Rural Utilities Service March 2016 – Federal Register Recent Federal Regulation Documents

Announcement of Grant and Loan Application Deadlines
Document Number: 2016-07309
Type: Notice
Date: 2016-03-31
Agency: Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announces its Revolving Fund Program (RFP) application window for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. The RFP is authorized under section 306(a)(2)(B) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (Con Act), 7 U.S.C. 1926(a)(2)(B). Under the RFP, qualified private, non-profit organizations may receive RFP grant funds to establish a lending program for eligible entities. Eligible entities for the revolving loan fund will be the same entities eligible, under paragraph 1 or 2 of Section 306(a) of the Con Act, 7 U.S.C. 1926(a)(1) or (b)(2), to obtain a loan, loan guarantee, or grant from the RUS Water, Waste Disposal, and Wastewater loan and grant programs. This year administrative discretion points may be awarded for work plans that: 1. Direct loans to the smallest communities with the lowest incomes emphasizing areas where according to the American Community Survey data by census tracts show that at least 20 percent of the population is living in poverty. This emphasis will support Rural Development's goal of providing 20 percent of its funding by 2016 to these areas of need. 2. Direct loans to areas that lack running water, flush toilets, and modern sewage disposal systems, and areas which have open sewers and high rates of disease caused by poor sanitation, in particular, colonias or Substantially Underserved Trust Areas. 3. Direct loans that emphasize energy and water efficient components to reduce costs and increase sustainability of rural systems.
Farm Bill: Strategic Economic and Community Development-Reservation of Fiscal Year 2016 Program Funds
Document Number: 2016-06035
Type: Notice
Date: 2016-03-17
Agency: Department of Agriculture, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, Rural Housing Service, Rural Utilities Service
Section 6025 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill) provides the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to give priority to projects that support strategic economic development or community development plans. The Agency has the authority to reserve funds for those programs (referred to as the ``underlying programs'') included in 7 CFR part 1980, subpart K, Strategic Economic and Community Development (SECD), for projects that support multi-jurisdictional strategic economic and community development plans. This notice identifies for fiscal year 2016 the underlying programs from which funds will be reserved for Section 6025 SECD requirements. Those programs are listed in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.
Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA); Correction
Document Number: 2016-05926
Type: Notice
Date: 2016-03-16
Agency: Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) published in the Federal Register, on March 9, 2016 a Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA), announcing the Household Water Well System Grant Program application window for fiscal year (FY) 2016. Inadvertently, an incorrect web link was included in the NOSA that did not permit access to the intended Web site. This document removes the incorrect web reference and replaces it with the correct version.
Information Collection Activity; Comment Request
Document Number: 2016-05925
Type: Notice
Date: 2016-03-16
Agency: Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service
In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35, as amended), the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) invites comments on this information collection for which RUS intends to request approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Information Collection Activity; Comment Request
Document Number: 2016-05585
Type: Notice
Date: 2016-03-14
Agency: Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service
In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35, as amended), the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) invites comments on this information collection for which RUS intends to request approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Telecommunications Program: Notice of Availability of a Programmatic Environmental Assessment
Document Number: 2016-05584
Type: Notice
Date: 2016-03-14
Agency: Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS, Agency), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, issued a Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for the development of a more efficient and effective environmental review process for the RUS Telecommunications Program on March 1, 2016. The Notice of Availability of a Programmatic Environmental Assessment was published on March 2, 2016, in the Federal Register at 81 FR 10575. The PEA provides a broad environmental analysis of the Agency's preliminary decisions and includes a tiered, site-specific analysis at the project level that would be completed before Agency dispersal of funds and/or applicant construction. Since publication of the Agency's Environmental Policies and Procedures (7 CFR part 1970) in the Federal Register (81 FR 11000) on March 2, 2016, RUS has updated the PEA with citations to the Agency's new environmental rule. These changes are administrative and not substantive, therefore supplementation of the PEA is not required.
Announcement of Grant Application Deadlines and Funding Levels
Document Number: 2016-05170
Type: Notice
Date: 2016-03-09
Agency: Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announces its Household Water Well System (HWWS) Grant Program application window for fiscal year (FY) 2016. RUS will make grants to qualified private non-profit organizations to establish lending programs for homeowners to borrow up to $11,000 to construct or repair household water wells for an existing home. The HWWS Grant Program is authorized under 7 U.S.C. 1926e. Regulations may be found at 7 CFR part 1776. This year RUS will assign administrative discretion points to applications that: 1. Direct loans to rural areas where according to the American Community Survey data by census tracts show that at least 20 percent of the population is living in poverty. This emphasis will support Rural Development's (RD's) goal of providing 20 percent of its funding by 2016 to these areas of need. 2. Direct loans to areas which lack running water, flush toilets, and modern sewage disposal systems, and areas which have open sewers and high rates of disease caused by poor sanitation, in particular, colonias or Substantially Underserved Trust Areas.
Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request
Document Number: 2016-04788
Type: Notice
Date: 2016-03-04
Agency: Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service
Environmental Policies and Procedures
Document Number: 2016-03433
Type: Rule
Date: 2016-03-02
Agency: Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, Rural Housing Service, Rural Utilities Service, Office of the Secretary
Rural Development, a mission area within the U.S. Department of Agriculture comprised of the Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS), Rural Housing Service (RHS), and Rural Utilities Service (RUS), hereafter referred to as the Agency, has unified and updated the environmental policies and procedures covering all Agency programs by consolidating two existing Agency regulations that implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other applicable environmental requirements. These final rules supplement the regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the regulations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation(ACHP), associated environmental statutes, Executive Orders and Departmental Regulations. The majority of the changes to the existing rules relate to the categorical exclusion provisions in the Agency's procedures for implementing NEPA. These changes consolidate the provisions of the Agency's two current NEPA rules, and better conform the Agency's regulations, particularly for those actions listed as categorical exclusions, to the Agency's current activities and recent experiences and to CEQ's Memorandum for Heads of Federal Departments and Agencies entitled ``Establishing, Applying, and Revising Categorical Exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act'' issued on November 23, 2010.
Telecommunications Program: Notice of Availability of a Programmatic Environmental Assessment
Document Number: 2016-04381
Type: Notice
Date: 2016-03-01
Agency: Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS, Agency), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, seeks public and federal agency comments regarding the preparation of a Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for the development of a more efficient and effective environmental review process for the RUS Telecommunications Programan environmental review process that is commensurate with the potential environmental impacts of both wired and wireless broadband projects financed by the Agency. RUS is seeking comment from interested stakeholders regarding compliance with relevant laws and regulations, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other environmental statutes, regulations, and Executive Orders applicable to the RUS Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program, Farm Bill Broadband Loan Program, Community Connect Grant Program, and Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program (collectively, the Telecommunications Program). The proposed review process supports the Agency's mission of facilitating the development of affordable and reliable broadband infrastructure to improve the quality of life and promote economic development in rural America. The Agency programs provide a necessary source of low-cost capital for rural telecommunications companies (broadband, wireless, and fiber-to-the-home providers). RUS actions covered in the PEA include certain Agency preliminary decisions (such as obligation of funds and approval of interim financing requests) to eligible applicants for project proposals within eligible service areas. In accordance with NEPA, NHPA, ESA, and other applicable environmental statutes, regulations, and Executive Orders, RUS must evaluate the environmental impact of project proposals before providing financial assistance to eligible applicants. The PEA provides a broad environmental analysis of the Agency's preliminary decisions and includes a tiered, site-specific analysis at the project level that would be completed before Agency dispersal of funds and/or applicant construction.
Underlying Programs Cross-References to the Strategic Economic and Community Development; Technical Amendments
Document Number: 2016-04309
Type: Rule
Date: 2016-03-01
Agency: Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, Rural Housing Service, Rural Utilities Service
Rural Development (RD) is correcting an oversight of omitting cross-reference to the Strategic Economic and Community Development priority in the underlying programs when it published the rule for the priority.