[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 96 (Thursday, May 17, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 29341-29344]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-11842]


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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

[EPA-HQ-OAR-2012-0375, FRL-9672-8]


Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Request for Methyl Bromide 
Critical Use Exemption Applications for 2015

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice of Solicitation of Applications and Information on 
Alternatives.

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SUMMARY: EPA is soliciting applications for the critical use exemption 
from the phaseout of methyl bromide for 2015. Critical use exemptions 
last only one year. All entities interested in obtaining a critical use 
exemption for 2015 must provide EPA with technical and economic 
information to support a ``critical use'' claim and must do so by the 
deadline specified in this notice even if they have applied for an 
exemption in previous years. Today's notice also invites interested 
parties to provide EPA with new data on the technical and economic 
feasibility of methyl bromide alternatives.

DATES: Applications for the 2015 critical use exemption must be 
postmarked on or before August 15, 2012.

ADDRESSES: EPA encourages users to submit their applications 
electronically to Jeremy Arling, Stratospheric Protection Division, at 
arling.jeremy@epa.gov. If the application is submitted electronically, 
applicants must fax a signed copy of Worksheet 1 to 202-343-9055 by the 
application deadline. Applications for the methyl bromide critical use 
exemption can also be submitted by U.S. mail to: U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency, Office of Air and Radiation, Stratospheric 
Protection Division, Attention Methyl Bromide Team, Mail Code 6205J, 
1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460 or by courier delivery 
to: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Air and Radiation,

[[Page 29342]]

Stratospheric Protection Division, Attention Methyl Bromide Review 
Team, 1310 L St. NW., Room 1047E, Washington, DC 20005.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: 

General Information: U.S. EPA Stratospheric Ozone Information Hotline, 
1-800-296-1996; also http://www.epa.gov/ozone/mbr.
Technical Information: Bill Chism, U.S. Environmental Protection 
Agency, Office of Pesticide Programs (7503P), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. 
NW., Washington, DC 20460, 703-308-8136. Email: chism.bill@epa.gov.
Regulatory Information: Jeremy Arling, U.S. Environmental Protection 
Agency, Stratospheric Protection Division (6205J), 1200 Pennsylvania 
Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460, 202-343-9055. Email: 
arling.jeremy@epa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Table of Contents

I. What do I need to know to respond to this request for 
applications?
    A. Who can respond to this request for information?
    B. How do I obtain an application form for the methyl bromide 
critical use exemption?
    C. What must applicants address when applying for a critical use 
exemption?
    D. What if I applied for a critical use exemption in a previous 
year?
    E. What portions of the applications will be considered 
confidential business information?
II. What is the legal authority for the critical use exemption?
    A. What is the Clean Air Act (CAA) authority for the critical 
use exemption?
    B. What is the Montreal Protocol authority for the critical use 
exemption?
    C. What is the timing for applications for the 2015 control 
period?

I. What do I need to know to respond to this request for applications?

A. Who can respond to this request for information?

    Entities interested in obtaining a critical use exemption must 
complete the application form available at http://www.epa.gov/ozone/mbr/cueinfo.html. The application may be submitted either by a 
consortium representing multiple users who have similar circumstances 
or by individual users. EPA encourages groups of users with similar 
circumstances to submit a single application (for example, any number 
of pre-plant users with similar soil, pest, and climactic conditions 
can join together to submit a single application). You should contact 
your local, state, regional or national commodity association to find 
out whether it plans to submit an application on behalf of your 
commodity group.
    In addition to requesting information from applicants for the 
critical use exemption, this solicitation for information provides an 
opportunity for any interested party to provide EPA with information on 
methyl bromide alternatives (e.g., technical and/or economic 
feasibility research).

B. How do I obtain an application form for the methyl bromide critical 
use exemption?

    An application form for the methyl bromide critical use exemption 
can be obtained either in electronic or hard-copy form. EPA encourages 
use of the electronic form. Applications can be obtained in the 
following ways:
    1. PDF, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Excel formats at EPA's Web 
site: http://www.epa.gov/ozone/mbr/cueinfo.html;
    2. PDF, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Excel formats at Docket ID 
No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2012-0375. The docket can be accessed at http://www.regulations.gov. To obtain hard copies of docket materials, please 
email the EPA Docket Center: a-and-r-docket@epa.gov.
    3. Hard copies can be ordered through the Stratospheric Ozone 
Protection Hotline at 1-800-296-1996.

C. What must applicants address when applying for a critical use 
exemption?

    To support the assertion that a specific use of methyl bromide 
meets the requirements of the critical use exemption, applicants must 
demonstrate that there are no technically and economically feasible 
alternatives available for that use. EPA's Web site contains a list of 
available and potential alternatives. This list can be accessed at 
http://www.epa.gov/ozone/mbr/alts.html. Applications must address the 
technical and economic feasibility of using these alternatives. 
Specifically, applications must include the following information for 
the U.S. to successfully defend its nominations for critical uses.
Commodities Such as Dried Fruit and Nuts
    Applicants must address potential economic losses due to pest 
pressures, changes in quality, changes in timing, and any other 
economic implications for producers when converting to alternatives. 
Alternatives for which such information is needed include: Sulfuryl 
fluoride, propylene oxide (PPO), phosphine, and/or controlled 
atmosphere/temperature treatment system (CATTS). The applicant should 
include the costs to retrofit equipment or design and construct new 
fumigation chambers for these alternatives. For the economic assessment 
applicants must provide the following: The amount of fumigant gas used 
(both methyl bromide and alternatives), price per pound of the fumigant 
gas from the most recent use season, application rates, differences in 
labor inputs (i.e., hours and wages) associated with alternatives, the 
amount of commodity treated with each fumigant/treatment and the value 
of the commodity being treated/produced. Also provide cost information 
on any other practices or equipment used (e.g. sanitation and IPM) that 
are not needed when methyl bromide is used for fumigation. Include 
information on the size of fumigation chambers where methyl bromide is 
used, the percent of commodity fumigated under tarps, the length of the 
harvest season, peak of the harvest season and duration, and volume of 
commodity treated daily at the harvest peak.
    Where applicable, also provide the following: Examples of specific 
customer requests regarding pest infestation and examples of any 
phytosanitary requirements of foreign markets (e.g., import 
requirements of other countries) that may necessitate use of methyl 
bromide accompanied by explanation of why the methyl bromide quarantine 
and preshipment (QPS) exemption is not applicable for this purpose. The 
application must also contain a description of your future research 
plans which includes the pest(s), chemical(s), or management 
practice(s) you will be testing in the future to support this CUE. Also 
include information on what pest control practices organic producers 
are using for their commodity.
Structures and Facilities (Flour Mills, Rice Mills, Pet Food)
    Applicants must address potential economic losses due to pest 
pressures, changes in quality, changes in timing, and any other 
economic implications for producers when converting to alternatives. 
Alternatives for which such information is needed include: Sulfuryl 
fluoride, micro-sanitation, and/or heat. The applicant should include 
the costs to retrofit equipment for these pest control methods. For the 
economic assessment applicants must provide the following: Price per 
pound of fumigant gas used (both methyl bromide and alternatives) from 
the most recent use season, application rates, differences in labor 
inputs (i.e., hours and wages) associated with alternatives, and value 
of the commodity being treated/produced. List how many mills have

[[Page 29343]]

been fumigated with methyl bromide over the last three years; the rate, 
volume, and target CT of methyl bromide at each location; volume of 
each facility; number of fumigations per year; and date facility was 
constructed.
    Where applicable, also provide the following: Examples of specific 
customer requests regarding pest infestation and examples of any 
phytosanitary requirements of foreign markets (e.g., import 
requirements of other countries) that may necessitate use of methyl 
bromide accompanied by explanation of why the QPS exemption is not 
applicable for this purpose. The application must also contain a 
description of your future research plans which includes the pest(s), 
chemical(s), or management practice(s) you will be testing in the 
future to support this CUE. Also include information on what pest 
control practices organic producers are using for their facilities.
Dried Cured Pork
    Applicants must list how many facilities have been fumigated with 
methyl bromide over the last three years; the rate, volume, and target 
CT of methyl bromide at each location; volume of each facility; number 
of fumigations per year; and the materials from which the facility was 
constructed. The application must also contain a description of your 
future research plans which includes the pest(s), chemical(s), or 
management practice(s) you will be testing in the future to support 
this CUE.
Cucurbits, Eggplant, Pepper, and Tomato
    Applicants must address potential changes to yield, quality, and 
timing when converting to alternatives, including: The mixture of 1,3-
dichloropropene plus chloropicrin, the Georgia three way mixture of 
1,3-dichloropropene plus chloropicrin plus metam (sodium or potassium), 
dimethyl disulfide (DMDS), and any fumigationless system (if data are 
available). Applications must address regulatory and economic 
implications for growers and/or your region's production of these crops 
using these alternatives, including the costs to retrofit equipment and 
the differential impact of buffers for methyl bromide plus chloropicrin 
compared to the alternatives. For the economic assessment applicants 
must provide the following: Price per pound of fumigant gas used (both 
methyl bromide and alternatives) from the most recent use season; 
application rates; value of the crop being produced; differences in 
labor inputs (i.e., hours and wages); and any differences in equipment 
costs or time needed to operate equipment associated with alternatives. 
The application must also contain a description of your future research 
plans which includes the pest(s), chemical(s), or management 
practice(s) you will be testing in the future to support this CUE.
Strawberry Fruit
    Applicants must address potential changes to yield, quality, and 
timing when converting to alternatives, including: The mixture of 1,3-
dichloropropene plus chloropicrin, the Georgia three way mixture of 
1,3-dichloropropene plus chloropicrin plus metam (sodium or potassium), 
and any fumigationless system (if data are available). Applications 
must address regulatory and economic implications for growers and/or 
your region's production of these crops using these alternatives, 
including the costs to retrofit equipment and the differential impact 
of buffers for methyl bromide plus chloropicrin compared to the 
alternatives. For the economic assessment applicants must provide the 
following: Price per pound of fumigant gas used (both methyl bromide 
and alternatives) from the most recent use season; application rates; 
value of the crop being produced; differences in labor inputs (i.e., 
hours and wages); and any differences in equipment costs or time needed 
to operate equipment associated with alternatives. The application must 
also contain a description of your future research plans which includes 
the pest(s), chemical(s), or management practice(s) you will be testing 
in the future to support this CUE.
Nursery Stock, Orchard Replant, Ornamentals, and Strawberry Nursery
    Applicants must address potential changes to yield, quality, and 
timing when converting to alternatives, including: The mixture of 1,3-
dichloropropene plus chloropicrin, the Georgia three way mixture of 
1,3-dichloropropene plus chloropicrin plus metam (sodium or potassium), 
dimethyl disulfide (DMDS), and steam. Applications must address 
regulatory and economic implications for growers and/or your region's 
production of these crops using these alternatives, including the costs 
to retrofit equipment and the differential impact of buffers for methyl 
bromide plus chloropicrin compared to the alternatives. For the 
economic assessment applicants must provide the following: Price per 
pound of fumigant gas used (both methyl bromide and alternatives) from 
the most recent use season; application rates; value of the crop being 
produced; differences in labor inputs (i.e., hours and wages); and any 
differences in equipment costs or time needed to operate equipment 
associated with alternatives. The application must also contain a 
description of your future research plans which includes the pest(s), 
chemical(s), or management practice(s) you will be testing in the 
future to support this CUE.

D. What if I applied for a critical use exemption in a previous year?

    Critical use exemptions are valid for only one year and do not 
automatically renew. All users desiring to obtain an exemption for 2015 
must apply to EPA even if they have applied for critical uses in 
previous years. Because of the latest changes in registrations, costs, 
and economic aspects for producing critical use crops and commodities, 
applicants must fill out the application form completely.

E. What portions of the applications will be considered confidential 
business information?

    You may assert a business confidentiality claim covering part or 
all of the information by placing on (or attaching to) the information, 
at the time it is submitted to EPA, a cover sheet, stamped or typed 
legend, or other suitable form of notice employing language such as 
``trade secret,'' ``proprietary,'' or ``company confidential.'' You 
should clearly identify the allegedly confidential portions of 
otherwise non-confidential documents, and you may submit them 
separately to facilitate identification and handling by EPA. If you 
desire confidential treatment only until a certain date or until the 
occurrence of a certain event, your notice should state that. 
Information covered by a claim of confidentiality will be disclosed by 
EPA only to the extent, and by means of the procedures, set forth under 
40 CFR part 2 subpart B; 41 FR 36752, 43 FR 40000, 50 FR 51661. If no 
claim of confidentiality accompanies the information when EPA receives 
it, EPA may make it available to the public without further notice.
    If you are asserting a business confidentiality claim covering part 
or all of the information in the application, please submit a non-
confidential version that EPA can place in the public docket for 
reference by other interested parties. Do not include on the 
``Worksheet 6: Application Summary'' page of the application any 
information that you wish to claim as confidential

[[Page 29344]]

business information. Any information on Worksheet 6 shall not be 
considered confidential and will not be treated as such by the Agency. 
EPA will place a copy of Worksheet 6 in the public domain. Please note, 
claiming business confidentiality may delay EPA's ability to review 
your application.

II. What is the legal authority for the critical use exemption?

A. What is the Clean Air Act (CAA) authority for the critical use 
exemption?

    In October 1998, Congress amended the Clean Air Act to require EPA 
to conform the U.S. phaseout schedule for methyl bromide to the 
provisions of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the 
Ozone Layer for industrialized countries and to allow EPA to provide a 
critical use exemption. These amendments were codified in Section 604 
of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7671c. Under EPA implementing 
regulations, the production and consumption of methyl bromide was 
phased out as of January 1, 2005. Section 604(d)(6), as added in 1998, 
allows EPA to exempt the production and import of methyl bromide from 
the phaseout for critical uses, to the extent consistent with the 
Montreal Protocol.
    EPA regulations at 40 CFR 82.4 prohibit the production and import 
of methyl bromide in excess of the amount of unexpended critical use 
allowances held by the producer or importer, unless authorized under a 
separate exemption. Methyl bromide produced or imported by expending 
critical use allowances may be used only for the appropriate category 
of approved critical uses as listed in Appendix L to the regulations 
(40 CFR 82.4(p)(2)). The use of methyl bromide that was produced or 
imported through the expenditure of production or consumption 
allowances prior to 2005 is not confined to critical uses under EPA's 
phaseout regulations; however, other restrictions may apply.

B. What is the Montreal Protocol authority for the critical use 
exemption?

    The Montreal Protocol provides that the Parties may exempt ``the 
level of production or consumption that is necessary to satisfy uses 
agreed by them to be critical uses'' (Art. 2H para 5). The Parties to 
the Protocol included this language in the treaty's methyl bromide 
phaseout provisions in recognition that alternatives might not be 
available by 2005 for certain uses of methyl bromide agreed by the 
Parties to be ``critical uses.''
    In their Ninth Meeting (1997), the Parties to the Protocol agreed 
to Decision IX/6, setting forth the following criteria for a ``critical 
use'' determination and an exemption from the production and 
consumption phaseout:
    (a) That a use of methyl bromide should qualify as ``critical'' 
only if the nominating Party determines that:
    (i) The specific use is critical because the lack of availability 
of methyl bromide for that use would result in a significant market 
disruption; and
    (ii) There are no technically and economically feasible 
alternatives or substitutes available to the user that are acceptable 
from the standpoint of environment and health and are suitable to the 
crops and circumstances of the nomination.
    (b) That production and consumption, if any, of methyl bromide for 
a critical use should be permitted only if:
    (i) All technically and economically feasible steps have been taken 
to minimize the critical use and any associated emission of methyl 
bromide;
    (ii) Methyl bromide is not available in sufficient quantity and 
quality from existing stocks of banked or recycled methyl bromide, also 
bearing in mind the developing countries' need for methyl bromide;
    (iii) It is demonstrated that an appropriate effort is being made 
to evaluate, commercialize and secure national regulatory approval of 
alternatives and substitutes, taking into consideration the 
circumstances of the particular nomination. * * * Non-Article 5 Parties 
[e.g., developed countries, including the U.S.] must demonstrate that 
research programs are in place to develop and deploy alternatives and 
substitutes. * * *
    EPA has defined ``critical use'' in its regulations at 40 CFR 82.3 
in a manner similar to Decision IX/6 paragraph (a).

C. What is the timing for applications for the 2015 control period?

    There is both a domestic and international component to the 
critical use exemption process. The projected timeline for the process 
for the 2015 critical use exemption is as follows:
    May 17, 2012: Solicit applications for the methyl bromide critical 
use exemption for 2015.
    August 15, 2012: Deadline for submitting critical use exemption 
applications to EPA.
    Fall 2012: U.S. Government (EPA, Department of State, U.S. 
Department of Agriculture, and other interested Federal agencies) 
prepares U.S. Critical Use Nomination package.
    January 24, 2013: Deadline for U.S. Government to submit U.S. 
nomination package to the Protocol Parties.
    Early 2013: Technical and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) and 
Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee (MBTOC) review the 
nominations for critical use exemptions.
    Mid 2013: Parties consider TEAP/MBTOC recommendations.
    November 2013: Parties decide whether to authorize critical use 
exemptions for methyl bromide for production and consumption in 2015.
    Mid 2014: EPA publishes proposed rule for allocating critical use 
exemptions in the U.S. for 2015.
    Late 2014: EPA publishes final rule allocating critical use 
exemptions in the U.S. for 2015.
    January 1, 2015: Critical use exemption permits the limited 
production and import of methyl bromide for specified uses for the 2015 
control period.

    Authority:  42 U.S.C. 7414, 7601, 7671-7671q.

    Dated: May 8, 2012.
Sarah Dunham,
Director, Office of Atmospheric Programs.
[FR Doc. 2012-11842 Filed 5-16-12; 8:45 am]
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