[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 193 (Wednesday, October 5, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 61622-61625]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-25748]


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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 193 / Wednesday, October 5, 2011 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 61622]]



DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

8 CFR Part 100

[Docket No. USCBP-2011-0016]
RIN 1651-AA88


Potential Closing of Morses Line Border Crossing

AGENCY: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, DHS.

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking.

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

SUMMARY: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) currently operates a 
border crossing known as Morses Line, Vermont, located within the port 
limits of the port of entry of Highgate Springs/Alburg, Vermont. CBP 
officers are stationed at the Morses Line border crossing to accept 
entries of merchandise, collect duties, and enforce various provisions 
of the customs and immigration laws. The Morses Line border crossing is 
an aging facility that requires extensive upgrades and significant 
financial resources to update the facility to today's modern standards 
of border crossings. Based on internal analyses, feedback from many 
individuals in the local community, and consultation with members of 
Congress, CBP is evaluating the potential closure of the Morses Line 
border crossing. CBP is seeking public comment on this potential 
closure.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before December 5, 2011.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by docket number, by one 
of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments via docket number 
USCBP-2011-0016.
     Mail: Border Security Regulations Branch, Office of 
International Trade, Customs and Border Protection, Regulations and 
Rulings, Attention: Border Security Regulations Branch, 799 9th Street, 
NW., 5th Floor, Washington, DC 20229-1179.
    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name 
and docket number for this rulemaking. All comments received will be 
posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any 
personal information provided. For detailed instructions on submitting 
comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the 
``Public Participation'' heading of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION 
section of this document.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov. Submitted comments 
may also be inspected on regular business days between the hours of 9 
a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the Office of International Trade, Customs and 
Border Protection, 799 9th Street, NW., 5th Floor, Washington, DC. 
Arrangements to inspect submitted comments should be made in advance by 
calling Mr. Joseph Clark at (202) 325-0118.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Roger Kaplan, CBP Office of Field 
Operations, telephone (202) 325-4543. You may also visit CBP's Morses 
Line Web site at http://www.cbp.gov/MorsesLineInfo.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Public Participation

    Interested persons are invited to participate in this rulemaking by 
submitting written data, views, or arguments on all aspects of this 
advance notice of proposed rulemaking. CBP also invites comments that 
relate to the economic, environmental, or federalism effects that might 
result from this proposal.

Background

    CBP ports of entry are locations where CBP officers and employees 
are assigned to accept entries of merchandise, clear passengers, 
collect duties, and enforce the various provisions of customs, 
immigration, agriculture, and related U.S. laws at the border. The term 
``port of entry'' is used in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in 
title 8 for immigration purposes and in title 19 for customs purposes. 
Concerning customs purposes, the list of designated CBP ports of entry 
is set forth in paragraph (b)(1) of section 101.3 of the CBP 
regulations (19 CFR 101.3(b)(1)). Paragraph (b)(1) also provides the 
corresponding limits of those ports, generally by reference to a 
Treasury Decision (T.D.). The port of entry of Highgate Springs/Alburg, 
Vermont is described in T.D. 77-165 and includes the Morses Line border 
crossing.
    For immigration purposes, 8 CFR 100.4(a) lists ports of entry for 
aliens arriving by vessel and land transportation. These ports are 
listed according to location by districts and are designated as Class 
A, B, or C. Morses Line is included in this list, in District No. 22, 
as a Class A port of entry, meaning a port that is designated as a port 
of entry for all aliens arriving by any means of travel other than 
aircraft.
    Built in 1934, the Morses Line facility is CBP's oldest land border 
crossing facility, and its capabilities reflect the design requirements 
of that time. Although the crossing has undergone some limited 
renovation since it was built, a new facility would be needed to meet 
modern operational, safety, and technological demands. For an analysis 
of both the costs of updating the crossing and the costs of closing the 
crossing, see the section of this document entitled: Executive Order 
12866: Regulatory Planning and Review. As indicated in that section, 
CBP has determined that the net benefit of closing rather than updating 
the crossing would be about $5.5 million the first year and $640,000 
each year after that. Among other things, the analysis takes into 
account that the Morses Line crossing is one of CBP's lesser trafficked 
crossings, processing about 40 vehicles a day, as well as the close 
proximity of other border crossings.

Potential Closure of the Border Crossing

    After hearing initial concerns expressed by members of Congress and 
some of their constituents regarding expansion and modernization of the 
Morses Line border crossing and considering the net benefits regarding 
closure of the crossing, CBP decided to investigate whether closing the 
crossing would be preferable to undertaking a modernization project. 
The low volume of traffic utilizing the Morses Line crossing as well as 
the proximity of alternate crossings, suggest that the cost

[[Page 61623]]

and expansion needed to modernize the crossing may not be justified. 
Therefore, CBP is conducting an evaluation to determine whether to 
close the Morses Line border crossing.
    The closure of the Morses Line border crossing would mean that CBP 
officers would not be stationed there and that the road at the border 
would be secured. Persons wishing to cross the border would need to 
travel to the closest manned U.S. border crossing, which would most 
likely be Highgate Springs, which is about 17 miles west, in the port 
of entry of Highgate Springs/Alburg, Vermont or the West Berkshire 
crossing, which is about 10 miles east, in the port of entry of 
Richford, Vermont.

Obstacles To Modernizing the Border Crossing

    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), Public 
Law 111-5 (Feb. 17, 2009), included funding for CBP to renovate various 
ports and crossings along the U.S.-Canadian border. CBP intended to use 
funds from ARRA to modernize the Morses Line border crossing. However, 
this funding has expired. Congress would now have to specifically 
appropriate funding and provide authorization for CBP to modernize the 
border crossing.
    Also, for the Morses Line border crossing to remain open, CBP must 
build a new facility, which would require a larger land footprint. 
Thus, CBP will need to acquire private land adjacent to the existing 
facility. The current property owner remains strongly opposed to 
selling his land to CBP to expand the border crossing.

Public Consultations

    On May 22, 2010, representatives from CBP held a town hall meeting 
in Morses Line, Vermont. The members of the public in attendance at 
this meeting conveyed their sentiment that the border crossing should 
be closed rather than expanded. Shortly after this meeting, CBP began 
the review process for closing the crossing. Since that time, members 
of the public have spoken out both in favor and opposition of the 
contemplated closure. The communities on both sides of the border have 
held several public meetings, including one on September 25, 2010, to 
protest the possible closure of the crossing.

Public Comments

    In view of the community interest in this matter, CBP encourages 
the public to submit comments regarding the potential closure of the 
Morses Line border crossing.

Next Steps

    If, after a full review and consideration of the public comments 
and other assessments, CBP determines that the Morses Line border 
crossing should be closed, CBP would publish a Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register, which would propose the 
closure. The NPRM would provide an additional opportunity for public 
comment. After the NPRM comment period closes, CBP would consider the 
public comments and determine whether to implement the NPRM as proposed 
by issuing a final rule. If CBP determines that the Morses Line 
crossing should remain open, CBP will publish a notice in the Federal 
Register withdrawing this ANPRM.

Congressional Notification

    On July 9, 2010, the Commissioner of CBP notified Congress of the 
potential closure of the Morses Line border crossing, fulfilling the 
congressional notification requirements of 19 U.S.C. 2075(g)(2) and 
section 417 of the Homeland Security Act (6 U.S.C. 217).

Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Planning and Review

    This Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) is not a 
significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866 and has not 
been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under that 
order. Below is CBP's preliminary assessment of the benefits and costs 
of this potential regulatory action. While an assessment of benefits 
and costs is not generally included in an ANPRM, we include one here to 
provide the public with as much information as possible. We welcome 
comments on the analytical approach and the data used.

Baseline Conditions

    Morses Line is one of CBP's lesser trafficked crossings, processing 
about 40 vehicles a day between 8 a.m. and midnight. The port of 
Highgate Springs assigns 6 full time staff to the crossing, costing 
about $668,000 per year, including benefits. In addition, CBP spends 
about $24,000 a year on operating expenses such as utilities and 
maintenance. The total annual cost of operating the crossing is about 
$692,000. CBP has determined that the Morses Line crossing requires 
significant renovation and expansion. We estimate that it would cost 
approximately $5 million to acquire the needed land and build 
facilities that meet all current safety and operational standards, so 
CBP would spend about $5.7 million the first year (construction plus 
operating costs) and $0.7 million each subsequent year if the crossing 
were to remain open.

Costs of Closing the Crossing

    The costs of this potential closure fall into three categories--the 
cost to CBP to physically close the port, the cost to U.S. travelers to 
drive to the next nearest port, and the cost to the economy of lost 
tourism revenue resulting from potential decreased Canadian travel. We 
estimate that it would cost approximately $158,000 to physically close 
the port, which involves building road barricades, boarding up the 
building, and managing asbestos.
    In addition to the cost to the government of closing the port, we 
must examine the impact of this regulation on U.S. travelers (per 
guidance provided in OMB Circular A-4, this analysis is focused on 
costs and benefits to U.S. entities). Approximately 14,600 vehicles 
cross from Canada into the United States each year at Morses Line. 
According to CBP's Boston Field Office, vehicles crossing into the 
United States in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine carry an average of 
1.8 passengers, 31 percent of whom are U.S. citizens. Using these 
figures, we estimate that 26,280 passengers cross into the United 
States through Morses Line each year and 8,147 are U.S. citizens. If 
the crossing is closed, these travelers would need to travel to an 
alternate crossing which could cost them both time and money. CBP does 
not collect data on outbound travelers, but since Morses Line is used 
primarily for local travel, we assume that outbound traffic closely 
resembles inbound traffic.
    There are two alternate crossings near Morses Line--Highgate 
Springs, which is about 17 miles west, and West Berkshire, which is 
about 10 miles east. The alternate crossing travelers may choose would 
depend on their point of origin and their destination. In general, the 
closer the point of origin or destination to Morses Line, the more the 
traveler would be affected by the closure.
    Because CBP does not collect data on either a traveler's point of 
origin or destination, we used Google Maps' ``Get Directions'' feature 
to estimate the effect of the closure on travelers. Using this tool, we 
measured the distance and estimated time between each probable cross-
border combination (Abbot's Corner to Morses Line, Moore's Crossing to 
Franklin, etc.). We assume that travelers will always take the fastest 
route. Because Morses Line is not on major routes, it would not be the 
fastest route for the vast majority of travelers originating in or 
traveling outside this

[[Page 61624]]

area, so we only consider the immediate surrounding area in our 
analysis (current traffic volumes through Morses Line also support the 
assumption that travel is overwhelmingly local). We next measured the 
distance and estimated time for each combination assuming they could 
not travel through Morses Line.
    By comparing the distance and travel time for the fastest route to 
those for the fastest route that does not use Morses Line, we calculate 
the effect of the crossing closure on both travel time and miles 
traveled. For example, traveling from Morgan's Corner to Morses Line 
currently takes 18 minutes. If the Morses Line crossing is closed, it 
would take an estimated 36 minutes, 18 minutes longer. Table 1 shows 
the effects of the closure on time traveled for the points considered. 
Table 2 shows the effect on miles traveled.

                                                          Table 1--Difference in Time Traveled
                                                                        [Minutes]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Franklin
                                                            Morses                  County      Sheldon                Enosburg    Highgate
                                                             Line      Franklin      State      Springs     Sheldon      Falls      Springs     Swanton
                                                                                    Airport
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Phillipsburg Bird Sanctuary.............................          12           9           0           0           0           0           0           0
Morgan's Corner.........................................          18          16           0           0           0           2           0           0
Moore's Crossing........................................          31          22           2          10          10           7           0           0
Le Coin-chez Desranleau.................................          31          23           0          10          12           7           0           0
Campbell Corners........................................          29          15           5          10           9           0           0           0
Pigeon Hill.............................................          24          10           5           4           5           0           0           0
Eccles Hill.............................................          20           6           8           1           1           0           0           4
Saint Armand Centre.....................................          18           4           5           0           0           0           0           0
Krans Corners...........................................          21           6           5           2           1           0           0           0
Hunter Mills............................................           6           0           5           0           0           0           0           0
Frelighsburg............................................           6           0           5           0           0           0           0           0
Joy Hill................................................           2           0           1           0           0           0           0           0
Abbott's Corner.........................................           1           0           1           0           0           0           0           0
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                                        Table 2--Difference in Distance Traveled
                                                                         [Miles]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Franklin
                                                            Morses                  County      Sheldon                Enosburg    Highgate
                                                             Line      Franklin      State      Springs     Sheldon      Falls      Springs     Swanton
                                                                                    Airport
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Phillipsburg Bird Sanctuary.............................          10          11           0           0           0           0           0           0
Morgan's Corner.........................................          13           9           0           0           0           6           0           0
Moore's Crossing........................................          20          12           1           5           8           3           0           0
Le Coin-chez Desranleau.................................          20          12           0           5           8           2           0           0
Campbell Corners........................................          17           9           4           7           6           0           0           2
Pigeon Hill.............................................          13           5           3           4           4           0           0           1
Eccles Hill.............................................          12           4           5           3           3           0           0           3
Saint Armand Centre.....................................          11           2           3           0           0           0           0           2
Krans Corners...........................................          12           3           3           1           1           0           0           1
Hunter Mills............................................           5           0           3           0           0           0           0           2
Frelighsburg............................................           3           0           6           0           0           0           0           1
Joy Hill................................................           3           0           5           0           0           0           0           1
Abbott's Corner.........................................           2           0           4           0           0           0           0           1
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Because CBP does not collect data on the points of origin or 
destinations of travelers using Morses Line and because quality 
population data for these locations is not available, we assume that 
each route is used equally. Using this assumption probably overstates 
the costs of the closure because the area immediately surrounding 
Morses Line \1\ (which would be impacted most by the closure) is 
sparsely populated when compared to areas farther from the crossing, 
such as Franklin or Highgate Springs. Using this assumption we estimate 
that those whose trip is affected by the closure of Morses Line would 
be delayed by an average of 8.19 minutes (0.137 hours) and 5.7 miles 
for a one-way trip.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ The population of the zip code containing Morses Line and 
Franklin is approximately 1,500 people. http://vermont.hometownlocator.com/zip-codes/data,zipcode,05457.cfm.
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    In 2007, Industrial Economics, Inc. (IEc) conducted a study for CBP 
to develop ``an approach for estimating the monetary value of changes 
in time use for application in [CBP's] analyses of the benefits and 
costs of major regulations.'' \2\ We follow the three-step approach 
detailed in IEc's 2007 analysis here to monetize the increase in travel 
time resulting from the closure of Morses Line: (1) Determine the local 
wage rate, (2) determine the purpose of the trip, and (3) determine the 
value of the travel delay as a result of this rule. We start by using 
the median hourly rate of $15.73 for Vermont, as the effects of the 
rule are local.\3\ We next determine

[[Page 61625]]

the purpose of the trip. For the purposes of this analysis, we assume 
this travel will be personal travel and will be local travel. We 
identify the value of time multiplier recommended by the U.S. 
Department of Transportation (DOT) for personal, local travel, as 
0.5.\4\ Finally, we account for the value of the travel delay. Since 
the added time spent traveling is considered more inconvenient than the 
baseline travel, we account for this by using a factor that weighs time 
inconvenienced more heavily than baseline travel time. This factor, 
1.47, is multiplied by the average wage rate and the DOT value of time 
multiplier for personal, local travel for a travel time value of $11.56 
per traveler ($15.73 x 0.5 x 1.47).\5\
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    \2\ Robinson, Lisa A. 2007. ``Value of Time.'' Submitted to U.S. 
Customs and Border Protection on February 15, 2007. The paper is 
contained in its entirely as Appendix D in the Regulatory Assessment 
for the April 2008 final rule for the Western Hemisphere Travel 
Initiative requirements in the land environment (73 FR 18384; April 
3, 2008). See http://www.regulations.gov document numbers USCBP-
2007-0061-0615 and USCBP-2007-0061-0616.
    \3\ Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2010. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_vt.htm#00-0000.
    \4\ U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Revised 
Departmental Guidance, Valuation of Travel Time in Economic 
Analysis, (Memorandum from E. H. Frankel), February 2003, Tables 1.
    \5\ Wardman, M., ``A Review of British Evidence on Time and 
Service Quality Valuations,'' Transportation Research Part E, Vol. 
37, 2001, pp. 107-128.
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    We next multiply the estimated number of U.S. citizens entering 
through Morses Line in a year (8,147) by the average delay (0.137 hours 
calculated above) to arrive at the number of additional hours U.S. 
citizens would be delayed as a result of this rule--1,116 hours. We 
multiply this by the value of travel time ($11.56) to arrive at the 
value of the additional driving time for U.S. citizens arriving in the 
United States once Morses Line is closed. Finally, we double this to 
reach a total time cost of a round trip for U.S. citizens of $25,802.
    Besides the cost of additional travel time, we must consider the 
vehicular costs of a longer trip. We must first estimate the number of 
miles the closure of Morses Line would add to U.S. citizens' trips. The 
annual traffic arriving at Morses line is 14,600 vehicles. Since CBP 
does not track the number of vehicles entering by nationality, we 
estimate those owned by U.S. citizens. Since 31 percent of the 
passengers entering the United States by car in the Boston Field Office 
(which includes Morses Line) are U.S. citizens, we assume that 31 
percent of the vehicles are owned by U.S. citizens. Therefore, we 
estimate that 4,526 U.S.-owned vehicles would be affected by this rule. 
We multiply this by the average increase in round trip distance of 11.4 
miles for a total distance delay for U.S. owned vehicles of 51,596 
miles. We next monetize the delay by applying the IRS's standard 
mileage rate for business travel of $0.50 to these vehicles, which 
includes fuel costs, wear-and-tear, and depreciation of the vehicle. 
Because this is an estimate for business travel, it may overstate 
slightly costs for leisure travelers using their vehicles on leisure 
activities. We estimate that a closure of Morses line would cost U.S. 
citizens $25,798 in additional vehicular costs (14,600 vehicles x 31 
percent U.S. citizens x 11.4 miles x $0.50 per mile = $25,798).
    The final cost we must consider is the cost to the economy of lost 
tourism revenue resulting from potential decreased Canadian travel. 
Because of the lack of local tourism data for this specific region, we 
are unable to monetize or quantify these costs. We therefore discuss 
this qualitatively.
    Since both U.S. and foreign travelers would be inconvenienced by 
the closure of the Morses Line crossing, it is possible that fewer 
foreign travelers would choose to cross the border into the United 
States. To the extent that these visitors were spending money in the 
United States, local businesses would lose revenue. Since the average 
trip would only be lengthened by about 8 minutes, this effect would 
likely be very small. Also, it could be mitigated by U.S. citizens who 
would now choose to remain in the United States. We believe that the 
total impacts on the economy due to decreased travel to the United 
States are negligible.
    In summary, the closure of the Morses Line crossing would cost CBP 
$158,000 in direct closure costs in the first year, and U.S. travelers 
$25,802 in time costs and $25,798 in vehicular costs annually. Total 
costs to close the port would thus be $210,000 in the first year and 
$52,000 each following year.

Net Effect of Closure

    The costs to CBP of leaving the Morses Line crossing open would be 
$5.7 million the first year and $692,000 each following year. The costs 
of closing the crossing would be $210,000 the first year and $52,000 
each following year. Thus, the net benefit of the crossing closure 
would be about $5.5 million the first year and $640,000 each year after 
the first year.

    Dated: September 29, 2011.
Janet Napolitano,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2011-25748 Filed 10-4-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 9111-14-P