Deregulation of Pine Shoot Beetle, 61806-61809 [2020-21800]

Download as PDF 61806 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 191 / Thursday, October 1, 2020 / Rules and Regulations have a financial need that results from at least one of the following five conditions: * * * * * (5) The participant has incurred expenses and losses (including loss of income) on account of a disaster declared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 100–707, provided that the participant’s principal residence or principal place of employment at the time of the disaster was located in an area designated by the FEMA for individual assistance with respect to the disaster. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2020–20762 Filed 9–30–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6760–01–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 7 CFR Parts 301 and 319 [Docket No. APHIS–2016–0065] RIN 0579–AE41 Deregulation of Pine Shoot Beetle Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: We are adopting as a final rule, without change, a proposal to amend our regulations to remove the domestic pine shoot beetle (PSB) quarantine and to eliminate the restrictions that apply to the importation of PSB host material from Canada. We have determined through analysis that the regulatory program is ineffective in slowing the spread of the pest and reducing damage, which has also been found to be minimal. This action will provide flexibility to the States as they manage PSB. It will also allow Federal resources spent on this program to be allocated elsewhere, and it will remove PSB-related interstate movement and importation restrictions on PSB-regulated articles. DATES: Effective November 2, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Bill Wesela, National Policy Manager, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 22, Riverdale, MD 20737–1236; (301) 851– 2229; William.D.Wesela@usda.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES SUMMARY: Background Pine shoot beetle (PSB, Tomicus piniperda) is a pest of pines in Africa, VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:58 Sep 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 Asia, and Europe. Biologically, this species of bark beetle is considered to be a secondary pest of pine and not able to successfully attack healthy trees. PSB colonizes fresh timber and dying pine trees in early spring. Larvae feed within the galleries under the bark and emerge as adults from shoots after a hard frost. They then move to the base of the tree to reproduce. PSB was first detected in the United States in a Christmas tree farm in Ohio in 1992. Based on an initial finding of potentially high economic losses in 1992, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) implemented a program to regulate atrisk pine commodities, including logs with bark, Christmas trees, and nursery stock in known infested areas. The regulations in ‘‘Subpart G—Pine Shoot Beetle’’ (7 CFR 301.50 through 301.50–10, referred to below as the regulations) had restricted interstate movement of certain regulated articles (generally wood and wood products) from quarantined areas in order to prevent spread of PSB into non-infested areas of the United States. Since APHIS initiated the PSB program in 1992, PSB has advanced at a slow rate, and damage to native pines, plantations, and the nursery trade has been minimal. In 2015, APHIS met with the National Plant Board, which represents plant protection divisions of State departments of agriculture, to reassess the relevance and need for the PSB regulatory program. This was due to the slow advancement and minimal damage of PSB and the limited resources allotted to the PSB program. We prepared an analysis of regulatory options, ‘‘Pine Shoot Beetle, Tomicus piniperda (Linnaeus): Analysis of Regulatory Options’’ (February 2015), referred to below as the February 2015 analysis, to evaluate the PSB program in terms of its effectiveness and efficiency in slowing the spread and reducing losses. The analysis looked at timber losses and estimated compliance costs that Christmas tree growers incur in quarantined areas. Given the little PSB damage observed and the amount of resources allocated to manage the minimal risks associated with PSB, we determined it appropriate to deregulate PSB. While the possibility exists that PSB may spread at a faster rate and enter Southern States sooner in the absence of Federal regulations, we anticipated that PSB would be controlled within managed timber stands in the South. PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Accordingly, in a proposed rule 1 published in the Federal Register on September 23, 2019 (84 FR 49680– 49681, Docket No. APHIS–2016–0065), we proposed to remove the domestic PSB quarantine and the restrictions that apply to importation of PSB host material from Canada. We solicited comments concerning our proposal for 60 days ending November 22, 2019. We received 10 comments by the close of the comment period. They were from private citizens and one State forestry. Of the commenters, six opposed deregulation and the proposed rule. The remaining four commenters urged caution in deregulation, raising concerns similar to those opposed. One of these latter commenters recognized the positive economic impacts of deregulation on the industry, yet still pressed PSB concerns. Comments fell into seven distinct categories: Concern for natural forestland protection; support for the current regulations out of perception that they work; concern for the pine industry and economy; concerns for future impacts of PSB; concerns regarding reallocation of regulatory funding; requests for delay or phase-in of deregulation with monitoring and assessment before action; and requests that science direct regulation of PSB. We have characterized the comments received below according to these topics. Natural Forestland Protection A majority of the 10 commenters wanted continued regulation to prevent PSB from inflicting pine tree losses on ‘‘natural’’ and wild forests, as well as private lands. Some addressed vulnerability of pine to PSB impact on tree trunks. Two commenters expressed concern over what they considered the growth-stunting potential of PSB in harming shoots of pine trees. The commenters stated that this is significant in that shoots are means of photosynthesis, energy conversion, and thus growth, which could impact yields and incomes. We acknowledge that PSB can inflict damage on pine trees and that it is a plant pest. Our February 2015 analysis did not state otherwise. The analysis also reviewed studies that showed adult PSB prefers to colonize freshly-cut stumps and slash. Nonetheless, the analysis concluded that pine-stand owners and the industry can and do 1 To view the proposed rule, its supporting documents, and the comments that we received, go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=APHIS2016-0065. E:\FR\FM\01OCR1.SGM 01OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 191 / Thursday, October 1, 2020 / Rules and Regulations cover trees, remove downed trees, and treat pine for PSB in a manner that is more cost-effective than ongoing Federal regulation. As detailed in our February 2015 analysis, estimation and comparison of pine timber damage along the leading edge of PSB distribution, both with and without a ‘‘slow-the-spread’’ regulatory effort, indicates regulatory cost will exceed any avoided losses. Compliance costs projected long into the future outweigh any possible benefits to pine producers. There is also no evidence that in attacking the shoots of pine this beetle has broadly retarded maturity across pine timber stands and negatively impacted growth, vitality, and yields. While PSB does inflict damage on pine shoots, and especially on certain pine varieties, initial fears that the pest would devastate pine forests and their industry never came true. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Regulatory Efficacy Several commenters either presumed regulation is preventing spread within or from quarantined areas, or mistakenly believed PSB numbers are declining under regulation. We are making no changes in response to these comments. Our February 2015 analysis demonstrates that despite regulatory efforts that have spanned 28 years, PSB has spread from a single Christmas tree farm in one State (Ohio) in 1992 to 20 States. Fourteen States are presently under Federal quarantine in their entirety. While regulation did not keep PSB from spreading, we still find PSB damage to native pines and pine plantations, as well as costs to the nursery trade in this broad area, to be minimal. Our February 2015 analysis for deregulation indicated the pest is now considered minor and readily within State and local ability to manage. Pine Industry and Economy Four of the commenters expressed concern for the pine economy as a result of PSB deregulation. One commenter questioned especially the impact on the Christmas tree industry from possible increased cosmetic damage on certain species of pine. We find no evidence of such negative economic impacts to justify changing deregulation as proposed. Our February 2015 analysis demonstrated that despite PSB’s spread, damage has been minor. Additionally, as experience now long indicates, pine producers can and do take steps to control the disease irrespective of Federal regulation. States may also impose and enforce their own quarantines in the absence of Federal regulation. VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:58 Sep 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 Our analysis found nothing to suggest PSB is singularly destructive, nor did it find evidence of high level destructive or economic impact. So many more pests of far greater impact have prompted regulatory efforts since PSB’s first detection 28 years ago. Future PSB Impacts Half of the 10 commenters on PSB deregulation voiced concern for a range of possible negative future impacts. Two commenters suggested deregulation will result in high tree mortality in higher density forests (from higher stress on weakened, dying trees, even on healthy trees). One commenter addressed deregulatory impact on pine tree forests in the Southeastern States. The commenter feared PSB spread following deregulation will have a negative economic impact there, where the warmer climate will allow two incubation periods per year, instead of one; where storms are more frequent and violent, downing trees to create PSB brooding conditions; and where pine stands are large and dense. Two other commenters feared PSB spread to pinewood forests in the Western States. One acknowledged positive impacts on timber producers once they are freed from timeconsuming, expensive regulatory compliance. However, the commenter feared possible negative impact on Western pine forests and urged ‘‘Early Detection and Rapid Response’’ funding. We understand these concerns, but we are making no changes to PSB deregulation. The commenters concerned about establishment in high density forests and Southeastern pine tree forests incorrectly assume the PSB damage has been minimal to date because PSB has become established in areas that are not densely populated with pine or are not otherwise conducive to PSB establishment. However, thus far, even in pine-dense regions where PSB has become endemic, PSB damage to native pines, plantations, and nursery trade has been minimal. Estimated compliance costs for Christmas tree growers have far outweighed timber losses. Moreover, Federal regulatory requirements for PSB have largely consisted of certification, inspection, and permitting. These activities control the artificial spread of PSB but are not aimed at controlling it within an affected region. It is the pine industry’s own practices that control PSB within such an area. Pine producers apply cover spray on trees, destroy cell piles, remove stumps, and PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 61807 use trap logs to attract broods into piles that they then destroy. With regard to westward movement, the nation’s Great Plains region (more than 1.12 million square miles of prairie, steppe and grasslands, with negligible quantities of pine), has provided and will continue to provide a natural barrier to PSB spread to the West. Western States are also free to fashion their own PSB regulation in the absence of Federal regulation and to promote the industry practices that pine producers already effectively employ in the Northeast and Central States. Funding Concerns Four of 10 commenters either asked that regulatory funds be preserved to protect pine production and the natural environment from PSB’s harm, or sought evidence that funding reallocation will be more beneficial. Commenters said regulation is worthwhile and should be prioritized. They stated costs to the public are worth controlling PSB populations. Our February 2015 analysis found that costs to producers in complying with quarantines, paperwork, and recordkeeping to manage agreements, data collection, and review for reporting all outweigh any benefits. Both assessments that we conducted call for new strategies, which the States and producers may undertake from the success of localized approaches. The pine industry is largely composed of small businesses and producers who can better safeguard pine resources, products, and their economy if they do not have to devote time and resources to meeting permit, certificate, and form compliance costs under quarantine. We have determined that removing the PSB quarantine will provide flexibility to the States as they and the pine community manage PSB in all regions. Funding used for PSB, which has become less and less significant even as the pest spread despite regulation, will be reallocated to address worsening Japanese beetle problems nationally. APHIS’ Japanese beetle regulations control the movement of aircraft from regulated areas to southern and western areas where Japanese beetle is not located, but could become established, if introduced, and cause economic losses. However, increased package and product shipping across the United States has created another pathway for Japanese beetle movement into Southern and Western States. APHIS is working with a National Plant Board harmonization initiative to address this problem, and the reprogrammed funds will be used to help address this issue E:\FR\FM\01OCR1.SGM 01OCR1 61808 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 191 / Thursday, October 1, 2020 / Rules and Regulations by increasing inspection and treatment for Japanese beetle. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Delay or Phase-in of Deregulation Four of the comments counseled more cautious approaches to regulatory change and PSB control. Three sought delay or a phase-in of deregulation, with monitoring of impact on PSB losses and harm before entirely deregulating. One commenter suggested allocating funds for damage control at conclusion of a phase-out of regulations. While we recognize the value of cautionary approaches protective of natural resources, we find no basis to continue regulation. Deregulating PSB is based on 28 years of experience showing PSB regulation has not deterred spread of the pest. Yet neither widespread destruction nor significant economic loss resulted. Our February 2015 analysis demonstrated that funding is being ineffectively used to deter PSB. Projected well into the future, the cost of regulation outweighs any avoided negative losses. It will cost producers more in compliance than they realize in any economic benefit. Prolonging this cost to largely small producers a few more years is neither justifiable, nor defensible. We must invite new strategies other than Federal regulation, recognizing local pine industry practices have been most effective at minimizing PSB damage. Moreover, continued regulation precludes our reprogramming the funds for PSB to Japanese beetle control, which, as discussed above, is needed to address an emerging pathway for the spread of Japanese beetle. We will however, continue to support the Nature Conservancy’s ‘‘Don’t Move Firewood’’ campaign, which is credited with a broad education effort to enlist the public in curbing the spread of PSB and other pests of firewood. That effort will continue even after PSB deregulation. States are also free to attempt their own PSB regulation, and one State has already stated that it will. As the pine industry, processing, and trade have demonstrated where PSB spread across the Northern State regions, their treatments in the field and handling of harvested material, diminish PSB impact and loss. States and the industry need to help shift PSB strategies now away from national regulation as present funding addresses pressing Japanese beetle expansion. Scientific Basis for Deregulation Two commenters asserted that official studies have not been conducted to justify deregulation. They said the public needs scientific studies conducted to determine current PSB VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:58 Sep 30, 2020 Jkt 253001 populations and losses under regulation. They said careful analysis based on scientific findings could then form a basis for addressing permanent changes that will result from deregulation. We acknowledge need for more research to address many domestic pests. However, APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine, Center for Plant Health Science and Technology (now named Science and Technology), and the Plant Epidemiology and Risk Laboratory did conduct the February 2015 analysis of regulatory options for this deregulation. Our analysis drew on 46 citations to assess the physical and economic impact of PSB and to project possible impact of deregulation on other regions. We also consulted with the National Plant Board. Therefore, for the reasons given, we are adopting the proposed rule as a final rule, without change. Executive Orders 12866 and 13771 and Regulatory Flexibility Act This final rule has been determined to be not significant for the purposes of Executive Order 12866 and, therefore, has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget. This rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this rule is not significant under Executive Order 12866. In accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, we have analyzed the potential economic effects of this action on small entities. The analysis is summarized below. Copies of the full analysis are available on the Regulations.gov website (see footnote 1 in this document for a link to Regulations.gov) or by contacting the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT or on the Regulations.gov website. APHIS is amending the pine shoot beetle (PSB) regulations to remove all Federal PSB quarantine areas and all Federal regulatory requirements related to the import and movement of PSB and associated host material. Although PSB is now found throughout the Northeast and North Central United States, damage to native pines and pine plantations and costs to the nursery trade have been minimal. It is now considered a minor pest that can be readily controlled locally. Establishments that may be affected are ones that grow, handle, or move regulated pine (Pinus spp.) products: bark products, Christmas trees, logs and firewood with bark attached, lumber with bark attached, nursery stock, raw pine materials for pine wreaths and garlands, and stumps. Potentially PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 affected establishments include timber tract operations, forest product operations, logging companies, forest tree nurseries, and Christmas tree operations. The majority of these establishments are small entities. Regulated articles from PSB quarantined areas may be moved interstate if accompanied by a certificate or limited permit. Under the rule, affected establishments in the Federal PSB quarantine areas will no longer incur costs of complying with certification or permitting requirements. Businesses that operate under Federal PSB compliance agreements, of which there are about 100, are the establishments most likely to be shipping regulated articles interstate. With this rule, they will forgo the paperwork and recordkeeping costs of compliance. For affected entities that do not operate under compliance agreement, the costs of inspection are incurred by APHIS, unless they occur outside of normal working hours. We estimate that an establishment with an active PSB compliance agreement spends 4 to 8 hours annually collecting data and ensuring adherence to the agreement. Based on this estimate, total annual cost savings from PSB deregulation for establishments with active compliance agreements could be between $12,480 and $59,600. In accordance with guidance on complying with Executive Order 13771, the single primary estimate of the cost savings of this rule is about $36,000, the mid-point estimate annualized in perpetuity using a 7 percent discount rate. Besides yielding cost savings for entities with compliance agreements, sales volumes for at least some businesses could increase if their sales are constrained because of the Federal quarantine. Restrictions ultimately borne will depend on whether States decide to enforce their own PSB quarantine programs. Internationally, the deregulation is unlikely to affect exports of pine products. In 2018, the United States exported about $240 million of pine logs and timber, of which $75 million were Christmas trees and other plants used for ornamental purposes. However, these exports are required to be treated otherwise for pine wood nematode under a systems approach and accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate as proof that the trees meet the importing countries’ requirements, as documented in International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 12. Longer term, any delay in PSB spread attributable to the quarantine E:\FR\FM\01OCR1.SGM 01OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 191 / Thursday, October 1, 2020 / Rules and Regulations regulations will end with promulgation of the rule. It is possible that without the PSB program, human-assisted dispersal of PSB would have occurred more rapidly and extended to areas that are not yet infested; the impact of the rule on pine populations in natural and urban environments within and outside currently quarantined areas—and on businesses that grow, use, or process pine products—is indeterminate. Still, PSB has caused negligible direct damage despite having spread widely, and compliance costs that will no longer be incurred under the rule are minimal. Based on this information, the APHIS Administrator has determined that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Executive Order 12372 This program/activity is listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance under No. 10.025 and is subject to Executive Order 12372, which requires intergovernmental consultation with State and local officials. (See 2 CFR chapter IV.) Executive Order 12988 This final rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. This rule: (1) Preempts all State and local laws and regulations that are inconsistent with this rule; (2) has no retroactive effect; and (3) does not require administrative proceedings before parties may file suit in court challenging this rule. Congressional Review Act Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs designated this rule as not a major rule, as defined by 5U.S.C. 804(2). Paperwork Reduction Act This final rule contains no reporting or recordkeeping requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). List of Subjects jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Jkt 253001 Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7701–7772 and 7781– 7786; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.3. Section 301.75–15 issued under Sec. 204, Title II, Public Law 106–113, 113 Stat. 1501A–293; sections 301.75–15 and 301.75– 16 issued under Sec. 203, Title II, Public Law 106–224, 114 Stat. 400 (7 U.S.C. 1421 note). Subpart G [Removed and Reserved] 2. Subpart G, consisting of §§ 301.50 through 301.50–10, is removed and reserved. ■ PART 319—FOREIGN QUARANTINE NOTICES 3. The authority citation for part 319 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 7 U.S.C. 1633, 7701–7772, and 7781–7786; 21 U.S.C. 136 and 136a; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.3. § 319.40–3 [Amended] 4. Section 319.40–3 is amended by: a. In paragraph (a)(1)(i)(A), removing ‘‘, and;’’ and adding ‘‘; and’’ in its place; ■ b. Removing paragraph (a)(1)(i)(B); and ■ c. Redesignating paragraph (a)(1)(i)(C) as (a)(1)(i)(B). ■ ■ § 319.40–5 [Amended] 5. Section 319.40–5 is amended by removing and reserving paragraph (m). ■ Done in Washington, DC, this 24th day of September 2020. Michael Watson, Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. [FR Doc. 2020–21800 Filed 9–30–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–34–P DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Office of the Comptroller of the Currency [Docket ID OCC–2018–0041] RIN 1557–AE21 7 CFR Part 319 Coffee, Cotton, Fruits, Imports, Logs, Nursery stock, Plant diseases and pests, Quarantine, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Rice, Vegetables. Accordingly, we are amending 7 CFR parts 301 and 319 as follows: 21:58 Sep 30, 2020 1. The authority citation for part 301 continues to read as follows: ■ 12 CFR Part 32 7 CFR Part 301 Agricultural commodities, Plant diseases and pests, Quarantine, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. VerDate Sep<11>2014 PART 301—DOMESTIC QUARANTINE NOTICES Supplemental Lending Limits Program: Technical Correction Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Treasury. ACTION: Correcting amendment. AGENCY: On July 14, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) published in the Federal Register SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 61809 a final rule that, among other revisions, made technical changes to the OCC’s supplemental lending limits rule. This correcting amendment makes a correction to those regulations by reinstating two paragraphs to the lending limits rules that were inadvertently deleted. DATES: This rule is effective on October 1, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marta E. Stewart-Bates, Senior Attorney, Chief Counsel’s Office, (202) 649–5490, for persons who are deaf or hearing impaired, TTY, (202) 649–5597, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, 400 7th Street SW, Washington, DC 20219. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background and Description of Correcting Amendment On July 14, 2020, the OCC published in the Federal Register a final rule 1 that made technical changes to the OCC’s supplemental lending limits rules, among other revisions. Specifically, the terms ‘‘small business loans’’ and ‘‘small farm loans or extensions of credit’’ were replaced with the terms ‘‘loans to small businesses’’ and ‘‘loans or extensions of credit to small farms,’’ respectively, to conform with the Call Report instructions. These technical changes were made to the supplemental lending limits rules in §§ 32.7(a)(1), 32.7(a)(2), and 32.7(d). However, §§ 32.7(a)(4) and (a)(5) were inadvertently deleted by the final rule. This correcting amendment reinstates §§ 32.7(a)(4) and (a)(5). II. Administrative Law Matters A. Administrative Procedure Act The OCC is issuing this correcting amendment without prior notice and the opportunity for public comment and the delayed effective date ordinarily prescribed by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).2 Pursuant to section 553(b)(B) of the APA, general notice and the opportunity for public comment are not required with respect to a rulemaking when an ‘‘agency for good cause finds (and incorporates the finding and a brief statement of reasons therefor in the rules issued) that notice and public procedure thereon are impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.’’ 3 The OCC finds that public notice and comment are unnecessary because this correcting amendment makes a technical change to correct an erroneous removal of two paragraphs in the 1 85 FR 42630. U.S.C. 553. 3 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(A). 25 E:\FR\FM\01OCR1.SGM 01OCR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 191 (Thursday, October 1, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 61806-61809]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-21800]


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

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

7 CFR Parts 301 and 319

[Docket No. APHIS-2016-0065]
RIN 0579-AE41


Deregulation of Pine Shoot Beetle

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: We are adopting as a final rule, without change, a proposal to 
amend our regulations to remove the domestic pine shoot beetle (PSB) 
quarantine and to eliminate the restrictions that apply to the 
importation of PSB host material from Canada. We have determined 
through analysis that the regulatory program is ineffective in slowing 
the spread of the pest and reducing damage, which has also been found 
to be minimal. This action will provide flexibility to the States as 
they manage PSB. It will also allow Federal resources spent on this 
program to be allocated elsewhere, and it will remove PSB-related 
interstate movement and importation restrictions on PSB-regulated 
articles.

DATES: Effective November 2, 2020.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Bill Wesela, National Policy 
Manager, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 22, Riverdale, MD 20737-1236; 
(301) 851-2229; [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Pine shoot beetle (PSB, Tomicus piniperda) is a pest of pines in 
Africa, Asia, and Europe. Biologically, this species of bark beetle is 
considered to be a secondary pest of pine and not able to successfully 
attack healthy trees. PSB colonizes fresh timber and dying pine trees 
in early spring. Larvae feed within the galleries under the bark and 
emerge as adults from shoots after a hard frost. They then move to the 
base of the tree to reproduce.
    PSB was first detected in the United States in a Christmas tree 
farm in Ohio in 1992. Based on an initial finding of potentially high 
economic losses in 1992, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 
(APHIS) implemented a program to regulate at-risk pine commodities, 
including logs with bark, Christmas trees, and nursery stock in known 
infested areas.
    The regulations in ``Subpart G--Pine Shoot Beetle'' (7 CFR 301.50 
through 301.50-10, referred to below as the regulations) had restricted 
interstate movement of certain regulated articles (generally wood and 
wood products) from quarantined areas in order to prevent spread of PSB 
into non-infested areas of the United States.
    Since APHIS initiated the PSB program in 1992, PSB has advanced at 
a slow rate, and damage to native pines, plantations, and the nursery 
trade has been minimal. In 2015, APHIS met with the National Plant 
Board, which represents plant protection divisions of State departments 
of agriculture, to reassess the relevance and need for the PSB 
regulatory program. This was due to the slow advancement and minimal 
damage of PSB and the limited resources allotted to the PSB program.
    We prepared an analysis of regulatory options, ``Pine Shoot Beetle, 
Tomicus piniperda (Linnaeus): Analysis of Regulatory Options'' 
(February 2015), referred to below as the February 2015 analysis, to 
evaluate the PSB program in terms of its effectiveness and efficiency 
in slowing the spread and reducing losses. The analysis looked at 
timber losses and estimated compliance costs that Christmas tree 
growers incur in quarantined areas. Given the little PSB damage 
observed and the amount of resources allocated to manage the minimal 
risks associated with PSB, we determined it appropriate to deregulate 
PSB. While the possibility exists that PSB may spread at a faster rate 
and enter Southern States sooner in the absence of Federal regulations, 
we anticipated that PSB would be controlled within managed timber 
stands in the South.
    Accordingly, in a proposed rule \1\ published in the Federal 
Register on September 23, 2019 (84 FR 49680-49681, Docket No. APHIS-
2016-0065), we proposed to remove the domestic PSB quarantine and the 
restrictions that apply to importation of PSB host material from 
Canada. We solicited comments concerning our proposal for 60 days 
ending November 22, 2019.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ To view the proposed rule, its supporting documents, and the 
comments that we received, go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=APHIS-2016-0065.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We received 10 comments by the close of the comment period. They 
were from private citizens and one State forestry.
    Of the commenters, six opposed deregulation and the proposed rule. 
The remaining four commenters urged caution in deregulation, raising 
concerns similar to those opposed. One of these latter commenters 
recognized the positive economic impacts of deregulation on the 
industry, yet still pressed PSB concerns.
    Comments fell into seven distinct categories: Concern for natural 
forestland protection; support for the current regulations out of 
perception that they work; concern for the pine industry and economy; 
concerns for future impacts of PSB; concerns regarding reallocation of 
regulatory funding; requests for delay or phase-in of deregulation with 
monitoring and assessment before action; and requests that science 
direct regulation of PSB.
    We have characterized the comments received below according to 
these topics.
Natural Forestland Protection
    A majority of the 10 commenters wanted continued regulation to 
prevent PSB from inflicting pine tree losses on ``natural'' and wild 
forests, as well as private lands. Some addressed vulnerability of pine 
to PSB impact on tree trunks. Two commenters expressed concern over 
what they considered the growth-stunting potential of PSB in harming 
shoots of pine trees. The commenters stated that this is significant in 
that shoots are means of photosynthesis, energy conversion, and thus 
growth, which could impact yields and incomes.
    We acknowledge that PSB can inflict damage on pine trees and that 
it is a plant pest. Our February 2015 analysis did not state otherwise. 
The analysis also reviewed studies that showed adult PSB prefers to 
colonize freshly-cut stumps and slash. Nonetheless, the analysis 
concluded that pine-stand owners and the industry can and do

[[Page 61807]]

cover trees, remove downed trees, and treat pine for PSB in a manner 
that is more cost-effective than ongoing Federal regulation. As 
detailed in our February 2015 analysis, estimation and comparison of 
pine timber damage along the leading edge of PSB distribution, both 
with and without a ``slow-the-spread'' regulatory effort, indicates 
regulatory cost will exceed any avoided losses. Compliance costs 
projected long into the future outweigh any possible benefits to pine 
producers.
    There is also no evidence that in attacking the shoots of pine this 
beetle has broadly retarded maturity across pine timber stands and 
negatively impacted growth, vitality, and yields. While PSB does 
inflict damage on pine shoots, and especially on certain pine 
varieties, initial fears that the pest would devastate pine forests and 
their industry never came true.
Regulatory Efficacy
    Several commenters either presumed regulation is preventing spread 
within or from quarantined areas, or mistakenly believed PSB numbers 
are declining under regulation.
    We are making no changes in response to these comments. Our 
February 2015 analysis demonstrates that despite regulatory efforts 
that have spanned 28 years, PSB has spread from a single Christmas tree 
farm in one State (Ohio) in 1992 to 20 States. Fourteen States are 
presently under Federal quarantine in their entirety.
    While regulation did not keep PSB from spreading, we still find PSB 
damage to native pines and pine plantations, as well as costs to the 
nursery trade in this broad area, to be minimal. Our February 2015 
analysis for deregulation indicated the pest is now considered minor 
and readily within State and local ability to manage.
Pine Industry and Economy
    Four of the commenters expressed concern for the pine economy as a 
result of PSB deregulation. One commenter questioned especially the 
impact on the Christmas tree industry from possible increased cosmetic 
damage on certain species of pine.
    We find no evidence of such negative economic impacts to justify 
changing deregulation as proposed. Our February 2015 analysis 
demonstrated that despite PSB's spread, damage has been minor. 
Additionally, as experience now long indicates, pine producers can and 
do take steps to control the disease irrespective of Federal 
regulation. States may also impose and enforce their own quarantines in 
the absence of Federal regulation.
    Our analysis found nothing to suggest PSB is singularly 
destructive, nor did it find evidence of high level destructive or 
economic impact. So many more pests of far greater impact have prompted 
regulatory efforts since PSB's first detection 28 years ago.
Future PSB Impacts
    Half of the 10 commenters on PSB deregulation voiced concern for a 
range of possible negative future impacts. Two commenters suggested 
deregulation will result in high tree mortality in higher density 
forests (from higher stress on weakened, dying trees, even on healthy 
trees).
    One commenter addressed deregulatory impact on pine tree forests in 
the Southeastern States. The commenter feared PSB spread following 
deregulation will have a negative economic impact there, where the 
warmer climate will allow two incubation periods per year, instead of 
one; where storms are more frequent and violent, downing trees to 
create PSB brooding conditions; and where pine stands are large and 
dense.
    Two other commenters feared PSB spread to pinewood forests in the 
Western States. One acknowledged positive impacts on timber producers 
once they are freed from time-consuming, expensive regulatory 
compliance. However, the commenter feared possible negative impact on 
Western pine forests and urged ``Early Detection and Rapid Response'' 
funding.
    We understand these concerns, but we are making no changes to PSB 
deregulation. The commenters concerned about establishment in high 
density forests and Southeastern pine tree forests incorrectly assume 
the PSB damage has been minimal to date because PSB has become 
established in areas that are not densely populated with pine or are 
not otherwise conducive to PSB establishment. However, thus far, even 
in pine-dense regions where PSB has become endemic, PSB damage to 
native pines, plantations, and nursery trade has been minimal. 
Estimated compliance costs for Christmas tree growers have far 
outweighed timber losses. Moreover, Federal regulatory requirements for 
PSB have largely consisted of certification, inspection, and 
permitting. These activities control the artificial spread of PSB but 
are not aimed at controlling it within an affected region. It is the 
pine industry's own practices that control PSB within such an area. 
Pine producers apply cover spray on trees, destroy cell piles, remove 
stumps, and use trap logs to attract broods into piles that they then 
destroy.
    With regard to westward movement, the nation's Great Plains region 
(more than 1.12 million square miles of prairie, steppe and grasslands, 
with negligible quantities of pine), has provided and will continue to 
provide a natural barrier to PSB spread to the West. Western States are 
also free to fashion their own PSB regulation in the absence of Federal 
regulation and to promote the industry practices that pine producers 
already effectively employ in the Northeast and Central States.
Funding Concerns
    Four of 10 commenters either asked that regulatory funds be 
preserved to protect pine production and the natural environment from 
PSB's harm, or sought evidence that funding reallocation will be more 
beneficial. Commenters said regulation is worthwhile and should be 
prioritized. They stated costs to the public are worth controlling PSB 
populations.
    Our February 2015 analysis found that costs to producers in 
complying with quarantines, paperwork, and recordkeeping to manage 
agreements, data collection, and review for reporting all outweigh any 
benefits. Both assessments that we conducted call for new strategies, 
which the States and producers may undertake from the success of 
localized approaches.
    The pine industry is largely composed of small businesses and 
producers who can better safeguard pine resources, products, and their 
economy if they do not have to devote time and resources to meeting 
permit, certificate, and form compliance costs under quarantine. We 
have determined that removing the PSB quarantine will provide 
flexibility to the States as they and the pine community manage PSB in 
all regions.
    Funding used for PSB, which has become less and less significant 
even as the pest spread despite regulation, will be reallocated to 
address worsening Japanese beetle problems nationally. APHIS' Japanese 
beetle regulations control the movement of aircraft from regulated 
areas to southern and western areas where Japanese beetle is not 
located, but could become established, if introduced, and cause 
economic losses. However, increased package and product shipping across 
the United States has created another pathway for Japanese beetle 
movement into Southern and Western States. APHIS is working with a 
National Plant Board harmonization initiative to address this problem, 
and the reprogrammed funds will be used to help address this issue

[[Page 61808]]

by increasing inspection and treatment for Japanese beetle.
Delay or Phase-in of Deregulation
    Four of the comments counseled more cautious approaches to 
regulatory change and PSB control. Three sought delay or a phase-in of 
deregulation, with monitoring of impact on PSB losses and harm before 
entirely deregulating. One commenter suggested allocating funds for 
damage control at conclusion of a phase-out of regulations.
    While we recognize the value of cautionary approaches protective of 
natural resources, we find no basis to continue regulation. 
Deregulating PSB is based on 28 years of experience showing PSB 
regulation has not deterred spread of the pest. Yet neither widespread 
destruction nor significant economic loss resulted. Our February 2015 
analysis demonstrated that funding is being ineffectively used to deter 
PSB. Projected well into the future, the cost of regulation outweighs 
any avoided negative losses. It will cost producers more in compliance 
than they realize in any economic benefit. Prolonging this cost to 
largely small producers a few more years is neither justifiable, nor 
defensible. We must invite new strategies other than Federal 
regulation, recognizing local pine industry practices have been most 
effective at minimizing PSB damage. Moreover, continued regulation 
precludes our reprogramming the funds for PSB to Japanese beetle 
control, which, as discussed above, is needed to address an emerging 
pathway for the spread of Japanese beetle.
    We will however, continue to support the Nature Conservancy's 
``Don't Move Firewood'' campaign, which is credited with a broad 
education effort to enlist the public in curbing the spread of PSB and 
other pests of firewood. That effort will continue even after PSB 
deregulation. States are also free to attempt their own PSB regulation, 
and one State has already stated that it will. As the pine industry, 
processing, and trade have demonstrated where PSB spread across the 
Northern State regions, their treatments in the field and handling of 
harvested material, diminish PSB impact and loss. States and the 
industry need to help shift PSB strategies now away from national 
regulation as present funding addresses pressing Japanese beetle 
expansion.
Scientific Basis for Deregulation
    Two commenters asserted that official studies have not been 
conducted to justify deregulation. They said the public needs 
scientific studies conducted to determine current PSB populations and 
losses under regulation. They said careful analysis based on scientific 
findings could then form a basis for addressing permanent changes that 
will result from deregulation.
    We acknowledge need for more research to address many domestic 
pests. However, APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine, Center for Plant 
Health Science and Technology (now named Science and Technology), and 
the Plant Epidemiology and Risk Laboratory did conduct the February 
2015 analysis of regulatory options for this deregulation. Our analysis 
drew on 46 citations to assess the physical and economic impact of PSB 
and to project possible impact of deregulation on other regions. We 
also consulted with the National Plant Board.
    Therefore, for the reasons given, we are adopting the proposed rule 
as a final rule, without change.
Executive Orders 12866 and 13771 and Regulatory Flexibility Act
    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for the 
purposes of Executive Order 12866 and, therefore, has not been reviewed 
by the Office of Management and Budget. This rule is not an Executive 
Order 13771 regulatory action because this rule is not significant 
under Executive Order 12866.
    In accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, we have analyzed 
the potential economic effects of this action on small entities. The 
analysis is summarized below. Copies of the full analysis are available 
on the Regulations.gov website (see footnote 1 in this document for a 
link to Regulations.gov) or by contacting the person listed under FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT or on the Regulations.gov website.
    APHIS is amending the pine shoot beetle (PSB) regulations to remove 
all Federal PSB quarantine areas and all Federal regulatory 
requirements related to the import and movement of PSB and associated 
host material. Although PSB is now found throughout the Northeast and 
North Central United States, damage to native pines and pine 
plantations and costs to the nursery trade have been minimal. It is now 
considered a minor pest that can be readily controlled locally.
    Establishments that may be affected are ones that grow, handle, or 
move regulated pine (Pinus spp.) products: bark products, Christmas 
trees, logs and firewood with bark attached, lumber with bark attached, 
nursery stock, raw pine materials for pine wreaths and garlands, and 
stumps. Potentially affected establishments include timber tract 
operations, forest product operations, logging companies, forest tree 
nurseries, and Christmas tree operations. The majority of these 
establishments are small entities.
    Regulated articles from PSB quarantined areas may be moved 
interstate if accompanied by a certificate or limited permit. Under the 
rule, affected establishments in the Federal PSB quarantine areas will 
no longer incur costs of complying with certification or permitting 
requirements. Businesses that operate under Federal PSB compliance 
agreements, of which there are about 100, are the establishments most 
likely to be shipping regulated articles interstate. With this rule, 
they will forgo the paperwork and recordkeeping costs of compliance. 
For affected entities that do not operate under compliance agreement, 
the costs of inspection are incurred by APHIS, unless they occur 
outside of normal working hours.
    We estimate that an establishment with an active PSB compliance 
agreement spends 4 to 8 hours annually collecting data and ensuring 
adherence to the agreement. Based on this estimate, total annual cost 
savings from PSB deregulation for establishments with active compliance 
agreements could be between $12,480 and $59,600. In accordance with 
guidance on complying with Executive Order 13771, the single primary 
estimate of the cost savings of this rule is about $36,000, the mid-
point estimate annualized in perpetuity using a 7 percent discount 
rate.
    Besides yielding cost savings for entities with compliance 
agreements, sales volumes for at least some businesses could increase 
if their sales are constrained because of the Federal quarantine. 
Restrictions ultimately borne will depend on whether States decide to 
enforce their own PSB quarantine programs.
    Internationally, the deregulation is unlikely to affect exports of 
pine products. In 2018, the United States exported about $240 million 
of pine logs and timber, of which $75 million were Christmas trees and 
other plants used for ornamental purposes. However, these exports are 
required to be treated otherwise for pine wood nematode under a systems 
approach and accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate as proof that 
the trees meet the importing countries' requirements, as documented in 
International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 12.
    Longer term, any delay in PSB spread attributable to the quarantine

[[Page 61809]]

regulations will end with promulgation of the rule. It is possible that 
without the PSB program, human-assisted dispersal of PSB would have 
occurred more rapidly and extended to areas that are not yet infested; 
the impact of the rule on pine populations in natural and urban 
environments within and outside currently quarantined areas--and on 
businesses that grow, use, or process pine products--is indeterminate. 
Still, PSB has caused negligible direct damage despite having spread 
widely, and compliance costs that will no longer be incurred under the 
rule are minimal.
    Based on this information, the APHIS Administrator has determined 
that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities.

Executive Order 12372

    This program/activity is listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance under No. 10.025 and is subject to Executive Order 12372, 
which requires intergovernmental consultation with State and local 
officials. (See 2 CFR chapter IV.)

Executive Order 12988

    This final rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. This rule: (1) Preempts all State and local laws 
and regulations that are inconsistent with this rule; (2) has no 
retroactive effect; and (3) does not require administrative proceedings 
before parties may file suit in court challenging this rule.

Congressional Review Act

    Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), 
the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs designated this rule 
as not a major rule, as defined by 5U.S.C. 804(2).

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This final rule contains no reporting or recordkeeping requirements 
under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

List of Subjects

7 CFR Part 301

    Agricultural commodities, Plant diseases and pests, Quarantine, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

7 CFR Part 319

    Coffee, Cotton, Fruits, Imports, Logs, Nursery stock, Plant 
diseases and pests, Quarantine, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Rice, Vegetables.

    Accordingly, we are amending 7 CFR parts 301 and 319 as follows:

PART 301--DOMESTIC QUARANTINE NOTICES

0
1. The authority citation for part 301 continues to read as follows:

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

    Section 301.75-15 issued under Sec. 204, Title II, Public Law 
106-113, 113 Stat. 1501A-293; sections 301.75-15 and 301.75-16 
issued under Sec. 203, Title II, Public Law 106-224, 114 Stat. 400 
(7 U.S.C. 1421 note).

Subpart G [Removed and Reserved]

0
2. Subpart G, consisting of Sec. Sec.  301.50 through 301.50-10, is 
removed and reserved.

PART 319--FOREIGN QUARANTINE NOTICES

0
3. The authority citation for part 319 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 1633, 7701-7772, and 7781-7786; 21 U.S.C. 
136 and 136a; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.3.


Sec.  319.40-3  [Amended]

0
4. Section 319.40-3 is amended by:
0
a. In paragraph (a)(1)(i)(A), removing ``, and;'' and adding ``; and'' 
in its place;
0
b. Removing paragraph (a)(1)(i)(B); and
0
c. Redesignating paragraph (a)(1)(i)(C) as (a)(1)(i)(B).


Sec.  319.40-5  [Amended]

0
5. Section 319.40-5 is amended by removing and reserving paragraph (m).

    Done in Washington, DC, this 24th day of September 2020.
Michael Watson,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-21800 Filed 9-30-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P