[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 57 (Friday, March 23, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 17082-17084]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-6584]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Coast Guard

[Docket No. USCG-2001-10486]


Standards for Living Organisms in Ships' Ballast Water Discharged 
in U.S. Waters: Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Coast Guard announces the availability of a final 
programmatic environmental impact statement (FPEIS) for the rulemaking 
entitled ``Standards for Living Organisms in Ships' Ballast Water 
Discharged in U.S. Waters'' (Docket No. USCG-2001-10486). This FPEIS 
provides an assessment of the potential

[[Page 17083]]

environmental impacts associated with the establishment of a ballast 
water discharge standard for the allowable concentration of living 
organisms in ships' ballast water discharged in waters of the United 
States. The standard will be used to approve ballast water management 
methods that are effective in preventing or reducing the introduction 
of nonindigenous species via discharged ballast water into waters of 
the United States.

DATES: Comments and related material must either be submitted to our 
online docket via http://www.regulations.gov on or before April 23, 
2012 or reach the Docket Management Facility by that date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-
2001-10486 using any one of the following methods:
    (1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
    (2) Fax: (202) 493-2251.
    (3) Mail: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of 
Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
    (4) Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 
p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone 
number is (202) 366-9329.
    To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods. 
See the ``Public Participation and Request for Comments'' portion of 
the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below for instructions on 
submitting comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this notice, 
call or email Mr. Greg Kirkbride, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone (202) 
372-1479, email: Gregory.B.Kirkbride@uscg.mil. If you have questions on 
viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Renee V. Wright, 
Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone (202) 366-9826.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
    Submitting comments: If you submit a comment, please include the 
docket number for this notice (USCG-2001-10486) and provide a reason 
for each suggestion or recommendation. All comments received will be 
posted, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov and will include 
any personal information you have provided. You may submit your 
comments and material online, or by fax, mail or hand delivery, but 
please use only one of these means. We recommend that you include your 
name and a mailing address, an email address, or a telephone number in 
the body of your document so that we can contact you if we have 
questions regarding your submission.
    To submit your comment online, go to http://www.regulations.gov and 
click on the ``submit a comment'' box, which will then become 
highlighted in blue. Insert ``USCG-2001-10486'' in the Keyword box, 
click ``Search'', and then click on the balloon shape in the Actions 
column. If you submit your comments by mail or hand delivery, submit 
them in an unbound format, no larger than 8\1/2\ by 11 inches, suitable 
for copying and electronic filing. If you submit them by mail and would 
like to know that they reached the Facility, please enclose a stamped, 
self-addressed postcard or envelope. We will consider all comments and 
material received during the comment period.
    Viewing the comments and FPEIS: To view the comments and the FPEIS, 
go to http://www.regulations.gov, enter the docket number for this 
rulemaking (USCG-2001-10486) in the Keyword box, and click ``Search.'' 
If you do not have access to the internet, you may view the docket 
online by visiting the Docket Management Facility in Room W12-140 on 
the ground floor of the Department of Transportation West Building, 
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 
p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. We have an 
agreement with the Department of Transportation to use the Docket 
Management Facility.
    Privacy Act: Anyone can search the electronic form of comments 
received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review a 
Privacy Act system of records notice regarding our public dockets in 
the January 17, 2008, issue of the Federal Register (73 FR 3316).

Basis and Purpose

    Under the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act 
of 1990 (NANPCA) as reauthorized and amended in the National Invasive 
Species Act of 1996 (NISA), the United States Coast Guard (USCG) is the 
lead federal agency for implementing regulations to reduce or prevent 
the introduction of nonindigenous species (NIS) via shipping activities 
in waters of the United States.
    In order to give effect to this statutory directive, on September 
26, 2003, the USCG published a Notice of Intent with Request for 
Comments to seek public and agency input to develop the scope of this 
FPEIS on its proposed action to establish a ballast water discharge 
standard (BWDS) that would be effective in preventing the introduction 
and spread of NIS via discharged ballast water (68 FR 55559).
    On July 28, 2004 the USCG published a final rule on a mandatory 
ballast water management (BWM) program for all waters of the United 
States, which was authorized under NISA (69 FR 44952). This program is 
currently in effect and requires vessels that enter U.S. waters after 
operating outside the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to use one of 
the following BWM practices: Conduct mid-ocean Ballast Water Exchange 
(BWE) 200 nautical miles from any shore, retain ballast water onboard, 
or use a USCG-approved alternative method. At the time the final rule 
was published, BWE and retention of ballast water were the only 
available ballast water management methods. On August 28, 2009, the 
Coast Guard published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) titled 
``Standards for Living Organisms in Ships' Ballast Water Discharged in 
U.S. Waters'' in the Federal Register (74 FR 44632) which proposed to 
establish a BWDS.
    The purpose of the proposed action in the FPEIS is for the USCG to 
establish, via a rulemaking, a BWDS that is practicable, enforceable, 
and which would be used to approve ballast water management methods, 
including development and approval of shipboard BWM systems. The need 
for the action is to prevent or reduce the introduction of NIS via 
discharged ballast water from vessels entering waters of the United 
States after operating outside the U.S. EEZ, and from vessels operating 
within the U.S. EEZ.
    The FPEIS evaluates the impacts to the environment from a range of 
alternative ballast water discharge standards. The BWDS will be used to 
approve ballast water management methods that are effective in 
preventing or reducing the introduction of NIS via discharged ballast 
water. The USCG believes that to prevent or reduce the introduction of 
NIS, the preferred alternative must be biologically protective, 
scientifically sound, practicable in implementation, and enforceable.
    Ballast water is taken on by a vessel to increase the water draft, 
change the trim, regulate the stability, or maintain stress loads 
within acceptable operational limits. The term NIS refers to organisms 
found outside of their native or historical range. In cases where they 
invade ecosystems, NIS may alter aquatic and marine ecosystems and

[[Page 17084]]

biodiversity, impact commercial and recreational fisheries, cause 
infrastructure damage, contribute to potential risks to human health, 
and create economic impacts. Ballast water discharge is a major pathway 
for NIS introduction from vessels operating in or entering waters of 
the United States.
    The FPEIS identifies and assesses reasonable alternatives for the 
proposed action, including the No Action Alternative, addresses the 
likely consequences of a BWDS on the human and natural environment, and 
presents potential mitigation measures to avoid or minimize adverse 
effects upon the quality of the human and natural environment. In the 
FPEIS, the USCG analyzed five alternatives for a BWDS. These 
alternatives are summarized as follows:
    Alternative 1--No Action Alternative: Under the No Action 
Alternative, the USCG would not establish a BWDS, but would continue 
the existing BWM program. As currently in force, the BWM program, 
established in 2004, directs ships to conduct mid-ocean BWE, retain 
ballast water onboard, or use an environmentally sound ballast water 
management method approved by the USCG.
    Alternatives 2-4--Ballast Water Discharge Concentrations: These 
alternatives differ from each other in the concentration and size 
classes of organisms that would be permitted and the standard is 
progressively more stringent from Alternative 2 to Alternative 4. 
Alternative 2 provides for a protective standard of less than 10 
organisms per cubic meter for organisms larger than 50 microns in 
minimum dimension; and less than 10 organisms per milliliter for 
organisms between 10 and 50 microns in minimum dimension. Alternative 3 
provides for a protective standard of less than 1 organism per cubic 
meter for organisms larger than 50 microns in minimum dimension; and 
less than 1 organism per milliliter for organisms between 10 and 50 
microns in minimum dimension. Alternative 4 provides for a protective 
standard of less than 0.1 organisms per cubic meter for organisms 
larger than 50 microns in minimum dimension; and less than 0.1 
organisms per milliliter for organisms between 10 and 50 microns in 
minimum dimension.
    Alternative 5--Sterilization: Alternative 5 would require the 
removal or inactivation of all living membrane-bound organisms 
(including bacteria and some viruses) larger than 0.1 microns.
    Alternative 2 has been selected as the USCG's preferred 
alternative.
    The USCG will file the FPEIS with the U.S. Environmental Protection 
Agency (EPA), as required. The EPA will then publish an NOA in the 
Federal Register, which reports all environmental impact statements 
filed with the EPA during the preceding week. The publication of the 
EPA NOA initiates a 30-day public review period. The timing of 
publication of this NOA in the Federal Register will be coordinated 
with the EPA NOA. By reason of this being a rulemaking action under the 
Administrative Procedure Act, the Final Rule constitutes the Record of 
Decision and it is being published this same date, consistent with 40 
CFR 1506.10(b).

    Dated: March 9, 2012.
J. G. Lantz,
Director of Commercial Regulations and Standards, U.S. Coast Guard.
[FR Doc. 2012-6584 Filed 3-16-12; 11:15 am]
BILLING CODE 9110-04-P