[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 236 (Thursday, December 8, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 76716-76725]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-31576]



[[Page 76716]]

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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

[FRL-9502-3; EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0141 and EPA-HQ-2011-0150]


Draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) 
General Permits for Discharges Incidental to the Normal Operation of a 
Vessel

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice of draft permit issuances and notice of public hearing.

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SUMMARY: EPA Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 are publishing 
for comment a draft NPDES Vessel General Permit (VGP) that would 
authorize discharges incidental to the normal operation of non-military 
and non-recreational vessels greater than or equal to 79 feet in 
length. If finalized, this draft VGP would replace the current VGP, 
which was issued in December 2008 and expires on December 19, 2013. EPA 
is also proposing a draft NPDES Small Vessel General Permit (sVGP) to 
authorize discharges incidental to the normal operation of non-military 
and non-recreational vessels less than 79 feet in length. EPA is 
proposing the sVGP to authorize discharges from vessels less than 79 
feet in length, because the P.L. 110-299 moratorium (subsequently 
extended by P.L. 111-215) expires on December 18, 2013. These laws 
generally provide that no NPDES permits shall be required for 
incidental discharges (except discharges of ballast water) from vessels 
less than 79 feet and commercial fishing vessels. EPA is soliciting 
comment on today's draft VGP and draft sVGP. Comments on any aspect of 
the permit, including the fact sheet discussions and economic analyses 
supporting the Agency's tentative decisions, are welcome. Note that in 
many places, EPA requests comments on specific aspects of today's draft 
permits; these specific solicitations are meant to highlight for 
commenters areas on which they may wish to focus, most often because 
these areas involve provisions not contained in the 2008 VGP. The 
requests for comment on specific aspects of the permit should not be 
interpreted as discouraging comment on other provisions or aspects of 
the draft permits.

DATES: Comments must be submitted on or before February 21, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-
2011-0141 for the VGP or Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0150 for the 
sVGP, by one of the following methods:
     www.regulations.gov: Follow on-line instructions for 
submitting comments.
     Email: ow-docket@epa.gov.
     Mail: Original and three copies to: Water Docket, 
Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code: 4101T, 1200 Pennsylvania 
Ave. NW., Washington DC 20460.
     Hand Delivery: EPA Docket Center, Public Reading Room, 
Room B102, EPA West Building, 1301 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, 
DC 20004. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal 
hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for 
deliveries of boxed information.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information on the VGP, 
including how to obtain copies of the draft general permit and fact 
sheet, contact Ryan Albert at EPA Headquarters, Office of Water, Office 
of Wastewater Management, Mail Code 4203M, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., 
Washington DC 20460; or at tel.: (202) 564-0763; or email at 
vgp@epa.gov. For further information on the sVGP, including how to 
obtain copies of the draft general permit and fact sheet, contact Robin 
Danesi at EPA Headquarters, Office of Water, Office of Wastewater 
Management, mail code 4203M, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW., Washington DC 
20460; or at tel.: (202) 564-1846; or e-mail at vgp@epa.gov">svgp@epa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This supplementary information is organized 
as follows:

Table of Contents

I. General Information
    A. Does this action apply to me?
    B. How can I get copies of these documents and other related 
information?
    C. Tips for Preparing Your Comments
    D. How and to whom do I submit comments?
    E. Public Hearing
    F. Public Meeting
    G. Webcast
    H. Finalizing the Permits
    I. Who are the EPA regional contacts for these draft permits?
II. Background of Permits
    A. Statutory and Regulatory History
    B. The 2008 VGP
    C. National Research Council and Science Advisory Board Ballast 
Water Studies
III. Summary of Today's Permits
    A. Summary of Significant Proposed Changes to the 2008 VGP
    B. Summary of the Draft sVGP
    C. Draft Permit Provisions on Which EPA Is Specifically 
Soliciting Comment
    D. Analysis of Economic Impacts of Draft VGP and Draft sVGP
    E. Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

I. General Information

A. Does this action apply to me?

    This action applies to vessels operating in a capacity as a means 
of transportation that have discharges incidental to their normal 
operation into waters subject to this permit, except recreational 
vessels as defined in Clean Water Act section 502(25) and vessels of 
the Armed Forces as defined in Clean Water Act section 312(a)(14). 
Affected vessels are henceforth referred to as non-military, non-
recreational vessels. Unless otherwise excluded from coverage by Part 6 
of the VGP and Part 5 of the sVGP, waters subject to this permit means 
waters of the U.S. as defined in 40 CFR section 122.2. That provision 
defines ``waters of the U.S.'' as certain inland waters and the 
territorial sea, which extends three miles from the baseline. More 
specifically, CWA section 502(8) defines ``territorial seas'' as ``the 
belt of the seas measured from the line of the ordinary low water along 
that portion of the coast which is in direct contact with the open sea 
and the line marking the seaward limit of inland waters, and extending 
seaward a distance of three miles.'' Note that the Clean Water Act 
(CWA) does not require NPDES permits for vessels or other floating 
craft operating as a means of transportation beyond the territorial 
seas, i.e., in the contiguous zone or ocean as defined by the CWA 
sections 502(9), (10). See CWA section 502(12) and 40 section CFR 
section 122.2 (definition of ``discharge of a pollutant''). This 
permit, therefore, does not apply in such waters.
    Non-military, non-recreational vessels greater than 79 feet in 
length operating in a capacity as a means of transportation that need 
NPDES coverage for their incidental discharges will generally be 
covered under the VGP. Similarly situated vessels less than 79 feet in 
length may be covered under the VGP, or may instead opt for coverage 
under the sVGP (unless those vessels have 8 or more cubic meters of 
ballast water capacity, in which case, they must seek coverage under 
the VGP).

B. How can I get copies of these documents and other related 
information?

    1. Docket. EPA has established an official public docket for this 
action: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW- 2011-0141 for the VGP and Docket ID 
No. EPA-HQ-OW- 2011-0150 for the sVGP. The official public docket is 
the collection of materials, including the administrative record 
required by 40 CFR 124.18, for the final permit. It is

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available for public viewing at the Water Docket in the EPA Docket 
Center, (EPA/DC) EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., 
Washington, DC 20460. Although all documents in the docket are listed 
in an index, some information is not publicly available, i.e., 
Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose 
disclosure is restricted by statute. Publicly available docket 
materials are available electronically through http://www.regulations.gov and in hard copy at the EPA Docket Center Public 
Reading Room, open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading 
Room is (202) 566-1744 and the telephone number for the Water Docket is 
(202) 566-2426.
    2. Electronic Access. You may access this Federal Register document 
electronically through the EPA Internet under the ``Federal Register'' 
listings at http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/. An electronic version of the 
public docket is available through the Federal Docket Management System 
(FDMS) found at http://www.regulations.gov. You may use the FDMS to 
view public comments, access the index listing of the contents of the 
official public docket, and to access those documents in the public 
docket that are available electronically. Once at the Web site, enter 
the appropriate Docket ID No. in the ``Search'' box to view the docket.
    Certain types of information will not be placed in the EPA dockets. 
Information claimed as CBI and other information whose disclosure is 
restricted by statute, which is not included in the official public 
docket, will not be available for public viewing in EPA's electronic 
public docket. EPA policy is that copyrighted material will not be 
placed in EPA's electronic public docket but will be available only in 
printed, paper form in the official public docket. Although not all 
docket materials may be available electronically, you may still access 
any of the publicly available docket materials through the docket 
facility identified in this section.

C. Tips for Preparing Your Comments

    Please follow these guidelines as you prepare your comments so that 
EPA can better address them in a timely manner.
    1. Identify the permit by docket number and other identifying 
information (subject heading, Federal Register date, and page number).
    2. Explain why you agree or disagree with any proposed provisions; 
suggest alternatives and substitute language for your requested 
changes.
    3. Describe any assumptions, and provide any technical information 
and/or data that you used.
    4. If you estimate potential costs or burdens, explain how you 
arrived at your estimate in sufficient detail to allow for it to be 
reproduced.
    5. Provide specific examples to illustrate your concerns, and 
suggest alternatives.
    6. Explain your views as clearly as possible.
    7. Make sure to submit your comments by the comment period 
deadline. EPA is not obligated to accept or consider late comments.

D. How and to whom do I submit comments?

    The opportunity to raise issues and provide information on the 
general permits is during the public comment period (see 40 CFR 124.13 
for more information). You may submit comments electronically, by mail, 
or through hand delivery/courier. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, 
identify the appropriate docket identification number in the subject 
line on the first page of your comment. To ensure that EPA can read, 
understand, and therefore properly respond to comments, the Agency 
would prefer that commenters cite, where possible, the paragraph(s) or 
section in the fact sheet or part of the permit to which each comment 
refers. Please ensure that your comments are submitted within the 
specified comment period. Comments received after the close of the 
comment period will be marked ``late.'' EPA is not required to consider 
these late comments (see, however, Section 3.15 of the fact sheet, 
where EPA expresses an intent to consider late comments with specific, 
narrow issue).
    For additional information about EPA's public docket, visit the EPA 
Docket Center homepage at http://www.epa.gov/epahome/dockets.htm. 
Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically 
in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the Water Docket in the EPA 
Docket Center, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., 
Washington, DC. A reasonable fee may be charged for copying. The Public 
Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Water 
Docket is (202) 566-1744.
    Comments may be submitted to EPA in the following ways:
    EPA Dockets. Use of EPA's electronic public docket to submit 
comments to EPA electronically is EPA's preferred method for receiving 
comments. Go directly to www.regulations.gov and follow the online 
instructions for submitting comments. Once in the system, select 
``search'' and then Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW- 2011-0141 for the VGP and 
Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW- 2011-0150 for the sVGP. The system is an 
``anonymous access'' system, which means EPA will not know your 
identity, email address, or other contact information unless you 
provide it in the body of your comment.
    E-mail. Comments may be sent by electronic mail (email) to ow-docket@epa.gov, Attention: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW- 2011-0141 for the 
VGP and Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW- 2011-0150 for the sVGP. In contrast to 
EPA's electronic public docket, EPA's email system is not an 
``anonymous access'' system. If you send an email comment directly to 
the Docket without going through EPA's electronic public docket, EPA's 
email system automatically captures your email address. Email addresses 
that are automatically captured by EPA's email system are included as 
part of the comment that is placed in the official public docket, and 
made available in EPA's electronic public docket.
    Disk or CD-ROM. You may submit comments on a disk or CD-ROM that 
you mail to the mailing address identified below. These electronic 
submissions will be accepted in Microsoft Word or ASCII file format. If 
EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot 
contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your 
comment. Avoid the use of special characters and any form of 
encryption.
    By Mail. Send the original and three copies of your comments to: 
Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode: 4101T, 1200 
Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460, Attention: Docket ID No. 
EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0150.
    By Hand Delivery or Courier. Deliver your comments to: Public 
Reading Room, Room B102, EPA West Building, 1301 Constitution Avenue 
NW., Washington, DC 20004, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0141 
for the VGP and Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0150 for the sVGP. Such 
deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of 
operation. Special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed 
information.

E. Public Hearing

    Because EPA anticipates a significant degree of public interest in 
the draft VGP and the draft sVGP, EPA will hold a public hearing on 
Wednesday January 11, 2012 to receive public comment and answer 
questions concerning the draft

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VGP and draft sVGP, and will present the proposed requirements of the 
draft VGP and the draft sVGP and the basis for those requirements. The 
hearing will be held at EPA East Room 1153, 1201 Constitution Ave. NW., 
Washington DC 20460, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST) or until all comments 
have been heard. Any person may provide written or oral statements and 
data pertaining to the draft permits at the public hearing. Depending 
on the number of people who desire to make an oral statement, EPA may 
impose limits on the time allowed for oral statements, which may result 
in the full statement not being heard. Therefore, EPA recommends that 
all those planning to present oral statements also submit written 
statements. Any person not making an oral statement may also submit a 
written statement. Please note that the public hearing may close early 
if all business is finished.

F. Public Meeting

    The focus of the public meeting is to present the proposed 
requirements of the draft VGP and draft sVGP and the basis for those 
requirements, as well as to answer questions concerning the draft 
permits. At this meeting, any person may provide written or oral 
statements and data pertaining to the draft permits. The date, time, 
and location of the public meeting is as follows:
    Monday January 23, 2012, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST or until all 
comments have been heard, Ralph H. Metcalfe Federal Building, Room 331, 
77 West Jackson Blvd., Chicago IL 60604.
    Depending on public interest, EPA may host at least one additional 
public meeting. Please see EPA's Web page at www.epa.gov/npdes/vessels, 
which will announce any additional public meetings. EPA will announce 
the public meeting on its Web page at least four weeks before it is 
scheduled to occur.
    EPA encourages interested and potentially affected stakeholders to 
attend one of the scheduled public meetings or hearings and provide 
oral or written comments. These meetings are open to the public. Please 
note that the public meeting may end early if all business is finished. 
Oral or written comments received at the public meeting will be entered 
into the Docket. If you are unable to attend, you may submit comments 
to the EPA Water Docket at the address listed under Section D.

G. Webcast

    EPA is scheduling a webcast to provide information on the draft 
permits and to answer questions for interested parties that are unable 
to attend the public meetings or public hearing. For information on the 
time, how to register, and how to attend the webcast, see EPA's Web 
site at http://www.epa.gov/npdes/vessels. EPA plans to schedule this 
webcast in the latter half of January and will announce it on its Web 
page at least four weeks before it is scheduled to occur. EPA also 
plans to make a recording of this webcast available on its Web page for 
future playback.

H. Finalizing the Permits

    After the close of public comment period, EPA will issue final 
permit decisions. These decisions will not be made until after all 
public comments have been considered and appropriate changes are made 
to the permits, fact sheet, and other supporting documents. EPA's 
response to comments received will be included in the docket as part of 
the final permit decisions. EPA plans to take final action on the draft 
VGP and sVGP by November 30, 2012. Note that EPA plans to take final 
action on the permit a year prior to expiration of the current VGP. EPA 
believes this approach makes sense, as it will give the regulated 
community substantial time to prepare for the application of new 
requirements.

I. Who are the EPA regional contacts for these draft permits?

    For EPA Region 1, contact John Nagle at US EPA, Region 1, New 
England/Office of Ecosystem Protection, 5 Post Office Square, Suite 
100, Mail Code: OEP 06-1, Boston, MA 02109-3912; or at tel.: (617) 918-
1054; or email at nagle.john@epa.gov.
    For EPA Region 2, contact Sara Sorenson at US EPA, Region 2, 290 
Broadway, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10007-1866; or at tel.: (212) 637-
3877; or email at sorenson.sara@epa.gov.
    For EPA Region 3, contact Mark Smith at US EPA, Region 3, 1650 Arch 
St., Mail Code: 3WP41, Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029, or at tel.: (215) 
814-3105; or email at smith.mark@epa.gov.
    For EPA Region 4, contact Marshall Hyatt at US EPA, Region 4/Water 
Permits Division, Atlanta Federal Center, 61 Forsyth St. SW., Atlanta, 
GA 30303-3104; or at tel.: (404) 562-9304; or email at 
hyatt.marshall@2epa.gov.
    For EPA Region 5, contact Sean Ramach at US EPA, Region 5, 77 W. 
Jackson Blvd., Mail Code: WN16J, Chicago, IL 60604-3507; or at tel.: 
(312) 886-5284; or email at ramach.sean@epa.gov.
    For EPA Region 6, contact Josh Waldmeier at U.S. EPA, Region 6, 
1445 Ross Ave., Suite 1200, Dallas, TX 75202-2733; or at tel.: (214) 
665-8064; or email at waldmeier.joshua@epa.gov.
    For EPA Region 7, contact Alex Owutaka at US EPA, Region 7, 901 N. 
5th St., Kansas City, KS 66101; or at tel.: (913) 551-7584; or email at 
owutaka.alex@epa.gov.
    For EPA Region 8, contact Lisa Luebke at US EPA, Region 8, 1595 
Wynkoop St., Mail Code: 8P-W-WW, Denver, CO 80202; or at tel.: (303) 
312-6256; or email at luebke.lisa@epa.gov.
    For EPA Region 9, contact Eugene Bromley at US EPA, Region 9, 75 
Hawthorne St., San Francisco, CA 94105-3901; or at tel.: (415) 972-
3510; or email at bromley.eugene@epa.gov.
    For EPA Region 10, contact Cindi Godsey at US EPA, Region 10, 222 
W. 7th Ave., Box 19, Anchorage, AK 99513; or at tel.: (907) 271-6561; 
or email at godsey.cindi@epa.gov.

II. Background Information

A. Statutory and Regulatory History

    The Clean Water Act (CWA) section 301(a) provides that ``the 
discharge of any pollutant by any person shall be unlawful'' unless the 
discharge is in compliance with certain other sections of the Act. 33 
USC 1311(a). The CWA defines ``discharge of a pollutant'' as ``(A) any 
addition of any pollutant to navigable waters from any point source, 
(B) any addition of any pollutant to the waters of the contiguous zone 
or the ocean from any point source other than a vessel or other 
floating craft.'' 33 USC 1362(12). A ``point source'' is a 
``discernible, confined and discrete conveyance'' and includes a 
``vessel or other floating craft.'' 33 USC 1362(14).
    The term ``pollutant'' includes, among other things, ``garbage * * 
* chemical wastes * * * and industrial, municipal, and agricultural 
waste discharged into water.'' The Act's definition of ``pollutant'' 
specifically excludes ``sewage from vessels or a discharge incidental 
to the normal operation of a vessel of the Armed Forces'' within the 
meaning of CWA section 312.33 USC 1362(6).
    One way a person may discharge a pollutant without violating the 
CWA section 301 prohibition is by obtaining authorization to discharge 
(referred to herein as ``coverage'') under a CWA section 402 National 
Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit (33 USC section 
1342). Under CWA section 402(a), EPA may ``issue a permit for the 
discharge of any pollutant, or combination of pollutants, 
notwithstanding section 1311(a)'' upon certain conditions required by 
the Act.
    EPA issued the original Vessel General Permit in response to a 
District Court ruling which vacated a longstanding regulatory exemption 
for

[[Page 76719]]

discharges incidental to the normal operation of vessels at 40 CFR 
122.3(a). Northwest Envtl. Advocates et al. v. United States EPA, 2006 
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69476 (N.D. Cal. 2006). EPA developed the VGP to 
regulate incidental discharges from vessels operating in a capacity as 
a means of transportation. That permit was issued on December 18, 2008, 
with an effective date of December 19, 2008. 73 FR 79,473 (Dec. 29, 
2008). Subsequently, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District 
of California issued an order providing that ``the exemption for 
discharges incidental to the normal operation of a vessel, contained in 
40 CFR 122.3(a), is vacated as of February 6, 2009.'' Northwest 
Environmental Advocates et al. v. United States EPA, No. C 03-05760-SI 
(December 17, 2008). Therefore, the date when the regulated community 
was required to comply with the VGP was February 6, 2009.
    In 2010, Congress enacted Public Law 111-215 which extended the 
moratorium (Pub. L. 110-299) prohibiting NPDES permitting for 
discharges incidental to the normal operation of commercial fishing 
vessels (regardless of size) and those other non-recreational vessels 
less than 79 feet in length until December 2013. That moratorium does 
not include ballast water discharges. That moratorium also does not 
apply to other incidental discharges, which on case-by-case basis, EPA 
or the State, as appropriate, determines contribute to a violation of 
water quality standards or pose an unacceptable risk to human health or 
the environment. The original legislation called for a two-year 
moratorium on permitting until July 31, 2010, during which time EPA was 
to study the relevant discharges and submit a report to Congress. EPA 
finalized this Report to Congress, entitled ``Study of Discharges 
Incidental to Normal Operation of Commercial Fishing Vessels and Other 
Non-Recreational Vessels Less Than 79 Feet'' in August 2010, and it can 
be viewed at: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/vessels/background.cfm.

B. The 2008 VGP

    The 2008 VGP addresses 26 potential vessel discharge streams by 
establishing effluent limits, including Best Management Practices 
(BMPs), to control the discharges of waste streams and constituents 
found in those waste streams. For these discharges, the permit 
establishes effluent limits pertaining to the constituents found in the 
effluent and BMPs designed to decrease the amount of constituents 
entering the waste stream. A vessel might not produce all of these 
discharges, but a vessel owner or operator is responsible for meeting 
the applicable effluent limits and complying with all the effluent 
limits for every listed discharge that the vessel produces.
    To obtain authorization, the owner or operator of a vessel that is 
either 300 or more gross registered tons or has the capacity to hold or 
discharge more than 8 cubic meters (2113 gallons) of ballast water is 
required to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to receive permit coverage, 
beginning six months after the permit's issuance date, but no later 
than nine months after the permit's issuance date. Owners or operators 
of vessels that meet the applicable eligibility requirements for permit 
coverage but are not required to submit an NOI, including vessels less 
than 300 gross registered tons with no more than 8 cubic meters of 
ballast water capacity are automatically authorized by the permit to 
discharge according to the permit requirements.
    The VGP requires owners or operators of vessels to conduct routine 
self-inspections and monitoring of all areas of the vessel that the 
permit addresses. The routine self-inspections are required to be 
documented in the ship's logbook. Analytical monitoring of certain 
discharges is required for certain types of vessels. The VGP also 
requires owners or operators of vessels to conduct comprehensive annual 
vessel inspections, to ensure even the hard-to-reach areas of the 
vessel are inspected for permit compliance. If the vessel is placed in 
dry dock while covered under the permit, a dry dock inspection and 
report is required to be completed. Additional monitoring requirements 
are imposed on owners or operators of certain classes of vessels, based 
on their unique characteristics.
    For additional information on the VGP, please go to www.epa.gov/npdes or see Docket ID. No. EPA-HQ-OW-2008-0055 at www.regulations.gov.

C. National Research Council and Science Advisory Board Ballast Water 
Studies

    As part of its strategy for improving the Agency's understanding of 
ballast water discharges, EPA, in partnership with the United States 
Coast Guard, commissioned two ballast water studies from highly 
respected, independent scientific entities. EPA commissioned these 
studies in order to produce the best possible scientific compendium of 
ballast water information relevant to the development of today's VGP. 
EPA commissioned these studies believing that they would help inform 
the Agency's decisions about what effluent limits to set for ballast 
water discharges.
    The first study was led by the National Research Council (which 
functions under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), 
the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine) and 
addressed how to assess risk to water quality associated with ballast 
water discharges (NAS, 2011). EPA designed this study to inform the 
Agency's development of water quality-based effluent limits for ballast 
water and related provisions for today's draft VGP. The NAS panel 
consisted of nine experts with extensive knowledge of issues 
surrounding invasive species. That panel found that they could not 
evaluate the risk associated with a variety of regulatory discharge 
limits because of ``a profound lack of data and information to develop 
and validate models'' and ``it was not possible with any certainty to 
determine the risk of nonindigenous species establishment under 
existing discharge limits'' (NAS 2011, pp. 3). The NAS report noted 
that setting a concentration based, ballast water discharge standard 
that is consistent with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) 
D-2 standard (the standard expressed in the 2004 International 
Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and 
Sediments) is ``clearly a first step forward'' (103), and that it 
``represents a significant reduction in concentrations beyond ballast 
water exchange'' (98). Furthermore, the report stated that the IMO D-2 
standard ``now provides a manageable baseline for developing scientific 
models that can be used to quantitatively determine ballast water 
discharge standards'' (101). Of further note, the report proposed a 
coordinated, large scale research program, consisting of two major 
parts: the first involving ``[a] well-designed ship discharge sampling 
program to measure propagule supply'' and the second involving an 
experimental, mesocosm based approach to calibrate models which should 
yield results in ``a three to five year time horizon'' (111). The NAS 
panel estimated that different elements of this research program would 
take between 3-10 years to complete. For a copy of the NAS report, 
please go to: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13184.
    The second study was led by EPA's autonomous Science Advisory Board 
(SAB) and evaluated the status of ballast water treatment technologies. 
EPA designed the SAB study to inform EPA's understanding of appropriate 
technology-based limits for ballast water provisions for today's draft 
VGP. The

[[Page 76720]]

SAB panel was made up of 22 scientists and engineers, a significant 
number of which are recognized as experts in evaluating ballast water 
treatment systems. The SAB found, among other things, that at least 
five types of ballast water treatments systems are available which 
treat to the limits found in the International Maritime Organization 
(IMO) Ballast Water Convention and proposed in today's permit. For a 
copy of the SAB report, please see: http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/fedrgstr_activites/BW%20discharge!OpenDocument&TableRow=2.3#2

III. Summary of Today's Permits

A. Summary of Significant Proposed Changes to the 2008 VGP

    For purposes of highlighting significant proposed changes to the 
2008 VGP, EPA is organizing this discussion into 3 sections: changes to 
ballast water requirements; changes to other incidental discharge 
effluent requirements; and changes to administrative requirements.
    1. Ballast Water. In today's draft permit, EPA is proposing new, 
more stringent numeric technology-based effluent limitations that are 
applicable to vessels with ballast water tanks and will largely replace 
the non-numeric effluent limitations for ballast water in the 2008 VGP. 
These limitations will achieve significant reductions in the number of 
living organisms discharged via ballast water into waters subject to 
this permit. Ballast water discharges are widely recognized as one of 
the primary sources (or vectors) for the spread of aquatic invasive 
species, also known as aquatic nuisance species (ANS). When species in 
ballast tanks are transported between waterbodies and discharged, they 
have potential for establishing new, non-indigenous populations that 
can cause severe economic and ecological impacts. EPA has expressed the 
numeric effluent limit for ballast water discharges as numbers of 
living organisms per cubic meter (i.e. as a maximum acceptable 
concentration) because reducing the concentration of living organisms 
will reduce inoculum densities of potential invasive species discharged 
in a vessel's ballast water, i.e., thereby reducing the risk posed by 
the discharge. EPA has proposed a staggered implementation schedule for 
certain existing vessels for achieving the numeric limitation by the 
first drydocking after January 1, 2014 or January 1, 2016 (depending 
upon vessel size), which may extend beyond the permit term for some 
vessels. Vessels newly constructed after January 1, 2012 that are 
subject to the numeric limitation must meet those limits upon entering 
U.S. waters upon the effective date of the permit. EPA notes that this 
time schedule is consistent with the timelines in the standards set 
forth in regulation D-2 of the International Ballast Water Convention 
established by the IMO. Also as part of today's draft permit, EPA has 
proposed maximum discharge limitations for certain biocides and 
residuals to limit the impact of these pollutants to waters subject to 
this permit. The draft permit would also allow for most vessels which 
meet the treatment requirements to no longer perform ballast water 
exchange.
    Under the draft VGP, vessel owner/operators subject to the 
concentration-based numeric discharge limitations would be able to meet 
their obligations in one of four ways: discharge ballast water meeting 
the applicable numeric limits of the VGP; transfer the ship's ballast 
water to a third party treatment at an NPDES permitted facility; use 
treated municipal/potable water as ballast water; or not discharge 
ballast water. As in the 2008 VGP, vessels enrolled in, and meeting the 
requirements of the US Coast Guard's Shipboard Technology Evaluation 
Program (STEP) would be deemed to be in compliance with the numeric 
limitations.
    In today's draft permit, the numeric concentration-based treatment 
limits for ballast water discharges would not apply to some vessels. 
Special requirements would apply to the following vessel classes: 
vessels operating exclusively within a limited area on short voyages; 
unmanned, unpowered barges; and existing bulk carrier vessels (commonly 
known as ``Lakers'') built before January 1, 2009 that operate 
exclusively in the Great Lakes upstream of the Welland Canal (referred 
to as existing ``confined Lakers''). See discussion below regarding 
specific draft requirements for Lakers.
    Due to the challenges of installing ballast water treatment systems 
currently available on the existing confined Lakers, and the lack of 
currently available ballast water treatment systems appropriate for 
these vessels, alternative technologies are being researched. If these 
issues can be appropriately addressed, e.g., if an active substance and 
disinfection regime is identified, such technology might be a 
potentially useful treatment technology for the confined Lakers. EPA is 
specifically seeking comment as to whether the numeric ballast water 
treatment limits should be applicable to existing confined Lakers. All 
confined Lakers built after January 1, 2009, however, would be required 
to meet ballast water treatment numeric technology-based effluent 
limits found in the VGP.
    EPA has determined that Best Available Technology Economically 
Achievable (BAT) over time will be a function of a vessel's 
construction date, size, and class. For certain existing vessels, EPA 
has proposed a staggered implementation schedule that requires the 
vessel to meet the numeric effluent limitations by the first drydocking 
after January 1, 2014 or January 1, 2016 depending on vessel size, 
which may extend beyond the permit term for certain vessels.
    The draft VGP would impose several best management practices (BMPs) 
for vessels until they are required to meet the numeric ballast water 
limits that EPA has found to be available, practicable and economically 
achievable. These interim requirements are substantially similar to 
those in the 2008 VGP.
    One of the interim management measures is that all vessels that are 
equipped to carry ballast water and enter the Great Lakes via the Saint 
Lawrence Seaway System must conduct saltwater flushing of ballast water 
tanks 200 nautical miles from any shore before entering either the U.S. 
or Canadian waters of the Seaway System. Additionally, vessels entering 
the Great Lakes utilizing a ballast water treatment system would also 
be required to conduct ballast water exchange or saltwater flushing (as 
applicable) in addition to meeting the numeric limits for ballast water 
once they apply if they meet the following requirements: (1) The vessel 
operates outside the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and more than 200 nm 
from any shore and then enters the Great Lakes, and (2) the vessel has 
taken on ballast water that has a salinity of less than 18 ppt from a 
coastal, estuarine, or freshwater ecosystem within the previous month. 
If a vessel affected by these draft conditions has not taken on ballast 
water with a salinity of less than 18 ppt in the previous month, the 
master of the vessel would be required to certify to this effect as 
part of the ballast water recordkeeping requirements before entering 
the Great Lakes.
    EPA has included in today's draft VGP three management measures 
specific to existing confined Lakers. EPA believes these requirements 
are economically practicable and achievable, and represent common sense 
approaches to managing ballast water discharges for vessels when they 
have not installed ballast water treatment systems. If existing 
confined

[[Page 76721]]

Lakers are retrofitted to meet the numeric effluent limits in the draft 
VGP, these vessels would no longer be required to perform these 
management measures.
    As in the 2008 VGP, EPA has included certain mandatory requirements 
for all vessels. These requirements are consistent with EPA's Science 
Advisory Board's recommendations to reduce risks at multiple points in 
the ballast's operations (See EPA SAB 2011, available at http://
yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/fedrgstr--activites/
6FFF1BFB6F4E09FD852578CB006E0149/$File/EPA-SAB-11-009-unsigned.pdf). 
Some of the mandatory requirements for all vessels equipped with 
ballast water tanks that operate in waters of the U.S. would be to: 
avoid the discharge of ballast water into waters subject to this permit 
that are within or that may directly affect marine sanctuaries, marine 
preserves, marine parks, shellfish beds, or coral reefs; minimize or 
avoid uptake of ballast water in the listed areas and situations; clean 
ballast tanks regularly to remove sediments in mid-ocean or under 
controlled arrangements in port, or at dry dock; when the vessel is 
equipped with high and low suction, utilize the high suction for 
ballast tank discharge to minimize the discharge of entrained sediment; 
and minimize the discharge of ballast water essential for vessel 
operations while in the waters subject to this permit. EPA estimated 
the cost and burden of the ballast water requirements in its economic 
analysis for the permit.
    2. Non-Ballast Water. Today's proposed VGP would impose more 
stringent technology-based effluent limits in the form of Best 
Management Practices for discharges of oil to sea interfaces. The draft 
VGP would require that all powered new build vessels (those constructed 
after December 19, 2013) must use ``environmentally acceptable 
lubricants'' in their oil-to-sea interfaces. Additionally, the draft 
VGP would authorize the discharge of fish hold effluent and establish 
appropriate Best Management Practices for this discharge type. EPA has 
also included numeric limits for exhaust gas scrubber effluent that are 
consistent with those established by International Maritime 
Organization guidelines for this discharge type. EPA is also 
specifically seeking input as to whether to include more stringent 
numeric limits for bilgewater for certain vessels, which would decrease 
the amount of oil (and potentially other pollutants) discharged into 
U.S. waters.
    The proposed VGP contains monitoring requirements for certain 
larger vessels for ballast water, graywater, and exhaust gas scrubber 
effluent if they discharge into waters subject to the permit. EPA has 
included this monitoring requirement to assure treatment systems are 
performing as required (when applicable) and to generate additional 
information for EPA's future analyses. EPA estimated the cost and 
burden of these requirements in its economic analysis for the permit.
    3. Administrative Improvements. EPA has made several efficiency 
improvements in the draft permit, including clarifying that electronic 
recordkeeping is allowed under the permit, eliminating duplicative 
reporting, and allowing consolidated reporting for certain vessels.
    Under this draft VGP, permittees not required to submit a NOI would 
be required to complete and keep a Permit Authorization and Record of 
Inspection (PARI) Form onboard their vessel at all times. EPA is 
proposing the PARI form requirement because the Agency believes it is 
an efficient way for the owner/operator to certify that they have read 
and agreed to comply with the terms of the permit, and demonstrate 
basic understanding of the permit's terms and conditions. In addition, 
the form will provide EPA (or its authorized representative) with a 
standardized foundation for conducting inspections.
    Under the draft VGP, EPA would consolidate the one-time report and 
annual noncompliance report into one annual report. As discussed in the 
fact sheet for today's permit, EPA found that the 2008 VGP reporting 
requirements resulted in confusion among some permittees. EPA believes 
that having a single annual report that permittees must file, which can 
include all of the permittee's analytical monitoring results (as 
applicable) for the previous year, would reduce this confusion and 
result in better information for the Agency. Additionally, the draft 
VGP would authorize a combined annual report for unmanned, unpowered 
barges if they meet specified criteria to maximize efficiency and 
reduce burden on a significant portion of the regulated universe. EPA 
believes that many of these barges are fundamentally similar and have a 
limited number of discharges. Furthermore, vessel owner/operators may 
have several thousand barges with these similar characteristics. Hence, 
EPA identified this provision as an efficient way to gather information 
by the agency without sacrificing data quality.
    EPA is specifically seeking comment on the administrative 
improvements in today's draft VGP, and soliciting suggestions for other 
efficiency improvements.

B. Summary of the Draft sVGP

    EPA is today proposing the Small Vessel General Permit (sVGP) for 
vessels less than 79 feet and all commercial fishing vessels. EPA is 
proposing the sVGP to provide coverage for vessels less than 79 feet in 
length because the Public Law 110-299 moratorium (subsequently extended 
by Pub. L. 111-215) expires on December 18, 2013. EPA recognizes that 
small commercial vessels are different in operation than larger 
commercial vessels, they generally have fewer discharge types, and that 
owner/operators of smaller vessels have particularized expertise and 
different resources available to manage their vessels than owner/
operators of larger vessels; hence, the draft sVGP is structured 
differently for this class of permittees.
    The draft sVGP would not require the vessel owner or operator to 
submit an NOI to receive permit coverage. However, as with vessels not 
required to submit an NOI under the VGP, sVGP permittees would be 
required to complete and keep a Permit Authorization and Record of 
Inspection (PARI) form onboard their vessel at all times. EPA also 
notes that vessel owner/operators of vessels less than 79 feet that 
have less than 8 cubic meters of ballast water may choose whether they 
wish to seek coverage under the sVGP or the VGP. The PARI form would 
document under which permit the owner/operator has sought coverage.
    The discharges covered in the draft sVGP are categorized into 
several broad categories listed in the permit. The management 
categories regulated under the draft sVGP are divided into general 
requirements, fuel management, engine and oil control, solid and liquid 
waste management, deck washdown and runoff and above water line hull 
cleaning, vessel hull maintenance, graywater management, fish hold 
effluent management, and ballast water management. Additionally, vessel 
owner/operators would be required to comply with practices to reduce 
pollutant concentrations in their discharges.
    The draft sVGP includes non-numeric effluent limits in the form of 
Best Management Practices (BMPs), which were developed for these 
discharges because EPA has determined that it is infeasible to 
calculate numeric effluent limits at this time. The BMPs are designed 
to minimize the amount of any discharge produced as well as reduce the 
likelihood the discharge would enter a waterbody. In addition to 
required

[[Page 76722]]

BMPs, the permit includes a section of encouraged BMPs. EPA believes 
that for most small vessel discharges, minimization of pollutants in 
those discharges can be achieved without using highly engineered, 
complex treatment systems.

C. Draft Permit Provisions on Which EPA Is Specifically Soliciting 
Comment

    While EPA encourages the public to review and comment on all 
aspects and provisions of the draft permits, EPA has included in the 
body of the draft VGP and sVGP several specific requests for comment on 
draft conditions. Note that in many places in this notice and the fact 
sheet for the draft permit, EPA requests comments on specific aspects 
of today's draft permit; these specific solicitations are meant to 
highlight for commenters areas on which they may wish to focus, most 
often because they involve provisions not contained in the 2008 VGP. 
They should not be interpreted as discouraging comment on other 
provisions of the draft permit. The following list summarizes many of 
these conditions and the nature of the Agency's specific request for 
comment, and indicates where they are included in the proposed permit:
    1. A four year permit term for the VGP, specifically, what are the 
merits of a four year permit term instead of the standard five year 
permit term? See Section 2.4 of the VGP fact sheet.
    2. The approach of not requiring vessels that are smaller than 300 
gross tons, and do not have the capacity to carry more than 8 cubic 
meters (2113 gallons) of ballast water to submit an NOI. See Part 
1.5.1.1 of the VGP and Section 3.7.1 of the VGP fact sheet.
    3. The requirement that vessel owner/operators that are not 
required to submit NOIs must complete, sign and maintain onboard the 
VGP PARI Form contained in Appendix K of the permit. See Part 1.5.1.2 
of the VGP and Section 3.7.2.2 of the VGP fact sheet.
    4. The inclusion of revised language in the proposed VGP regarding 
what may constitute new information with respect to ballast water 
discharges for the purposes of potentially modifying the permit during 
its term (the ``reopener'' provision). See Part 1.9.1 of the VGP and 
Section 3.11 of the VGP fact sheet.
    5. Whether the controls in this permit represent the BPT, BCT and 
BAT levels of control. If commenters believe that the proposed controls 
do not, or that other controls would better represent the BPT, BCT or 
BAT levels of control, explicitly provide data and information about 
the applicability of such controls to all types of commercial vessels 
in all weather/operating situations, and the costs and non-water 
quality environmental impacts, including energy impacts, of such 
options. See Part 2.1 of the VGP and Section 4.2. of the VGP fact 
sheet.
    6. The requirement that vessel owner/operators must outline their 
training plans in their recordkeeping documentation to show they have 
made good faith efforts to assure their crews can adequately maintain 
and use pollution prevention equipment and otherwise meet the terms of 
this permit. See Part 4.2 of the VGP and Section 4.3.1.6 of the VGP 
fact sheet.
    7. Whether to include more stringent bilgewater requirements for 
new build vessels and whether to provide existing vessels with 
additional bilgewater management options in the final VGP. See Part 
2.2.2 of the VGP and Section 4.4.2.2 of the VGP fact sheet.
    8. Whether ballast water management plans should be made available 
to the public, considering any benefits that might accrue from making 
the plans available to the public and any increases in administrative 
burdens on both permittees and the Agency that might result from such a 
requirement. See Part 2.2.3.2 of the VGP and Section 4.4.3.2 of the VGP 
fact sheet.
    9. Whether additional management measures which reduce risks at 
various stages of ballasting are appropriate to include in the final 
VGP. Specifically, what additional management measures the VGP should 
include, costs associated with those measures, and how well those 
measures reduce the risk from ballast water discharges. Also, any 
additional measures discussed by the NAS (2011) or SAB (2011) reports 
that EPA should consider incorporating in this permit. Please submit 
any data or other information supporting your recommendations. See Part 
2.2.3.3 of the VGP and Section 4.4.3.3 of the VGP fact sheet.
    10. The appropriateness of the biocide discharge limits, in 
particular, whether the limit for peracetic acid is adequately 
protective of coldwater environments. See Part 2.2.3.5.1.1.5.1 of the 
VGP and Section 4.4.3.5.1.1.4 of the VGP fact sheet.
    11. The approach of requiring owner/operators of ballast water 
treatment systems which use a biocide or biocide derivative that is not 
specifically authorized by the VGP to notify EPA at least 120 days in 
advance of its use, and the option of conducting whole effluent 
toxicity testing for those biocides or biocide derivatives that are not 
specifically authorized in the VGP in lieu of notification. See Part 
2.2.3.5.1.1.5.1 of the VGP and Section 4.4.3.5.1.1.6 of the VGP fact 
sheet.
    12. Whether the use of potable water generated by shipboard 
treatment systems on vessels which use small quantities of ballast 
water, for example utilizing potable water ballast to offset fuel 
consumption on research vessels, is an appropriate approach to meeting 
the numeric technology-based effluent limits of the 2013 VGP. See Part 
2.2.3.5.1.3 of the VGP and Section 4.4.3.5.3 of the VGP fact sheet.
    13. New definition of ``short distance voyage.'' Are these the 
appropriate definitions of such a voyage? Are these definitions 
workable for vessel operators? Are there alternative suggestions? For 
instance, is there an existing approach to defining geographic 
boundaries based upon ecological criteria which would be appropriate? 
If so, why are these appropriate? Please provide any supporting data 
and rationale with your comments. See Part 2.2.3.5.3.1 of the VGP and 
Section 4.4.3.5.6.1 of the VGP fact sheet.
    14. Whether unmanned, unpowered barges have technologies available 
to meet numeric ballast water treatment limits. Also, any information 
about how these vessels utilize ballast water, and whether the Agency's 
understanding of their ballasting patterns is correct. See Part 
2.2.3.5.3.2 of the VGP and Section 4.4.3.5.6.2 of the VGP fact sheet.
    15. Whether ``existing confined Lakers'' built before January 1, 
2009 that operate exclusively in the Great Lakes upstream of the 
Welland Canal should be required to use a ballast water treatment 
system to meet the ballast water discharge standards found in this 
permit under the implementation schedule. The applicability and 
availability of ballast water treatment systems for existing confined 
Lakers built before January 1, 2009. Given the constraints noted by the 
SAB, can the confined Lakers implement the technologies evaluated by 
the SAB? Are there unique technologies that are available or that would 
potentially be available during the permit term for the confined 
Lakers? Are there other treatment technologies and/or methods that can 
be implemented by confined Lakers that can reliably treat ballast water 
to reduce the concentration of living organisms upon discharge? Please 
provide appropriate supporting documentation, including applicable data 
and sources for your information. See Part 2.2.3.4 and 2.2.3.5.3.3 of 
the VGP and Section 4.4.3.5.6.3 of the VGP fact sheet.
    16. The appropriateness of the technology-based ballast water 
controls

[[Page 76723]]

proposed in this VGP, and whether there are data sources which indicate 
that certain ballast water treatment systems reliably exceed the limits 
established in this permit. Whether the numeric discharge limits can be 
applied to those vessel classes to which, under the proposed VGP, such 
limits would not apply. See Part 2.2.3.5 and 2.2.3.5.3 of the VGP and 
Sections 4.4.3.5.6 and 4.4.3.5.7 of the VGP fact sheet.
    17. The appropriateness of including alternative treatment limits 
used by other regulatory agencies, specifically limits promulgated by 
the State of California and whether the numeric limits for ballast 
water discharges from the Performance Standards for the Discharge of 
Ballast Water For Vessels Operating in California Waters, California 
Code of Regulations Title 2, Division 3, Chapter 1, Article 4.7 
sections 2293-2294 as codified as of March 4, 2011, should be included 
in the final VGP. As discussed in VGP fact sheet in Section 4.4.3.5.8, 
those limits are:
    (a) No detectable living organisms that are greater than 50 
micrometers in minimum dimension;
    (b) Less than 0.01 living organisms per milliliter that are less 
than 50 micrometers in minimum dimension and more than 10 micrometers 
in minimum dimension;
    (c) For living organisms that are less than 10 micrometers in 
minimum dimension:
    (1) Less than 1,000 bacteria per 100 milliliter;
    (2) Less than 10,000 viruses per 100 milliliter;
    (3) Concentrations of microbes that are less than:
    (A) 126 colony forming units per 100 milliliters of Escherichia 
coli;
    (B) 33 colony forming units per 100 milliliters of Intestinal 
enterococci; and
    (C) 1 colony forming unit per 100 milliliters or 1 colony forming 
unit per gram of wet weight of zoological samples of Toxicogenic Vibrio 
cholerae (serotypes O1 and O139).
    See Section 4.4.3.5.7 of the VGP fact sheet.
    18. The requirement for vessels entering the Great Lakes from 
freshwater and brackish ecosystems to conduct ballast water exchange or 
saltwater flushing in addition to treatment with a ballast water 
treatment system. Also, whether BWE should be required for all vessels 
entering the Great Lakes that are subject to the numeric TBEL, 
regardless of origin, whether this requirement should be considered for 
other freshwater destinations in U.S. waters, and/or whether this 
requirement should be considered for other destinations in U.S. waters, 
regardless of whether those vessels took on ballast water from 
saltwater or freshwater ports. See Part 2.2.3.7 of the VGP and Section 
4.4.3.9.4.2 of the VGP fact sheet.
    19. EPA's determination, including the detailed explanation, that 
water quality-based effluent limits for ballast water discharges are 
infeasible to calculate at this time. See Section 4.4.3.9.4.1 of the 
VGP fact sheet.
    20. Inclusion of factors associated with electronic recordkeeping 
to ensure that records created and/or maintained in such systems are 
readable and legally dependable with no less evidentiary value than 
their paper equivalent and the implementation guidance provided in the 
fact sheet. See Part 4.2.1 of the VGP and Section 6.3.1 of the VGP fact 
sheet.
    21. The authorization to combine the annual report for unmanned, 
unpowered barges because many of these vessels are fundamentally 
similar and have a limited number of discharges. Specifically, EPA is 
seeking comment on whether there are any other categories of vessels 
for which owner/operators should be allowed to submit a combined annual 
report instead of the annual report for each of their vessels. Please 
submit specific information as to why such an approach is appropriate 
for certain vessel types. See Part 4.4.2 and Section 6.4.2 of the VGP 
fact sheet.
    22. Several new definitions, including ``biodegradable,'' 
``environmental acceptable lubricants,'' and ``voyage.'' See Appendix A 
of the VGP and Section 9 of the VGP fact sheet.
    23. The approach that allows vessels which have 8 or more cubic 
meters of ballast water capacity, but which do not discharge ballast 
water, to maintain coverage under the sVGP. Additionally, EPA is 
seeking comment on whether larger or smaller volumes of ballast water 
discharge should be regulated under the sVGP and whether additional 
best management practices should be required for these small volumes of 
ballast water from sVGP vessels. Please submit any supporting 
information, data sources, and rationale. See Part 2.9 of the sVGP and 
Section 4.9 of the sVGP fact sheet.
    24. Definition section as a whole in the sVGP and the specific 
definitions contained therein. See Part 6 of the sVGP and Section 8 of 
the sVGP fact sheet.

D. Analysis of Economic Impacts of the Draft VGP and the Draft sVGP

    EPA performed an economic analysis for both the draft VGP and draft 
sVGP to evaluate the incremental costs of requirements in each permit. 
Both of these analyses are available in the docket for today's permits. 
A summary of each follows.
    1. Analysis of draft VGP costs. EPA estimates that approximately 
60,000 domestic flag and 12,400 foreign flag vessels would be covered 
under the draft VGP, but only a subset of these vessels would incur 
incremental costs as a result of the revised VGP requirements. To 
estimate the effect of revised permit requirements on an industry as a 
whole, EPA's VGP analysis takes into account previous conditions and 
determines how the industry would act in the future in the absence of 
revised Permit requirements. The baseline for this analysis is full 
industry compliance with existing federal and state regulations, 
including the 2008 VGP in the case of vessels currently covered by the 
permit; and current industry practices or standards that exceed current 
regulations to the extent that they can be empirically observed. In 
addition, a number of laws and associated regulations (including the 
National Invasive Species Act; the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships; 
the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability 
Act; the Organotin Anti-fouling Paint Control Act; and others) already 
cover certain discharges that would be subject to the new permitting 
regime. The overlap between revised permit requirements and existing 
regulations and practices is discussed at greater length in the 
economic analysis.
    EPA estimated compliance costs to commercial vessels associated 
with each of the permit's practices and discharge categories identified 
and the paperwork burden costs. Incremental costs are understood to 
result from the inclusion of all commercial fishing vessels 79 feet or 
larger under the VGP As noted above, the moratorium on coverage for 
commercial fishing vessels and vessels less than 79 feet expires on 
December 18, 2013. Commercial fishing vessels 79 feet or larger will be 
covered by this permit, and most non-recreational vessels less than 79 
feet, including commercial fishing vessels, are expected to be covered 
by the Small Vessel General Permit, and from revised, more stringent 
requirements for certain discharge categories and practices. Changes in 
compliance costs also result from streamlining selected requirements, 
which is expected to reduce compliance costs for owners of certain 
vessels. Overall, EPA finds that revisions in the VGP requirements 
could result in aggregate annual incremental costs for domestic vessels 
ranging between $6.5 and $20.9 million (2010). This includes the 
paperwork burden

[[Page 76724]]

costs and the sum of all practices for applicable discharge categories 
for all vessels estimated to be covered by the revised VGP. The ballast 
water provisions of this permit for domestically flagged vessels are 
expected to cost between $1.1 and $2.5 million annually (excluding the 
cost of purchasing and maintaining a ballast water treatment system: 
see Section 4.4.3 of this fact sheet and part 4.2.3 of the economic and 
benefits analysis prepared for this permit for additional discussion). 
The average per vessel cost ranges from $26 to $3,933. There is 
considerable uncertainty in the assumptions used for several practices 
and discharge categories and these estimates therefore provide 
illustrative ranges of the costs potentially associated with the 2013 
rather than incremental costs incurred by any given vessel owner.
    To evaluate economic impacts of revised VGP requirements on the 
water transportation, fishing, and mining industries, EPA performed a 
firm-level analysis. The firm-level analysis examines the impact of any 
incremental cost per vessel to comply with the revised VGP requirements 
on model firms that represent the financial conditions of ``typical'' 
businesses in each of the examined industry sectors. More than ninety 
percent of the firms in the water transportation and fishing 
industries, and in the drilling oil and gas wells segment of the mining 
industry, are small, and EPA believes it is unlikely that firm-level 
impacts would be significant among large firms in this industry. 
Therefore, a firm-level analysis focuses on assessment of impacts on 
small businesses. To evaluate the potential impact of the Vessel 
General Permit on small entities, EPA used a cost-to-revenue test to 
evaluate the potential severity of economic impact on vessels and 
facilities owned by small entities. The test calculates annualized pre-
tax compliance cost as a percentage of total revenues and uses a 
threshold of 1 and 3 percent to identify facilities that would be 
significantly impacted as a result of this Permit.
    EPA applied a cost-to-revenue test which calculates annualized pre-
tax compliance cost as a percentage of total revenues and used a 
threshold of 1 and 3% to identify entities that would be significantly 
impacted as a result of this Permit. The total number of entities 
expected to exceed a 1% cost ratio ranges from 52 under low cost 
assumptions to 360 under high cost assumptions. Of this universe, the 
total number of entities expected to exceed a 3% cost ratio ranges from 
0 under low cost assumptions to 11 under high cost assumptions. This is 
based out of 5,480 total small firms. Accordingly, EPA concludes that 
this permit will not, if issued result in a significant economic impact 
on any businesses, and in particular, small businesses.
    2. Analysis of draft sVGP costs. EPA estimates that between 115,000 
and 138,000 vessels are potentially affected by the draft sVGP 
requirements. The establishments that own and operate vessels that will 
be subject to the sVGP are primarily associated with the fishing and 
water transportation industries, and with the oil and gas sector within 
the mining industry. To estimate the effect of sVGP requirements on an 
industry as a whole, EPA's analysis takes into account previous 
conditions and determines how the industry would act in the future in 
the absence of Permit requirements. The baseline for this analysis is 
full industry compliance with existing federal and state regulations 
and with current industry practices or standards that exceed current 
regulations to the extent that they can be empirically observed. EPA 
estimated potential compliance costs to vessels associated with each of 
the practices and discharge categories identified in the sVGP, and with 
the inspection and recordkeeping requirements. Overall, EPA finds that 
sVGP requirements could result in total annual incremental costs for 
domestic vessels ranging between $7.0 million and $12.1 million 
(2010$), in the aggregate. This includes the paperwork burden costs and 
the sum of all practices for applicable discharge categories. Per 
vessel incremental compliance costs average between $17 and $98 per 
year, depending on the number of applicable discharge categories and 
baseline practices. As with the VGP economic analysis, EPA evaluated 
economic impacts of sVGP requirements on the affected industries, and 
performed a firm-level analysis. Since nearly all firms in the affected 
industries are small, the firm-level analysis focuses on assessment of 
impacts on small businesses. Further, given the distribution of revenue 
among firms in the affected industry sectors which suggests a 
relatively greater potential for impacts to small firms in the 
commercial fishing industry, EPA looked more specifically at this 
industry when assessing the significance of impacts. As with the VGP, 
to evaluate the potential impact of the sVGP on small entities, EPA 
used a cost-to-revenue test to evaluate the potential severity of 
economic impact on vessels and facilities owned by small entities. The 
test calculates annualized pre-tax compliance cost as a percentage of 
total revenues and uses a threshold of 1 and 3 percent to identify 
facilities that would be significantly impacted as a result of this 
Permit. Based on this firm-level analysis, EPA concludes that the sVGP 
will not, if issued, have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities based on information showing that 
few firms have revenue below those where the compliance costs would 
exceed the one percent cost-to-revenue threshold under high end cost 
assumptions.
    3. Benefits of the draft VGP and draft sVGP. Although EPA was 
unable to evaluate the expected benefits of the permits in dollar terms 
due to data limitations, the Agency collected and considered relevant 
information to enable qualitative consideration of ecological benefits 
and to assess the importance of the ecological gains from the 
revisions. EPA expects that reductions in vessel discharges will 
benefit society in two broad categories: (1) Enhanced water quality 
from reduced pollutant discharges and (2) reduced risk of invasive 
species introduction.
    Because many of the nation's busiest ports are considered to be 
impaired by a variety of pollutants found in vessel discharges, 
reducing pollutant loadings from these discharges is expected to have 
benefits associated with the reduction of concentrations of nutrients, 
metals, oil, grease, and toxics in waters with high levels of vessel 
traffic.

E. Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    Under Executive Order (EO) 12866 (58 FR 51735 (October 4, 1993)) 
this action is a ``significant regulatory action.'' Accordingly, EPA 
submitted this action to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for 
review under Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 21, 
2011) and any changes made in response to OMB recommendations have been 
documented in the docket for this action.

    Authority: Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.


[[Page 76725]]


    Dated: November 30, 2011.
Ira W. Leighton,
Deputy Regional Administrator, EPA Region 1.
    Dated: November 30, 2011.
John Filippelli,
Acting Division Director, Division of Environmental Planning and 
Protection, EPA Region 2.
    Dated: November 30, 2011.
Jos[eacute] C. Font,
Acting Director, Caribbean Environmental Protection Division, EPA 
Region 2.
    Dated: November 30, 2011.
Jon M. Capacasa,
Director, Water Protection Division, EPA Region 3.
    Dated: November 30, 2011.
Douglas F. Mundrick,
Deputy Director, Water Protection Division, EPA Region 4.
    Dated: November 30, 2011.
Timothy C. Henry,
Acting Director, Water Division, EPA Region 5.
    Dated: November 30, 2011.
Troy C. Hill,
Acting Director, Water Quality Protection Division, EPA Region 6.
    Dated: November 30, 2011.
Karen Flournoy,
Director, Water, Wetlands and Pesticides Division, EPA Region 7.
    Dated: November 30, 2011.
Stephen S. Tuber,
Assistant Regional Administrator, Office of Partnerships and Regulatory 
Assistance, EPA Region 8.
    Dated: November 30, 2011.
Alexis Strauss,
Director Water Division, EPA Region 9.
    Dated: November 30, 2011.
Michael A. Bussell,
Director, Office of Water and Watersheds, EPA Region 10.
[FR Doc. 2011-31576 Filed 12-7-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6560-50-P