[Federal Register: March 31, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 62)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 16887-16888]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

RIN 1018-AI95


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[Docket No. 021223326-4022-02]
RIN 0648-AQ69

50 CFR Part 402

Joint Counterpart Endangered Species Act Section 7 Consultation 

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

[[Page 16888]]

ACTION: Proposed rule; extension of public comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife 
Service (FWS) and the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA 
Fisheries) (referred to jointly as ``Services'' and individually as 
``Service''), after coordination with the Environmental Protection 
Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announce the 
extension of the public comment period for the proposal to issue joint 
counterpart regulations pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973 
(as amended). We are extending the comment period for the proposal to 
allow all interested parties additional time to provide comments. 
Comments previously submitted will be incorporated into the public 
record as part of this extended comment period, and will be fully 
considered in the final decision.

DATES: Comments on this proposal must be received by April 16, 2004, to 
be considered in the final decision on this proposal.

ADDRESSES: Comments or materials concerning the proposed rule should be 
sent by regular mail or courier service to the Assistant Director for 
Endangered Species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax 
Drive, Room 420, Arlington, Virginia 22203. You may also submit 
electronic comments via the Internet to 
Pesticide.ESARegulations@noaa.gov. Please submit Internet comments as 

an ASCII file avoiding the use of special characters and any form of 
encryption. Please also include ``Attn: 1018-AI95'' and your name and 
return address in your Internet message. Comments and materials 
received in conjunction with this rulemaking will be available for 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above 
    The FWS agreed to take responsibility for receipt of public 
comments and will share any comments it receives with NOAA Fisheries, 
EPA and USDA. All the agencies will work together to compile, analyze, 
and respond to the public comments. Due to a recent court decision 
blocking the Fish and Wildlife Service's access to the internet, NOAA 
Fisheries will assume responsibility for receiving any subsequent 
comments sent electronically from the date of this notice until the 
close of the comment period and will share those comments with the 
other agencies. Comments that are sent via the postal service or 
courier should be sent to the FWS at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gary Frazer, Assistant Director for 
Endangered Species, at the above address (Telephone 703/358-2171, 
Facsimile 703/358-1735) or Phil Williams, Chief, Endangered Species 
Division, NOAA Fisheries, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 
20910 (301/713-1401; facsimile 301/713-0376).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish 
and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the U.S. Department of Commerce, 
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine 
Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) (referred to jointly as ``Services'' 
and individually as ``Service''), after coordination with the 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture (USDA), proposed joint counterpart regulations for 
consultation under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (ESA) for regulatory actions under the Federal Insecticide, 
Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) on January 30, 2004 (69 FR 4465).
    Counterpart regulations, described in general terms at 50 CFR 
402.04, are intended to provide flexibility in the ways that a federal 
agency may meet its obligations under the ESA by creating alternative 
procedures to the existing section 7 consultation process described at 
50 CFR subpart B. These proposed counterpart regulations would 
complement the existing section 7 consultation process and enhance the 
efficiency and effectiveness of the section 7 consultation process by 
increasing interagency cooperation and providing two optional 
alternatives for completing section 7 consultation for FIFRA regulatory 
actions. One alternative process would eliminate the need for EPA to 
conduct informal consultation and obtain written concurrence from the 
Service for those FIFRA actions that EPA determines are ``not likely to 
adversely affect'' any listed species or critical habitat. The other 
alternative consultation process would permit the Service to conduct 
formal consultation in a manner that more effectively takes advantage 
of EPA's substantial expertise in evaluating ecological effects of 
FIFRA regulatory actions on federally-protected threatened and 
endangered species (``listed species'') and critical habitats.
    By court order dated March 15, 2004, the Department of the Interior 
was directed to disconnect all of its Information Technology systems 
from the Internet. This court order has precluded agencies and other 
parties from submitting comments electronically to the Internet mailbox 
PesticideESARegulations@fws.gov, which was established for the purpose 

of receiving electronic comments. Although a stay was granted allowing 
the FWS to reconnect to the Internet on March 24, 2004, parties wishing 
to submit public comments on this proposed rule should no longer use 
the e-mail address described in the January 30, 2004, notice of 
proposed rulemaking. We are establishing a new electronic mailbox to 
receive electronic comments. Any comments that were submitted 
electronically to PesticideESARegulations@fws.gov between March 15, 
2004, and March 25, 2004, should be re-submitted to the internet 
address described below or by hardcopy to the address indicated in the 
ADDRESSES section above. Other comments submitted to 
PesticideESARegulations@fws.gov before March 15, 2004, will be 

considered and do not need to be re-submitted. As of March 31, 2004 
electronic comments should now be submitted to 
Pesticide.ESARegulations@noaa.gov. Any comments on this proposed rule 

must be received no later than April 16, 2004, to be considered in the 
final decision. Additional information regarding this proposed rule may 
be viewed online at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/laws/pesticides.htm.

    Dated: March 26, 2004.
Craig Manson,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
    Dated: March 25, 2004.
Rebecca Lent,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 04-7284 Filed 3-29-04; 10:23 am]