[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 224 (Wednesday, November 22, 2017)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 55529-55535]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-25105]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

15 CFR Part 922

[Docket No. 170315274-7274-01]
RIN 0648-BG73


Vessel and Aircraft Discharges From United States Coast Guard 
Activities in Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine 
Sanctuaries

AGENCY: Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), National Ocean 
Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 
Department of Commerce (DOC).

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: With this proposed rule, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (NOAA) considers allowing the United States Coast Guard 
(USCG or Coast Guard) to carry out certain otherwise prohibited 
activities within waters of Greater Farallones National Marine 
Sanctuary (GFNMS) and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (CBNMS) 
approximately 3 nautical miles (nm) from the shore, in the areas of the 
sanctuaries that were expanded in 2015. The discharges under 
consideration are: Untreated vessel sewage, vessel graywater as defined 
by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended (FWPCA), that 
does not meet the definition of ``clean'' as defined by the GFNMS and 
CBNMS regulations, and ammunition and pyrotechnic (warning projectile, 
flare, smoke float and marine marker) materials used in USCG training 
exercises for use of force (live fire or gunnery) and training 
exercises for search and rescue (SAR) of vessels or persons in 
distress. No change is proposed to the regulatory prohibitions or 
exceptions applicable to the pre-expansion boundaries of the two 
sanctuaries. A draft environmental assessment (DEA) under the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has been prepared for this proposed 
action. NOAA is soliciting public comment on the proposed rule and DEA.

DATES: Comments will be considered if received by January 16, 2018. 
Public hearings will be held on December 5 and 13, 2017, from 6 p.m. to 
8 p.m.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document and/or on the DEA, 
identified by NOAA-NOS-2017-0140, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NOS-2017-0140, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Maria Brown, 
Superintendent, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, 991 
Marine Drive, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NOAA. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NOAA will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to

[[Page 55530]]

remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted 
in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    Copies of the DEA and proposed rule can be downloaded or viewed on 
the internet at www.regulations.gov (search for docket # NOAA-NOS-2017-
0140) or at https://farallones.noaa.gov/manage/regulations.html. Copies 
can also be obtained by contacting the person identified under FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Public hearings will be held in the following locations:
     December 5, 2017. 6-8 p.m. Bay Model, 2100 Bridgeway, 
Sausalito, CA 94965.
     December 13, 2017. 6-8 p.m. Gualala Community Center, 
47950 Center Street, Gualala, CA 95445.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maria Brown, Greater Farallones 
National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent, at [email protected] or 
415-561-6622.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

A. Introduction

    On March 12, 2015, NOAA expanded the boundaries of GFNMS and CBNMS 
to an area north and west of their previous boundaries. In that rule, 
pursuant to a request from the USCG, NOAA announced that it would 
postpone the effective date for the discharge requirements in both 
expansion areas (defined as the areas that were added to the existing 
1981 and 1989 boundaries for GFNMS and CBNMS, respectively) with regard 
to USCG activities. NOAA stated the purpose of the postponement was to 
look at ways to address Coast Guard's concerns that the discharge 
regulations would impair the operations of Coast Guard vessels in, and 
aircraft over, the sanctuaries, and to consider, among other things, 
whether to exempt Coast Guard activities in both sanctuary expansion 
areas. This proposed rule considers allowing the USCG to carry out 
otherwise prohibited discharges within waters of the GFNMS and CBNMS 
expansion areas seaward of approximately 3 nm from the shore, as 
described in more detail below. In formulating this proposed rule, NOAA 
considered a number of factors discussed more fully in the DEA, 
including the ability of the USCG to complete its mission requirements 
and the policy of facilitating uses of the sanctuaries to the extent 
compatible with resource protection.

B. Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries

    NOAA is charged with managing areas of the marine environment which 
are of special national significance as the National Marine Sanctuary 
System (16 U.S.C. 1431 (b)(1)). The Office of National Marine 
Sanctuaries (ONMS) is the federal office within NOAA that manages the 
National Marine Sanctuary System. The mission of ONMS is to identify, 
protect, conserve, and enhance the natural and cultural resources, 
values, and qualities of the National Marine Sanctuary System (System) 
for this and future generations throughout the nation. This System 
includes 13 national marine sanctuaries, among them GFNMS and CBNMS, 
and Papah[amacr]naumoku[amacr]kea and Rose Atoll marine national 
monuments. GFNMS was designated in 1981 and protects approximately 
3,295 square miles (2,488 square nautical miles). CBNMS was designated 
in 1989 and protects approximately 1,286 square miles (971 square 
nautical miles). NOAA expanded both sanctuaries to their current size 
on March 12, 2015 (80 FR 13078). When referring to the expansion areas 
of the sanctuaries, NOAA means the areas that were added to the 
existing 1981 and 1989 boundaries for GFNMS and CBNMS, respectively.
    Both GFNMS and CBNMS' regulations prohibit discharging or 
depositing, from within or into the sanctuary, any material or other 
matter (15 CFR 922.82(a)(2) and (3) and 15 CFR 922.112(a)(2)(i) and 
(ii)). Both the GFNMS and CBNMS regulations also prohibit discharging 
or depositing, from beyond the boundary of the sanctuary, any material 
or other matter that subsequently enters the sanctuary and injures a 
sanctuary resource or quality (15 CFR 922.82(a)(4); 15 CFR 
922.112(a)(2)(iii)). Most national marine sanctuaries also have similar 
regulatory prohibitions. The discharge prohibitions are aimed at 
maintaining and improving water quality within national marine 
sanctuaries to enhance conditions for their living marine resources. 
The discharge prohibitions include the following exceptions relevant to 
the proposed action:
     For a vessel less than 300 gross registered tons (GRT), or 
a vessel 300 GRT or greater without sufficient holding tank capacity to 
hold sewage while within the sanctuary, clean effluent generated 
incidental to vessel use by an operable Type I or II marine sanitation 
device that is approved in accordance with section 312 of the Federal 
Water Pollution Control Act,\1\ as amended (FWPCA); vessel operators 
must lock all marine sanitation devices in a manner that prevents 
discharge or deposit of untreated sewage (15 CFR 922.82(a)(2)(ii) and 
922.112(a)(2)(i)(B));
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    \1\ The Federal Water Pollution Control Act is more commonly 
referred to as the Clean Water Act.
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     For a vessel less than 300 GRT, or a vessel 300 GRT or 
greater without sufficient holding tank capacity to hold graywater 
while within the sanctuary, clean graywater as defined by section 312 
of the FWPCA (15 CFR 922.82(a)(2)(iv) and 922.112(a)(2)(i)(D));
     Activities necessary to respond to an emergency 
threatening life, property or the environment (15 CFR 922.82(c) and 
922.112(b)).
    The following definitions apply to these exceptions:
     ``Clean'' means not containing detectable levels of a 
harmful matter (15 CFR 922.81 and 922.111); and,
     ``Graywater'' means galley, bath, and shower water (33 
U.S.C. 1322(a)(11)).
    The first two existing discharge exceptions listed above apply to 
all vessels other than cruise ships. Therefore, they would apply to 
USCG vessels and would continue to apply if the regulatory changes 
proposed in this rulemaking were finalized.

C. USCG Activities

    The USCG, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is a 
military service and a branch of the armed forces (14 U.S.C. 1), 
charged with carrying out eleven maritime safety, security and 
stewardship missions (6 U.S.C. 468(a)).
    One of the missions of the USCG is to enforce or assist in the 
enforcement of all applicable federal laws on, under, and over the high 
seas and waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. As 
part of this mission, the USCG supports resource protection efforts 
within GFNMS and CBNMS by providing surveillance of activities within 
the sanctuaries and enforcement of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act 
(NMSA) and other laws and their implementing regulations. The USCG has 
the authority to enforce the NMSA under 14 U.S.C. 2 and 14 U.S.C. 89. 
Law enforcement activities for the two sanctuaries are also conducted 
by other agencies, primarily NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement and the 
California Department of Fish and Wildlife. In GFNMS, the National Park 
Service and several local agencies also conduct law enforcement 
activities.
    The USCG also leads incident planning and response activities for 
oil

[[Page 55531]]

spills and other incidents in U.S. coastal and ocean waters. These 
activities are necessary components of GFNMS and CBNMS management. 
Other USCG missions that are conducted inside NMS boundaries, some of 
which also support national marine sanctuary management, include 
waterways and coastal security; aids to navigation, including tending 
buoys; search and rescue (SAR); living marine resources; marine safety; 
and marine environmental protection. The USCG may concurrently conduct 
activities to support more than one of its missions when operating 
vessels within or aircraft above GFNMS and CBNMS.
    According to the USCG Environmental Vessel Manual, USCG practices 
allow for discharges of untreated sewage and non-clean graywater from 
USCG vessels in waters beyond 3 nm from shore. USCG vessels have 
continued these discharges beyond 3 nm from shore in the expansion 
areas of GFNMS and CBNMS, due to NOAA's decision to temporarily delay 
the effective date of applying sanctuary discharge prohibitions with 
respect to USCG activities in the expansion areas of GFNMS and CBNMS 
while NOAA assesses these activities and their potential environmental 
effects.
    According to other regulatory requirements and USCG guidance and 
practices, discharges are not allowed to take place within 
approximately 3 nm of the shore. The FWPCA requires (in Section 312) 
that vessels with installed toilets must only discharge sewage through 
a Type I or II marine sanitation device within three miles \2\ of shore 
(33 U.S.C. 1322(h)(4); 33 U.S.C. 1362(7)-(8)). The California Harbors 
and Navigation Code 775 (a)(2) and (b) require compliance with the 
FWPCA. There is also a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) 
designated No Discharge Zone (NDZ) prohibiting sewage discharges in the 
marine waters of the state that applies to specified vessels of 300 
gross tons or greater,\3\ which would apply to several classes of USCG 
vessels. Further, the USCG Vessel Environmental Manual includes a 
restriction on discharging raw sewage within 3.5 miles (3 nm) of land.
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    \2\ The FWPCA refers to ``miles'' but the common interpretation 
is ``nautical miles'', as statute miles are not used by mariners, 
and many states use a 3 nm from shore boundary (http://www.gc.noaa.gov/gcil_seaward.html).
    \3\ Various laws and regulations refer to gross tons or gross 
registered tons (GRT). NOAA uses the terms in this document exactly 
as they appear in the specific legal source cited.
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D. Need for Action

    In the course of the rulemaking to expand GFNMS and CBNMS, NOAA 
received a letter dated February 4, 2013, from the USCG stating that 
the prohibitions proposed for the GFNMS and CBNMS expansion areas had 
the potential to impair USCG surface and airborne use of force training 
activities, SAR training activities, and the ability of Coastal Patrol 
Boats to conduct any mission within the sanctuaries. Of specific 
concern to the USCG were the proposed prohibitions on discharges made 
during these training activities: Vessel sewage discharges, 
particularly with respect to law enforcement and SAR missions, and the 
ability of the USCG to operate and remain ``mission ready.''
    To accommodate the need for these USCG activities to take place 
after the expansion rule entered into effect, NOAA postponed, for six 
months from the effective date of the rule, the applicability of the 
discharge requirements to Coast Guard activities in both expanded 
areas. NOAA published the final rule for the expansion of GFNMS and 
CBNMS on March 12, 2015 (80 FR 13078), in the Federal Register and the 
rule became effective on June 9, 2015 (80 FR 34047). Additional six-
month postponements of the effectiveness of the discharge requirements 
in the expansion areas were published in the Federal Register on 
December 1, 2015 (80 FR 74985), May 31, 2016 (81 FR 34268), December 6, 
2016 (81 FR 87803), and June 7, 2017 (82 FR 26339) to enable completion 
of the environmental assessment and to determine NOAA's next steps. The 
effective date for the discharge requirements in the expansion areas 
for both sanctuaries with regard to USCG activities is currently 
postponed until December 9, 2017. Accordingly, without further NOAA 
action, the discharge regulations would become effective with regard to 
USCG activities on December 9, 2017. Thus, a separate document 
published in the Federal Register concurrently with this proposed rule 
extends the postponement of the discharge requirements for the USCG 
activities in the expansion areas until December 9, 2018 to provide 
adequate time for completion of a final environmental assessment and 
final rule, as appropriate. As described in the separate document, the 
new postponement of these discharge requirements will terminate either 
on December 9, 2018 or 30 days after publication of a final rule, 
whichever comes first.
    Of primary concern to USCG are the discharge regulations in both 
expanded sanctuaries and USCG compliance with these regulations. USCG 
vessels have limited capacity to treat sewage and some have limited 
capacity to hold sewage and graywater, and are without Type I or II 
marine sanitation devices onboard to treat the wastewater prior to 
discharge; accordingly, the discharges from such vessels would not fit 
within the existing regulatory exemptions for discharge within GFNMS 
and CBNMS. Training exercises designed to make USCG personnel ready for 
missions involving use of force and SAR involve discharging live 
ammunition and pyrotechnic materials. NOAA is concerned with protecting 
sanctuary resources and habitats, resolving any conflicts that could 
occur among sanctuary user groups (e.g., fishing and USCG live fire 
training), and ensuring continued USCG enforcement of sanctuary 
regulations and other mission activities that support sanctuary 
management.
    Prior to the expansion of GFNMS and CBNMS, the USCG was able to 
comply with the sanctuaries' vessel discharge regulations by 
discharging untreated vessel sewage and non-clean graywater in ocean 
waters outside GFNMS and CBNMS or by pumping it out at shoreside pump-
out facilities. The expansion of GFNMS and CBNMS, with the resulting 
larger sizes of the sanctuaries and extension of discharge prohibitions 
to the expanded portions of the sanctuaries, would make it difficult 
for the USCG to both fulfill its missions and comply with the vessel 
discharge prohibitions. The USCG vessels have constraints for treating 
and holding sewage and non-clean graywater, and crews would have to 
plan for the extra time required to travel from the GFNMS and CBNMS 
expansion areas to USCG shoreside pump-out facilities in Bodega and San 
Francisco bays or to ocean waters outside national marine sanctuary 
boundaries to discharge vessel holding tanks (where allowed by state 
and federal regulations).
    Similarly, with regard to training activities, prior to the 
expansion of GFNMS and CBNMS, the USCG planned and conducted these 
exercises outside the sanctuaries' boundaries and within relatively 
short distances from USCG stations without violating sanctuary 
discharge regulations. Because the USCG maritime enforcement, defense 
readiness, and SAR capabilities are enhanced by conducting live-fire 
and SAR exercises in the areas in which its personnel normally operate, 
the expansion of GFNMS and CBNMS and extension of discharge 
prohibitions to the expanded portions of the sanctuaries have the 
potential to impair the ability of USCG to operate and train to remain 
``mission ready.''

[[Page 55532]]

E. History of Action

    Prior to the expansion of the two sanctuaries' boundaries, GFNMS 
and USCG had been discussing potentially allowing USCG to make 
discharges within the sanctuary during live fire and SAR training 
exercises. In 2012 and 2013, USCG District 11 and GFNMS held a series 
of meetings focused on discharges of flares, ammunition, and targets 
related to live fire and SAR training. During this time, GFNMS and USCG 
identified several areas for potentially allowing seasonal training-
related discharges as well as possible operating protocols. The 
intention was to consider allowing USCG training discharges via a 
national marine sanctuary permit, if the activities could be conducted 
in a way that would minimize potential impacts to marine mammals and 
other living marine resources. The USCG did not submit an application 
for a permit, and therefore NOAA did not issue a permit.
    After receiving the USCG's February 4, 2013 letter, the USCG and 
NOAA initiated discussions to address the full range of USCG discharges 
from training activities, and untreated vessel sewage and graywater 
discharges in both GFNMS and CBNMS. As part of these discussions, the 
USCG and NOAA reviewed potential environmental effects and various 
approaches to mitigate potential harm to sanctuary resources from these 
USCG discharges, including NMS permits and best practices for USCG 
discharge activities. In January 2015, prior to the publication of the 
final rule to expand GFNMS and CBNMS, NOAA and the USCG entered into 
interagency consultations to address both agencies' concerns. The 
details of this ongoing consultation are described above under ``Need 
for Action.''
    From April 21 to May 31, 2016 (81 FR 23445), NOAA accepted public 
comments and information to determine the relevant scope of issues and 
range of alternatives for NOAA to address in the environmental 
assessment and proposed rule. Public and agency comments were received 
via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, by mail, and at three public 
meetings that were held in Sausalito, Bodega Bay and Gualala on May 10, 
11 and 12, respectively. Comments received are available at 
www.regulations.gov (search for docket NOAA-NOS-2017-0140). NOAA 
considered these comments in preparing this proposed rule and 
associated DEA.

F. Process

    The process for this action is composed of four major stages: (1) 
Information collection and characterization and public scoping (scoping 
was completed on May 31, 2016); (2) preparation and release of a draft 
environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA), and any proposed amendments to the regulations if appropriate; 
(3) public review and comment of the proposed amendments and the draft 
environmental assessment; (4) preparation and release of a final 
environmental review document, and any final amendments to the GFNMS 
and CBNMS regulations, if appropriate. With the publication of this 
proposed rule, NOAA enters the third phase of this process.
    NOAA will fulfill its responsibilities to complete required 
consultations and/or receive necessary authorizations under the Marine 
Mammal Protection Act (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), section 7 of the 
Endangered Species Act (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), Section 106 of 
the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA; 54 U.S.C. 300101), and 
Federal Consistency review under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA; 
16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq.), along with its ongoing NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.) process including the use of NEPA documents and public meetings 
to also meet the requirements of other federal laws. Together with this 
proposed rule, NOAA is releasing a DEA containing more detailed 
information on the considerations of this proposal, including 
assessment of alternatives, analysis of potential environmental 
impacts, and references. The EA can be found through the Web site in 
the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above.

II. Summary of the Proposed Regulations

A. Sewage and Graywater

    With this proposed rule, NOAA would amend the GFNMS and CBNMS 
regulations to allow USCG vessels to discharge untreated sewage and 
non-clean graywater only in the waters of the expansion areas of GFNMS 
and CBNMS seaward of approximately 3.5 miles (3 nautical miles (nm)) 
from the shoreline. USCG discharges of untreated sewage and non-clean 
graywater from vessels that are not equipped with a Type I or II marine 
sanitation device (MSD) and without sufficient holding tank capacity 
would continue, as per historic and current routine USCG operational 
practices in waters of both expansion areas beyond 3 nm from shore. As 
previously described, these discharges have continued since June 2015 
due to NOAA's decision to temporarily delay the effective date of 
applying sanctuary discharge prohibitions with respect to USCG 
activities while NOAA assesses these activities and their potential 
environmental effects.
    The current GFNMS and CBNMS discharge prohibitions provide an 
exception for clean sewage discharge (``clean effluent'') through a 
Type I or II MSD for: (1) A vessel less than 300 GRT, or (2) a vessel 
300 GRT or greater without sufficient holding tank capacity to hold 
sewage while within the Sanctuary (15 CFR 922.82(a)(2)(ii) and 
922.112(a)(2)(i)(B)). They also provide an exception for clean 
graywater to be discharged: (1) A vessel less than 300 GRT, or (2) a 
vessel 300 GRT or greater without sufficient holding tank capacity to 
hold graywater while within the Sanctuary (15 CFR 922.82(a)(2)(iv) and 
922.112(a)(2)(i)(D)). According to the USCG, most of its vessels 
operating in GFNMS and CBNMS do not have capacity to treat sewage and 
graywater; they are without Type I or II MSD onboard to treat the 
wastewater prior to discharge. Some classes of USCG vessels also have 
limited capacity to hold sewage and non-clean graywater until it may be 
discharged outside GFNMS and CBNMS. Thus, if the regulations were to 
take effect in the expansion areas of GFNMS and CBNMS, the vessels 
would not be able to legally discharge in those portions of the 
sanctuaries in a manner consistent with these existing regulatory 
exceptions. The proposed exceptions to the GFNMS and CBNMS prohibitions 
for the USCG would be in addition to the current exceptions noted 
earlier.
    The areas within GFNMS and CBNMS in which these USCG vessel 
discharges would be excepted from the sanctuaries' discharge 
prohibitions correspond to the waters seaward of 3 nm from shore in the 
expansion areas of GFNMS and CBNMS (i.e., the areas added when the 
sanctuaries expanded in 2015). The geographic coordinates of these 
areas would be listed in an appendix to each sanctuary's regulations 
(appendix G of subpart H and appendix C of subpart K). Aside from the 
proposed exceptions for USCG training-related discharges (see below), 
the USCG would also continue to comply with all other existing 
prohibitions provided in 15 CFR 922.82 and 922.112 in both the pre-
expansion areas and the expanded sanctuaries' boundaries and comply 
with the prohibitions for vessel discharges within the pre-expansion 
boundaries of the two sanctuaries. No changes to the regulatory 
prohibitions or exceptions applicable to the pre-expansion areas of the 
sanctuaries are proposed.

[[Page 55533]]

B. Discharges of Ammunition and Pyrotechnic Materials During Training

    NOAA would amend the GFNMS and CBNMS regulations to allow USCG 
discharges of ammunition and pyrotechnic materials (including warning 
projectiles, flares, smoke floats and marine markers) during live 
ammunition and search and rescue training exercises only in the federal 
waters of the expansion areas of GFNMS and CBNMS, seaward of 
approximately 3.5 miles (3 nautical miles (nm)) from the shoreline. The 
geographic coordinates of this designated area, where training 
discharges would be excepted from the sanctuary discharge prohibition 
within GFNMS and CBNMS, would be listed in an appendix to each 
sanctuary's regulations (appendix G of subpart H and appendix C of 
subpart K).
    The USCG would also continue to comply with all other existing 
prohibitions, aside from the previously described proposed exceptions 
for USCG vessel discharges of untreated sewage and graywater, provided 
in 15 CFR 922.82 and 922.112 in both the pre-expansion areas and the 
expanded sanctuaries' boundaries and comply with the prohibitions for 
vessel discharges within the pre-expansion boundaries of the two 
sanctuaries. No changes to the regulatory prohibitions or exceptions 
applicable to the pre-expansion areas of the sanctuaries are proposed.
    Based on a request by USCG, this proposed rule focuses on a 
regulatory exception to the GFNMS and CBNMS general discharge 
prohibition for the specified USCG discharges. However, NOAA presents 
in the DEA a variety of alternatives for protecting sanctuary resources 
while addressing the USCG's request to allow for USCG's routine 
discharges of untreated sewage and graywater from vessels and training 
discharges in GFNMS and CBNMS, allowing the USCG to fulfill its 
missions and comply with the sanctuaries' regulations. The DEA also 
lays out in more detail NOAA's consideration and analysis of factors 
pertinent to this proposed rule, including the ability of USCG to 
complete its mission operations and in the expansion areas of the 
sanctuaries, constraints in certain USCG vessel capabilities to treat 
and hold sewage and graywater, the role that USCG live fire and search 
and rescue trainings in the expansion areas of the sanctuaries play in 
USCG mission readiness, and the extent to which such USCG activities 
may be conducted to the maximum extent feasible in a manner consistent 
with the sanctuaries' primary objective of resource protection. No 
final decision or final rulemaking will be made until completion of the 
public comment period, satisfaction of permitting and consultation 
requirements, and completion of the NEPA analysis process.

III. Classification

A. National Environmental Policy Act

    NOAA has prepared a draft environmental assessment (DEA) to 
evaluate the potential impacts on the human environment of this 
proposed rulemaking, which is the preferred action analyzed in the DEA, 
as well as alternative actions. No significant adverse impacts to 
resources and the human environment are expected, and accordingly, 
under NEPA (43 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) a draft environmental assessment is 
the appropriate document to analyze the potential impacts of this 
action. Following close of the public comment period and satisfaction 
of permitting and consultation requirements under applicable natural 
and cultural resource statutes (described below), NOAA will finalize 
its NEPA analysis and findings and prepare a final NEPA document. 
Copies of the DEA are available at the address and Web site listed in 
the ADDRESSES section of this proposed rule.

B. Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Impact

    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant within 
the meaning of Executive Order 12866.

C. Executive Order 13771: Regulatory Reform

    This proposed rule is not expected to be an Executive Order 13771 
regulatory action because this proposed rule is not significant under 
Executive Order 12866.

D. Executive Order 13132: Federalism Assessment

    NOAA has concluded this regulatory action does not have federalism 
implications sufficient to warrant preparation of a federalism 
assessment under Executive Order 13132.

E. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The purpose of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA; 5 U.S.C. 601 et 
seq.) is to fit regulatory requirements to the scale of the businesses, 
organizations, and governmental jurisdictions subject to the 
regulation. The RFA requires that agencies determine, to the extent 
feasible, the rule's economic impact on small entities, explore 
regulatory options for reducing any significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of such entities, and explain their ultimate choice 
of regulatory approach. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the 
Department of Commerce certifies to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of 
the Small Business Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if 
adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities. The factual basis for this certification is 
that the proposed changes are specifically targeted to the activities 
of the USCG in CBNMS and GFNMS, and would not have an economic effect 
on any small businesses. Also, this proposed rule would not 
substantively alter the rights, responsibilities, or legal obligations 
pertaining to vessel discharges for the regulated community. As a 
result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and 
none has been prepared.

F. Paperwork Reduction Act

    This proposed rule does not create any new information collection 
requirement, nor does it revise the information collection requirement 
that was approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB Control 
Number 0648-0141) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, 44 U.S.C. 
3501 et seq. (PRA). Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no 
person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a 
penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject 
to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information 
displays a currently valid OMB Control Number.

G. National Historic Preservation Act

    In fulfilling its responsibility under the National Historic 
Preservation Act (NHPA) and NEPA, NOAA intends to determine whether the 
proposed rule is the type of activity that could affect historic 
properties. If so, NOAA intends to identify consulting parties; 
identify historic properties and assess the effects of the undertaking 
on such properties; assess potential adverse effects; and resolve 
adverse effects. If applicable, NOAA will initiate formal consultation 
with the State Historic Preservation Officer/Tribal Historic 
Preservation Officer, the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation, 
and other consulting parties as appropriate; involve the public in 
accordance with NOAA's NEPA procedures, and develop in consultation 
with identified consulting parties alternatives and proposed measures 
that might avoid, minimize or mitigate any adverse effects on historic 
properties as appropriate and describe them in the environmental 
assessment.

[[Page 55534]]

NOAA will complete applicable NHPA requirements before finalizing its 
NEPA analysis. Individuals or organizations who wish to participate as 
a consulting party should notify NOAA.
    Consultation requirements for the effects of the actual USCG 
training activities and vessel discharges on historic properties remain 
the responsibility of USCG, as USCG would be the lead agency performing 
these activities.

H. Endangered Species Act

    The Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 as amended (16 U.S.C. 
1531, et seq.), provides for the conservation of endangered and 
threatened species of fish, wildlife, and plants. Federal agencies have 
an affirmative mandate to conserve ESA-listed species. Section 7(a)(2) 
of the ESA requires federal agencies to, in consultation with the 
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and/or the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, ensure that any action they authorize, fund, or carry 
out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of an ESA-
listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of 
designated critical habitat. NOAA's ONMS intends to begin informal 
consultation under the ESA with NOAA's NMFS Office of Protected 
Resources (OPR) upon publication of this proposed rule and complete 
consultation prior to the publication of the final rule or finalization 
of the NEPA analysis. NOAA's consultation will focus on any potential 
adverse effects of providing a regulatory exception to its discharge 
prohibition in CBNMS and GFNMS on threatened and endangered species. 
NOAA will complete ESA consultation before finalizing its NEPA 
analysis.
    Consultation requirements for the effects of the actual USCG 
training activities and vessel discharges on threatened and endangered 
species remain the responsibility of USCG, as USCG would be the lead 
agency performing the training activities. USCG communicated to NOAA 
its intent to fulfil the consultation requirements under the ESA, 
specific to their training activities and vessel discharges, with 
(OPR).

I. Marine Mammal Protection Act

    The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 1361 et 
seq.), as amended, prohibits the ``take'' \4\ of marine mammals in U.S. 
waters. Section 101(a)(5)(A-D) of the MMPA provides a mechanism for 
allowing, upon request, the ``incidental,'' but not intentional, 
taking, of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage 
in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing or directed 
research on marine mammals) within a specified geographic region. ONMS 
intends to request technical assistance from NMFS upon publication of 
this proposed rule on ONMS's preliminary assessment that this action is 
not likely to result in take of marine mammals. If NMFS recommends that 
ONMS seek an Incidental Harassment Authorization or Letter of 
Authorization, then ONMS will submit an application for any incidental 
taking of small numbers of marine mammals that ONMS and NMFS conclude 
could occur as a result of the discharges allowed by this proposed 
rulemaking. NOAA's request for technical assistance will focus on the 
effects of providing a regulatory exception to its discharge 
prohibitions in CBNMS and GFNMS on marine mammals. NOAA will complete 
any MMPA requirements before finalizing its NEPA analysis.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ The MMPA defines take as: ``to harass, hunt, capture, or 
kill, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture or kill any marine 
mammal.'' Harassment means any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance 
which, (1) Has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine 
mammal stock in the wild (Level A Harassment); or (2) has the 
potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the 
wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but 
not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or 
sheltering (Level B Harassment).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Satisfying MMPA requirements for the effects of the actual training 
activities and vessel discharges on marine mammals remain the 
responsibility of USCG, as USCG would be the federal agency performing 
these activities. Moreover, USCG communicated to NOAA its intent to 
fulfill the consultation requirements under the MMPA, specific to their 
training activities and vessel discharges, with OPR.

J. Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA)

    The principal objective of the CZMA is to encourage and assist 
states in developing coastal management programs, to coordinate State 
activities, and to preserve, protect, develop and, where possible, to 
restore or enhance the resources of the nation's coastal zone. Section 
307(c) of the CZMA requires federal activity affecting the land or 
water uses or natural resources of a state's coastal zone to be 
consistent with that state's approved coastal management program, to 
the maximum extent practicable. NOAA will provide a copy of this 
proposed rule, the DEA, and a consistency determination to the 
California Coastal Commission (Commission) upon publication. NOAA will 
wait for concurrence from the Commission prior to publication of the 
final rule.
    Consultation requirements for the effects of the actual USCG 
training activities and vessel discharges on land or water uses or 
natural resources of California's coastal zone remain the 
responsibility of USCG, as USCG would be the lead agency performing 
these activities.

IV. Request for Comments

    NOAA requests comments on this proposed rule and the DEA. The 
comment period will remain open until January 16, 2018.

List of Subjects in 15 CFR Part 922

    Administrative practice and procedure, Coastal zone, Fishing gear, 
Marine resources, Natural resources, Penalties, Recreation and 
recreation areas, Wildlife.

(Federal Domestic Assistance Catalog Number 11.429 Marine Sanctuary 
Program)

    Dated: November 14, 2017.
Nicole R. LeBoeuf,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal Zone 
Management, National Ocean Service.
    Accordingly, for the reasons set forth above, NOAA proposes 
amending part 922, title 15 of the Code of Federal Regulations as 
follows:

PART 922--NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY PROGRAM REGULATIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 922 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.

Subpart H--Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary

0
2. Amend Sec.  922.82 by revising paragraphs (a)(2)(iv) and (v), adding 
paragraph (a)(2)(vi), and revising paragraph (a)(4) to read as follows:


Sec.  922.82   Prohibited or otherwise regulated activities.

    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (iv) For a vessel less than 300 GRT or a vessel 300 GRT or greater 
without sufficient holding capacity to hold graywater while within the 
Sanctuary, clean graywater as defined by section 312 of the FWPCA;
    (v) Vessel engine or generator exhaust; or
    (vi) For a United States Coast Guard vessel that is without 
sufficient holding tank capacity and is without a Type I or II marine 
sanitation device, and that is

[[Page 55535]]

operating within the designated area defined in appendix G of this 
subpart, sewage and non clean graywater as defined by section 312 of 
the FWPCA generated incidental to vessel use, and ammunition, 
pyrotechnics or other materials directly related to search and rescue 
and live ammunition training activities conducted by United States 
Coast Guard vessels and aircraft in the designated areas defined in 
appendix G of this subpart. Discharging or depositing, from beyond the 
boundary of the Sanctuary, any material or other matter that 
subsequently enters the Sanctuary and injures a Sanctuary resource or 
quality, except for the material or other matter excepted in paragraphs 
(a)(2)(i) through (vi) and (a)(3) of this section.
* * * * *
    (4) Discharging or depositing, from beyond the boundary of the 
Sanctuary, any material or other matter that subsequently enters the 
Sanctuary and injures a Sanctuary resource or quality, except for the 
material or other matter excepted in paragraphs (a)(2)(i) through (vi) 
and (a)(3) of this section.
* * * * *
0
3. Amend subpart H by adding appendix G to read as follows:

Appendix G to Subpart H of Part 922--Designated Area for Certain United 
States Coast Guard Discharges

    Coordinates listed in this appendix are unprojected (Geographic 
Coordinate System) and based on the North American Datum of 1983 
(NAD83).
    The portion of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary 
area where the exception for discharges from United States Coast 
Guard activities applies is defined as follows. Beginning with Point 
1 identified in the coordinate table in this appendix, the boundary 
extends from Point 1 to Point 2 in a straight line arc, and 
continues from Point 2 to Point 3 in a straight line arc, and from 
Point 3 to Point 4 in a straight line arc. From Point 4 the boundary 
extends east and north along a straight line arc towards Point 5 
until it intersects the fixed offshore boundary between the United 
States and California (approximately 3 NM seaward of the coast as 
defined in United States vs. California, 135 S. Ct. 563 (2014)). The 
boundary then extends northward following the fixed offshore 
boundary between the United States and California until it 
intersects the line segment formed between Point 6 and Point 7. From 
this intersection, the boundary extends west along the northern 
boundary of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary to Point 7 
where it ends.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Point  No.                    Latitude        Longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................        39.00000      -124.33350
2.......................................        38.29989      -123.99988
3.......................................        38.29989      -123.20005
4.......................................        38.26390      -123.18138
5 \1\...................................        38.29896      -123.05989
6 \1\...................................        39.00000      -123.75777
7.......................................        39.00000      -124.33350
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\These coordinates are not a part of the boundary for the Designated
  Area for Certain United States Coast Guard Discharges. These
  coordinates are reference points used to draw line segments that
  intersect with the fixed offshore boundary between the United States
  and California.

Subpart K--Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary

0
4. Amend Sec.  922.112 by revising paragraphs (a)(2)(i)(D) and (E) and 
adding paragraph (a)(2)(i)(F) to read as follows:


Sec.  922.112  Prohibited or otherwise regulated activities.

    (a) * * *
    (2)(i) * * *
    (D) For a vessel less than 300 GRT or a vessel 300 GRT or greater 
without sufficient holding capacity to hold graywater while within the 
Sanctuary, clean graywater as defined by section 312 of the FWPCA;
    (E) Vessel engine or generator exhaust; or
    (F) For a United States Coast Guard vessel that is without 
sufficient holding tank capacity and is without a Type I or II marine 
sanitation device, and that is operating within the designated area 
defined in appendix C of this subpart, sewage and non clean graywater 
as defined by section 312 of the FWPCA generated incidental to vessel 
use, and ammunition, pyrotechnics or other materials directly related 
to search and rescue and live ammunition training activities conducted 
by United States Coast Guard vessels and aircraft in the designated 
areas defined in appendix C of this subpart.
* * * * *
0
5. Amend subpart K by adding appendix C to read as follows:

Appendix C to Subpart K of Part 922--Designated Area for Certain United 
States Coast Guard Discharges

    Coordinates listed in this appendix are unprojected (Geographic 
Coordinate System) and based on the North American Datum of 1983 
(NAD83).
    The portion of the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary area 
where the exception for discharges from United States Coast Guard 
activities applies is defined as follows. Beginning with Point 1, 
identified in the coordinate table in this appendix, the boundary 
extends from Point 1 to Point 2 in a straight line arc and continues 
in numerical order through each subsequent point to Point 38. From 
Point 38 the boundary extends west along the northern boundary of 
Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary to Point 39 where it ends.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Point  No.                    Latitude        Longitude
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................        38.29989      -123.99988
2.......................................        37.76687      -123.75143
3.......................................        37.76716      -123.42758
4.......................................        37.77033      -123.43466
5.......................................        37.78109      -123.44694
6.......................................        37.78383      -123.45466
7.......................................        37.79487      -123.46721
8.......................................        37.80094      -123.47313
9.......................................        37.81026      -123.46897
10......................................        37.81365      -123.47906
11......................................        37.82296      -123.49280
12......................................        37.84988      -123.51749
13......................................        37.86189      -123.52197
14......................................        37.87637      -123.52192
15......................................        37.88541      -123.52967
16......................................        37.90725      -123.53937
17......................................        37.92288      -123.54360
18......................................        37.93858      -123.54701
19......................................        37.94901      -123.54777
20......................................        37.95528      -123.56199
21......................................        37.96683      -123.57859
22......................................        37.97761      -123.58746
23......................................        37.98678      -123.59988
24......................................        37.99847      -123.61331
25......................................        38.01366      -123.62494
26......................................        38.01987      -123.62450
27......................................        38.02286      -123.61531
28......................................        38.02419      -123.59864
29......................................        38.03409      -123.59904
30......................................        38.04614      -123.60611
31......................................        38.05308      -123.60549
32......................................        38.06188      -123.61546
33......................................        38.07451      -123.62162
34......................................        38.08289      -123.62065
35......................................        38.11256      -123.63344
36......................................        38.13219      -123.64265
37......................................        38.26390      -123.18138
38......................................        38.29989      -123.20005
39......................................        38.29989      -123.99988
------------------------------------------------------------------------

[FR Doc. 2017-25105 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-NK-P