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Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Environmental Impact Assessment of Nongovernmental Activities in Antarctica (Renewal); EPA ICR No. 1808.05, OMB Control No. 2020-0007

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AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), this document announces that an Information Collection Request (ICR) has been forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval. This is a request to renew an existing approved collection. The ICR, which is abstracted below, describes the nature of the information collection and its estimated burden and cost.

DATES:

Additional comments may be submitted on or before January 16, 2008.

ADDRESSES:

Submit your comments, referencing Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OECA-2007-0468, to (1) EPA online using www.regulations.gov (our preferred method), by email to docket.oeca@epa.gov, or by mail to: EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Enforcement and Compliance Docket; Environmental Protection Agency; Mailcode: 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460, and (2) OMB by mail to: Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Attention: Desk Officer for EPA, 725 17th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20503.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Aimee Hessert, NEPA Compliance Division, Office of Federal Activities, (Mail Code 2252A), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: (202) 564-0993; fax number: (202) 564-0072; e-mail address: hessert.aimee@epa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

EPA has submitted the following ICR to OMB for review and approval according to the procedures prescribed in 5 CFR 1320.12. On June 12, 2007 (72 FR 32292), EPA sought comments on this ICR pursuant to 5 CFR 1320.8(d). EPA received 1 comment during the comment period, which is addressed in the ICR. Any additional comments on this ICR should be submitted to EPA and OMB within 30 days of this notice.

EPA has established a public docket for this ICR under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OECA-2007-0468, which is available for online viewing at www.regulations.gov, or in person viewing at the Enforcement and Compliance Docket in the EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC), EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC. The EPA/DC Public Reading Room is open from 8 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 is 202-564-7152.

Use EPA's electronic docket and comment system at www.regulations.gov, to submit or view public comments, access the index listing of the contents of the docket, and to access those documents in the docket that are available electronically. Once in the system, select “docket search,” then key in the docket ID number identified above. Please note that EPA's policy is that public comments, whether submitted electronically or in paper, will be made available for public viewing at www.regulations.gov as EPA receives them and without change, unless the comment contains copyrighted material, Confidential Business Information (CBI), or other information whose public disclosure is restricted by statute. For further information about the electronic docket, go to www.regulations.gov.

Title: Environmental Impact Assessment of Nongovernmental Activities in Antarctica (Renewal).

ICR numbers: EPA ICR No. 1808.05, OMB Control No. 2020-0007.

ICR Status: This ICR is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2007. Under OMB regulations, the Agency may continue to conduct or sponsor the collection of information while this submission is pending at OMB. 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 title 40 of the CFR, after appearing in the Federal Register when approved, are listed in 40 CFR part 9, are displayed either by publication in the Federal Register or Start Printed Page 71406by other appropriate means, such as on the related collection instrument or form, if applicable. The display of OMB control numbers in certain EPA regulations is consolidated in 40 CFR part 9.

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 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 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) determine 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 related 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 in 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 Start Printed Page 71407description 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 to 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 and are identified on the form and/or instrument, if applicable.

Burden Statement: The annual public reporting and recordkeeping burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 1663 hours annually, or 72 hours per response. 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 previously applicable instructions and requirements which have subsequently changed; 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.

Respondents/Affected Entities: Most operators are ship-based or land-based tour operators. The SIC Code for Tour Operators is 4725 and the NAICS Code is 561520.

Estimated Number of Respondents: 23.

Frequency of Response: Annually.

Estimated Total Annual Hour Burden: 1663 hours.

Estimated Total Annual Cost: $133,916, includes $4,219 annualized capital or O&M costs.

Changes in the Estimates: There is an increase of 115 hours in the total estimated burden currently identified in the OMB Inventory of Approved ICR Burdens. This increase is the result of an increase in the number of respondents anticipated during the 3-year ICR renewal period and the level of environmental documentation EPA anticipates the respondents will submit.

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Dated: December 6, 2007.

Sara Hisel-McCoy,

Director, Collection Strategies Division.

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[FR Doc. E7-24371 Filed 12-14-07; 8:45 am]

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