[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 39 (Thursday, February 27, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 11045-11048]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-04206]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

24 CFR Parts 50 and 58

[Docket No. FR-5616-P-01]
RIN 2506-AC34


Environmental Compliance Recordkeeping Requirements

AGENCY: Office of Secretary, HUD.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: This proposed rule would revise the regulations governing the 
format used for conducting the required environmental reviews for HUD 
program and policy actions. HUD's current regulations require that HUD 
staff document part 50 environmental review compliance using form HUD-

[[Page 11046]]

4128. Recipients receiving HUD assistance and other entities 
responsible for conducting part 58 environmental reviews (``responsible 
entities'') are currently allowed to use either HUD-recommended formats 
or develop equivalent formats for documenting environmental review 
compliance.
    The reference to a specific form number in part 50 restricts HUD's 
ability to adopt alternative form designations and forms, while 
authorizing the use of alternate forms in part 58 makes it difficult 
for HUD to assess, compare, and collect data on responsible entities' 
environmental review records. Despite being applicable to different 
parties, environmental review responsibilities under parts 50 and 58 
are substantively similar. In light of that, the proposed rule would 
give the Departmental Environmental Clearance Officer (DECO) the 
authority to create one standardized format for use in both part 50 and 
part 58 reviews and authorize exceptions, thereby eliminating 
unnecessary distinctions between reviews completed by HUD employees and 
responsible entities.
    This proposed rule would also make a technical amendment to part 58 
by making the regulations consistent with the ``Environmental 
Assessment'' definition provided in the Council on Environmental 
Quality (CEQ) regulations implementing the National Environmental 
Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) (NEPA).

DATES: Comment Due Date: April 28, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments regarding 
this proposed rule to the Regulations Division, Office of General 
Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street 
SW., Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410-0500. Communications must refer 
to the above docket number and title. There are two methods for 
submitting public comments. All submissions must refer to the above 
docket number and title.
    1. Submission of Comments by Mail. Comments may be submitted by 
mail to the Regulations Division, Office of General Counsel, Department 
of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 10276, 
Washington, DC 20410-0500.
    2. Electronic Submission of Comments. Interested persons may submit 
comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at 
www.regulations.gov. HUD strongly encourages commenters to submit 
comments electronically. Electronic submission of comments allows the 
commenter maximum time to prepare and submit a comment, ensures timely 
receipt by HUD, and enables HUD to make them immediately available to 
the public. Comments submitted electronically through the 
www.regulations.gov Web site can be viewed by other commenters and 
interested members of the public. Commenters should follow the 
instructions provided on that site to submit comments electronically.

    Note: To receive consideration as public comments, comments must 
be submitted through one of the two methods specified above. Again, 
all submissions must refer to the docket number and title of the 
rule.

    No Facsimile Comments. Facsimile (fax) comments are not acceptable.
    Public Inspection of Public Comments. All properly submitted 
comments and communications submitted to HUD will be available for 
public inspection and copying between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., weekdays, at 
the above address. Due to security measures at the HUD Headquarters 
building, an appointment to review the public comments must be 
scheduled in advance by calling the Regulations Division at 202-708-
3055 (this is not a toll-free number). Individuals with speech or 
hearing impairments may access this number via TTY by calling the 
Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339. Copies of all comments submitted 
are available for inspection and downloading at www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Danielle Schopp, Director, Office of 
Environment and Energy, Office of Community Planning and Development, 
Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 
7250, Washington, DC 20410; telephone number 202-402-4442 (this is not 
a toll-free number). Persons with hearing or speech impairments may 
access this number through TTY by calling the toll-free Federal Relay 
Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    NEPA and related authorities \1\ require the review of potential 
environmental impacts of, and the preparation of environmental reviews 
for, Federal policy and program actions. HUD's regulations at 24 CFR 
part 50 and part 58 implement these environmental requirements. HUD's 
regulations at 24 CFR part 50, entitled ``Protection and Enhancement of 
Environmental Quality,'' govern the environmental reviews performed by 
HUD for its policies and programs. The regulations at 24 CFR part 58, 
entitled ``Environmental Review Procedures for Entities Assuming HUD 
Environmental Responsibilities,'' prescribe the requirements governing 
environmental reviews performed by recipients of HUD assistance and 
other responsible entities that assume HUD's environmental 
responsibilities in applicable HUD programs. Both 24 CFR parts 50 and 
58 address the formats used for preparing and documenting the required 
environmental reviews.
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    \1\ See 24 CFR 50.4 and 24 CFR 58.5-6 for a listing of these 
Federal laws and authorities.
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    The part 50 regulations at Sec.  50.20(a) and Sec.  50.31(a) 
require HUD employees to document compliance with the environmental 
requirements through use of form HUD-4128. The reference to a single 
form number in part 50 restricts HUD's ability to issue a new form with 
a different designation or other forms. Updating the regulations to 
reflect new forms would require the use of potentially lengthy notice-
and-comment rulemaking procedures. Such procedures would be redundant 
because new forms are already subject to the notice-and-comment process 
of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) (PRA).
    The part 58 regulations at Sec.  58.38 and Sec.  58.40 allow 
entities assuming HUD environmental review responsibilities to use a 
HUD-recommended format or develop an equivalent format for preparing 
and documenting an environmental review. As a result, entities use a 
variety of formats. This sometimes makes it difficult for HUD and 
interested members of the public to assess compliance and prevents HUD 
from collecting reliable data.

II. This Proposed Rule

    This proposed rule would address these concerns by revising the 
regulations addressing the formats used for environmental reviews. 
First, this proposed rule would amend 24 CFR part 50 by removing the 
reference to the form HUD-4128. The revised regulations would instead 
require that HUD staff use a format approved by the DECO to prepare and 
document the required environmental reviews. Applicable environmental 
authorities vary from program to program. Accordingly, the DECO may 
prescribe alternative formats as necessary to meet specific program 
needs. This rule is not proposing to change or replace form HUD-4128. 
Such actions would more appropriately be taken through the process for 
approval of collections of information and recordkeeping requirements 
under the PRA.
    This proposed rule would also amend 24 CFR part 58 by establishing

[[Page 11047]]

uniformity in the formats used by entities assuming HUD's environmental 
review responsibilities. Specifically, the proposed rule would require 
these entities to use a format prescribed by the DECO. As for 
environmental reviews under part 50, the DECO may prescribe alternative 
formats as necessary to meet specific program needs. This rule is not 
prescribing the format; rather, such paperwork requirements will be 
established through the PRA notice-and-comment process.
    This proposed rule would also make a technical amendment to Sec.  
58.40 for consistency with the CEQ regulations implementing NEPA's 
environmental assessment requirements. The regulations issued by the 
CEQ at 40 CFR parts 1500-1508 establish the basic procedural 
requirements for compliance with NEPA by all Federal agencies. When 
responsible entities assume HUD's environmental review 
responsibilities, they must follow the CEQ environmental assessment 
regulations at 40 CFR 1508.9. HUD's procedures mirror the CEQ 
procedures for performing an environmental assessment, but for clarity 
HUD is incorporating the CEQ's language for completing the 
environmental assessments in HUD's regulations.

III. Findings and Certifications

Regulatory Review--Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    Under Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), a 
determination must be made whether a regulatory action is significant 
and, therefore, subject to review by the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) in accordance with the requirements of the order. 
Executive Order 13563 (Improving Regulations and Regulatory Review) 
directs executive agencies to analyze regulations that are ``outmoded, 
ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome, and to modify, 
streamline, expand, or repeal them in accordance with what has been 
learned.'' Executive Order 13563 also directs that, where relevant, 
feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives, and to the extent 
permitted by law, agencies are to identify and consider regulatory 
approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of 
choice for the public.
    As discussed above in this preamble, the proposed rule would revise 
the regulations governing the format used for conducting the required 
environmental reviews for HUD program and policy actions. Consistent 
with the goals of Executive Order 13563, the proposed amendments would 
simplify and standardize the format requirements. Changes to the format 
would now be made through the PRA notice-and-comment process, the more 
appropriate forum for such changes. In addition, the proposed rule 
would make a technical amendment to include in HUD's regulations the 
procedures a responsible entity must complete when preparing an 
environmental assessment already required under the CEQ regulations. As 
a result, this rule was determined to not be a significant regulatory 
action under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning 
and Review, and therefore was not reviewed by OMB.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The information collection requirements for part 50 and part 58 
contained in this proposed rule have been approved by OMB under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520) (PRA) and 
assigned OMB control numbers 2506-0177 and 2506-0087, respectively. In 
accordance with the PRA, an agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a 
person is not required to respond to, a collection of information, 
unless the collection displays a currently valid OMB control number.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 605(b)) generally requires 
an agency to conduct regulatory flexibility analysis of any rule 
subject to notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements, unless the 
agency certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. The proposed rule 
would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities. The proposed rule would not add any new substantive 
regulatory obligations on participants in HUD programs. The current 
regulations already require that entities maintain environmental review 
records in accordance with HUD-recommended formats or equivalent 
formats, and HUD is merely standardizing the recording format. 
Notwithstanding HUD's determination that this rule will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, 
HUD specifically invites comments regarding less burdensome 
alternatives to this rule that will meet HUD's objectives as described 
in this preamble.

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    Executive Order 13132 (entitled ``Federalism'') prohibits an agency 
from publishing any rule that has federalism implications if the rule 
either imposes substantial direct compliance costs on state and local 
governments and is not required by statute or the rule preempts state 
law, unless the agency meets the consultation and funding requirements 
of section 6 of the Executive Order. This rule will not have federalism 
implications and would not impose substantial direct compliance costs 
on state and local governments or preempt state law within the meaning 
of the Executive Order.

Environmental Review

    This proposed rule does not direct, provide for assistance or loan 
and mortgage insurance for, or otherwise govern or regulate real 
property acquisition, disposition, leasing, rehabilitation, alteration, 
demolition, or new construction, or establish, revise, or provide for 
standards for construction or construction materials, manufactured 
housing, or occupancy. Accordingly, under 24 CFR 50.19(c)(1), this 
proposed rule is categorically excluded from environmental review under 
the NEPA.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 
1531-1538) (UMRA) establishes requirements for Federal agencies to 
assess the effects of their regulatory actions on state, local, and 
tribal governments, and the private sector. This proposed rule does not 
impose any Federal mandates on any state, local, or tribal government, 
or the private sector within the meaning of UMRA.

List of Subjects

24 CFR Part 50

    Environmental quality, Environmental protection, Environmental 
review policy and procedures, Environmental assessment, Environmental 
impact statement, Compliance record.

24 CFR Part 58

    Environmental protection, Community Development Block Grants, 
Environmental impact statements, Grant programs--housing and community 
development, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Accordingly, for the reasons stated in the preamble, HUD proposes 
to revise 24 CFR parts 50 and 58, to read as follows:

PART 50--PROTECTION AND ENHANCEMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY

0
1. The authority citation for part 50 is revised to read as follows:


[[Page 11048]]


    Authority:  42 U.S.C. 3535(d) and 4321-4335; and Executive Order 
11991, 3 CFR, 1977 Comp., p. 123.

0
2. In Sec.  50.18, designate the undesignated paragraph as paragraph 
(b) and add new paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  50.18  General.

    (a) The Departmental Environmental Clearance Officer (DECO) shall 
establish a prescribed format to be used to document compliance with 
NEPA and the Federal laws and authorities cited in Sec.  50.4 where 
their applicability is indicated below. The DECO may prescribe 
alternative formats as necessary to meet specific program needs.
* * * * *
0
3. Revise Sec.  50.20(a) to read as follows:


Sec.  50.20  Categorical exclusions subject to the Federal laws and 
authorities cited in Sec.  50.4.

    (a) The following actions, activities, and programs are 
categorically excluded from the NEPA requirements for further review in 
an Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement as set 
forth in this part. They are not excluded from individual compliance 
requirements of other environmental statutes, Executive orders, and HUD 
standards cited in Sec.  50.4, where appropriate. Where the responsible 
official determines that any proposed action identified below may have 
an environmental effect because of extraordinary circumstances (40 CFR 
1508.4), the requirements for further review under NEPA shall apply 
(see paragraph (b) of this section).
* * * * *
0
4. Revise Sec.  50.31(a) to read as follows:


Sec.  50.31  The EA.

    (a) The Departmental Environmental Clearance Officer (DECO) shall 
establish a prescribed format used for the environmental analysis and 
documentation of projects and activities under subpart E. The DECO may 
prescribe alternative formats as is necessary to meet specific program 
needs.
* * * * *

PART 58--ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW PROCEDURES FOR ENTITIES ASSUMING HUD 
ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES

0
5. The authority citation for part 58 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority: 12 U.S.C. 1707 note, 1715z-13a(k); 25 U.S.C. 4115 and 
4226; 42 U.S.C. 1437x, 3535(d), 3547, 4321-4335, 4852, 5304(g), 
12838, and 12905(h); title II of Pub. L. 105-276; E.O. 11514 as 
amended by E.O. 11991, 3 CFR, 1977 Comp., p. 123.

0
6. In Sec.  58.38, revise the introductory text to read as follows:


Sec.  58.38  Environmental review record.

    The responsible entity must maintain a written record of the 
environmental review undertaken under this part for each project. This 
document will be designated the ``Environmental Review Record'' (ERR) 
and shall be available for public review. The Departmental 
Environmental Clearance Officer (DECO) shall establish a prescribed 
format that the responsible entity shall use to prepare the ERR. The 
DECO may prescribe alternative formats as is necessary to meet specific 
program needs.
* * * * *
0
7. In Sec.  58.40, revise the introductory text and paragraph (e) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  58.40  Preparing the environmental assessment.

    The DECO shall establish a prescribed format that the responsible 
entity shall use to prepare the EA. The DECO may prescribe alternative 
formats as is necessary to meet specific program needs. In preparing an 
EA for a particular proposed project or other action, the responsible 
entity must:
* * * * *
    (e) Discuss the need for the proposal, appropriate alternatives 
where the proposal involves unresolved conflicts concerning alternative 
uses of available resources, the environmental impacts of the proposed 
action and alternatives, and a listing of agencies and persons 
consulted.
* * * * *

    Dated: January 31, 2014.
Shaun Donovan,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2014-04206 Filed 2-26-14; 8:45 am]
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