-2817 before coming.

Other Information: Additional information about APHIS and its programs is available on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ms. Deborah McPartlan, Operations Officer, Pest Detection and Management Programs, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 134, Riverdale, MD 20737-1236; (301) 734-4387.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

The emerald ash borer (EAB) (Agrilus planipennis) is a destructive wood-boring insect that attacks ash trees (Fraxinus spp., including green ash, white ash, black ash, and several horticultural varieties of ash). The insect, which is indigenous to Asia and known to occur in China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, the Russian Far East, Taiwan, and Canada, eventually kills healthy ash trees after it bores beneath their bark and disrupts their vascular tissues.

Quarantined Areas

The EAB regulations in 7 CFR 301.53-1 through 301.53-9 (referred to below as the regulations) restrict the interstate movement of regulated articles from quarantined areas to prevent the artificial spread of EAB to noninfested areas of the United States. The States of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio and portions of the State of Michigan have already been designated as quarantined areas.

On August 22, 2006, two EAB larvae were recovered during an ongoing survey in Prince George's County, MD. Since then, EAB larvae have been recovered in three additional neighborhoods in Prince George's County. Officials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and officials of State and county agencies in Maryland are conducting intensive survey and eradication programs in the infested areas. The State of Maryland has quarantined Prince George's County to prevent the spread of EAB to noninfested areas in that State. However, Federal regulations are necessary to restrict the interstate movement of regulated articles from the quarantined areas to prevent the spread of EAB from Maryland to other States.

The regulations in § 301.53-3(a) provide that the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will list as a quarantined area each State, or each portion of a State, where EAB has been found by an inspector, where the Administrator has reason to believe that EAB is present, or where the Administrator considers regulation necessary because of its inseparability for quarantine enforcement purposes from localities where EAB has been found.

Less than an entire State will be designated as a quarantined area only under certain conditions. Such a designation may be made if the Administrator determines that: (1) The State has adopted and is enforcing restrictions on the intrastate movement of regulated articles that are equivalent to those imposed by the regulations on the interstate movement of regulated articles; and (2) the designation of less than an entire State as a quarantined area will be adequate to prevent the artificial spread of the EAB.

In accordance with these criteria and the recent EAB findings described above, we are amending § 301.53-3(c) to add Prince George's County, MD, to the list of quarantined areas.

Emergency Action

This rulemaking is necessary on an emergency basis to help prevent the spread of EAB to noninfested areas of the United States. Under these circumstances, the Administrator has determined that prior notice and opportunity for public comment are contrary to the public interest and that there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553 for making this rule effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

We will consider comments we receive during the comment period for this interim rule (see DATES above). After the comment period closes, we will publish another document in the Federal Register. The document will include a discussion of any comments we receive and any amendments we are making to the rule.

Executive Order 12866 and Regulatory Flexibility Act

This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12866. For this action, the Office of Management and Budget has waived its review under Executive Order 12866.

We are amending the EAB regulations by adding Prince George's County, MD, to the list of quarantined areas. As a result of this action, the interstate movement of regulated articles from those areas is restricted. This action is necessary to prevent the artificial spread of this plant pest into noninfested areas of the United States.

Ash trees are a valuable resource for the nursery, landscaping, and timber industries in Maryland. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources estimates that about 20 percent of streamside trees in the State are ash trees. Ash trees account for over 3 percent of trees in naturally wooded areas. Ash wood is used for all traditional applications of hardwood from flooring and cabinets to baseball bats. The USDA has estimated that losses could reach almost $300 million in the Baltimore metropolitan area alone if EAB becomes established in the nearby county of Baltimore and the surrounding counties. It is estimated that the eradication efforts in the county of Prince Georges will cost more than $4 million in Federal funding.[1]

This interim rule will affect business entities located within Prince George's County, MD. According to the U.S. Agricultural Census, in 2002 there were 22 nurseries in this county.[2] The exact number and size of any other affected entity or operation that will be subject to movement restriction in the quarantined area is unknown. However, only restricted articles moved out of the quarantine area will be affected.

It is reasonable to assume that most of the nurseries are small in size according to the U.S. Small Business Administration's standards. The small business size standard based upon the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 111421 (nursery and tree production) is $750,000 or less in annual receipts. The small business size standard based upon NAICS code 113210 (forest nursery and gathering of forest products, including nursery operations that sell deciduous shade trees) is $5 million or less in annual receipts.[3] The small business size standard based upon NAICS code 113310 (logging operations) is 500 or fewer persons employed by the operation.

Under the regulations, regulated articles may be moved interstate from a quarantined area into or through an area that is not quarantined only if they are accompanied by a certificate or limited permit. An inspector or a person operating under a compliance agreement will issue a certificate for interstate movement of a regulated article if certain conditions are met, including that the regulated article is determined to be apparently free of EAB.

Businesses could be affected by the regulations in two ways. First, if a business wishes to move regulated articles interstate from a quarantined area, that business must either: (1) Enter Start Printed Page 30460into a compliance agreement with APHIS for the inspection and certification of regulated articles to be moved interstate from the quarantined area; or (2) present its regulated articles for inspection by an inspector and obtain a certificate or a limited permit, issued by the inspector, for the interstate movement of regulated articles. The inspections may be inconvenient, but they should not be costly in most cases, even for businesses operating under a compliance agreement that would perform the inspections themselves. For those businesses that elect not to enter into a compliance agreement, APHIS would provide the services of the inspector without cost during normal business hours. There is also no cost for the compliance agreement, certificate, or limited permit for the interstate movement of regulated articles.

Second, there is a possibility that, upon inspection, a regulated article could be determined by the inspector to be potentially infested with EAB, and, as a result, the article would be ineligible for interstate movement under a certificate. In such a case, the entity's ability to move regulated articles interstate would be restricted. However, the affected entity could conceivably obtain a limited permit under the conditions of § 301.53-5(b).

Our experience with administering the EAB regulations and the regulations for other pests, such as the Asian longhorned beetle, that impose essentially the same conditions on the interstate movement of regulated articles lead us to believe that any economic effects on affected small entities will be small and are outweighed by the benefits associated with preventing the spread of EAB into noninfested areas of the United States.

Under these circumstances, the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has determined that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Executive Order 12372

This program/activity is listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance under No. 10.025 and is subject to Executive Order 12372, which requires intergovernmental consultation with State and local officials. (See 7 CFR part 3015, subpart V.)

Executive Order 12988

This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. This rule: (1) Preempts all State and local laws and regulations that are inconsistent with this rule; (2) has no retroactive effect; and (3) does not require administrative proceedings before parties may file suit in court challenging this rule.

Paperwork Reduction Act

This interim rule contains no new information collection or recordkeeping requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

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List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 301

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Accordingly, we are amending

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PART 301—DOMESTIC QUARANTINE NOTICES

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1. The authority citation for part 301 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7701-7772 and 7781-7786; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.3.

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Section 301.75-15 issued under Sec. 204, Title II, Public Law 106-113, 113 Stat. 1501A-293; sections 301.75-15 and 301.75-16 issued under Sec. 203, Title II, Public Law 106-224, 114 Stat. 400 (7 U.S.C. 1421 note).

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2. In § 301.53-3, paragraph (c) is amended by adding, in alphabetical order, an entry for Maryland to read as follows:

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Quarantined areas.
* * * * *

(c) * * *

Maryland

Prince George's County. The entire county.

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Done in Washington, DC, this 25th day of May 2007.

Kevin Shea,

Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

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Footnotes

2.  2002 U.S. Agricultural Census, State and County Data, Maryland, table 34, page 298.

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3.  “Nursery Crops: 2003 Summary” National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA, July 2004.

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[FR Doc. E7-10560 Filed 5-31-07; 8:45 am]

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