FR Doc 03-21743
[Federal Register: August 26, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 165)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
[Docket Nos. FMCSA-98-3298 and FMCSA-98-3299]
Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement and General
Conformity Evaluation for Proposed North American Free Trade Agreement
AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.
ACTION: Notice of intent.
SUMMARY: The FMCSA is issuing this notice to advise the public a
Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) will be prepared
pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and a
General Conformity Evaluation will be made pursuant to the Clean Air
Act (CAA) before promulgation of the FMCSA's proposed regulations
regarding (1) the application process for Mexico-domiciled motor
carriers desiring to operate beyond the U.S.-Mexico border commercial
zones and (2) the safety monitoring system applicable to all Mexico-
domiciled motor carriers.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Charles Rombro, Analysis Division,
Office of Information Management, (202) 366-1861, FMCSA, Department of
Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The FMCSA is responsible for ensuring the
safe operation of commercial motor vehicles within the United States.
In carrying out these responsibilities, the FMCSA proposed regulations
in May 2001 prescribing procedures for applications and safety
monitoring for Mexico-domiciled carriers seeking authority to operate
within the United States beyond the border commercial zones pursuant to
the North American Free Trade Agreement and the anticipated
modification by the President of the statutory moratorium on the grant
of operating authority to these carriers. The proposed rules are
commonly referred to as the ``Application'' and ``Safety Monitoring''
The FMCSA conducted a Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA)
for the Application and Safety Monitoring rules. Based on the PEA,
FMCSA concluded a PEIS was not required for these rules because the
rules did not significantly affect the quality of the human
environment. The FMCSA issued interim final Application and Safety
Monitoring rules on March 7, 2002 (see 67 FR 12702 and 67 FR 12758).
The FMCSA placed the PEA and Finding of No Significant Impact in the
On March 19, 2002, the FMCSA issued an interim final rule
establishing certification standards for motor carrier safety auditors,
investigators and inspectors (67 FR 12776). This rule (commonly
referred to as the ``Certification'' rule) applied to all safety
audits, inspections and reviews within the FMCSA's jurisdiction, not
just those involving Mexico-domiciled carriers. Congress mandated this
rule as part of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 (49
U.S.C. 31148). However, Congress, as part of the Department of
Transportation Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2002, also made
issuance of the Certification rule one of several conditions that had
to be met before FMCSA could expend appropriated funds to process
applications filed by
Mexico-domiciled carriers seeking authority to operate in the United
States beyond the border commercial zones. The FMCSA determined the
Certification rule was not subject to environmental analysis due to a
A group of labor, industry, and environmental organizations sought
review of the regulations in the United States Court of Appeals for the
Ninth Circuit, alleging FMCSA had violated NEPA and the CAA. The Ninth
Circuit ruled a PEIS and General Conformity Evaluation under the CAA
were required. The Court also determined the Certification rule did not
fall within any of the existing DOT categorical exclusions and
therefore, the court held DOT acted arbitrarily and capriciously by
failing to conduct any environmental analysis.
In light of the Ninth Circuit's opinion, the FMCSA intends to
prepare a PEIS pursuant to NEPA and perform a General Conformity
Evaluation pursuant to the CAA for the Application and Safety
Monitoring rules. The PEIS will be developed pursuant to the Council on
Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations, 40 CFR 1500 et seq., and DOT
Order 5610.1C, which supplements the CEQ regulations by applying them
to DOT programs. The General Conformity Evaluation will be conducted
pursuant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's general
conformity regulations, 40 CFR parts 51 and 93.
The FMCSA is currently preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA)
for the Certification rule. Should the EA determine an EIS is required
for the Certification rule, a supplemental Notice of Intent will be
A letter describing the proposed regulations and soliciting
comments will be sent to all appropriate Federal, State, local, and
tribal agencies, as well as to private organizations and individuals
who have expressed an interest in this matter. Interagency and public
scoping meetings will be scheduled in the near future. Public notice
will be given, providing the time and place of the meetings.
To ensure the full range of issues related to these proposed
regulations are addressed and all significant issues identified,
comments and suggestions are invited from all interested parties.
Comments or questions concerning the proposed regulations and the PEIS
should be directed to the FMCSA at the above address.
(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Number 20.205,
Highway Planning and Construction, and Number 20.218 National Motor
Carrier Safety (MCSAP). The regulations implementing Executive Order
12372 regarding intergovernmental consultation on Federal programs
and activities apply to this program.)
Issued on: August 20, 2003.
Annette M. Sandberg,
[FR Doc. 03-21743 Filed 8-25-03; 8:45 am]