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Notice of Proposed Buy America Waiver for a Variable Refrigerant Flow HVAC System

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Federal Transit Administration, DOT.


Notice of proposed Buy America waiver and request for comment.


The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) received a request for a waiver to permit the purchase of a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC system that is non-compliant with Buy America requirements using FTA funding. The request is from the Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District (MetroLINK) for its Rock Island Transfer Station. In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 5323(j)(3)(A), FTA is providing notice of the waiver request and seeks public comment before deciding whether to grant the request. If granted, the waiver would apply only to the FTA-funded procurement of a VRF HVAC system by MetroLINK.


Comments must be received by March 4, 2014. Late-filed comments will be considered to the extent practicable.


Please submit your comments by one of the following means, identifying your submissions by docket number FTA-2013-0034:

1. Web site: Follow the instructions for submitting comments on the U.S. Government electronic docket site.

2. Fax: (202) 493-2251.

3. Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Docket Operations, M-30, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

4. Hand Delivery: U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Docket Operations, M-30, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

Instructions: All submissions must make reference to the “Federal Transit Administration” and include docket number FTA-2013-0034. Due to the security procedures in effect since October 2011, mail received through the U.S. Postal Service may be subject to delays. Parties making submissions responsive to this notice should consider using an express mail firm to ensure the prompt filing of any submissions not filed electronically or by hand. Note that all submissions received, including any personal information therein, will be posted without change or alteration to For more information, you may review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477), or you may visit

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Mary J. Lee, FTA Attorney-Advisor, at (202) 366-0985 or

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The purpose of this notice is to provide notice and seek comment on whether the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) should a grant non-availability waiver for the Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District's (MetroLINK) procurement of a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC system Start Printed Page 9314for the Rock Island Transfer Station project that is funded by FTA.

With certain exceptions, FTA's Buy America requirements prevent FTA from obligating an amount that may be appropriated to carry out its program for a project unless “the steel, iron, and manufactured goods used in the project are produced in the United States.” 49 U.S.C. 5323(j)(1). A manufactured product is considered produced in the United States if: (1) All of the manufacturing processes for the product must take place in the United States; and (2) All of the components of the product must be of U.S. origin. A component is considered of U.S. origin if it is manufactured in the United States, regardless of the origin of its subcomponents. 49 CFR 661.5(d). If, however, FTA determines that “the steel, iron, and goods produced in the United States are not produced in a sufficient and reasonably available amount or are not of a satisfactory quality,” then FTA may issue a waiver (non-availability waiver). 49 U.S.C. 5323(j)(2)(B); 49 CFR 661.7(c).

MetroLINK is requesting a non-availability waiver for its procurement of a VRF HVAC system that will be installed into its passenger transfer facility in Rock Island, Illinois, the Rock Island Transfer Station. This facility is being built to U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards and will incorporate a number of sustainable and energy efficient elements. One of those elements is a VRF HVAC system that, among other things, is space saving, has invertor technology, efficiency, and a non-ozone depleting refrigerant that domestic manufacturers of HVAC systems do not provide. According to MetroLINK, this VRF HVAC system is critical in obtaining the LEED points necessary to achieve the Silver certification (or better) that it is seeking. Thus, MetroLINK specified the brands Daikin AC and Mitsubishi or approved equal, but MetroLINK has been unable to identify a domestic manufacturer of the VRF HVAC system that meets its specifications and now requests that FTA grant a Buy America waiver.

A similar Buy America non-availability waiver was issued on June 22, 2010 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the same VRF HVAC system. 75 FR 35447. According to MetroLINK, the U.S. DOE's determination of inapplicability (U.S. DOE's Buy America waiver for non-availability) of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 to the same VRF HVAC system indicates the continued non-availability of this product.

The purpose of this notice is to publish NFRMPO request and seek public comment from all interested parties in accordance with 49 U.S.C. 5323(j)(3)(A). Comments will help FTA understand completely the facts surrounding the request, including the effects of a potential waiver and the merits of the request. A full copy of the request has been placed in docket number FTA-2013-0034.

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Dana Nifosi,

Deputy Chief Counsel.

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[FR Doc. 2014-03448 Filed 2-14-14; 8:45 am]