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Rule

Withdrawal of Federal Antidegradation Policy for All Waters of the United States Within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Direct final rule.

SUMMARY:

EPA is taking direct final action to withdraw the federal antidegradation policy for all waters of the United States within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We are withdrawing the federal antidegradation policy to allow Pennsylvania to implement its own antidegradation policy. Pennsylvania has adequately demonstrated that its antidegradation policy protects all waters of the United States at a level consistent with the federal requirements under the Clean Water Act. Therefore, the federal antidegradation policy is redundant.

DATES:

This rule is effective December 15, 2008 without further notice unless EPA receives adverse comment by October 15, 2008. If EPA receives adverse comment, we will publish a timely withdrawal in the Federal Register informing the public that this rule will not take effect.

ADDRESSES:

Submit your comments, identified by Docket Id. No. EPA-HQ-OW-2007-0093, by one of the following methods:

  • www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.
  • E-mail: ow-docket@epa.gov.
  • Mail: Water Docket, USEPA, Mailcode: 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460.
  • Hand Delivery: EPA Docket Center, EPA West Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20004. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.

Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2007-93. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through www.regulations.gov or e-mail. The www.regulations.gov Web Start Printed Page 53141site is an “anonymous access” system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an e-mail comment directly to EPA without going through www.regulations.gov your e-mail address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses. For additional information about EPA's public docket visit the EPA Docket Center homepage at http://www.epa.gov/​epahome/​dockets.htm.

Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in hard copy. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the OW Docket Center. This Docket Facility is open from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The Docket telephone number is (202) 566-2426 and the Docket address is OW Docket, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20004. The 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 Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Caroline Whitehead at EPA Headquarters, Office of Water (4305T), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW., Washington, DC 20460 (telephone: 202-566-2907, fax: 202-566-0409 or e-mail: whitehead.caroline@epa.gov) or Denise Hakowski at EPA Region 3 (3WP30), 1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103 (telephone: 215-814-5726, fax: 215-814-2318 or e-mail: hakowski.denise@epa.gov).

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

This section is organized as follows:

Table of Contents

I. Potentially Affected Entities

II. Background

III. Why Is EPA Using a Direct Final Rule?

IV. Statutory and Executive Order Review

A. Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review)

B. Paperwork Reduction Act

C. Regulatory Flexibility Act

D. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

E. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

F. Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments)

G. Executive Order 13045 (Protection of Children From Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks)

H. Executive Order 13211 (Actions That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution or Use)

I. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995

J. Executive Order 12898 (Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations)

K. Congressional Review Act

I. Potentially Affected Entities

Citizens concerned with water quality in Pennsylvania may be interested in this rulemaking. Entities discharging pollutants to the surface waters of Pennsylvania could be indirectly affected by this rulemaking since water quality standards are used in determining National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limits. Because this action withdraws a redundant federal antidegradation policy, the effect of this rulemaking should be insignificant. Categories and entities which may ultimately be affected include:

CategoryExamples of potentially affected entities
IndustryIndustries discharging pollutants to surface waters in Pennsylvania.
MunicipalitiesPublicly-owned treatment works discharging pollutants to surface waters in Pennsylvania.

This table is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a guide for readers regarding NPDES-regulated entities likely to be affected by this action. This table lists the types of entities that EPA is now aware could potentially be affected by this action.

II. Background

Section 303 (33 U.S.C. 1313) of the Clean Water Act (CWA or Act) directs States, with oversight by EPA, to adopt water quality standards to protect the public health and welfare, enhance the quality of water and serve the purposes of the CWA. Under section 303, States are required to develop water quality standards for navigable waters of the United States within the State. Section 303(c) and EPA's implementing regulations at 40 CFR part 131 require State and Tribal water quality standards to include the designated use or uses to be made of the water, the water quality criteria necessary to protect those uses, and an antidegradation policy. States are required to review their water quality standards at least once every three years and, if appropriate, revise or adopt new standards. The results of this triennial review must be submitted to EPA, and EPA must approve or disapprove any new or revised standards. Section 303(c) of the CWA authorizes the EPA Administrator to promulgate water quality standards to supersede State standards that EPA has disapproved or in any case where the Administrator determines that a new or revised standard is needed to meet the CWA's requirements.

In June 1994, EPA disapproved Pennsylvania's antidegradation regulation after determining the regulation was not consistent with the federal antidegradation regulation found at 40 CFR 131.12. When the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) did not act within the statutory timeframe to address EPA's findings, EPA promulgated a federal antidegradation policy for all waters of the United States within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at 40 CFR 131.32 on December 9, 1996. In August 1999, PADEP submitted revisions to its antidegradation policy found in 25 Pa. Code Chapter 93 to EPA. On March 17, 2000, EPA approved most of the revisions to Pennsylvania's regulations as meeting the requirements of federal regulations at 40 CFR 131.12(a)(1) and 131.12(a)(2), but withheld action on Section 93.4b, PADEP's Exceptional Value (EV) Waters designation, or Tier 3, until PADEP ensured that EV designated waters would be protected at the level consistent with federal regulations at 40 CFR 131.12(a)(3). In 2003, PADEP published “Water Quality Antidegradation Implementation Guidance” (Document Number 391-0300-002). In it, PADEP provides Start Printed Page 53142guidance to its staff and information to help the regulated community and the public understand the implementation of the antidegradation policy in Pennsylvania. Based on a review of the document in combination with the PADEP's antidegradation regulation, EPA approved PADEP's antidegradation policy for Tier 3 waters on March 7, 2007. Because Pennsylvania now has an EPA-approved antidegradation policy meeting the federal requirements at 40 CFR 131.12, the federal antidegradation regulation promulgated by EPA for Pennsylvania is no longer needed and EPA is withdrawing it with this action.

III. Why Is EPA Using a Direct Final Rule?

EPA is publishing this final rule without a prior proposed rule because we view this rulemaking as a noncontroversial action and anticipate no adverse comment. This action withdraws the federally promulgated antidegradation rule because Pennsylvania has developed regulations that protect the waters of the United States within the Commonwealth at a level consistent with the federal requirements. However, in the “Proposed Rules” section of today's Federal Register, we are publishing a separate document that will serve as a proposed rule to withdraw the federal antidegradation regulation for Pennsylvania if any adverse comment is received regarding this direct final rule. We will not institute a second comment period on this action. Any parties interested in commenting must do so at this time. For further information about commenting on this rule, see the ADDRESSES section of this document.

If EPA receives adverse comment on this direct final rule, we will publish a timely withdrawal in the Federal Register informing the public that this direct final rule will not take effect. We would address all public comments in any subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule.

IV. Statutory and Executive Order Review

A. Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review)

This action withdraws federal requirements applicable to Pennsylvania and imposes no regulatory requirements or costs on any person or entity. It does not interfere with the action or planned action of another agency, and does not have any budgetary impacts or raise novel legal or policy issues. Thus, it has been determined that this rule is not a “significant regulatory action” under the terms of Executive Order 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) and is therefore not subject to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review.

B. Paperwork Reduction Act

This action does not impose any new information collection burden because it is administratively withdrawing federal requirements that no longer need to apply to Pennsylvania. However, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has previously approved the information collection requirements contained in the existing regulations 40 CFR part 131 under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. and has assigned OMB control number 2040-0049. The OMB control numbers for EPA's regulations in 40 CFR are listed in 40 CFR part 9.

C. Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, generally requires an agency to prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis of a rule that is subject to notice and comment rulemaking requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act or any other statute unless the agency certifies that the rule will not have significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This action imposes no regulatory requirements or costs on any small entity. Therefore, I certify that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

D. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

Title III of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) (Pub. L. 104-4) establishes requirements for federal agencies to assess the effects of their regulatory actions on State, Tribal, and local governments and the private sector. Today's rule contains no federal mandates (under the regulatory provisions of Title II of the UMRA) for State, Tribal, or local governments or the private sector because it imposes no enforceable duty on any of these entities. Thus, today's rule is not subject to the requirements of UMRA sections 202 and 205 for a written statement and small government agency plan. Similarly, EPA has determined that this rule contains no regulatory requirements that might significantly or uniquely affect small governments and is therefore not subject to UMRA section 203.

E. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

Executive Order 13132, entitled Federalism (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999), requires EPA to develop an accountable process to ensure State and local government officials have an opportunity to provide input in the development of regulatory policies that have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of governments. This rule imposes no regulatory requirements or costs on any State or local governments; therefore, it does not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132.

F. Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments)

This rule imposes no regulatory requirements or costs on any Tribal government. It does not have substantial direct effects on Tribal governments, on the relationship between the federal government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the federal government and Indian tribes, as specified in Executive Order 13175, entitled “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments” (65 FR 67249, November 6, 2000).

G. Executive Order 13045 (Protection of Children From Environmental Health and Safety Risks)

This rule is not subject to E.O. 13045, entitled “Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks” (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997) because it is not economically significant and EPA has no reason to believe the environmental health or safety risks addressed by this action present a disproportionate risk to children.

H. Executive Order 13211 (Actions That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use)

This rule is not subject to Executive Order 13211, “Actions Concerning Regulations that Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use” (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001), because it is not a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866.

I. National Technology Transfer Advancement Act of 1995

The requirements of section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) do not apply because this rule does not involve technical standards. Start Printed Page 53143

J. Executive Order 12898 (Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations)

Executive Order (EO) 12898 (59 FR 7629 (Feb. 16, 1994)) establishes federal executive policy on environmental justice. Its main provision directs federal agencies, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, to make environmental justice part of their mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations in the United States.

EPA has determined that this final rule does not have disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority or low-income populations because it does not affect the level of protection provided to human health or the environment. EPA approved Pennsylvania's antidegradation policy, which is consistent with 40 CFR 131.12(a) and provides the same level of protection as the federally promulgated antidegradation policy. This rule withdraws a redundant antidegradation policy.

K. Congressional Review Act

The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., as added by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, generally provides that before a rule may take effect, the agency promulgating the rule must submit a rule report, which includes a copy of the rule to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. EPA will submit a report containing this rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. A major rule cannot take effect until 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2) and will be effective on December 15, 2008.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 131

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Dated: September 9, 2008.

Stephen L. Johnson,

Administrator.

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For the reasons set out in the preamble, title 40, chapter I of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:

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PART 131—WATER QUALITY STANDARDS

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1. The authority citation for part 131 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.

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[Removed and Reserved]
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2. Section 131.32 is removed and reserved.

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[FR Doc. E8-21464 Filed 9-12-08; 8:45 am]

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