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Proposed Renewed and Amended Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Assigning Environmental Responsibilities to the State of Alaska

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Proposed Renewed and Amended Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Assigning Environmental Responsibilities to the State of Alaska

David C. Miller
Federal Highway Administration
August 20, 2012


[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 161 (Monday, August 20, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 50208-50210]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-20401]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration

[Docket No. FHWA-2012-0076]


Proposed Renewed and Amended Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) 
Assigning Environmental Responsibilities to the State of Alaska

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Alaska Division, DOT.

ACTION: Notice of proposed MOU, request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This notice announces that the FHWA and the State of Alaska, 
acting by and through its Department of Transportation (State), propose 
to renew and amend a MOU between the parties dated September 22, 2009, 
pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 326. The MOU would extend the duration of the 
agreement by three years, continuing the assignment to the State of the 
FHWA's authority and responsibility for determining whether certain 
designated activities within the geographic boundaries of the State, as 
specified in the proposed MOU, are categorically excluded from 
preparation of an environmental assessment or an environmental impact 
statement under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 
U.S.C. 4321 et seq. (NEPA). Aside from editorial changes to the MOU, 
the following minor changes would also be incorporated: (1) The State 
would be required to submit a list of CE determinations semi-annually 
as opposed to quarterly, including Section 4(f) decisions; (2) the 
Federal Register notice of availability period would be modified from 
45 days to 30 days, where applicable; (3) language would be included 
clarifying that the presence of unusual circumstances and significant 
environmental impacts must be considered in CE findings; (4) inclusion 
of language to clarify that the State coordinate with the Department of 
Justice and FHWA in the event of litigation, (5) at least a 12-month 
period between FHWA program reviews would be included in order to give 
the State adequate time to implement corrective action plans; (6) 
future changes to 23 CFR 771.117(c) and (d) resulting from rulemaking 
would be automatically incorporated into the MOU; (7) the termination 
provisions of the MOU would be changed to comply with the provisions of 
Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).

DATES: Please submit comments by September 14, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by DOT Document 
Management System (DMS) Docket Number [FHWA-2012-0076], by any of the 
methods described below. Electronic or facsimile comments are preferred 
because Federal offices experience intermittent mail delays from 
security screening.
    1. Web site: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions 
for submitting comments on the DOT electronic docket site.
    2. Facsimile (Fax): 1-202-493-2251.
    3. Mail: Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., Washington, DC 20590.
    4. Hand Delivery: 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., Washington, DC 20590 
between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal 
holidays. For access to the docket to view a complete copy of the 
proposed MOU, or to read background documents or comments received, go 
to http://www.regulations.gov at any time or to 1200 New Jersey Ave. 
SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. e.t., Monday 
through Friday, except for Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For FHWA: Mr. Tim Haugh; by email at 
tim.haugh@dot.gov or by telephone at 907-586-7418. The FHWA Alaska 
Division Office's normal business hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Alaska 
Time), Monday-Friday, except for Federal Holidays. For State: Mr. Ben 
White; by email at ben.white@alaska.gov; by telephone at 907-269-6961. 
The Alaska Department of Transportation's normal business hours are 8 
a.m. to 5 p.m. (Alaska Time), Monday-Friday, except for State and 
Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

[[Page 50209]]

Electronic Access

    An electronic copy of this notice may be downloaded using a 
computer, modem, and suitable communications software from the 
Government Printing Office's Electronic Bulletin Board Service at (202) 
512-1661. Internet users may reach the Office of the Federal Register's 
home page at http://www.archives.gov and the Government Printing 
Office's Web site at http://www.access.gpo.gov. An electronic version 
of the proposed MOU may be downloaded by accessing the DOT DMS docket, 
as described above, at http://www.regulations.gov.

Background

    Section 326 of title 23, United States Code (23 U.S.C. 326), allows 
the Secretary of the DOT (Secretary), to assign, and a State to assume, 
responsibility for determining whether certain designated activities 
are included within classes of action that are categorically excluded 
from requirements for environmental assessments or environmental impact 
statements pursuant to regulations promulgated by the Council on 
Environmental Quality under part 1500 of title 40, Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) (as in effect on October 1, 2003). The FHWA is 
authorized to act on behalf of the Secretary with respect to these 
matters.
    The FHWA and the State had previously entered into an MOU on 
September 22, 2009, for an initial term of three (3) years. The 
proposed renewed and amended MOU will replace the original MOU on or 
before its expiration date on September 22, 2012. Stipulation I (B) of 
the MOU describes the types of actions for which the State would assume 
project-level responsibility for determining whether the criteria for a 
CE are met. Statewide decision-making responsibility would be assigned 
for all activities within the categories listed in 23 CFR 771.117(c), 
those listed as examples in 23 CFR 771.117(d), including any added to 
those sections by FHWA after the date of the new MOU.
    The MOU also assigns to the State the responsibility for conducting 
Federal environmental review, consultation, and other related 
activities for projects that are subject to the MOU with respect to the 
following Federal laws and Executive Orders:
    1. Clean Air Act (CAA), 42 U.S.C. 7401-7671q (determinations of 
project-level conformity if required for the project).
    2. Compliance with the noise regulations in 23 CFR part 772.
    3. Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 16 U.S.C. 1531- 
1544, and Section 1536.
    4. Marine Mammal Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. 1361.
    5. Anadromous Fish Conservation Act, 16 U.S.C. 757a-757g.
    6. Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, 16 U.S.C. 661-667d.
    7. Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 16 U.S.C. 703-712.
    8. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 
1976, as amended, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.
    9. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, 
as amended, 16 U.S.C. 470(f) et seq.
    10. Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966, 
23 U.S.C. 138 and 49 U.S.C. 303; and 23 CFR part 774.
    11. Archeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as 
amended, 16 U.S.C. 469-469(c).
    12. American Indian Religious Freedom Act, 42 U.S.C. 1996.
    13. Farmland Protection Policy Act (FPPA), 7 U.S.C. 4201-4209.
    14. Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1251- 1377 (Section 404, Section 
401, Section 319).
    15. Coastal Barrier Resources Act, 16 U.S.C. 3501-3510.
    16. Coastal Zone Management Act, 16 U.S.C. 1451-1465.
    17. Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), 42 U.S.C. 300f-300j-6.
    18. Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, 33 U.S.C. 401-406.
    19. Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, 16 U.S.C. 1271-1287.
    20. Emergency Wetlands Resources Act, 16 U.S.C. 3921-3931.
    21. TEA-21 Wetlands Mitigation, 23 U.S.C. 103(b)(6)(m), 133(b)(11).
    22. Flood Disaster Protection Act, 42 U.S.C. 4001-4128.
    23. Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), 16 U.S.C. 4601-4604 
(known as section 6(f)).
    24. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and 
Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. 9601-9675.
    25. Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA).
    26. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), 42 U.S.C. 6901- 
6992k.
    27. Landscaping and Scenic Enhancement (Wildflowers), 23 U.S.C.
    28. Executive Orders Relating to Highway Projects (E.O. 11990, 
Protection of Wetlands; E.O. 11988, Floodplain Management; E.O. 12898, 
Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority 
Populations and Low Income Populations; E.O. 11593, Protection and 
Enhancement of Cultural Resources; E.O. 13007, Indian Sacred Sites; 
E.O. 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal 
Governments; E.O. 13112, Invasive Species).
    The MOU allows the State to act in the place of the FHWA in 
carrying out the functions described above, except with respect to 
government-to-government consultations with federally recognized Indian 
tribes. The FHWA will retain responsibility for conducting formal 
government-to-government consultation with federally recognized Indian 
tribes, which is required under some of the above-listed laws and 
executive orders. The State also may assist the FHWA with formal 
consultations, with consent of a tribe, but the FHWA remains 
responsible for the consultation. This assignment includes transfer to 
the State of Alaska the obligation to fulfill the assigned 
environmental responsibilities on any proposed projects meeting the 
Criteria in Stipulation I(B) of the MOU that were determined to be CEs 
prior to the effective date of the original MOU but that have not been 
completed as of the effective date of the MOU.
    The FHWA Alaska Division, in consultation with FHWA Headquarters, 
will consider the comments submitted when making its decision on the 
proposed MOU revision. Any final MOU approved by FHWA may include 
changes based on comments and consultations relating to the proposed 
renewed and amended MOU. Once the FHWA makes a decision on the proposed 
MOU revision, the FHWA will place in the DOT DMS Docket a statement 
describing the outcome of the decision-making process and a copy of any 
final MOU. The FHWA also will publish in the Federal Register a notice 
of the FHWA decision and the availability of any final MOU. Copies of 
the final documents also may be obtained by contacting the FHWA or the 
State at the addresses provided above, or by viewing the documents at: 
http://www.dot.state.ak.us/stwddes/desenviron/resources/6004.shtml.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Number 20.205, 
Highway Planning and Construction. The regulations implementing 
Executive Order 12372 regarding intergovernmental consultation on 
Federal programs and activities apply to this program.)

    Authority: 23 U.S.C. 326; 42 U.S.C. 4331, 4332; 23 CFR 771.117; 
40 CFR 1507.3, 1508.4.


[[Page 50210]]


    Issued on: August 10, 2012.
David C. Miller,
Division Administrator, Juneau, Alaska.
[FR Doc. 2012-20401 Filed 8-17-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-RY-P



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