Carriage of Conditionally Permitted Shale Gas Extraction Waste Water in Bulk, 8976-8978 [2016-03674]

Download as PDF 8976 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 35 / Tuesday, February 23, 2016 / Notices Research Support; 93.821, Cell Biology and Biophysics Research; 93.859, Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry Research; 93.862, Genetics and Developmental Biology Research; 93.88, Minority Access to Research Careers; 93.96, Special Minority Initiatives; 93.859, Biomedical Research and Research Training, National Institutes of Health, HHS) Dated: February 17, 2016. Melanie J. Gray, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy. [FR Doc. 2016–03637 Filed 2–22–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140–01–P DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Notice of Closed Meetings mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings. The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in section 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Name of Committee: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Special Emphasis Panel. Date: March 7, 2016. Time: 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications. Place: NIH, Room 5B01, 6100 Executive Blvd., Rockville, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call). Contact Person: Sherry L Dupere, Ph.D., Chief, Scientific Review Branch, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, 6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 5B01, Bethesda, MD 20892–7510, 301–451–3415, duperes@ mail.nih.gov. This notice is being published less than 15 days prior to the meeting due to the timing limitations imposed by the review and funding cycle. Name of Committee: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Special Emphasis Panel. Date: March 14, 2016. Time: 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:06 Feb 22, 2016 Jkt 238001 Place: National Institutes of Health, 6100 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852, (Telephone Conference Call). Contact Person: Sherry L Dupere, Ph.D., Chief, Scientific Review Branch, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, 6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 5B01, Bethesda, MD 20892 –7510, 301–451–3415, duperes@ mail.nih.gov. Name of Committee: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Special Emphasis Panel; Pelvic Floor Disorders—Data Coordinating Center. Date: March 14, 2016. Time: 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications. Place: Residence Inn Bethesda, 7335 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814. Contact Person: Dennis E. Leszczynski, Ph.D., Scientific Review Administrator, Division of Scientific Review, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, 6100 Exeuctive Blvd., Rm. 5B01, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435– 6884, leszczyd@mail.nih.gov. Name of Committee: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Initial Review Group Developmental Biology Subcommittee. Date: March 16–17, 2016. Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications. Place: Embassy Suites at the Chevy Chase Pavilion, 4300 Military Road, NW, Washington, DC 20015. Contact Person: Cathy J. Wedeen, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Division of Scientific Review, OD, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, DHHS, 6100 Executive Blvd., Room 5B01–G, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301–435–6878, wedeenc@ mail.nih.gov. (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.864, Population Research; 93.865, Research for Mothers and Children; 93.929, Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research; 93.209, Contraception and Infertility Loan Repayment Program, National Institutes of Health, HHS) Dated: February 17, 2016. Michelle Trout, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy. [FR Doc. 2016–03646 Filed 2–22–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140–01–P National Institutes of Health National Institute on Aging; Notice of Closed Meeting Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meeting. Frm 00082 Fmt 4703 Name of Committee: National Institute on Aging Special Emphasis Panel; Phase III Clinical Trials for AD. Date: March 14, 2016. Time: 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications. Place: National Institute on Aging, Gateway Building, Suite 2C212, 7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20892, (Telephone Conference Call). Contact Person: Maurizio Grimaldi, MD, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, 7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Room 2C218, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301–496–9374, grimaldim2@mail.nih.gov. (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.866, Aging Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS) Dated: February 17, 2016. Melanie J. Gray, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy. [FR Doc. 2016–03635 Filed 2–22–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140–01–P DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard [Docket No. USCG–2013–0915] RIN 1625–ZA31 Carriage of Conditionally Permitted Shale Gas Extraction Waste Water in Bulk Coast Guard, DHS. Notice of withdrawal. AGENCY: ACTION: The Coast Guard announces that it has withdrawn the October 30, 2013, proposed policy letter concerning the carriage of shale gas extraction waste water (SGEWW) in bulk via barge. The policy letter proposed a new standardized process and specified conditions under which a barge owner could request and be granted a Certificate of Inspection endorsement or letter allowing the barge to transport SGEWW in bulk. That proposed policy is withdrawn and no new policy is proposed at this time. Barge owners may SUMMARY: DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES PO 00000 The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\23FEN1.SGM 23FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 35 / Tuesday, February 23, 2016 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES continue to request case-by-case approval to transport SGEWW under current regulations by providing recent detailed chemical composition, environmental analyses, and other information for each individual tank barge load. The Coast Guard will consider instituting a standardized process for transporting SGEWW in bulk after it has assessed whether current regulations are inadequate to handle requests for transport of SGEWW in bulk and environmental impacts that may be associated with SGEWW transport by barge. DATES: The proposed policy letter was withdrawn February 23, 2016. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this notice, call or email Dr. Cynthia A. Znati, Office of Design and Engineering Standards, Hazardous Materials Division, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone 202–372–1412, email HazmatStandards@uscg.mil. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: General Discussion This notice is issued under the authority of 5 U.S.C. 552(a). On October 30, 2013, the Coast Guard published a proposed policy letter and requested comments on a new standardized process including the specific carriage conditions for the transport of shale gas extraction waste water (SGEWW) in bulk via barge (78 FR 64905). The proposed policy would have set out a process for performing chemical analyses of each load of SGEWW, a radiation survey of each barge before any personnel entered the barge and before changing from SGEWW to another cargo, and tank venting to prevent accumulation of radon. It also would have described limits on radioactivity concentration and consignment activity (effectively, limits on emission of radiation) for SGEWW cargoes. We proposed the policy letter in response to the rapid development in recent years of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as ‘‘fracking’’) that produce large volumes of shale gas and oil in the northern Appalachian Mountains. This fracking produces large amounts of SGEWW, some of which may contain hazardous materials including radioactive isotopes. Transport of SGEWW by vessel falls under the Coast Guard’s existing regulations for bulk liquid hazardous material and requires specific, case-by-case permission. We explain these regulations in more detail, below. In 2011 a tank barge owner asked the Coast Guard for permission to transport VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:06 Feb 22, 2016 Jkt 238001 SGEWW by tank barge. Anticipating that this would be the first of many requests, the Coast Guard proposed a standardized national policy to replace the case-by-case process which might have led to delays in processing those requests. (We have not received significant interest from industry, however, which is one of the reasons we are withdrawing the proposed policy.) The notice announcing the policy letter provided a 30-day public comment period. We received 70,115 comments in response to the notice and proposed policy letter. These comments are generally described below, with our responses, in the section titled ‘‘Comments Received.’’ We are now withdrawing the proposed policy. This notice officially withdrawing the proposed policy letter is intended to resolve any questions about the status of the proposed policy letter or the existing regulatory process. No new policy is proposed at this time. The Coast Guard will continue to consider requests for permission to transport SGEWW in bulk under our existing regulatory authority described in the next section. We will use experience with individual approvals of SGEWW barge transport to inform any future rulemaking or guidance on this subject. Carriage of SGEWW Under Existing Regulations The Coast Guard regulates the carriage of bulk liquid hazardous material by listing, in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), permitted cargoes and the safety requirements that vessel owners must meet in order to carry those cargoes; see, for example, the list at Table 1 in 46 CFR part 153. Unlisted cargoes may not be carried without specific permission from the Coast Guard. The regulations provide that vessel owners may request and receive the necessary permission by providing information about each cargo so that the Coast Guard can prescribe necessary safety measures; see, for example, the requirements in 46 CFR 153.900. SGEWW is an unlisted cargo. In order to carry SGEWW on a tank barge, the vessel owner must request permission from the Coast Guard, provide the information about each individual cargo that the Coast Guard needs in order to analyze potential impacts and develop carriage requirements, and then comply with the requirements specified. Although the proposed policy letter would have standardized that information and request process for SGEWW, withdrawal of the policy letter does not change the Coast Guard’s authority to consider approving unlisted PO 00000 Frm 00083 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 8977 cargoes on a case-by-case basis under the existing regulations. Comments Received Form letters. Of the 70,115 comments the Coast Guard received, 68,747 comments were brief statements in similar format and wording that expressed disapproval of the proposed policy letter and expressed opposition to hydraulic fracturing. Commenters stated concerns that a spill or accident would release toxic chemicals into our rivers and could put our drinking water at risk. The Coast Guard notes the general concerns expressed in these comments, but also notes these comments expressed the writers’ general opposition to the proposed policy letter without offering input regarding the substance of transporting SGEWW in bulk as described in the policy. The Coast Guard has no legal authority to permit, prohibit, or place conditions on the practice of fracking itself. The Coast Guard’s only authority in this matter is the authority to evaluate the safety of SGEWW as a cargo and set conditions on its carriage by vessel. Other comments. We also received approximately 1,368 comments that did not employ a form template and are discussed here and below. One submission 1 was signed by representatives of 140 organizations and other entities from various States. This (and comments submitted by others) stated that the Coast Guard should expect wide interest in SGEWW barging and that a rulemaking, rather than a policy letter, is the appropriate approach to this issue. Commenters indicated a rulemaking would more clearly prescribe rules, how to achieve compliance, a consistent and transparent implementation process, an effective means of enforcement, and improved opportunities for public participation. The Coast Guard does not agree that a rulemaking would have provided more transparency or opportunities for public participation than were provided in the public comment period on the proposed policy letter. Detailed information on how to achieve compliance is often better suited to guidance documents such as the withdrawn policy letter. Effective enforcement is already provided via existing regulations prohibiting the carriage of unlisted cargoes without specific permission from the Coast Guard. The comment also noted that the proposed chemical analysis protocol allows shippers to propose alternatives but those alternatives would not be 1 Docketed E:\FR\FM\23FEN1.SGM as USCG–2013–0915–0932. 23FEN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 8978 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 35 / Tuesday, February 23, 2016 / Notices transparent to the general public. Many Coast Guard regulations provide the opportunity to propose alternatives or equivalent methods of compliance for the Coast Guard’s approval; for examples see 46 CFR 62.15–1, 114.540, and 110.20–1, among others. Allowing alternatives provides the flexibility to use new technology, including improved safety and pollution prevention equipment. In addition, the Coast Guard consistently explains in its policy letters and other guidance that it will consider alternate methods of compliance with the binding statutory and regulatory requirements. Coast Guard determinations on alternate or equivalent methods of compliance generally are not publicly available because they do not create rights or obligations for anyone other than the requester, and they could contain proprietary information about the alternative requested or approved. The same group of 140 organizations and entities submitted another comment,2 stating that the proposed policy letter would result in uncertain or unknown effects or risks to various aspects of the environment and public health. The commenters also thought the proposed policy would result in negative impacts to areas that have unique historical, cultural, and ecological characteristics. The Coast Guard notes the concerns raised in these comments and will carefully consider the environmental impacts of each request to ship SGEWW by barge on a case-by-case basis under existing regulations. Another submission 3 was made on behalf of 46 organizations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kentucky, Illinois, New York, and West Virginia. This comment (and comments submitted by others) has similarly stated that the Coast Guard should require chemical analyses of SGEWW barge loads to be submitted to the agency, not merely held by industry. Under the proposed policy, vessel owners would have retained records of the chemical analyses and surveys, but the Coast Guard would have examined those records prior to allowing workers or Coast Guard personnel to enter a barge’s tank. Also, by cumulating data from the chemical analyses records we could determine whether hazardous materials had built up within the barge’s tank. Various commenters, including some commenters employing a form template, also said that the Coast Guard’s use of a categorical exclusion to preclude more thorough environmental analysis of the 2 Docketed 3 Docketed as USCG–2013–0915–1036. as USCG–2013–0915–0855. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:06 Feb 22, 2016 Jkt 238001 proposed policy letter’s impact was improper under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 4 (NEPA), and that more environmental analysis of the effects of the proposed policy letter is necessary to assess the likelihood of a spill. The Coast Guard intends to evaluate the environmental impacts under NEPA for each request to ship SGEWW by barge, on a case-bycase basis under existing regulations. This information may be used, as appropriate, to inform any future rulemaking or guidance on this issue. Finally, the commenters believe the Coast Guard gave inadequate consideration to worker safety hazards and mitigation measures. As described above, however, the Coast Guard would have used the analyses and surveys described in the proposed policy to evaluate the safety of the barge tanks before allowing personnel to enter. In addition, once the chemical components of each individual load of SGEWW were identified, the Coast Guard could have used the regulatory process for unlisted cargoes to prescribe other protocols to mitigate safety risks to workers. The Coast Guard also received many comments from individuals raising additional varied concerns. Some comments requested an extension of the public comment period, which is unnecessary in light of this withdrawal. Other comments stated that the proposed policy letter unfairly transfers industry costs and risks to society in general; we disagree that Coast Guard decisions on safe transport of SGEWW in bulk by water necessarily transfer costs and risks away from industry, especially as the proposed policy does not affect the creation or disposal of SGEWW, or its transport by truck or rail. We also received comments saying that the Coast Guard provided inadequate information about SGEWW’s ultimate destination and the methods for its ultimate disposal; the ultimate destination and disposal of SGEWW was outside the scope of our proposed policy on safely transporting SGEWW. Also, commenters thought that the Coast Guard provided inadequate information about cleanup plans in the event of an SGEWW spill, but environmental liability and cleanup requirements were outside the scope and purpose of the proposed policy. The Coast Guard intends to evaluate requests to ship SGEWW by barge on a case-by-case basis under existing regulations. Any other statutes or regulations found to be applicable under this case-by-case review would be included when developing carriage requirements. 4 Codified PO 00000 as 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. Frm 00084 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Of the comments received, 21 comments thought the proposed policy letter should be finalized. These commenters suggested that the risk of transporting SGEWW by vessel was lower relative to transport by rail or truck, or that SGEWW is less hazardous than other vessel-borne cargoes such as oil and gasoline. The Coast Guard notes these comments in support of the proposed policy letter. The Coast Guard appreciates all the comments received. It will continue to study this issue in light of the comments received before taking any further action on this matter. In particular, the Coast Guard will assess whether current regulations are adequate to handle requests for transport of SGEWW in bulk and environmental impacts that may be associated with SGEWW transport by barge. Dated: February 17, 2016. J.G. Lantz, Director of Commercial Regulations and Standards, U.S. Coast Guard. [FR Doc. 2016–03674 Filed 2–22–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110–04–P DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY [Docket No. DHS–2016–0011] Meeting: Homeland Security Advisory Council The Office of Public Engagement, DHS. ACTION: Notice of open teleconference Federal Advisory Committee meeting. AGENCY: The Homeland Security Advisory Council (‘‘Council’’) will meet via teleconference on March 15, 2016. The meeting will be open to the public. DATES: The Council conference call will take place from 2:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. EST on March 15, 2016. Please note that the meeting may end early if the Council has completed its business. ADDRESSES: The Council meeting will be held via teleconference. Members of the public interested in participating may do so by following the process outlined below (see ‘‘Public Participation’’). Written comments must be submitted and received by Wednesday, March 9, 2016. Comments must be identified by Docket No. DHS–2016–0011 and may be submitted by one of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Email: HSAC@hq.dhs.gov. Include Docket No. DHS–2015–0013 in the subject line of the message. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\23FEN1.SGM 23FEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 35 (Tuesday, February 23, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 8976-8978]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-03674]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Coast Guard

[Docket No. USCG-2013-0915]
RIN 1625-ZA31


Carriage of Conditionally Permitted Shale Gas Extraction Waste 
Water in Bulk

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION: Notice of withdrawal.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Coast Guard announces that it has withdrawn the October 
30, 2013, proposed policy letter concerning the carriage of shale gas 
extraction waste water (SGEWW) in bulk via barge. The policy letter 
proposed a new standardized process and specified conditions under 
which a barge owner could request and be granted a Certificate of 
Inspection endorsement or letter allowing the barge to transport SGEWW 
in bulk. That proposed policy is withdrawn and no new policy is 
proposed at this time. Barge owners may

[[Page 8977]]

continue to request case-by-case approval to transport SGEWW under 
current regulations by providing recent detailed chemical composition, 
environmental analyses, and other information for each individual tank 
barge load. The Coast Guard will consider instituting a standardized 
process for transporting SGEWW in bulk after it has assessed whether 
current regulations are inadequate to handle requests for transport of 
SGEWW in bulk and environmental impacts that may be associated with 
SGEWW transport by barge.

DATES: The proposed policy letter was withdrawn February 23, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this notice, 
call or email Dr. Cynthia A. Znati, Office of Design and Engineering 
Standards, Hazardous Materials Division, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone 
202-372-1412, email HazmatStandards@uscg.mil.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

General Discussion

    This notice is issued under the authority of 5 U.S.C. 552(a). On 
October 30, 2013, the Coast Guard published a proposed policy letter 
and requested comments on a new standardized process including the 
specific carriage conditions for the transport of shale gas extraction 
waste water (SGEWW) in bulk via barge (78 FR 64905). The proposed 
policy would have set out a process for performing chemical analyses of 
each load of SGEWW, a radiation survey of each barge before any 
personnel entered the barge and before changing from SGEWW to another 
cargo, and tank venting to prevent accumulation of radon. It also would 
have described limits on radioactivity concentration and consignment 
activity (effectively, limits on emission of radiation) for SGEWW 
cargoes.
    We proposed the policy letter in response to the rapid development 
in recent years of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing 
(commonly known as ``fracking'') that produce large volumes of shale 
gas and oil in the northern Appalachian Mountains. This fracking 
produces large amounts of SGEWW, some of which may contain hazardous 
materials including radioactive isotopes. Transport of SGEWW by vessel 
falls under the Coast Guard's existing regulations for bulk liquid 
hazardous material and requires specific, case-by-case permission. We 
explain these regulations in more detail, below.
    In 2011 a tank barge owner asked the Coast Guard for permission to 
transport SGEWW by tank barge. Anticipating that this would be the 
first of many requests, the Coast Guard proposed a standardized 
national policy to replace the case-by-case process which might have 
led to delays in processing those requests. (We have not received 
significant interest from industry, however, which is one of the 
reasons we are withdrawing the proposed policy.) The notice announcing 
the policy letter provided a 30-day public comment period. We received 
70,115 comments in response to the notice and proposed policy letter. 
These comments are generally described below, with our responses, in 
the section titled ``Comments Received.''
    We are now withdrawing the proposed policy. This notice officially 
withdrawing the proposed policy letter is intended to resolve any 
questions about the status of the proposed policy letter or the 
existing regulatory process. No new policy is proposed at this time. 
The Coast Guard will continue to consider requests for permission to 
transport SGEWW in bulk under our existing regulatory authority 
described in the next section. We will use experience with individual 
approvals of SGEWW barge transport to inform any future rulemaking or 
guidance on this subject.

Carriage of SGEWW Under Existing Regulations

    The Coast Guard regulates the carriage of bulk liquid hazardous 
material by listing, in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), 
permitted cargoes and the safety requirements that vessel owners must 
meet in order to carry those cargoes; see, for example, the list at 
Table 1 in 46 CFR part 153. Unlisted cargoes may not be carried without 
specific permission from the Coast Guard. The regulations provide that 
vessel owners may request and receive the necessary permission by 
providing information about each cargo so that the Coast Guard can 
prescribe necessary safety measures; see, for example, the requirements 
in 46 CFR 153.900. SGEWW is an unlisted cargo. In order to carry SGEWW 
on a tank barge, the vessel owner must request permission from the 
Coast Guard, provide the information about each individual cargo that 
the Coast Guard needs in order to analyze potential impacts and develop 
carriage requirements, and then comply with the requirements specified. 
Although the proposed policy letter would have standardized that 
information and request process for SGEWW, withdrawal of the policy 
letter does not change the Coast Guard's authority to consider 
approving unlisted cargoes on a case-by-case basis under the existing 
regulations.

Comments Received

    Form letters. Of the 70,115 comments the Coast Guard received, 
68,747 comments were brief statements in similar format and wording 
that expressed disapproval of the proposed policy letter and expressed 
opposition to hydraulic fracturing. Commenters stated concerns that a 
spill or accident would release toxic chemicals into our rivers and 
could put our drinking water at risk. The Coast Guard notes the general 
concerns expressed in these comments, but also notes these comments 
expressed the writers' general opposition to the proposed policy letter 
without offering input regarding the substance of transporting SGEWW in 
bulk as described in the policy. The Coast Guard has no legal authority 
to permit, prohibit, or place conditions on the practice of fracking 
itself. The Coast Guard's only authority in this matter is the 
authority to evaluate the safety of SGEWW as a cargo and set conditions 
on its carriage by vessel.
    Other comments. We also received approximately 1,368 comments that 
did not employ a form template and are discussed here and below. One 
submission \1\ was signed by representatives of 140 organizations and 
other entities from various States. This (and comments submitted by 
others) stated that the Coast Guard should expect wide interest in 
SGEWW barging and that a rulemaking, rather than a policy letter, is 
the appropriate approach to this issue. Commenters indicated a 
rulemaking would more clearly prescribe rules, how to achieve 
compliance, a consistent and transparent implementation process, an 
effective means of enforcement, and improved opportunities for public 
participation. The Coast Guard does not agree that a rulemaking would 
have provided more transparency or opportunities for public 
participation than were provided in the public comment period on the 
proposed policy letter. Detailed information on how to achieve 
compliance is often better suited to guidance documents such as the 
withdrawn policy letter. Effective enforcement is already provided via 
existing regulations prohibiting the carriage of unlisted cargoes 
without specific permission from the Coast Guard.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Docketed as USCG-2013-0915-0932.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The comment also noted that the proposed chemical analysis protocol 
allows shippers to propose alternatives but those alternatives would 
not be

[[Page 8978]]

transparent to the general public. Many Coast Guard regulations provide 
the opportunity to propose alternatives or equivalent methods of 
compliance for the Coast Guard's approval; for examples see 46 CFR 
62.15-1, 114.540, and 110.20-1, among others. Allowing alternatives 
provides the flexibility to use new technology, including improved 
safety and pollution prevention equipment. In addition, the Coast Guard 
consistently explains in its policy letters and other guidance that it 
will consider alternate methods of compliance with the binding 
statutory and regulatory requirements. Coast Guard determinations on 
alternate or equivalent methods of compliance generally are not 
publicly available because they do not create rights or obligations for 
anyone other than the requester, and they could contain proprietary 
information about the alternative requested or approved.
    The same group of 140 organizations and entities submitted another 
comment,\2\ stating that the proposed policy letter would result in 
uncertain or unknown effects or risks to various aspects of the 
environment and public health. The commenters also thought the proposed 
policy would result in negative impacts to areas that have unique 
historical, cultural, and ecological characteristics. The Coast Guard 
notes the concerns raised in these comments and will carefully consider 
the environmental impacts of each request to ship SGEWW by barge on a 
case-by-case basis under existing regulations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ Docketed as USCG-2013-0915-1036.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Another submission \3\ was made on behalf of 46 organizations in 
Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kentucky, Illinois, New York, and West 
Virginia. This comment (and comments submitted by others) has similarly 
stated that the Coast Guard should require chemical analyses of SGEWW 
barge loads to be submitted to the agency, not merely held by industry. 
Under the proposed policy, vessel owners would have retained records of 
the chemical analyses and surveys, but the Coast Guard would have 
examined those records prior to allowing workers or Coast Guard 
personnel to enter a barge's tank. Also, by cumulating data from the 
chemical analyses records we could determine whether hazardous 
materials had built up within the barge's tank.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ Docketed as USCG-2013-0915-0855.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Various commenters, including some commenters employing a form 
template, also said that the Coast Guard's use of a categorical 
exclusion to preclude more thorough environmental analysis of the 
proposed policy letter's impact was improper under the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 \4\ (NEPA), and that more 
environmental analysis of the effects of the proposed policy letter is 
necessary to assess the likelihood of a spill. The Coast Guard intends 
to evaluate the environmental impacts under NEPA for each request to 
ship SGEWW by barge, on a case-by-case basis under existing 
regulations. This information may be used, as appropriate, to inform 
any future rulemaking or guidance on this issue.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ Codified as 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Finally, the commenters believe the Coast Guard gave inadequate 
consideration to worker safety hazards and mitigation measures. As 
described above, however, the Coast Guard would have used the analyses 
and surveys described in the proposed policy to evaluate the safety of 
the barge tanks before allowing personnel to enter. In addition, once 
the chemical components of each individual load of SGEWW were 
identified, the Coast Guard could have used the regulatory process for 
unlisted cargoes to prescribe other protocols to mitigate safety risks 
to workers.
    The Coast Guard also received many comments from individuals 
raising additional varied concerns. Some comments requested an 
extension of the public comment period, which is unnecessary in light 
of this withdrawal. Other comments stated that the proposed policy 
letter unfairly transfers industry costs and risks to society in 
general; we disagree that Coast Guard decisions on safe transport of 
SGEWW in bulk by water necessarily transfer costs and risks away from 
industry, especially as the proposed policy does not affect the 
creation or disposal of SGEWW, or its transport by truck or rail. We 
also received comments saying that the Coast Guard provided inadequate 
information about SGEWW's ultimate destination and the methods for its 
ultimate disposal; the ultimate destination and disposal of SGEWW was 
outside the scope of our proposed policy on safely transporting SGEWW. 
Also, commenters thought that the Coast Guard provided inadequate 
information about cleanup plans in the event of an SGEWW spill, but 
environmental liability and cleanup requirements were outside the scope 
and purpose of the proposed policy. The Coast Guard intends to evaluate 
requests to ship SGEWW by barge on a case-by-case basis under existing 
regulations. Any other statutes or regulations found to be applicable 
under this case-by-case review would be included when developing 
carriage requirements.
    Of the comments received, 21 comments thought the proposed policy 
letter should be finalized. These commenters suggested that the risk of 
transporting SGEWW by vessel was lower relative to transport by rail or 
truck, or that SGEWW is less hazardous than other vessel-borne cargoes 
such as oil and gasoline. The Coast Guard notes these comments in 
support of the proposed policy letter.
    The Coast Guard appreciates all the comments received. It will 
continue to study this issue in light of the comments received before 
taking any further action on this matter. In particular, the Coast 
Guard will assess whether current regulations are adequate to handle 
requests for transport of SGEWW in bulk and environmental impacts that 
may be associated with SGEWW transport by barge.

    Dated: February 17, 2016.
J.G. Lantz,
Director of Commercial Regulations and Standards, U.S. Coast Guard.
[FR Doc. 2016-03674 Filed 2-22-16; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 9110-04-P