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Notice

Notice of a Project Waiver of Section 1605 (Buy American Rquirement) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to the Utah Division of Water Quality (UDWQ)

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

The EPA is hereby granting a project waiver of the Buy American requirements of ARRA Section 1605 under the authority of Section 1605(b)(2) [manufactured goods are not produced in the United States of a satisfactory quality] to the UDWQ for the purchase of coconut fiber (coir) woven mats. This is a project-specific waiver and only applies to the use of the specified product for the ARRA-funded project being proposed. Any other ARRA project that may wish to use the same product must apply for a separate waiver based on project-specific circumstances. These coconut fiber woven mats, which are supplied by Geo Dynamics in Ogden, UT, are manufactured in India and Sri Lanka, and meet the UDWQ's performance specifications and requirements. The Regional Administrator is making this determination based on the review and recommendations of EPA Region 8's Technical & Financial Services Unit. The UDWQ has provided sufficient documentation to support its request. The Assistant Administrator of the Office of Administration and Resources Management has concurred on this decision to make an exception to Section 1605 of ARRA. This action permits the purchase of coconut fiber woven mats for the East Canyon Stream Restoration Project being implemented by the UDWQ that may otherwise be prohibited under Section 1605(a) of the ARRA.

DATES:

Effective Date: October 15, 2010.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jody Ostendorf, Recovery Act Coordinator, (303) 312-7814, or Brian Friel, SRF Coordinator, (303) 312-6277, Technical & Financial Services Unit, Water Program, Office of Partnerships & Regulatory Assistance, U.S. EPA Region 8, 1595 Wynkoop St., Denver, CO 80202.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

In accordance with ARRA Section 1605(c) and pursuant to Section 1605(b)(2) of Public Law 111-5, Buy American requirements, EPA hereby provides notice that it is granting a project waiver to the UDWQ for the acquisition of coconut fiber woven mats which are manufactured in India and Sri Lanka.

Section 1605 of the ARRA requires that none of the appropriated funds may be used for the construction, alteration, maintenance, or repair of a public building or public work unless all of the iron, steel, and manufactured goods used in the project are produced in the United States, or unless a waiver is provided to the recipient by the head of the appropriate agency, here EPA. A waiver may be provided if EPA Start Printed Page 71128determines that (1) applying these requirements would be inconsistent with the public interest; (2) iron, steel, and the relevant manufactured goods are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities and of a satisfactory quality; or (3) inclusion of iron, steel, and the relevant manufactured goods produced in the United States will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent.

This manufactured good will be used as part of the “East Canyon Stream Restoration Project,” a stream stabilization project in Utah. The UDWQ states that only coconut fiber woven mats meet the specific needs of this project, which are durability, mat size and biodegradability. They indicate that the key characteristics that set coconut fiber woven mats apart from other alternatives are a 4-5 year in-stream life expectancy followed by 100% biodegradation, and visually unobtrusive properties. UDWQ states that coconut fibers are more durable than straw and other materials used in alternative mat products, and they do not require the incorporation of polypropylene and/or other synthetic products that are not 100% biodegradable.

The April 28, 2009 EPA HQ Memorandum, “Implementation of Buy American provisions of Public Law 111-5, the `American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009',” defines reasonably available quantity as “the quantity of iron, steel, or relevant manufactured good is available or will be available at the time needed and place needed, and in the proper form or specification as specified in the project plans and design.”

The OMB ARRA Buy American Guidance cites the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) as an appropriate reference for availability waiver inquiries. Specifically, the OMB Guidance at § 176.80(a)(1) states (at 77 FR 18452) that “The determinations of nonavailability of the articles listed at 48 CFR 25.104(a) and the procedures at 48 CFR 25.103(b)(1) also apply if any of those articles are manufactured goods needed in the project. The FAR's list of nonavailable articles includes “Fibers of the following types: * * * coir,” thereby establishing a presumption of lack of U.S. availability. The FAR procedures at 48 CFR 25.103(b)(1) specified as required in the OMB Guidance state that:

(1)(i) A nonavailability determination has been made for the articles listed in 25.104. This determination does not necessarily mean that there is no domestic source for the listed items, but that domestic sources can only meet 50 percent or less of total U.S. government and nongovernment demand. (ii) Before acquisition of an article on the list, the procuring agency is responsible to conduct market research appropriate to the circumstances, including seeking of domestic sources.

The applicant met the procedures specified for the availability inquiry as appropriate to the circumstances by conducting on-line research and contacting suppliers, and all sources indicated that coconut fiber woven mats are only manufactured outside of the U.S. Therefore, based on the information provided to EPA and to the best of our knowledge at this time, coconut fiber woven mats are not manufactured in the United States, and no other U.S. manufactured product can meet UDWQ's performance specifications and requirements.

The purpose of the ARRA is to stimulate economic recovery in part by funding current infrastructure construction, not to delay projects that are “shovel ready” by requiring agencies such as UDWQ to revise their standards and specifications and to start the bidding process again. The imposition of ARRA Buy American requirements on such projects otherwise eligible for ARRA State Revolving Fund assistance would result in unreasonable delay and thus displace the “shovel ready” status for this project. To further delay project implementation is in direct conflict with a fundamental economic purpose of the ARRA, which is to create or retain jobs.

EPA's national contractor prepared a technical assessment report dated September 8, 2010 based on the submitted waiver request. The report determined that the waiver request submittal was complete, that adequate technical information was provided, and that there were no significant weaknesses in the justification provided. The report confirmed the waiver applicant's claim that there are no comparable domestic products that can meet the specific durability, size and biodegradation needs of this project.

The Technical & Financial Services Unit has reviewed this waiver request and has determined that the supporting documentation provided by the UDWQ is sufficient to meet the criteria listed under Section 1605(b) of the ARRA and in the April 28, 2009, “Implementation of Buy American provisions of Public Law 111-5, the `American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009' Memorandum”: Iron, steel, and the manufactured goods are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities and of a satisfactory quality. The basis for this project waiver is the authorization provided in Section 1605(b)(2) of the ARRA. Due to the lack of production of this product in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities and of a satisfactory quality in order to meet the UDWQ's performance specifications and requirements, a waiver from the Buy American requirement is justified.

EPA has determined that the UDWQ's waiver request can be processed as timely even though the request was made after the construction contract was signed. Consistent with the direction of the OMB Guidance at 2 CFR176.120, EPA has evaluated the UDWQ's request to determine if the request constitutes a late request. EPA will generally regard waiver requests with respect to components that were specified in the bid solicitation or in a general/primary construction contract as “late” if submitted after the contract date. However, in this case EPA has determined that the UDWQ's request, though requested after the contract date, may be processed as if it were timely. After the contract date, on July 20, 2010, the project manager visited the ARRA-funded Strawberry River Restoration project, which received a waiver for the same coir mat product. The success of that project inspired a re-design of the East Canyon Stream Restoration project to incorporate the identical coir mat product. At that time, the UDWQ realized that they would need a waiver. Accordingly, EPA has evaluated the request as a timely request.

The March 31, 2009 Delegation of Authority Memorandum provided Regional Administrators with the authority to issue exceptions to Section 1605 of the ARRA within the geographic boundaries of their respective regions and with respect to requests by individual grant recipients. Having established both a proper basis to specify the particular good required for this project, and that this manufactured good was not available from a producer in the United States, the UDWQ is hereby granted a waiver from the Buy American requirements of Section 1605(a) of Public Law 111-5 for the purchase of coconut fiber woven mats using ARRA funds as specified in the UDWQ's request of July 8, 2009. This supplementary information constitutes the detailed written justification required by Section 1605(c) for waivers “based on a finding under subsection (b).”

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Authority: Pub. L. 111-5, section 1605.

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Dated: October 28, 2010.

James B. Martin,

Regional Administrator, Region 8.

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[FR Doc. 2010-29403 Filed 11-19-10; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6560-50-P