Protocol for Categorical Exclusions Supplementing the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act for Certain National Indian Gaming Commission Actions and Activities, 3352-3355 [2017-00364]

Download as PDF 3352 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 7 / Wednesday, January 11, 2017 / Notices Dated: January 6, 2017. Tina A. Campbell, Chief, Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2017–00462 Filed 1–10–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR U.S. Geological Survey [GX170A030AD0100] Agency Information Collection Activities: Request for Comments U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Interior. ACTION: Notice of a new information collection, Ecosystems Program Stakeholder Satisfaction Survey. AGENCY: We (the U.S. Geological Survey) will ask the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve the information collection (IC) described below. As required by the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995, and as part of our continuing efforts to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, we invite the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on this IC. DATES: To ensure that your comments are considered, we must receive them on or before March 13, 2017. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this information collection to the Information Collection Clearance Officer, U.S. Geological Survey, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, MS 807, Reston, VA 20192 (mail); (703) 648–7197 (fax); or gs-info_collections@usgs.gov (email). Please reference ‘Information Collection 1028—NEW, Ecosystems Program Stakeholder Satisfaction Survey’ in all correspondence. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Linn Kwan, Senior Program Officer, Tel. 703.648.4494 or Email-lkwan@usgs.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: I. Abstract The survey will be sent to USGS Ecosystems Mission Area stakeholders/ partners to provide respondents the opportunity to share their comments, insights and satisfaction of USGS Ecosystems research products, training, and technical assistance. The survey results will be compiled and reported in three new performance measures that are being proposed for FY2018–2022. The survey is voluntary and anonymous. The respondents’ identities will only be known if they chose to share that information in the response. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:05 Jan 10, 2017 Jkt 241001 II. Data DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR OMB Control Number: 1028—NEW. Title: Ecosystems Program Stakeholder Satisfaction Survey. Type of Request: New information collection. Affected Public: USGS partners at other DOI bureaus, Federal and State agencies, Tribes and Non-governmental Organizations. Respondent’s Obligation: None, participation is voluntary. Frequency of Collection: Information will be collected once at the end of each fiscal year. Estimated Annual Number of Respondents: 150 Estimated Total Number of Annual Responses: 120 Estimated Time per Response: 10 minutes or less to complete the survey. Estimated Reporting and Recordkeeping ‘‘Non-Hour Cost’’ Burden: None. Public Disclosure Statement: The PRA (44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.) provides that an agency may not conduct or sponsor and you are not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number and current expiration date. III. Request for Comments We are soliciting comments as to: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the agency to perform its duties, including whether the information is useful; (b) the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) how to minimize the burden on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Please note that the comments submitted in response to this notice are a matter of public record. Before including your personal mailing address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment, including your personally identifiable information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personally identifiable information from public view, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. John Thompson, Deputy Chief, CRU. [FR Doc. 2017–00444 Filed 1–10–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4338–11–P PO 00000 Frm 00073 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 National Indian Gaming Commission Protocol for Categorical Exclusions Supplementing the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act for Certain National Indian Gaming Commission Actions and Activities The National Indian Gaming Commission, Department of the Interior. ACTION: Notice of proposed action and request for comments. AGENCY: The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC or ‘‘the Commission’’) is amending its protocol for categorical exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended, Executive Order 11514, as amended, and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500–1508) for certain NIGC actions. SUMMARY: Comments and related material must be post marked no later than 60 days after publication of this notice. ADDRESSES: Please submit your comments by only one of the following means: (1) By mail to: NIGC Attn: Andrew Mendoza, Staff Attorney, C/O Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW., Mailstop #1621, Washington, DC 20240; (2) by facsimile to: (202) 632– 7066; (3) by email to: andrew_ mendoza@nigc.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew Mendoza, Staff Attorney at the National Indian Gaming Commission: 202–632–7003 (not a toll-free number). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: DATES: I. Comments Invited The NIGC encourages interested persons to submit written comments. Persons submitting information concerning the Protocol should include their name, address, and other appropriate contact information. You may submit your information by one of the means listed under ADDRESSES. If you submit information by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 81⁄2 by 11 inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you submit information by mail and would like to know it was received, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope. The NIGC will consider all comments received during the comment period. E:\FR\FM\11JAN1.SGM 11JAN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 7 / Wednesday, January 11, 2017 / Notices II. Background On December 4, 2009, the Commission published a draft NEPA manual in the Federal Register (74 FR 63765). The purpose of the manual was to establish the Commission’s NEPArelated policies and procedures and to integrate environmental considerations into the Commission’s decision-making processes. The draft manual identified one type of major federal action performed under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) that triggered NEPA review, specifically, the approval of contracts for the management of Indian gaming facilities pursuant to 25 U.S.C. 2711. In addition to identifying major federal actions applicable to the Commission, the draft manual also established the Commission’s NEPArelated roles and responsibilities and created a framework for the preparation of NEPA documentation appropriate for each level of environmental review. The draft manual also identified three categories of actions taken by the NIGC that are categorically excluded from further NEPA review. Categorical exclusions (CATEX) are actions that do not normally require preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), absent extraordinary circumstances. On May 22, 2012, after reviewing the comments submitted on the draft NEPA manual, the Commission published a Protocol for Categorical Exclusions Supplementing the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act for Certain National Indian Gaming Commissions Actions and Activities (77 FR 30315) and requested comments by June 30, 2012. This publication formally adopted two of the three categorical exclusions listed in the draft NEPA manual. In 2015, after evaluating its past environmental reviews for management contract approvals and the comments received on the 2009 draft NEPA manual, the Commission decided to revisit its policies and procedures for implementing NEPA. To obtain updated views from the regulated community, the Commission held several consultation sessions over a two-year period with tribal nations and solicited comments regarding the scope and extent of its NEPA responsibilities. Following consultation, the Commission evaluated the newly submitted comments in conjunction with those received in response to the 2009 draft manual and decided to amend the 2012 Protocol to include a third CATEX for Management Contract and Agreement VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:05 Jan 10, 2017 Jkt 241001 Review Activities. This CATEX will apply to certain management contract approvals that are not associated with an application to take land into trust and do not provide for construction or expansion of existing structures. In identifying this category of actions, the NIGC relied on its past experience, several environmental professionals’ opinions and comparisons with other Federal agency actions that are categorically excluded. The Commission hereby adopts the amended protocol set forth below for determining whether a categorical exclusion applies to particular action as well as the categories of actions the Commission has determined are eligible for categorical exclusions. A copy of this Federal Register publication, as well as the administrative record for the newly established categorical exclusion, is available at http://www.nigc.gov. A copy of the Federal Register publication is available at http://www.regulations.gov. Regulatory Flexibility Act: This Protocol will not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities as defined under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq. Indian tribes are not considered to be small entities for the purposes of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act This Protocol is not a major rule under 5. U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This Protocol does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. This rule will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, state or local government agencies or geographic regions, and does not have a significant adverse effect on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreignbased enterprises. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act The Commission, as an independent regulatory agency within the Department of the Interior, is exempt from compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. 2 U.S.C. 1502(1); 2 U.S.C. 658(1). Takings In accordance with Executive Order 12630, the Commission has determined that this Protocol does not have significant takings implications. A takings implication assessment is not required. PO 00000 Frm 00074 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 3353 Civil Justice Reform In accordance with Executive Order 12988, the Office of General Counsel has determined that the Protocol does not unduly burden the judicial system and meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Executive Order. National Environmental Policy Act This Protocol supplements CEQ regulations and provides guidance to NIGC employees regarding procedural requirements for the application of NEPA provisions to certain NIGC actions. The CEQ does not direct agencies to prepare a NEPA analysis or document before establishing agency procedures for implementing NEPA. For the reasons set out in the preamble, the National Indian Gaming Commission establishes the following Protocol: Protocol for Categorical Exclusions (CATEX) of Certain Actions The use of a CATEX can only be applied to an action if all of the following criteria are met: 1. The responsible NIGC official must determine that the entirety of the NIGC action is encompassed by one of the listed CATEXs. 2. The responsible NIGC official must determine that the action has not been segmented in order for the NIGC action to meet the definition of an action that can qualify for a CATEX. Segmentation occurs when an action is broken into smaller parts in an effort to avoid properly documenting impacts associated with the complete action. Segmentation also occurs when the NIGC action is too narrowly defined and the potential impacts are minimized in order to avoid a higher level of NEPA documentation. Connected and cumulative actions must be considered (see 40 CFR 1508.25). 3. The responsible NIGC official must determine if the NIGC action will involve any extraordinary circumstances that would prevent the use of a categorical exclusion. Categorical Exclusions The NIGC, based on past experience with similar actions, has determined that the following types of actions are categorically excluded and do not require the preparation of an EA or EIS because they will not individually or cumulatively result in a significant impact on the human environment. These types of federal actions meet the criteria established in 40 CFR 1508.4. Category 1—Administrative and Routine Office Activities: A. Normal personnel, fiscal, and administrative activities involving E:\FR\FM\11JAN1.SGM 11JAN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 3354 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 7 / Wednesday, January 11, 2017 / Notices personnel (recruiting, hiring, detailing, processing, paying, supervising and records keeping). B. Preparation of administrative or personnel-related studies, reports, or investigations. C. Routine procurement of goods and services to support operations and infrastructure, including routine utility services and contracts, conducted in accordance with applicable procurement regulations, executive orders, and policies (e.g. Executive Order 13101). D. Normal administrative office functions (record keeping; inspecting, examining, and auditing papers, books, and records; processing correspondence; developing and approving budgets; setting fee payments; responding to request for information). E. Routine activities and operations conducted on or in an existing structure that are within the scope and compatibility of the present functional use of the building, will not result in a substantial increase in waste discharge to the environment, will not result in substantially different waste discharges from current or previous activities, and will not result in emissions that exceed established permit limits, if any. In these cases, a Record of Environmental Consideration (REC), documentation is required. F. NIGC training in classrooms, meeting rooms, gaming facilities, or via the internet. Category 2—Regulation, Monitoring and Oversight of Indian Gaming Activities: A. Promulgation or publication of regulations, procedures, manuals, and guidance documents. B. Support of compliance and enforcement functions by conducting compliance training for tribal gaming regulators and managers in classrooms, meeting rooms, gaming facilities, or via the internet. C. Preparing and issuing subpoenas, holding hearings, and taking depositions for informational gathering purposes, not associated with administrative enforcement actions. Category 3—Management Contract and Agreement Review Activities: A. Approval or disapproval of management contracts, management contract amendments and collateral agreements that meet the following criteria: (1) Are not associated with an application to take land into trust; (2) does not provide for construction or expansion of existing structures; (3) ensures compliance with all federal, state, local and tribal environmental laws (e.g., Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, National VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:05 Jan 10, 2017 Jkt 241001 Historic Preservation Act, etc.), regulations, and permit requirements; and (4) ensures adequate provision of utilities, law enforcement, fire protection, and other emergency service coverage without effects on neighboring areas. B. Conducting background investigations in connection with a management contract or management contract amendment. Extraordinary Circumstances Actions that can normally be categorically excluded may not qualify for a CATEX because an extraordinary circumstance exists (see 40 CFR 1508.4). If the proposed action has one or more of the following conditions, extraordinary circumstances exist and the action cannot be categorically excluded: A. The proposed action/project would threaten a violation of applicable federal, state, local or tribal statutory, regulatory, or permit requirements with regard to public health and safety. B. The proposed action/project has effects on the environment that involve risks that are highly uncertain, unique, or are scientifically controversial. C. The proposed action/project violates one or more federal, tribal, state, or local environmental laws, regulations, or permit requirements. D. The proposed action/project has an adverse effect on a property or structure eligible for listing or listed on the National Register of Historical Places, including the degradation, loss, or destruction of (1) scientific, cultural, or historical resources protected by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended; (2) on World Heritage properties; or (3) other significant scientific, cultural, or historical resources. E. The proposed action/project has adverse effects on natural, ecological, or scenic resources of federal, tribal, state and/or local significance. These resources include: (1) Resources protected by Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA); (2) resources protected by the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act; (3) prime, unique, tribal, state or locally important farmlands; (4) known cultural or archaeological resources; (5) park lands; (6) federal or state listed wild or scenic rivers; and/or (7) other ecologically critical areas. F. The proposed action/project is related to other actions that may, when considered cumulatively, have significant adverse effects. G. The proposed action/project may adversely affect (1) a federal or state listed endangered, threatened, or candidate species; or (2) designated or PO 00000 Frm 00075 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 proposed critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). H. The proposed action/project has effects which will impact floodplains and/or wetlands on Federal property. I. The proposed action/project has effects that will cause a criteria pollutant listed under the Clean Air Act to exceed the threshold level of one or more of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for the surrounding geographical area. J. The proposed action/project has effects that may cause disproportionately high adverse environmental or health impacts specific to children, minorities, or lowincome populations. K. The proposed action/project is likely to have adverse effects on migratory bird populations. L. The proposed action/project has the potential to disturb hazardous substances, pollutants, contaminants, or CERCLA-excluded petroleum and natural gas products that preexist in the environment such that there would be uncontrolled or unpermitted releases. M. The proposed action/project has effects that are highly controversial on environmental grounds. Categorical Exclusion Documentation The purpose of categorical exclusions is to reduce paperwork and delay. The NIGC is not required to repeatedly document actions that qualify for a categorical exclusion and do not involve an extraordinary circumstance (see 40 CFR 1500.4(p)). The NIGC will document its decision to treat a particular action as categorically excluded from further NEPA review, when the CATEX applied specifically requires the preparation of a REC. In those cases, a REC will include: A. A complete description of the proposed action/project; B. The CATEX relied upon, including a brief discussion of why there are no extraordinary circumstances; C. Supplemental documentation that supports the conclusions in the narrative. Examples include exhibit(s) showing boundaries of historical or archeological site(s) previously identified near the proposed project, documentation from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service noting that no endangered species or habitat is present near the proposed project, evidence that the proposed project site is located outside any non-attainment area(s), etc. In some cases, a ‘‘no effect’’ determination from the State Historic Preservation Office or Tribal Historic Preservation Office may be required; D. The following statement: I certify that, to the best of my knowledge, the E:\FR\FM\11JAN1.SGM 11JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 7 / Wednesday, January 11, 2017 / Notices information provided is the best available information and is accurate; E. A signature from an environmental professional with a signature block that includes the professional’s credentials. Mountain View Officers’ Club, Kilbourn Ave., Ft. Huachuca, SG100000549 Maricopa County Peoria High School Old Main, 11200 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria, SG100000551 Pima County [FR Doc. 2017–00364 Filed 1–10–17; 8:45 am] Brown, Grace and Elliot, House, (Single Family Residential Architecture of Josias Joesler and John and Helen Murphey MPS MPS), 5025 N. Camino Escuela, Tucson, MP100000550 BILLING CODE 7565–01–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Polk County Home Federal Savings and Loan Association of Des Moines Building, 601 Grand Ave., Des Moines, SG100000561 MINNESOTA Brown County District No. 50 School, 20837 US 14, Milford Township, SG100000564 Hubbard County Consolidated School District No. 22, 25895 Cty. Rd. 9, Helga Township, SG100000565 Pulaski County Hot Spring County National Park Service, Interior. Notice. The National Park Service is soliciting comments on the significance of properties nominated before December 10, 2016, for listing or related actions in the National Register of Historic Places. DATES: Comments should be submitted by January 26, 2017. ADDRESSES: Comments may be sent via U.S. Postal Service to the National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service, 1849 C St. NW., MS 2280, Washington, DC 20240; by all other carriers, National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service, 1201 Eye St. NW., 8th floor, Washington, DC 20005; or by fax, 202–371–6447. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The properties listed in this notice are being considered for listing or related actions in the National Register of Historic Places. Nominations for their consideration were received by the National Park Service before December 10, 2016. Pursuant to section 60.13 of 36 CFR part 60, written comments are being accepted concerning the significance of the nominated properties under the National Register criteria for evaluation. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying Jkt 241001 McColm, Laura Musser, Historic District, 1314 Mulberry Ave., Muscatine, SG100000562 MISSOURI Aristocrat Motor Inn, 240 Central Ave., Hot Springs, SG100000552 AGENCY: 19:05 Jan 10, 2017 Muscatine County Garland County National Register of Historic Places; Notification of Pending Nominations and Related Actions SUMMARY: IOWA ARKANSAS [NPS–WASO–NRNHL–22604; PPWOCRADI0, PCU00RP14.R50000] VerDate Sep<11>2014 ARIZONA Cochise County Dated: December 22, 2016. Jonodev Chaudhuri, Chairman. Kathryn Isom-Clause, Vice-Chair. Sequoyah Simermeyer, Commissioner. ACTION: information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. 3355 Lake Catherine State Park Prisoner of War Structures, 1200 Catherine Park Rd., Hot Springs vicinity, SG100000553 Mississippi County Devil’s Elbow Historic District, (Route 66 in Missouri MPS MPS), 12175, 12177, 12198 Timber Rd., 21050, 21104, 21141, 21150 Teardrop Rd., Devil’s Elbow, MP100000566 Piney Beach, (Route 66 in Missouri MPS MPS), 1280 Tank Ln., Hooker, MP100000567 OHIO Minaret Manor, 844 W. Semmes, Osceola, SG100000554 Monroe County Brinkley Concrete Streets, Ash St, between Main St. & New York Ave. & New York Ave. between Ash & Lynn Sts., Brinkley, SG100000555 Ouachita County Hamilton County Brunswick—Balke—Collender Building, 130–132 E. 6th St., Cincinnati, SG100000568 Reakirt Building, 126–128 E. 6th St., Cincinnati, SG100000569 First National Bank Building, 105 E. 4th St., Cincinnati, SG100000570 St. John’s Episcopal Church, 117 Harrison St., Camden, SG100000556 SOUTH CAROLINA Pulaski County Olympia Union Hall, 119 S. Parker St, Columbia, SG100000571 Darragh Building, 1403 E. 6th Ave., Little Rock, SG100000557 Richland County WEST VIRGINIA Sebastian County Cabell County First Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1115 N. D St., Fort Smith, SG100000558 Memphis Tennessee Garrison House, 1701 10th Ave., Huntington, SG100000573 DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Jefferson County District of Columbia Feagans’ Mill Complex, 28 Feagans’ Mill Ln., Charles Town vicinity, SG100000572 Chilchester Arms Apartments, (Apartment Buildings in Washington, DC, MPS MPS), 1388 Tuckerman St. NW., Washington, MP100000559 IDAHO WISCONSIN Marathon County Marathon Shoe Company East Side Plant, 1418 N. 1st St., Wausau, SG100000574 Vernon County Blaine County ILLINOIS Harris, George and Mable, Round Barn, S1123 Harris Rd., Forest, SG100000575 A request for removal has been made for the following resource(s): Cook County ARKANSAS Carling Hotel, (Residential Hotels in Chicago, 1910–1930 MPS), 1512 N. LaSalle St., Chicago, MP100000563 Conway County Hailey Methodist Episcopal Church, 200 2nd Ave. S., Hailey, SG100000560 PO 00000 Frm 00076 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Cove Creek Bridge, AR 124, Martinville vicinity, OT04000499 E:\FR\FM\11JAN1.SGM 11JAN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 7 (Wednesday, January 11, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 3352-3355]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-00364]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

National Indian Gaming Commission


Protocol for Categorical Exclusions Supplementing the Council on 
Environmental Quality Regulations Implementing the Procedural 
Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act for Certain 
National Indian Gaming Commission Actions and Activities

AGENCY: The National Indian Gaming Commission, Department of the 
Interior.

ACTION: Notice of proposed action and request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC or ``the 
Commission'') is amending its protocol for categorical exclusions under 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended, 
Executive Order 11514, as amended, and Council on Environmental Quality 
(CEQ) regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA 
(40 CFR parts 1500-1508) for certain NIGC actions.

DATES: Comments and related material must be post marked no later than 
60 days after publication of this notice.

ADDRESSES: Please submit your comments by only one of the following 
means: (1) By mail to: NIGC Attn: Andrew Mendoza, Staff Attorney, C/O 
Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW., Mailstop #1621, 
Washington, DC 20240; (2) by facsimile to: (202) 632-7066; (3) by email 
to: andrew_mendoza@nigc.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew Mendoza, Staff Attorney at the 
National Indian Gaming Commission: 202-632-7003 (not a toll-free 
number).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Comments Invited

    The NIGC encourages interested persons to submit written comments. 
Persons submitting information concerning the Protocol should include 
their name, address, and other appropriate contact information. You may 
submit your information by one of the means listed under ADDRESSES. If 
you submit information by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an 
unbound format, no larger than 8\1/2\ by 11 inches, suitable for 
copying and electronic filing. If you submit information by mail and 
would like to know it was received, please enclose a stamped, self-
addressed postcard or envelope. The NIGC will consider all comments 
received during the comment period.

[[Page 3353]]

II. Background

    On December 4, 2009, the Commission published a draft NEPA manual 
in the Federal Register (74 FR 63765). The purpose of the manual was to 
establish the Commission's NEPA-related policies and procedures and to 
integrate environmental considerations into the Commission's decision-
making processes. The draft manual identified one type of major federal 
action performed under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) that 
triggered NEPA review, specifically, the approval of contracts for the 
management of Indian gaming facilities pursuant to 25 U.S.C. 2711. In 
addition to identifying major federal actions applicable to the 
Commission, the draft manual also established the Commission's NEPA-
related roles and responsibilities and created a framework for the 
preparation of NEPA documentation appropriate for each level of 
environmental review. The draft manual also identified three categories 
of actions taken by the NIGC that are categorically excluded from 
further NEPA review. Categorical exclusions (CATEX) are actions that do 
not normally require preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA) or 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), absent extraordinary 
circumstances.
    On May 22, 2012, after reviewing the comments submitted on the 
draft NEPA manual, the Commission published a Protocol for Categorical 
Exclusions Supplementing the Council on Environmental Quality 
Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National 
Environmental Policy Act for Certain National Indian Gaming Commissions 
Actions and Activities (77 FR 30315) and requested comments by June 30, 
2012. This publication formally adopted two of the three categorical 
exclusions listed in the draft NEPA manual.
    In 2015, after evaluating its past environmental reviews for 
management contract approvals and the comments received on the 2009 
draft NEPA manual, the Commission decided to revisit its policies and 
procedures for implementing NEPA. To obtain updated views from the 
regulated community, the Commission held several consultation sessions 
over a two-year period with tribal nations and solicited comments 
regarding the scope and extent of its NEPA responsibilities. Following 
consultation, the Commission evaluated the newly submitted comments in 
conjunction with those received in response to the 2009 draft manual 
and decided to amend the 2012 Protocol to include a third CATEX for 
Management Contract and Agreement Review Activities. This CATEX will 
apply to certain management contract approvals that are not associated 
with an application to take land into trust and do not provide for 
construction or expansion of existing structures. In identifying this 
category of actions, the NIGC relied on its past experience, several 
environmental professionals' opinions and comparisons with other 
Federal agency actions that are categorically excluded.
    The Commission hereby adopts the amended protocol set forth below 
for determining whether a categorical exclusion applies to particular 
action as well as the categories of actions the Commission has 
determined are eligible for categorical exclusions.
    A copy of this Federal Register publication, as well as the 
administrative record for the newly established categorical exclusion, 
is available at http://www.nigc.gov. A copy of the Federal Register 
publication is available at http://www.regulations.gov.
    Regulatory Flexibility Act: This Protocol will not have a 
significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities 
as defined under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq. 
Indian tribes are not considered to be small entities for the purposes 
of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This Protocol is not a major rule under 5. U.S.C. 804(2), the Small 
Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This Protocol does not 
have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. This rule 
will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, 
individual industries, Federal, state or local government agencies or 
geographic regions, and does not have a significant adverse effect on 
competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the 
ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based 
enterprises.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    The Commission, as an independent regulatory agency within the 
Department of the Interior, is exempt from compliance with the Unfunded 
Mandates Reform Act. 2 U.S.C. 1502(1); 2 U.S.C. 658(1).

Takings

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630, the Commission has 
determined that this Protocol does not have significant takings 
implications. A takings implication assessment is not required.

Civil Justice Reform

    In accordance with Executive Order 12988, the Office of General 
Counsel has determined that the Protocol does not unduly burden the 
judicial system and meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) 
of the Executive Order.

National Environmental Policy Act

    This Protocol supplements CEQ regulations and provides guidance to 
NIGC employees regarding procedural requirements for the application of 
NEPA provisions to certain NIGC actions. The CEQ does not direct 
agencies to prepare a NEPA analysis or document before establishing 
agency procedures for implementing NEPA.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, the National Indian Gaming 
Commission establishes the following Protocol:

Protocol for Categorical Exclusions (CATEX) of Certain Actions

    The use of a CATEX can only be applied to an action if all of the 
following criteria are met:
    1. The responsible NIGC official must determine that the entirety 
of the NIGC action is encompassed by one of the listed CATEXs.
    2. The responsible NIGC official must determine that the action has 
not been segmented in order for the NIGC action to meet the definition 
of an action that can qualify for a CATEX. Segmentation occurs when an 
action is broken into smaller parts in an effort to avoid properly 
documenting impacts associated with the complete action. Segmentation 
also occurs when the NIGC action is too narrowly defined and the 
potential impacts are minimized in order to avoid a higher level of 
NEPA documentation. Connected and cumulative actions must be considered 
(see 40 CFR 1508.25).
    3. The responsible NIGC official must determine if the NIGC action 
will involve any extraordinary circumstances that would prevent the use 
of a categorical exclusion.

Categorical Exclusions

    The NIGC, based on past experience with similar actions, has 
determined that the following types of actions are categorically 
excluded and do not require the preparation of an EA or EIS because 
they will not individually or cumulatively result in a significant 
impact on the human environment. These types of federal actions meet 
the criteria established in 40 CFR 1508.4.
    Category 1--Administrative and Routine Office Activities:
    A. Normal personnel, fiscal, and administrative activities 
involving

[[Page 3354]]

personnel (recruiting, hiring, detailing, processing, paying, 
supervising and records keeping).
    B. Preparation of administrative or personnel-related studies, 
reports, or investigations.
    C. Routine procurement of goods and services to support operations 
and infrastructure, including routine utility services and contracts, 
conducted in accordance with applicable procurement regulations, 
executive orders, and policies (e.g. Executive Order 13101).
    D. Normal administrative office functions (record keeping; 
inspecting, examining, and auditing papers, books, and records; 
processing correspondence; developing and approving budgets; setting 
fee payments; responding to request for information).
    E. Routine activities and operations conducted on or in an existing 
structure that are within the scope and compatibility of the present 
functional use of the building, will not result in a substantial 
increase in waste discharge to the environment, will not result in 
substantially different waste discharges from current or previous 
activities, and will not result in emissions that exceed established 
permit limits, if any. In these cases, a Record of Environmental 
Consideration (REC), documentation is required.
    F. NIGC training in classrooms, meeting rooms, gaming facilities, 
or via the internet.
    Category 2--Regulation, Monitoring and Oversight of Indian Gaming 
Activities:
    A. Promulgation or publication of regulations, procedures, manuals, 
and guidance documents.
    B. Support of compliance and enforcement functions by conducting 
compliance training for tribal gaming regulators and managers in 
classrooms, meeting rooms, gaming facilities, or via the internet.
    C. Preparing and issuing subpoenas, holding hearings, and taking 
depositions for informational gathering purposes, not associated with 
administrative enforcement actions.
    Category 3--Management Contract and Agreement Review Activities:
    A. Approval or disapproval of management contracts, management 
contract amendments and collateral agreements that meet the following 
criteria: (1) Are not associated with an application to take land into 
trust; (2) does not provide for construction or expansion of existing 
structures; (3) ensures compliance with all federal, state, local and 
tribal environmental laws (e.g., Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, 
Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act, etc.), 
regulations, and permit requirements; and (4) ensures adequate 
provision of utilities, law enforcement, fire protection, and other 
emergency service coverage without effects on neighboring areas.
    B. Conducting background investigations in connection with a 
management contract or management contract amendment.

Extraordinary Circumstances

    Actions that can normally be categorically excluded may not qualify 
for a CATEX because an extraordinary circumstance exists (see 40 CFR 
1508.4). If the proposed action has one or more of the following 
conditions, extraordinary circumstances exist and the action cannot be 
categorically excluded:
    A. The proposed action/project would threaten a violation of 
applicable federal, state, local or tribal statutory, regulatory, or 
permit requirements with regard to public health and safety.
    B. The proposed action/project has effects on the environment that 
involve risks that are highly uncertain, unique, or are scientifically 
controversial.
    C. The proposed action/project violates one or more federal, 
tribal, state, or local environmental laws, regulations, or permit 
requirements.
    D. The proposed action/project has an adverse effect on a property 
or structure eligible for listing or listed on the National Register of 
Historical Places, including the degradation, loss, or destruction of 
(1) scientific, cultural, or historical resources protected by the 
National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended; (2) on World 
Heritage properties; or (3) other significant scientific, cultural, or 
historical resources.
    E. The proposed action/project has adverse effects on natural, 
ecological, or scenic resources of federal, tribal, state and/or local 
significance. These resources include: (1) Resources protected by 
Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA); (2) resources protected by the Fish 
and Wildlife Coordination Act; (3) prime, unique, tribal, state or 
locally important farmlands; (4) known cultural or archaeological 
resources; (5) park lands; (6) federal or state listed wild or scenic 
rivers; and/or (7) other ecologically critical areas.
    F. The proposed action/project is related to other actions that 
may, when considered cumulatively, have significant adverse effects.
    G. The proposed action/project may adversely affect (1) a federal 
or state listed endangered, threatened, or candidate species; or (2) 
designated or proposed critical habitat under the Endangered Species 
Act (ESA).
    H. The proposed action/project has effects which will impact 
floodplains and/or wetlands on Federal property.
    I. The proposed action/project has effects that will cause a 
criteria pollutant listed under the Clean Air Act to exceed the 
threshold level of one or more of the National Ambient Air Quality 
Standards for the surrounding geographical area.
    J. The proposed action/project has effects that may cause 
disproportionately high adverse environmental or health impacts 
specific to children, minorities, or low-income populations.
    K. The proposed action/project is likely to have adverse effects on 
migratory bird populations.
    L. The proposed action/project has the potential to disturb 
hazardous substances, pollutants, contaminants, or CERCLA-excluded 
petroleum and natural gas products that preexist in the environment 
such that there would be uncontrolled or unpermitted releases.
    M. The proposed action/project has effects that are highly 
controversial on environmental grounds.

Categorical Exclusion Documentation

    The purpose of categorical exclusions is to reduce paperwork and 
delay. The NIGC is not required to repeatedly document actions that 
qualify for a categorical exclusion and do not involve an extraordinary 
circumstance (see 40 CFR 1500.4(p)). The NIGC will document its 
decision to treat a particular action as categorically excluded from 
further NEPA review, when the CATEX applied specifically requires the 
preparation of a REC. In those cases, a REC will include:
    A. A complete description of the proposed action/project;
    B. The CATEX relied upon, including a brief discussion of why there 
are no extraordinary circumstances;
    C. Supplemental documentation that supports the conclusions in the 
narrative. Examples include exhibit(s) showing boundaries of historical 
or archeological site(s) previously identified near the proposed 
project, documentation from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service noting 
that no endangered species or habitat is present near the proposed 
project, evidence that the proposed project site is located outside any 
non-attainment area(s), etc. In some cases, a ``no effect'' 
determination from the State Historic Preservation Office or Tribal 
Historic Preservation Office may be required;
    D. The following statement: I certify that, to the best of my 
knowledge, the

[[Page 3355]]

information provided is the best available information and is accurate;
    E. A signature from an environmental professional with a signature 
block that includes the professional's credentials.

    Dated: December 22, 2016.
Jonodev Chaudhuri,
Chairman.
Kathryn Isom-Clause,
Vice-Chair.
Sequoyah Simermeyer,
Commissioner.
[FR Doc. 2017-00364 Filed 1-10-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 7565-01-P