[Federal Register: July 2, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 127)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 40346-40347]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

RIN 1018-AI95


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 402

[ID. 061804C]
RIN 0648-AQ69

Joint Counterpart Endangered Species Act Section 7 Consultation 

AGENCIES: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior; and National Marine 
Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 

ACTION: Proposed rule; availability of environmental assessment; 
opening of comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National 
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries 
Service (NOAA Fisheries), (jointly, the Services), announce the 
availability of the environmental assessment for the Interagency 
Consultation on Regulatory Actions Under the Federal Insecticide, 
Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Counterpart Regulations, and the 
opening of a comment period on the environmental assessment. The 
Services are evaluating the environmental effects of establishing 
counterpart regulations pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). The proposed counterpart regulations 
were published in the Federal Register on January 30, 2004 (69 FR 4465) 
after coordination with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
    We are opening a comment period to allow all interested parties to 
comment on the environmental assessment. Comments should be directed to 
the adequacy of the environmental assessment, and should not address 
issues related to the proposed rule itself. Comments previously 
submitted on the proposed rule need not be resubmitted as they will be 
incorporated into the public record and will be fully considered in the 
final rule.

DATES: Comments on this environmental assessment must be received by 
July 23, 2004, to be considered in the final decision.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
     E-mail: PesticideESARegulations@fws.gov. Include in the 
subject line the following identifier: RIN 1018-AI95; RIN 0648-AQ69. 
Please also include Attn: ``1018-AI95'' and your name and return 
address in your Internet message.
     Mail: Assistant Director for Endangered Species, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 420, Arlington, 
Virginia 22203; or Chief of the Endangered Species Division, Office of 
Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West 
Highway, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910.
     Federal e-rulemaking Portal: http:http://www.regulations.gov.

     Fax: Gary Frazer, FWS, 703/358-2229; or Phil Williams, 
NOAA Fisheries, 301/713-0376.
    The FWS has agreed to take responsibility for receipt of public 
comments and will share all comments it receives with NOAA Fisheries 
and EPA. Comments and materials received in conjunction with this 
environmental assessment will be available for inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours at the above FWS address.
    Electronic copies of this environmental assessment may be obtained 
from the FWS World Wide Web site at: http://endangered.fws.gov/consultations/pesticides/index.html.
 Written copies of this 

environmental assessment may be obtained from the Assistant Director 
for Endangered Species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North 
Fairfax Drive, Room 420, Arlington, Virginia 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gary Frazer, Assistant Director for 
Endangered Species, at the above FWS address (Telephone 703/358-2171,

[[Page 40347]]

Facsimile 703/358-2229) or Phil Williams, Chief, Endangered Species 
Division, NOAA Fisheries, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 
20910 (301/713-1401; facsimile 301/713-0376).



    Counterpart regulations, as generally described at 50 CFR 402.04, 
provide an optional alternative to the existing section 7 consultation 
process described in 50 CFR part 402, subparts A and B. Counterpart 
regulations complement the general consultation regulations in part 402 
by allowing individual Federal agencies to ``fine tune'' the general 
consultation framework to reflect their particular program 
responsibilities and obligations. The proposed counterpart regulations 
published in the Federal Register on January 30, 2004 (69 FR 4465), 
would establish new methods of interagency coordination between EPA and 
the Services and create two new, optional, alternative approaches for 
EPA to fulfill its obligations to ensure that its actions under FIFRA 
are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species 
or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat.
    We considered two alternatives, as presented in the environmental 
assessment. Finalizing the proposed counterpart regulation is the 
preferred alternative. Adopting this preferred alternative would 
eliminate the requirement for EPA to obtain written concurrences from 
the Services whenever EPA makes a ``not likely to adversely affect'' 
determination (for listed species or critical habitats) for any FIFRA 
action. This preferred alternative would also result in a new 
alternative approach to formal consultations whenever EPA makes a 
likely to adversely affect determination (for listed species or 
critical habitats) for any FIFRA action. The ``no action'' alternative 
would leave the current section 7 consultation process in place.

    Authority: The authority for this action is the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: June 24, 2004.
Craig Manson,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
John H. Dunnigan,
Acting Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
[FR Doc. 04-15051 Filed 7-1-04; 8:45 am]