[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 176 (Tuesday, September 11, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 55781-55783]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-22295]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Coast Guard

33 CFR Part 167

[USCG-2011-0351]


Port Access Route Study: The Atlantic Coast from Maine to Florida

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION: Notice of availability; interim report.

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SUMMARY: The U. S. Coast Guard is making available an interim report 
issued by the Atlantic Coast Port Access Route Study (ACPARS) 
workgroup. The interim report provides status of the workgroup efforts 
and the remaining requirements to complete the study. The Coast Guard 
welcomes comments on the interim report or submission of additional 
information for consideration by the workgroup.

DATES: Comments and related material must reach the Docket Management 
Facility on or before October 11, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-
2011-0351 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 
of study contact Emile Benard, ACPARS Project Manager, telephone 757-
398-

[[Page 55782]]

6221, email Emile.R.Benard@uscg.mil or submit questions to 
ACPARS@uscg.mil. If you have questions on viewing or submitting 
material to the docket, call Ms. Renee K. Wright, Program Manager, 
Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Public Participation and Request for Comments

    We encourage you to participate in this study by submitting 
comments and related materials. All comments received will be posted, 
without change, to http://www.regulations.gov and will include any 
personal information you have provided.

A. Submitting Comments

    If you submit comments, please include the docket number for this 
rulemaking (USCG-2011-0351), indicate the specific section of this 
document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason for each 
suggestion or recommendation. 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, 
click on the ``submit a comment'' box, which will then become 
highlighted in blue. In the ``Document Type'' drop down menu select 
``Notice'' and enter ``USCG-2011-0351'' in the ``Keyword'' box. Click 
``Search'' then click on the balloon shape in the ``Actions'' column 
and type your comments. If you submit your comments by mail or hand 
delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 8[frac12] 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.

B. Viewing the Comments and Documents

    To view the comments and documents mentioned in this preamble as 
being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, click 
on the ``read comments'' box, which will then become highlighted in 
blue. In the ``Keyword'' box enter ``USCG-2011-0351'' and click 
``Search.'' Click the ``Open Docket Folder'' in the ``Actions'' column. 
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.

C. 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 
by the individual 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).

II. Background and Purpose

    The Coast Guard announced in the Federal Register (76 FR 27288, May 
11, 2011) that it was conducting a Port Access Route Study (PARS) to 
evaluate the continued applicability of, and the need for modifications 
to, current vessel routing measures or the creation of new routing 
measures off the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Florida. The impetus for 
the study was the Department of Interior's launch of the ``Smart from 
the Start'' renewable energy initiative that began with planning for 
wind development off the Atlantic Coast. The original comment period 
closed on August 9, 2011. A second comment period was announced to 
gather additional information and closed January 31, 2012. The initial 
announcement contains definitions and useful background information 
concerning the PARS. The public is encouraged to review the initial 
announcement.
    The data gathered during the Atlantic Coast Port Access Route Study 
(ACPARS) may result in establishment of one or more new vessel routing 
measures, modification of existing routing measures, or 
disestablishment of existing routing measures off the Atlantic Coast 
from Maine to Florida. The goal of the ACPARS is to maintain or enhance 
navigational safety by examining existing shipping routes and waterway 
uses, and, to the extent practicable, reconcile the paramount right of 
navigation within designated port access routes with other reasonable 
waterway uses such as the leasing of outer continental shelf blocks for 
the construction and operation of offshore renewable energy facilities. 
The recommendations of the study may lead to future rulemaking action 
or appropriate international agreements.
    The Coast Guard established the Atlantic Coast Port Access Route 
Study Workgroup to carry out the study and also coordinate efforts to 
support Coast Guard participation as a Cooperating Agency in the Bureau 
of Ocean Energy Management's efforts to identify priority areas for 
wind development.
    The progress of the WG to date, as well as what remains to be 
accomplished have been compiled in an interim report dated July 13, 
2012. The ACPARS Interim Report is being made available to the public 
through this Federal Register notice. The report will be available on 
the Federal Register docket and also on the ACPARS Web site at 
www.uscg.mil/lantarea/acpars.

III. ACPARS Interim Report--Executive Summary

    The Atlantic Coast Port Access Route Study Workgroup (WG) was 
chartered on 11 May 2011, and was given three objectives to complete 
within the limits of available resources: (1) Determine whether the 
Coast Guard should initiate actions to modify or create safety 
fairways, Traffic Separation Schemes (TSSs) or other routing measures; 
(2) Provide data, tools and/or methodology to assist in future 
determinations of waterways suitability for proposed projects; and (3) 
Develop, in the near term, Automated Identification System (AIS) 
products and provide other support as necessary to assist Districts 
with all emerging coastal and offshore energy projects. The WG has 
conducted public and stakeholder outreach including two public comment 
periods advertised in the Federal Register. The WG has faced challenges 
in the lack of Coast Guard (CG) capability to fully analyze AIS data 
and in identifying funding to perform modeling and analysis. This 
resulted in an inability to predict changes in traffic patterns or 
determine the resultant change in navigational safety risk given 
different siting scenarios of offshore renewable energy installations. 
However, the WG has developed a methodology for initially classifying 
lease blocks as: not suitable (Red), may be suitable with more study 
(Yellow) or suitable (Green), based on proximity to shipping routes. 
This methodology has been used by the CG to provide input to the Bureau 
of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) regarding the potential impact to 
navigation of areas being proposed for wind energy development. The WG 
has determined, given the lack of complete AIS data and rudimentary 
analysis to

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date, that recommending even preliminary routing measures is not 
appropriate at this time. The WG has concluded that modeling and 
analysis, as described in the Phase 3 of the ACPARS interim report, is 
critical to determine if routing measures are appropriate and to 
evaluate the change in navigational safety risk resulting from 
different siting and routing scenarios. The CG is working with BOEM to 
develop a project to perform the Phase 3 modeling and analysis. This 
project is scheduled to begin in late summer 2012. The Coast Guard is 
also contracting the services of a Geographic Information System (GIS) 
analyst to support efforts to better characterize vessel traffic and 
further explore creating initial proposals for routing measures 
independent of the Phase 3 modeling and analysis.
    This notice is issued under authority of 33 U.S.C. 1223(c) and 5 
U.S.C. 552.

    Dated: August 31, 2012.
Robert C. Parker,
Vice Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Atlantic Area.
[FR Doc. 2012-22295 Filed 9-10-12; 8:45 am]
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