[Federal Register: October 27, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 208)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 63667-63668]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 402

RIN 1018-AT50


National Marine Fisheries Service

50 CFR Part 402

RIN 0618-AX15

Interagency Cooperation Under the Endangered Species Act

AGENCIES: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior; National Marine 
Fisheries Service, Commerce.

ACTION: Proposed rule; availability of Draft Environmental Assessment 
on proposed rule revising regulations implementing section 7 of the 
Endangered Species Act (ESA).


[[Page 63668]]

SUMMARY: The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the 
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively, ``Services'' or 
``we'') previously proposed to amend regulations governing interagency 
cooperation under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act) (73 FR 
47868-47875; August 15, 2008).
    The Services proposed these regulatory changes to improve the 
effectiveness and efficiency of the section 7(a)(2) consultation 
process. This Federal Register notice advises the public that we (FWS 
and NOAA) have prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment (Draft EA) 
under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that assesses the 
potential environmental effects of the proposed regulatory changes 
currently under consideration. The Draft EA is available for public 
review at the following Web site: http://www.doi.gov/issues/esa.html.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive written comments by 
November 6, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted in two ways: (1) Through the 
Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions on the Web site for submitting comments; or (2) by U.S. 
mail or hand-delivery to Public Comment Processing, Attention: 1018-
AT50, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA 
22203. We will not accept e-mail or faxes.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review. Individual 
respondents may request that we withhold their home address from public 
disclosure, which we will honor to the extent allowable by law. If you 
wish us to withhold your name and/or address, you must state this 
prominently at the beginning of your comment. We will make all 
submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations 
or businesses, available for public disclosure in their entirety.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Office of the Assistant Secretary for 
Fish and Wildlife and Parks, 1849 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 20240, 
telephone: 202-208-4416; or James H. Lecky, Director, Office of 
Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West 
Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910; telephone: 301-713-2332.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (``Act''; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) provides that the Secretaries 
of the Interior and Commerce (the ``Secretaries'') share 
responsibilities for implementing most of the provisions of the Act. 
Generally, marine species are under the jurisdiction of the Secretary 
of Commerce and all other species are under the jurisdiction of the 
Secretary of the Interior. With respect to agency consultation pursuant 
to Section 7 of the Act, authority to administer the Act has been 
delegated by the Secretary of the Interior to the Director of the FWS 
and by the Secretary of Commerce through the Administrator of the 
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to the Assistant 
Administrator for NMFS.
    On May 15, 2008, Secretary Kempthorne announced that he would 
propose common sense modifications to the existing regulations that 
implement this section of the ESA in order to provide greater clarity 
and certainty to the inter-agency consultation process. In the Federal 
Register notice proposing the regulatory modifications analyzed in this 
EA, the Services noted the importance of refining the ESA section 
7(a)(2) consultation process to better set forth certain regulatory 
definitions and the applicability of this important interagency 
    While neither NEPA nor its implementing regulations require that 
EAs be made available for public comment, the Services' have concluded 
that it is appropriate in this instance to provide an opportunity for 
public review and comment on the draft EA, as set forth above.

    Dated: October 23, 2008.
David M. Verhey,
Acting Assistant Secretary, Fish and Wildlife and Parks, Department of 
the Interior.
Samuel D. Rauch,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
 [FR Doc. E8-25678 Filed 10-23-08; 4:15 pm]