[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 99 (Wednesday, May 23, 2007)]
[Notices]
[Pages 28947-28948]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-9895]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2007-0060]


Emerald Ash Borer; Availability of an Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability and request for comments.

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SUMMARY: We are advising the public that an environmental assessment 
has been prepared by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 
relative to the release of three insect parasitoid species for the 
biological control of the emerald ash borer Agrilus planipennis. The 
environmental assessment documents our review and analysis of 
environmental impacts associated with the release of these biological 
control agents. We are making this environmental assessment available 
to the public for review and comment.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before June 
22, 2007.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://
www.regulations.gov, select ``Animal and Plant Health Inspection 
Service'' from the agency drop-down menu, then click ``Submit.'' In the 
Docket ID column, select APHIS-2007-0060 to submit or view public 
comments and to view supporting and related materials available 
electronically. Information on using Regulations.gov, including 
instructions for accessing documents, submitting comments, and viewing 
the docket after the close of the comment period, is available through 
the site's ``User Tips'' link.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send four copies 
of your comment (an original and three copies) to Docket No. APHIS-
2007-0060, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-
03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state 
that your comment refers to Docket No. APHIS-2007-0060.
    Reading Room: You may read any comments that we receive on the 
environmental assessment in our reading room. The reading room 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) 690-2817 before coming.
    Other Information: Additional information about APHIS and its 
programs is available on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Juli Gould, Entomologist, Otis 
Pest Survey, Detection, and Exclusion Laboratory, PPQ, APHIS, Building 
1398, Otis ANGB, MA 02542-5008; (508) 563-9303 ext. 220.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The emerald ash borer (EAB) (Agrilus planipennis) is a destructive 
woodboring insect that attacks ash trees (Fraxinus spp., including 
green ash, white ash, black ash, and several horticultural varieties of 
ash). The insect, which is indigenous to Asia and known to occur in 
China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, the Russian Far East, Taiwan, and 
Canada, eventually kills healthy ash trees after it bores beneath their 
bark and disrupts their vascular tissues.
    The EAB regulations in 7 CFR 301.53-1 through 301.53-9 restrict the 
interstate movement of regulated articles from quarantined areas to 
prevent the artificial spread of EAB into noninfested areas of the 
United States. The States of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio and portions 
of the State of Michigan are currently designated as quarantined areas. 
We are also in the process of establishing a quarantine in Prince 
George's County, MD.
    Despite State and Federal quarantines designed to contain EAB, the 
lack of effective methods to detect EAB-infested trees and the large 
area of EAB infestation has resulted in a shift in strategy by 
regulatory agencies from area-wide eradication to eradication in 
outlying areas and containment in the core infestation area. In the 
United States, EAB eradication efforts involve the removal of all ash 
trees within a specified radius around known infestations. However, by 
the time an infestation is discovered and treated, EAB has usually 
already dispersed outside the eradication zone. Besides natural 
dispersal, the spread of EAB has been accelerated through human-
assisted movement of infested ash firewood, timber, solid wood packing 
materials, and nursery stock. As EAB spreads throughout North America, 
regulatory agencies, land managers, and the public are seeking 
sustainable management tools such as biological control to reduce EAB 
population densities and to slow its spread.
    APHIS has completed an environmental assessment that examines the 
potential effects on the quality of the human environment that may be 
associated with the release of three specific biological control agents 
to control infestations of EAB within the continental United States. 
APHIS and the Forest Service propose to release the three parasitoids 
into the environment of the continental United States for the purpose 
of reducing EAB populations. These parasitoids are known to attack EAB 
consistently in its native habitat in China. Initial releases of each 
parasitoid are planned for summer 2007. Post-release monitoring of the 
spread and establishment of each parasitoid species and impacts on EAB 
and non-target wood-boring beetles will also be conducted.
    APHIS' review and analysis of the potential environmental impacts 
associated with this biological control action are documented in detail 
in an environmental assessment entitled ``Proposed Release of Three 
Parasitoids for the Biological Control of the Emerald

[[Page 28948]]

Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) in the Continental United States'' 
(April 2, 2007). We are making this environmental assessment available 
to the public for review and comment. We will consider all comments 
that we receive on or before the date listed under the heading DATES at 
the beginning of this notice.
    The environmental assessment may be viewed on the Regulations.gov 
Web site or in our reading room (see ADDRESSES above for instructions 
for accessing Regulations.gov and information on the location and hours 
of the reading room). You may request paper copies of the environmental 
assessment by calling or writing to the person listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT. Please refer to the title of the environmental 
assessment when requesting copies.
    The environmental assessment has been prepared in accordance with: 
(1) The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended 
(42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), (2) regulations of the Council on 
Environmental Quality for implementing the procedural provisions of 
NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), (3) USDA regulations implementing NEPA 
(7 CFR part 1), and (4) APHIS' NEPA Implementing Procedures (7 CFR part 
372).

    Done in Washington, DC, this 17th day of May 2007 .
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. E7-9895 Filed 5-22-07; 8:45 am]
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