[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 192 (Thursday, October 4, 2007)]
[Notices]
[Pages 56720-56721]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-19647]


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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 
and Finding of No Significant Impact

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: We are advising the public that an environmental assessment 
and finding of no significant impact have 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 impact associated with, and 
alternatives to, the release of these biological control agents. Based 
on its finding of no significant impact, the Animal and Plant Health 
Inspection Service has determined that an environmental impact 
statement need not be prepared.

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; Prince 
George's County, MD; and portions of the State of Michigan are 
currently designated as quarantined areas.
    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

[[Page 56721]]

area-wide eradication to eradication in outlying areas and containment 
in the core infestation areas. 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 
in 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.
    On May 23, 2007, we published in the Federal Register (72 FR 28947-
28948, Docket No. APHIS-2007-0060) a notice \1\ in which we announced 
the availability for public review and comment of an environmental 
assessment, entitled ``Proposed Release of Three Parasitoids for the 
Biological Control of the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) in 
the Continental United States'' (April 2, 2007), that examined 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 proposed 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. 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.
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    \1\ To view the notice, the environmental assessment, the 
finding of no significant impact, and the comments we received, go 
to http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/
main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2007-0060.
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    We solicited comments on the environmental assessment for 30 days 
ending June 22, 2007. We received 41 comments by that date, of which 30 
supported the release of the biological control agents to control 
infestations of EAB. The 11 comments that opposed the release are 
addressed at length in the updated environmental assessment.
    In this document, we are advising the public of our decision and 
finding of no significant impact regarding the release of three insect 
parasitoid species for the biological control of the emerald ash borer. 
This decision is based upon the updated environmental assessment, 
entitled ``Proposed Release of Three Parasitoids for the Biological 
Control of the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) in the 
Continental United States'' (July 2007).
    The updated environmental assessment and finding of no significant 
impact may be viewed on the Regulations.gov Web site \2\ or in our 
reading room at USDA, room 1141, South Building, 14th Street and 
Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except holidays. Persons wishing to view the 
updated environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact 
are requested to call ahead on (202) 690-2817 to facilitate entry into 
the reading room. You may request paper copies of the updated 
environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact 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.
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    \2\ See footnote 1.
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    The environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact 
have 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 27th day of September 2007.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. E7-19647 Filed 10-3-07; 8:45 am]
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