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e-CFR data is current as of January 15, 2021

Title 15Subtitle BChapter IXSubchapter DPart 971Subpart D → Subject Group


Title 15: Commerce and Foreign Trade
PART 971—DEEP SEABED MINING REGULATIONS FOR COMMERCIAL RECOVERY PERMITS
Subpart D—Issuance/Transfer: Terms, Conditions and Restrictions


Issuance/Transfer, Modification/Revision; Suspension/Revocation

§971.401   Proposal to issue or transfer and proposed terms, conditions and restrictions.

(a) Notice and comment. The Administrator will publish in the Federal Register notice of each proposal to issue or transfer, including notice of a draft EIS, and of proposed terms and conditions for, and restrictions on, a commercial recovery permit that will be included with the draft EIS [see §971.400(b)]. Subject to §971.802, interested persons will be permitted to examine the materials relevant to such proposals. Interested persons and affected States will have at least 60 days after publication of such notice to submit written comments to the Administrator.

(b) Hearings. (1) The Administrator will hold the public hearing(s) required by §971.212(b) in an appropriate location and may employ such additional methods as he deems appropriate to inform interested persons about each proposal and to invite their comments thereon. A copy of the notice and draft EIS will be provided to the affected State agency. Information provided by NOAA may be used to supplement information provided by the applicant, however it will not affect schedules for State agency review and decisions with respect to consistency determinations as required in 15 CFR part 930, subpart D.

(2) If the Administrator determines there exist one or more specific and material factual issues which require resolution by formal processes, at least one formal hearing, which may be consolidated with a hearing held by another agency, will be held in the District of Columbia metropolitan area in accordance with the provisions of subpart I of this part. The record developed in any such formal hearing will be part of the basis for the Administrator's decisions on issuance or transfer of, and on TCRs for, the permit.

§971.402   Consultation and cooperation with Federal and State agencies.

Before issuance or transfer of a commercial recovery permit, the Administrator will conclude any consultations in cooperation with other Federal and State agencies which were initiated pursuant to §§971.211 and 971.200(g). These consultations will be held to assure compliance with, as applicable and among other statutes, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended. The Administrator also will consult, before any issuance, transfer, modification or renewal of a permit, with any affected Regional Fishery Management Council established pursuant to section 302 of the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1852) if the activities undertaken pursuant to the permit could adversely affect any fishery within the Fishery Conservation Zone (now known as the Exclusive Economic Zone), or any anadromous species or Continental Shelf fishery resource subject to the exclusive management authority of the United States beyond that zone.

§971.403   Freedom of the high seas.

(a) Before issuing or transferring a commercial recovery permit, the Administrator must find the recovery proposed in the application will not unreasonably interfere with the exercise of the freedoms of the high seas by other nations, as recognized under general principles of international law.

(b) In making this finding, the Administrator will recognize that commercial recovery of hard mineral resources of the deep seabed is a freedom of the high seas. In the exercise of this right, each permittee shall act with reasonable regard for the interests of other nations in their exercise of the freedoms of the high seas.

(c)(1) In the event of a conflict between the commercial recovery program of an applicant or permittee and a competing use of the high seas by another nation or its nationals, the Administrator, in consultation and cooperation with the Department of State and other interested agencies, will enter into negotiations with that nation to resolve the conflict. To the maximum extent possible the Administrator will endeavor to resolve the conflict in a manner that will allow both uses to take place such that neither will unreasonably interfere with the other.

(2) If both uses cannot be conducted harmoniously in the area subject to the recovery plan, the Administrator will decide whether to issue or transfer the permit.

§971.404   International obligations of the United States.

Before issuing or transferring a commercial recovery permit, the Administrator must find that the commercial recovery proposed in the application will not conflict with any international obligation of the United States established by any treaty or international convention in force with respect to the United States.

§971.405   Breach of international peace and security involving armed conflict.

Before issuing or transferring a commercial recovery permit, the Administrator must find that the recovery proposed in the application will not create a situation which may reasonably be expected to lead to a breach of international peace and security involving armed conflict.

§971.406   Environmental effects.

Before issuing or transferring a commercial recovery permit, the Administrator must find that the commercial recovery proposed in the application cannot reasonably be expected to result in a significant adverse environmental effect, taking into account the analyses and information in any applicable EIS and any TCRs associated with the permit. This finding also will be based upon the requirements in subpart F. However, as also noted in subpart F, if a determination on this question cannot be made on the basis of available information, and it is found that irreparable harm will not occur during a period when an approved monitoring program is undertaken to further examine the significant adverse environmental effect issue, a permit may be granted, subject to modification or suspension and, if necessary and appropriate, revocation pursuant to §971.417(a), or subject to emergency suspension pursuant to §971.417(h).

§971.407   Safety at sea.

Before issuing or transferring a commercial recovery permit, the Administrator must find that the commercial recovery proposed in the application will not pose an inordiante threat to the safety of life and property at sea. This finding will be based on the requirements in §971.205 and subpart G.

§971.408   Processing outside the United States.

(a) Before issuing or transferring a commercial recovery permit which authorizes processing outside the U.S., the Administrator must find, after the opportunity for an agency hearing required by §971.212(b), that:

(1) The processing of the quantity concerned of hard mineral resource at a place other than within the United States is necessary for the economic viability of the commercial recovery activities of the permittee; and

(2) Satisfactory assurances have been given by the permittee that such resources, after processing, to the extent of the permittee's ownership therein, will be returned to the United States for domestic use, if the Administrator so requires after determining that the national interest necessitates such return.

(b) At or after permit issuance the Administrator may determine, or revise a prior determination, that the national interest necessitates return to the U.S. of a specified amount of hard mineral resource recovered pursuant to the permit and authorized to be processed outside the United States. Considerations in making this determination may include:

(1) The national interest in an adequate supply of minerals;

(2) The foreign policy interests of the United States; and

(3) The multi-national character of deep seabed mining operations.

(c) As appropriate, TCRs will incorporate provisions to implement the decision of the Administrator made pursuant to this section.

(d) Environmental considerations of the proposed activity will be addressed in accordance with §971.606(c).

§971.409   Denial of issuance or transfer.

(a) The Administrator may deny issuance or transfer of a permit if he finds that the applicant or the proposed commercial recovery activities do not meet the rquirements of this part for the issuance or transfer of a permit.

(b) When the Administrator proposes to deny issuance or transfer, he will send to the applicant, via certified mail, return receipt requested, and publish in the Federal Register, written notice of his intention to deny issuance or transfer. The notice will include:

(1) The basis upon which the Administrator proposes to deny issuance or transfer; and

(2) If the basis for the proposed denial is a deficiency which the Administrator believes the applicant can correct:

(i) The action believed necessary to correct the deficiency; and

(ii) The time within which any correctable deficiency must be corrected (not to exceed 180 days except as specified by the Administrator for good cause).

(c) The Administrator will deny issuance or transfer:

(1) On the 30th day after the date the notice is received by the applicant under paragraph (b) of this section, unless before the 30th day the applicant files with the Administrator a written request for an administrative review of the proposed denial; or

(2) On the last day of the period established under paragraph (b)(2)(ii) in which the applicant must correct a deficiency, if the deficiency has not been corrected before that day and an administrative review requested pursuant to paragraph (c)(1) is not pending or in progress.

(d) If a timely request for administrative review of the proposed denial is made by the applicant under paragraph (c)(1) of this section, the Administrator will promptly begin a formal hearing in accordance with subpart I. If the proposed denial is the result of a correctable deficiency, the administrative review will proceed concurrently with any attempt to correct the deficiency, unless the parties agree otherwise or the administrative law judge orders differently.

(e) If the Administrator denies issuance or transfer, the Administrator will send to the applicant written notice of final denial, including the reasons therefor.

(f) Any final determination by the Administrator granting or denying issuance or transfer of a permit is subject to judicial review as provided in chapter 7 of title 5, United States Code.

§971.410   Notice of issuance or transfer.

If the Administrator finds that the requirements of this subpart have been met, he will issue or transfer the permit along with the appropriate TCRs. Notice of issuance or transfer will be made in writing to the applicant and published in the Federal Register.

§971.411   Objections to terms, conditions and restrictions.

(a) The permittee may file a notice of objection to any TCR in the permit. The permittee may object on the grounds that any TCR is inconsistent with the Act or this part, or on any other grounds which may be raised under applicable provisions of law. If the permittee does not file notice of an objection within the 60-day period immediately following the permittee's receipt of the notice of issuance or transfer under §971.410, the permittee will be deemed conclusively to have accepted the TCRs in the permit.

(b) Any notice of objection filed under paragraph (a) of this section must be in writing, must indicate the legal or factual basis for the objection, and must provide information relevant to any underlying factual issues deemed by the permittee as necessary to the Administrator's decision upon the objection.

(c) Within 90 days after receipt of the notice of objection, the Administrator will act on the objection and publish in the Federal Register, as well as provide to the permittee, written notice of the decision.

(d) If, after the Administrator takes final action on an objection, the permittee demonstrates that a dispute remains on a material issue of fact, the Administrator will provide for a formal hearing which will proceed in accordance with Subpart I of this part.

(e) Any final determination by the Administrator on an objection to TCRs in a permit, after the formal hearing provided in paragraph (d), is subject to judicial review as provided in chapter 7 of title 5, United States Code.

§971.412   Changes in permits and permit terms, conditions, and restrictions.

(a) During the duration of a commercial recovery permit, changes in the permit or its associated commercial recovery plan may be initiated by either the permittee or the Administrator.

(b) A significant change is one which, if approved, would result in:

(1) An increase of more than five percent in the size of the commercial recovery area; or

(2) A change in the location of five percent or more of the commercial recovery area.

(c) A major change is one affecting one or more of:

(1) The bases for certifying the original application pursuant to §971.301;

(2) The bases for issuing or transferring the permit pursuant to §971.403 through §971.408;

(3) The TCRs issued as part of the permit pursuant to §§971.418 through 971.430; or

(4) The ownership of a permittee (or the membership of the joint venture, partnership or other entity on whose behalf the permit was issued); and which change is sufficiently broad in scope to raise a question as to:

(i) The permittee's ability to meet the requirements of the sections cited in paragraphs (c)(1) and (2) of this section;

(ii) The sufficiency of the TCRs to accomplish their intended purpose; or

(iii) The antitrust characteristic of the permittee.

(d) A minor change is one that is clearly more modest in scope than the changes described in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section.

(e) A permittee may not implement a significant or major change, as defined in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section, until an application for revision of the permit or its associated commercial recovery plan has been approved by the Administrator. However, advance notice of proposed major changes in a permittee's corporate membership or legal structure is not required, unless practicable, but the Administrator expects prompt notification of the occurrence of such a major change.

(f) A proposed significant or major change, as defined in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section, may trigger the need for additional review, under the Federal consistency provisions of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended.

§971.413   Revision of a permit.

(a) During the term of a commercial recovery permit, the permittee may submit to the Administrator an application for a revision of the permit or the commercial recovery plan associated with it to accommodate changes desired by the permittee. In some cases it may be advisable to recognize at the time of filing the original permit application that, although the essential information for issuing or transferring a permit as specified in §971.201 through §971.209 must be included in such application, some details may have to be provided in the future in the form of a revision. In such instances, the Administrator may issue or transfer a permit which would authorize commercial recovery activities and plans only to the extent described in the application.

(b) An application by a permittee for a revision of a permit or its associated commercial recovery plan involving a significant change, as defined in §971.412(b), must be followed by the full application procedures in this part, including a public hearing.

(c) An application by a permittee for a revision of a permit or its associated commercial recovery plan involving a major change, as defined in §971.412(c) (See also §971.425 of this part), will be acted on after notice thereof is published by the Administrator in the Federal Register with a 60-day opportunity for public comment and consultation with appropriate Federal agencies.

(d)(1) The Administrator will approve a revision if the Administrator finds in writing that the revision will comply with the requirements of the Act and this part.

(2) Notice of the Administrator's decision on the proposed revision will be provided to the permittee in writing and published in the Federal Register.

(e) A permittee may notify the Administrator of minor changes, as defined in §971.412(d), subsequently in the annual report (See §971.801 of this part).

(f) If the relative importance of the change is unclear to the permittee, the Administrator should be notified in advance so that the Administrator can decide whether a revision in accordance with §971.412(e) is required.

§971.414   Modification of permit terms, conditions, and restrictions.

(a) After issuance or transfer of any permit, the Administrator, after consultation with appropriate Federal agencies and the permittee, may modify the TCRs in a permit for the following purposes:

(1) To avoid unreasonable interference with the interests of other nations in their exercise of the freedoms of the high seas, as recognized under general principles of international law. This determination will take into account the considerations listed in §971.403;

(2) If relevant data and information (including, but not limited to, data resulting from activities under a permit) indicate that modification is required to protect the quality of the environment or to promote the safety of life and property at sea;

(3) To avoid a conflict with any international obligation of the United States, established by any treaty or convention in force with respect to the United States, as determined in writing by the President; or

(4) To avoid any situation which may reasonably be expected to lead to a breach of international peace and security involving armed conflict, as determined in writing by the President.

(b) A proposal by the Administrator to modify the TCRs in a permit is significant and must be followed by the full application procedures in this part, including a public hearing, if it would result in either of the changes identified in §971.412(b).

(c) All proposed modifications other than those described in paragraph (b) of this section will be acted on after the Administrator provides:

(1) Written notice of the proposal to the permittee; and

(2) Publication of this proposal in the Federal Register with a 60-day opportunity for comment.

(d)(1) The Administrator will effect a modification of the TCRs if the Administrator finds in writing that the proposed modification will comply with the requirements of the Act and this part.

(2) Upon adopting a TCR modification, the Administrator shall issue to the permittee an amended permit including the modified TCRs, and shall publish notice of issuance in the Federal Register.

(3) The procedures for objection to modification of the TCRs are the same as those for objection to a TCR under §971.411 of this part.

§971.415   Duration of a permit.

(a) Unless suspended or revoked pursuant to §§971.406 and 971.417, each commercial recovery permit will be issued for a period of 20 years and for so long thereafter as hard mineral resources are recovered annually in commercial quantities from the area listed in the permit.

(b) If the permittee has substantially complied with the permit and its associated recovery plan and requests an extension of the permit, the Administrator will extend the permit with appropriate TCRs, consistent with the Act, for so long thereafter as hard mineral resources are recovered annually in commercial quantities from the area to which the recovery plan associated with the permit applies. The Administrator may make allowance for deviation from the recovery plan for good cause, such as significantly changed market conditions. However, a request for extension must be accompanied by an amended recovery plan to govern the activities by the permittee during the extended period.

(c) Successive extensions may be requested, and will be granted by the Administrator, based on the criteria specified in paragraphs (a) and (b).

§971.416   Approval of permit transfers.

(a) The Administrator may transfer a permit after a written request by the permittee. After a permittee submits a transfer request to the Administrator, the proposed transferee will be deemed an applicant for a commercial recovery permit, and will be subject to the requirements and procedures of this part.

(b) The Administrator will transfer a permit if the proposed transferee is a United States citizen and proposed commercial recovery activities meet the requirements of the Act and this part, and if the proposed transfer is in the public interest. The Administrator will presume that the transfer is in the public interest if it meets the requirements of the Act and this part. In case of mere change in the form or ownership of a permittee, the Administrator may waive relevant determinations for requirements for which no changes have occurred since the preceding application.

§971.417   Suspension or modification of activities; suspension or revocation of permits.

(a) The Administrator may:

(1) In addition to, or in lieu of, the imposition of any civil penalty under subpart J of this part, or in addition to the imposition of any fine under subpart J, suspend or revoke any permit issued under this part, or suspend or modify any particular activities under such a permit, if the permittee substantially fails to comply with any provision of the Act, this part, or any term, condition or restriction of the permit; and

(2) Suspend or modify particular activities under any permit, if the President determines that such suspension or modification is necessary:

(i) To avoid any conflict with any international obligation of the United States established by any treaty or convention in force with respect to the United States; or

(ii) To avoid any situtation which may reasonably be expected to lead to a breach of international peace and security involving armed conflict.

(b) Any action taken by the Administrator in accordance with paragraph (a)(1) will proceed pursuant to the procedures in §971.1003. Any action taken in accordance with paragraph (a)(2) will proceed pursuant to paragraphs (c) through (i) of this section, other than paragraph (h)(2).

(c) Prior to taking any action specified in paragraph (a)(2) the Administrator will publish in the Federal Register, and send to the permittee, written notice of the proposed action. The notice will include:

(1) The basis of the proposed action; and

(2) If the basis for the proposed action is a deficiency which the Administrator believes the permittee can correct:

(i) The action necessary to correct the deficiency; and

(ii) The time within which any correctable deficiency must be corrected (not to exceed 180 days except as specified by the Administrator for good cause).

(d) The Administrator will take the proposed action:

(1) On the 30th day after the date notice is sent to the permittee, under paragraph (c) of this section, unless before the 30th day the permittee files with the Administrator a written request for an administrative review of the proposed action; or

(2) On the last day of the period established under paragraph (c)(2)(ii) in which the permittee must correct the deficiency, if such deficiency has not been corrected before that day and an administrative review requested pursuant to paragraph (d)(1) is not pending or in progress.

(e) If a timely request for administrative review of the proposed denial is made by the permittee under paragraph (d)(1) of this section, the Administrator will promptly begin a formal hearing in accordance with subpart I of this part. If the proposed denial is the result of a correctable deficiency, the administrative review will proceed concurrently with any attempt to correct the deficiency, unless the parties agree otherwise or the administrative law judge orders differently.

(f) The Administrator will serve on the permittee, and publish in the Federal Register, written notice of the action taken including the reasons therefor.

(g) Any final determination by the Administrator to take the proposed action is subject to judicial review as provided in chapter 7 of title 5, United States Code.

(h) The issuance of any notice of proposed action under this section will not affect the continuation of commercial recovery activities by a permittee. The provisions of paragraphs (c), (d), (e) and the first sentence of this paragraph (h) of this section will not apply when:

(1) The President determines by Executive Order that an immediate suspension or modification of particular activities under that permit, is necessary for the reasons set forth in paragraph (a)(2); or

(2) The Administrator determines that immediate suspension of such a permit or immediate suspension or modification of particular activities under a permit, is necessary to prevent a significant adverse environmental effect or to preserve the safety of life or property at sea, and the Administrator issues an emergency order in accordance with §971.1003(d)(4).

(i) The Administrator will immediately rescind the suspension order as soon as he has determined that the cause for suspension has been removed.

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