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

Title 15Subtitle BChapter IXSubchapter DPart 971 → Subpart H


Title 15: Commerce and Foreign Trade
PART 971—DEEP SEABED MINING REGULATIONS FOR COMMERCIAL RECOVERY PERMITS


Subpart H—Miscellaneous


Contents
§971.800   General.
§971.801   Records to be maintained and information to be submitted by licensees and permittees.
§971.802   Public disclosure of documents received by NOAA.
§971.803   Relinquishment and surrender of licenses and permits.
§971.804   Amendment to regulations for conservation, protection of the environment, and safety of life and property at sea.
§971.805   Computation of time.

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§971.800   General.

The subpart contains miscellaneous provisions pursuant to the Act which are applicable to exploration licenses and commercial recovery permits.

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§971.801   Records to be maintained and information to be submitted by licensees and permittees.

(a)(1) In addition to the information specified elsewhere in the part and in 15 CFR part 970, each licensee and permittee must keep such records, consistent with standard accounting principles, as specified by the Administrator in the license or permit. Such records shall include information which will fully disclose expenditures for exploration for, or commercial recovery of hard mineral resources in the area under license or permit, and any other information which will facilitate an effective audit of these expenditures.

(2) The Administrator and the Comptroller General of the United States, or any of their duly authorized representatives, shall have access, for purposes of audit and examination to any books, documents, papers, and records of licensees and permittees which are necessary and directly pertinent to verification of the expenditures referred to in paragraph (a)(1) of this section.

(b) In addition to the information specified elsewhere in this part and in 15 CFR part 970, each applicant, licensee or permittee will be required to submit to the Administrator, upon request, data or other information the Administrator may reasonably need for purposes of:

(1) Making determinations with respect to the issuance, revocation, modification, or suspension of the license or permit in question;

(2) Evaluating the effectiveness of license or permit TCRs;

(3) Compliance with the biennial Congressional report requirement contained in section 309 of the Act; and

(4) Evaluation of the exploration or commercial recovery activities conducted by the licensee or permittee.

At a minimum, licensees and permittees shall submit an annual written report within 90 days after each anniversary of the license or permit issuance or transfer, discussing exploration or commercial recovery activities and expenditures. The report shall address diligence requirements (see §971.503 and 15 CFR 970.602), implementation of any approved monitoring plan (see §971.602 and 15 CFR 970.522(c) and 970.702(a)), and applicable changes which do not constitute revisions (see §971.413(e) and 15 CFR 970.513(c)). Permittees must also report the tonnage of nodules recovered (§971.426) and discuss manganese conservation measures (see §971.502).

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§971.802   Public disclosure of documents received by NOAA.

(a) Purpose. This section provides a procedure by which persons submitting information pursuant to this part and 15 CFR part 970 may request that certain information not be subject to public disclosure. The substantiation requested is intended to assure that NOAA has a complete and proper basis for determining the legality and appropriateness of withholding or releasing the identified information if a public request for disclosure is received.

(b) Written requests for confidential treatment. (1) Any person who submits any information pursuant to this part or 15 CFR part 970, which information is considered by that person to be protected by the Trade Secrets Act (18 U.S.C. 1905) or otherwise to be a trade secret or commercial or financial information which is privileged or confidential, may request that the Administrator give the information confidential treatment.

(2)(i) Any request for confidential treatment of information:

(A) Should be submitted at the time of submission of information;

(B) Should state the period of time for which confidential treatment is desired (e.g., until a certain date, or until the occurrence of a certain event, or permanently);

(C) Must be submitted in writing; and

(D) Must include the name, mailing address, and telephone number of an agent of the submitter who is authorized to receive notice of requests for disclosure of the information pursuant to paragraph (d) of this section.

(ii) If information is submitted to the Administrator without an accompanying request for confidential treatment, the notice referred to in paragraph (d)(2) of this section need not be given. If a request for confidential treatment is received after the information itself is received, the Administrator will make efforts to the extent administratively practicable to associate the request with copies of the previously submitted information in the files of NOAA and the Federal agencies to which the Administrator distributed the information.

(3)(i) Information subject to a request for confidential treatment must be segregated from information for which confidential treatment is not being requested, and each page (or segregable portion of each page) subject to the request must be clearly marked with the name of the person requesting confidential treatment, the name of the applicant, licensee or permittee, and an identifying legend such as “Proprietary Information” or “Confidential Treatment Requested.” Where this marking proves impracticable, a cover sheet containing the identifying names and legend must be securely attached to the compilation of information for which confidential treatment is requested. Each copy of the information for which confidential treatment has been requested must be cross-referenced to the appropriate section of the application or other document. All information for which confidential treatment is requested pertaining to the same application or other document must be submitted to the Administrator in a package separate from that information for which confidential treatment is not being requested.

(ii) Each copy of any application or other document with respect to which confidential treatment of information has been requested must indicate, at each place in the application or document where confidential information has been deleted, that confidential treatment of information has been requested.

(4) Normally, the Administrator will not make a determination as to whether confidential treatment is warranted until a request for disclosure of the information is received. However, on a case-by-case basis, the Administrator may make a determination in advance of a request, where it would facilitate obtaining voluntarily submitted information (rather than information required to be submitted under this part).

(c) Substantiation of request for confidential treatment. (1) Any request for confidential treatment may include a statement of the basis for believing that the information is deserving of confidential treatment, which addresses the issues relevant to a determination of whether the information is a trade secret, or commercial or financial information which is privileged or confidential. To the extent permitted by applicable law, part or all of any substantiation statement submitted will be treated as confidential if so requested, and must be segregated, marked, and submitted in accordance with the procedure described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section.

(2) Issues addressed in the statement should include:

(i) The commercial or financial nature of the information;

(ii) The nature and extent of the competitive advantage enjoyed as a result of possession of the information;

(iii) The nature and extent of the competitive harm which would result from public disclosure of the information;

(iv) The extent to which the information has been disseminated to employees and contractors of the person submitting the information;

(v) The extent to which persons other than the person submitting the information possesses, or have access to, the same information; and

(vi) The nature of the measures which have been and are being taken to protect the information from disclosure.

(d) Requests for disclosure of trade secrets, privileged, or confidential information. (1) Any request for disclosure of information submitted, reported or collected pursuant to this part must be made in accordance with 15 CFR 903.7.

(2) Upon receipt of a request for disclosure of information for which confidential treatment has been requested, the Administrator immediately will issue notice by an expeditious means (such as by telephone, confirmed by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested) of the request for disclosure to the person who requested confidential treatment of the information or to the designated agent. The notice also will:

(i) Inquire whether that person continues to maintain the request for confidential treatment;

(ii) Notify that person of the date (generally, not later than the close of business on the seventh working day after issuance of the notice) by which the person is strongly encouraged to deliver to the Administrator a written statement that the person either:

(A) Waives or withdraws the request for confidential treatment in full or in part; or

(B) Confirms that the request for confidential treatment is maintained;

(iii) Inform that person that by a date the Administrator specifies (generally, not later than the close of business on the seventh working day after issuance of the notice), the person:

(A) Is strongly encouraged to deliver to the Administrator a written statement addressing the issues listed in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, describing the basis for believing that the information is deserving of confidential treatment, if this statement was not previously submitted;

(B) Is strongly encouraged to deliver to the Administrator an update of or supplement to any statement previously submitted under paragraph (c) of this section; and

(C) May present to the Administrator in a form the Administrator deems appropriate (such as by telephone or in an informal conference) agruments against disclosure of the information; and

(iv) Inform that person that the burden is on him to assure that any response to the notice is delivered to the Administrator within the time specified in the notice.

(3) To the extent permitted by applicable law, part or all or of any statement submitted in response to any notice issued under paragraph (d)(2) will be treated as confidential if so requested by the person submitting the response. Any response for which confidential treatment is requested must be segregated, marked and submitted in accordance with the procedures described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section.

(4) Upon the expiration of the time allowed for response under paragraph (d)(2) of this section, the Administrator will determine, in consultation with the General Counsel for the Department of Commerce, whether confidential treatment is warranted based on the information then available to NOAA.

(5) If the person who requested confidential treatment waives or withdraws that request, the Administrator will proceed with appropriate disclosure of the information.

(6) If the Administrator determines that confidential treatment is warranted, he will so notify the person requesting confidential treatment, and will issue an initial denial of the request for disclosure of records in accordance with 15 CFR 903.8.

(7) If the Administrator determines that confidential treatment is not warranted for part or all of the information, the Administrator immediately will issue notice by an expeditious means (such as by telephone, confirmed by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested) to the person who requested confidential treatment. The notice will state:

(i) The basis for the Administrator's determination;

(ii) That the Administrator's determination constitutes final agency action on the request for confidential treatment;

(iii) That the final agency action is subject to judicial review under chapter 7 of title 5, United States Code; and

(iv) That on the seventh working day after issuance of the notice described in this paragraph (d)(7), the Administrator will make the information available to the person who requested disclosure unless the Administrator has first been notified of the filing of an action in a Federal court to obtain judicial review of the determination, and the court has issued an appropriate order preventing or limiting disclosure.

(8) The Administrator will keep a record of the date any notice is issued and the date any response is received, by the Administrator, under this paragraph (d).

(9) In all other respects, procedures for handling requests for records containing information submitted to, reported to, or collected by the Administrator pursuant to this part will be in accordance with 15 CFR Part 903. For example, if ten working days have passed after the receipt of a request for disclosure and, despite the exercise of due diligence by the agency, the Administrator cannot make a determination as to whether confidential treatment is warranted, the Administrator will issue appropriate notice in accordance with 15 CFR 903.8(b)(5).

(e) Direct submission of confidential information. If any person has reason to believe that it would be prejudiced by furnishing information required from it to the applicant, licensee or permittee, that person may file the required information directly with the Administrator. Information for which the person requests confidential treatment must be segregated, marked, and submitted in accordance with the procedures described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section.

(f) Protection of confidential information transmitted by the Administrator to other agencies. Each copy of information for which confidential treatment has been requested which is transmitted by the Administrator to other Federal agencies will be accompanied by a cover letter containing:

(1) A request that the other Federal agency maintain the information in confidence in accordance with applicable law (including the Trade Secret Act, 18 U.S.C. 1905) and any applicable protective agreement entered into by the Administrator and the Federal agency receiving the information;

(2) A request that the other Federal agency notify the Administrator immediately upon receipt of any request for disclosure of the information; and

(3) A request that all copies of the information be returned to the Administrator for secure storage or disposal promptly after the Federal agency determines that it no longer needs the information for its official use.

(g) When satisfied that adequate protection against public disclosure exists, applicants should provide the State agency with confidential and proprietary information which the State agency maintains is necessary to make a reasoned decision on the consistency of the proposal. State agency requests for such information must be related to the necessity of having such information to assess adequately the coastal zone effects of the proposal.

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§971.803   Relinquishment and surrender of licenses and permits.

(a) Any licensee or permittee may at any time, without penalty:

(1) Surrender to the Administrator a license or permit issued to the licensee or permittee; or

(2) Relinquish to the Administrator, in whole or in part, any right to conduct any exploration or commercial recovery activities authorized by the license or permit.

(b) Any licensee or permittee who surrenders, or relinquishes any right under, a license or permit will remain liable with respect to all violations and penalties incurred, and damage to persons or property caused, by the licensee or permittee as a result of activities engaged in by the licensee or permittee under the license or permit.

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§971.804   Amendment to regulations for conservation, protection of the environment, and safety of life and property at sea.

The Administrator may amend the regulations in this part and 15 CFR part 970 at any time as the Administrator determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to provide for the conservation of natural resources, protection of the environment, or the safety of life and property at sea. The amended regulations will apply to all exploration or commercial recovery activities conducted under any license or permit issued or maintained pursuant to this part or 15 CFR part 970, except that amended regulations which provide for conservation of natural resources will apply to activities conducted under an existing license or permit during the present term of that license or permit only if the Administrator determines that the amended regulations providing for conservation of natural resources will not impose serious or irreparable economic hardship on the licensee or permittee. Any amendment to regulations under this section will be made pursuant to the procedures in subpart I of this part.

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§971.805   Computation of time.

Except where otherwise specified, Saturdays, Sundays and Federal Government holidays will be included in computing the time period allowed for filing any document or paper under this part or 15 CFR part 970, but when a time period expires on any of these days, that time period will be extended to include the next following Federal Government work day. Filing periods expire at the close of business on the day specified, for the office specified.

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