Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Permit for Release of Genetically Engineered Citrus tristeza virus, 17179-17180 [2017-07106]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 67 / Monday, April 10, 2017 / Notices Public Participation: This meeting is open to the public and any interested individuals wishing to attend. Opportunity for public comment will be offered each day of the meeting. To attend the meeting and/or make oral statements regarding any items on the agenda, you must contact Michele Esch or Shirley Morgan-Jordan at 202–720– 3684; email: nareee@ars.usda.gov at least 5 business days prior to the meeting. Members of the public will be heard in the order in which they sign up at the beginning of the meeting. The Chair will conduct the meeting to facilitate the orderly conduct of business. Written comments by attendees or other interested stakeholders will be welcomed for the public record before and up to two weeks following the Board meeting (or by close of business Thursday, June 1, 2017). All written statements must be sent to Michele Esch, Designated Federal Officer and Executive Director, National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Room 332A, Jamie L. Whitten Building, Mail Stop 0321,1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250–0321; or email: nareee@ars.usda.gov. All statements will become a part of the official record of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board and will be kept on file for public review in the Research, Education, and Economics Advisory Board Office. Done at Washington, DC this 24th day of March 2017. Ann Bartuska, Acting, Under Secretary, Research, Education, and Economics. [FR Doc. 2017–07024 Filed 4–7–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–03–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES [Docket No. APHIS–2017–0018] Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Permit for Release of Genetically Engineered Citrus tristeza virus Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: We are announcing to the public that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) intends to prepare an environmental impact SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:02 Apr 07, 2017 Jkt 241001 statement (EIS) evaluating the environmental impacts that may result from the potential approval of an application from Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC, seeking a permit for the environmental release of genetically engineered Citrus tristeza virus (CTV). The virus has been genetically engineered to express defensin proteins from spinach as an approach to manage citrus greening disease throughout the State of Florida. APHIS considers this genetically engineered CTV to be a biological control agent since it is a biological organism intended to help manage citrus greening disease. Issues to be addressed in the EIS include the potential environmental impacts to managed natural and non-agricultural lands, agricultural production systems, the physical environment, biological resources, human health, socioeconomics, federally listed threatened or endangered species, and cultural or historic resources. We are also requesting public comments to further delineate the scope of the alternatives and environmental impacts and issues to be included in this EIS. DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before May 10, 2017. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docket Detail;D=APHIS-2017-0018. • Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS–2017–0018, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A–03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737–1238. Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may be viewed at http://www. regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D= APHIS-2017-0018 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 799–7039 before coming. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Alan Pearson, Chief, Plants, Pests, and Protectants Branch, Biotechnology Regulatory Services, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 147, Riverdale, MD 20737– 1238; (301) 851–3944, email: Alan.Pearson@aphis.usda.gov. To obtain copies of the application, contact Ms. Cindy Eck at (301) 851–851–3882, email: cynthia.a.eck@aphis.usda.gov. PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 17179 SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Under the authority of the plant pest provisions of the Plant Protection Act (PPA), as amended (7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.), the regulations in 7 CFR part 340, ‘‘Introduction of Organisms and Products Altered or Produced Through Genetic Engineering Which Are Plant Pests or Which There Is Reason to Believe Are Plant Pests,’’ regulate, among other things, the introduction (importation, interstate movement, or release into the environment) of organisms and products altered or produced through genetic engineering that are plant pests or that there is reason to believe are plant pests. Such genetically engineered organisms and products are considered ‘‘regulated articles.’’ The regulations in § 340.2 contain a list of organisms considered to be regulated articles, including all members of groups containing plant viruses, and all other plant and insect viruses. The regulations in § 340.4(a) provide that any person may submit an application for a permit for the introduction of a regulated article to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Paragraph (b) of § 340.4 describes the form that an application for a permit for the environmental release of a regulated article must take and the information that must be included in the application. In addition, paragraph (b) states that applications must be submitted at least 120 days in advance of the proposed release into the environment in order to allow for APHIS review. However, the 120-day review period would be extended if preparation of an environmental impact statement is necessary. On February 13, 2017, APHIS received a permit application from Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC (APHIS Permit Number 17–044–101r) for the environmental release of Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) genetically engineered to express defensin proteins from spinach as an approach to manage citrus greening disease. Citrus greening disease, also called huanglongbing, was first detected in the United States in 2005 in Florida, and has since become a devastating disease of citrus in Florida. There is no known cure for citrus greening disease. The genetically engineered CTV expressing antimicrobial peptides to control citrus greening disease has been field tested in Hendry and Polk Counties, FL, since June 2010 under confined conditions that restrict the virus to the site of the field test. APHIS E:\FR\FM\10APN1.SGM 10APN1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 17180 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 67 / Monday, April 10, 2017 / Notices has provided significant oversight of these confined field trials and has not detected any negative impacts on the environment, including threatened and endangered species. Permitted field trials are planned and in progress in a number of regions in Florida to determine the efficacy of expression of spinach defensins by CTV. The action proposed in the permit application under consideration is to commercialize the use of genetically engineered CTV as a biological means to manage citrus greening disease in Florida. The environmental impact statement (EIS) will evaluate the environmental impacts associated with this action throughout the State of Florida. Decisions on where the genetically engineered CTV would be deployed would be determined by Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC, in agreements with growers, and deployment would be monitored by APHIS. The genetically engineered CTV would be applied to citrus trees by grafting (i.e., not by spraying the trees by ground or air). Under the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), Federal agencies must examine the potential environmental impacts of proposed major Federal actions that may significantly affect the quality of the human environment before those actions can be taken. In accordance with NEPA, regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500–1508), U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations implementing NEPA (7 CFR part 1b), and APHIS’ NEPA Implementing Procedures (7 CFR part 372), APHIS has considered how to properly examine the potential environmental impacts of issuing permits for the introduction of genetically engineered regulated articles into the United States. In reviewing Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC’s permit application, APHIS has determined that the commercial release of genetically engineered CTV does not involve genetically engineering citrus trees, and that use of the genetically engineered CTV will have no impact on the genetics of the trees. However, APHIS has decided to prepare an EIS to better understand the potential for environmental impacts associated with the issuance of a permit. The EIS will examine the broad and cumulative environmental impacts of the requested permit, including potential impacts of the proposed action on the human environment and alternative courses of action. This notice identifies potential issues and alternatives that we will VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:02 Apr 07, 2017 Jkt 241001 study in the EIS and requests public comment to further delineate the issues and the scope of the alternatives. The State of Florida will be a cooperating agency for the preparation of the EIS. [FR Doc. 2017–07106 Filed 4–7–17; 8:45 am] Alternatives BILLING CODE 3410–34–P The Federal action being considered is whether to approve the permit request from Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC. This notice identifies reasonable alternatives and potential issues that may be studied in the EIS. We are requesting public comments to further delineate the range of alternatives and environmental impacts and issues to be evaluated in the EIS for the permit application. The EIS will consider a range of reasonable alternatives. APHIS is currently considering two alternatives: (1) Take no action, i.e., APHIS would not approve the permit request, or (2) approve the permit request from Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC. Environmental Issues for Consideration We have also identified the following potential environmental issues for consideration in the EIS. We are requesting that the public provide information on the following questions during the comment period on this notice: • Are there any new or greater plant pest or environmental risks or apparent benefits associated with the strategy of using genetically engineered CTV instead of the currently available approaches to manage citrus greening disease? If so, please explain. • The EIS will focus on the development and use of genetic engineering to offer a novel pest control program. Are there any environmental risks that APHIS should consider in detail for CTV expressing spinach defensin? • What are the potential risks of nontarget impacts associated with this technology? Comments that identify other issues or alternatives that should be considered for examination in the EIS would be especially helpful. All comments received during the scoping period will be carefully considered in developing the final scope of the EIS. Upon completion of the draft EIS, a notice announcing its availability and an opportunity to comment on it will be published in the Federal Register. Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7701–7772 and 7781– 7786; 31 U.S.C. 9701; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.3. PO 00000 Frm 00003 Done in Washington, DC, this 4th day of April 2017. Michael C. Gregoire, Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food and Nutrition Service Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection: Comment Request: Form FNS–583, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training Program Activity Report Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, this notice invites the public and other public agencies to comment on a proposed information collection burden for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Employment and Training (E&T) Program, currently approved under OMB No. 0584–0339. This is an extension without revision of a currently approved collection. The burden estimate remains 21,889 hours. DATES: Submit written comments on or before June 9, 2017. ADDRESSES: Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of burden of the proposed collection of information, including validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical or other technological collection techniques or other form of information technology. Comments may be sent to Sasha Gersten-Paal, Acting Chief, Program Design Branch, Program Development Division, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 810, Alexandria, Virginia 22302. Comments may also be submitted via fax to the attention of Sasha Gersten-Paal at 703– SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\10APN1.SGM 10APN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 67 (Monday, April 10, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 17179-17180]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-07106]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2017-0018]


Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC; Notice of Intent To Prepare 
an Environmental Impact Statement for Permit for Release of Genetically 
Engineered Citrus tristeza virus

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice.

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

SUMMARY: We are announcing to the public that the Animal and Plant 
Health Inspection Service (APHIS) intends to prepare an environmental 
impact statement (EIS) evaluating the environmental impacts that may 
result from the potential approval of an application from Southern 
Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC, seeking a permit for the environmental 
release of genetically engineered Citrus tristeza virus (CTV). The 
virus has been genetically engineered to express defensin proteins from 
spinach as an approach to manage citrus greening disease throughout the 
State of Florida. APHIS considers this genetically engineered CTV to be 
a biological control agent since it is a biological organism intended 
to help manage citrus greening disease. Issues to be addressed in the 
EIS include the potential environmental impacts to managed natural and 
non-agricultural lands, agricultural production systems, the physical 
environment, biological resources, human health, socioeconomics, 
federally listed threatened or endangered species, and cultural or 
historic resources. We are also requesting public comments to further 
delineate the scope of the alternatives and environmental impacts and 
issues to be included in this EIS.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before May 
10, 2017.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2017-0018.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to 
Docket No. APHIS-2017-0018, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, 
APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-
1238.
    Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may 
be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2017-
0018 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA 
South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, 
DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, 
please call (202) 799-7039 before coming.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Alan Pearson, Chief, Plants, 
Pests, and Protectants Branch, Biotechnology Regulatory Services, 
APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 147, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238; (301) 851-
3944, email: Alan.Pearson@aphis.usda.gov. To obtain copies of the 
application, contact Ms. Cindy Eck at (301) 851-851-3882, email: 
cynthia.a.eck@aphis.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Under the authority of the plant pest provisions of the Plant 
Protection Act (PPA), as amended (7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.), the 
regulations in 7 CFR part 340, ``Introduction of Organisms and Products 
Altered or Produced Through Genetic Engineering Which Are Plant Pests 
or Which There Is Reason to Believe Are Plant Pests,'' regulate, among 
other things, the introduction (importation, interstate movement, or 
release into the environment) of organisms and products altered or 
produced through genetic engineering that are plant pests or that there 
is reason to believe are plant pests. Such genetically engineered 
organisms and products are considered ``regulated articles.'' The 
regulations in Sec.  340.2 contain a list of organisms considered to be 
regulated articles, including all members of groups containing plant 
viruses, and all other plant and insect viruses.
    The regulations in Sec.  340.4(a) provide that any person may 
submit an application for a permit for the introduction of a regulated 
article to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). 
Paragraph (b) of Sec.  340.4 describes the form that an application for 
a permit for the environmental release of a regulated article must take 
and the information that must be included in the application. In 
addition, paragraph (b) states that applications must be submitted at 
least 120 days in advance of the proposed release into the environment 
in order to allow for APHIS review. However, the 120-day review period 
would be extended if preparation of an environmental impact statement 
is necessary.
    On February 13, 2017, APHIS received a permit application from 
Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC (APHIS Permit Number 17-044-101r) 
for the environmental release of Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) 
genetically engineered to express defensin proteins from spinach as an 
approach to manage citrus greening disease. Citrus greening disease, 
also called huanglongbing, was first detected in the United States in 
2005 in Florida, and has since become a devastating disease of citrus 
in Florida. There is no known cure for citrus greening disease.
    The genetically engineered CTV expressing antimicrobial peptides to 
control citrus greening disease has been field tested in Hendry and 
Polk Counties, FL, since June 2010 under confined conditions that 
restrict the virus to the site of the field test. APHIS

[[Page 17180]]

has provided significant oversight of these confined field trials and 
has not detected any negative impacts on the environment, including 
threatened and endangered species. Permitted field trials are planned 
and in progress in a number of regions in Florida to determine the 
efficacy of expression of spinach defensins by CTV. The action proposed 
in the permit application under consideration is to commercialize the 
use of genetically engineered CTV as a biological means to manage 
citrus greening disease in Florida. The environmental impact statement 
(EIS) will evaluate the environmental impacts associated with this 
action throughout the State of Florida. Decisions on where the 
genetically engineered CTV would be deployed would be determined by 
Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC, in agreements with growers, and 
deployment would be monitored by APHIS. The genetically engineered CTV 
would be applied to citrus trees by grafting (i.e., not by spraying the 
trees by ground or air).
    Under the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), Federal agencies 
must examine the potential environmental impacts of proposed major 
Federal actions that may significantly affect the quality of the human 
environment before those actions can be taken. In accordance with NEPA, 
regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality for implementing 
the procedural provisions of NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), U.S. 
Department of Agriculture regulations implementing NEPA (7 CFR part 
1b), and APHIS' NEPA Implementing Procedures (7 CFR part 372), APHIS 
has considered how to properly examine the potential environmental 
impacts of issuing permits for the introduction of genetically 
engineered regulated articles into the United States.
    In reviewing Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC's permit 
application, APHIS has determined that the commercial release of 
genetically engineered CTV does not involve genetically engineering 
citrus trees, and that use of the genetically engineered CTV will have 
no impact on the genetics of the trees. However, APHIS has decided to 
prepare an EIS to better understand the potential for environmental 
impacts associated with the issuance of a permit. The EIS will examine 
the broad and cumulative environmental impacts of the requested permit, 
including potential impacts of the proposed action on the human 
environment and alternative courses of action. This notice identifies 
potential issues and alternatives that we will study in the EIS and 
requests public comment to further delineate the issues and the scope 
of the alternatives. The State of Florida will be a cooperating agency 
for the preparation of the EIS.

Alternatives

    The Federal action being considered is whether to approve the 
permit request from Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC. This notice 
identifies reasonable alternatives and potential issues that may be 
studied in the EIS. We are requesting public comments to further 
delineate the range of alternatives and environmental impacts and 
issues to be evaluated in the EIS for the permit application.
    The EIS will consider a range of reasonable alternatives. APHIS is 
currently considering two alternatives: (1) Take no action, i.e., APHIS 
would not approve the permit request, or (2) approve the permit request 
from Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, LLC.

Environmental Issues for Consideration

    We have also identified the following potential environmental 
issues for consideration in the EIS. We are requesting that the public 
provide information on the following questions during the comment 
period on this notice:
     Are there any new or greater plant pest or environmental 
risks or apparent benefits associated with the strategy of using 
genetically engineered CTV instead of the currently available 
approaches to manage citrus greening disease? If so, please explain.
     The EIS will focus on the development and use of genetic 
engineering to offer a novel pest control program. Are there any 
environmental risks that APHIS should consider in detail for CTV 
expressing spinach defensin?
     What are the potential risks of nontarget impacts 
associated with this technology?
    Comments that identify other issues or alternatives that should be 
considered for examination in the EIS would be especially helpful. All 
comments received during the scoping period will be carefully 
considered in developing the final scope of the EIS. Upon completion of 
the draft EIS, a notice announcing its availability and an opportunity 
to comment on it will be published in the Federal Register.

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7701-7772 and 7781-7786; 31 U.S.C. 9701; 7 
CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.3.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 4th day of April 2017.
Michael C. Gregoire,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-07106 Filed 4-7-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3410-34-P