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United States Regulations
15 CFR PART 971—DEEP SEABED MINING REGULATIONS FOR COMMERCIAL RECOVERY PERMITS
Title 15: Commerce and Foreign Trade
PART 971—DEEP SEABED MINING REGULATIONS FOR COMMERCIAL RECOVERY PERMITS
Authority: 30 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.
Source: 54 FR 525, Jan. 6, 1989, unless otherwise noted.
§ 971.100 Purpose.
The purpose of this part is to implement the responsibilities and authorities of the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) pursuant to Public Law 96–283, the Deep Seabed Hard Mineral Resources Act (the Act), to issue to eligible United States citizens permits for the commercial recovery of deep seabed hard minerals.
§ 971.101 Definitions.
For purposes of this part, the term
(a) Act means the Deep Seabed Hard Mineral Resources Act (Pub. L. 96–283; 94 Stat. 553; 30 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.);
(b) Administrator means the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the Administrator's designee;
(c) Affected State means any State with a coastal zone management program approved under Section 306 of the Coastal Zone Management Act, as amended, where coastal zone land and water uses are affected by the issuance of a commercial recovery permit under the provisions of the Act or this part;
(d) Applicant means an applicant for a commercial recovery permit pursuant to the Act and this part; as used in subparts H, I and J of this part, “applicant” also means an applicant for an exploration license pursuant to the Act and part 970 of the title. “Applicant” also means a proposed permit transferee;
(e) Commercial recovery means—
(1) Any activity engaged in at sea to recover any hard mineral resource at a substantial rate for the primary purpose of marketing or commercially using such resource to earn a net profit, whether or not such net profit is actually earned;
(2) If such recovered hard mineral resource will be processed at sea, such processing; and
(3) If the waste of such activity to recover any hard mineral resource, or of such processing at sea, will be disposed of at sea, such disposal;
(f) Continental Shelf means—
(1) The seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas adjacent to the coast, but outside the area of the territorial sea, to a depth of 200 meters or, beyond that limit to where the depth of the superjacent waters admits of the exploitation of the natural resources of such submarine area; and
(2) The seabed and subsoil of similar submarine areas adjacent to the coast of islands;
(g) Controlling interest, for purposes of paragraph (v)(3) of this section, means a direct or indirect legal or beneficial interest in or influence over another person arising through ownership of capital stock, interlocking directorates or officers, contractual relations, or other similar means, which substantially affect the independent business behavior of such person;
(h) Deep seabed means the seabed, and the subsoil thereof to a depth of ten meters, lying seaward of and outside—
(1) The Continental Shelf of any nation; and
(2) Any area of national resource jurisdiction of any foreign nation, if such area extends beyond the Continental Shelf of such nation and such jurisdiction is recognized by the United States;
(i) Environment or environmental as used in the definitions of “irreparable harm” and “significant adverse environmental effect” means or pertains to the deep seabed and ocean waters lying at and within the permit area, and in surrounding areas including transportation corridors to the extent that they might be affected by the commercial recovery activities, and the living and non-living resources of those areas;
(j) Exploration means—
(1) Any at-sea observation and evaluation activity which has, as its objective, the establishment and documentation of—
(i) The nature, shape, concentration, location, and tenor of a hard mineral resource; and
(ii) The environmental, technical, and other appropriate factors which must be taken into account to achieve commercial recovery; and
(2) The taking from the deep seabed of such quantities of any hard mineral resource as are necessary for the design, fabrication and testing of equipment which is intended to be used in the commercial recovery and processing of such resource;
(k) Hard mineral resource means any deposit or accretion on, or just below, the surface of the deep seabed of nodules which include one or more minerals, at least one of which is manganese, nickel, cobalt, or copper;
(l) Irreparable harm means significant undesirable effects to the environment occurring after the date of the permit issuance which will not be reversed after cessation or modification of the activities authorized under the permit;
(m) Licensee means the holder of a license issued under NOAA regulations to engage in exploration;
(n) NOAA means the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration;
(o) Permittee means the holder of a permit issued or transferred under this part to engage in commercial recovery;
(p) Person means any United States citizen, any individual, and any corporation, partnership, joint venture, association, or other entity organized or existing under the laws of any nation;
(q) Reciprocating state means any foreign nation designated as such by the Administrator under section 118 of the Act;
(r) Recovery plan or commercial recovery plan means the plan submitted by an applicant for a commercial recovery permit pursuant to §971.203;
(s) Significant adverse environmental effect means: (1) Important adverse changes in ecosystem diversity, productivity, or stability of the biological communities within the environment; (2) threat to human health through direct exposure to pollutants or through consumption of exposed aquatic organisms; or (3) important loss of aesthetic, recreational, scientific or economic values;
(t) State agency means the agency responsible for implementing the responsibilities of section 306(c)(5) under the Coastal Zone Management Act, as amended, and 15 CFR part 930;
(u) United States means the several States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, and any other Commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States; and
(v) United States citizen means—
(1) Any individual who is a citizen of the United States;
(2) Any corporation, partnership, joint venture, association, or other entity organized or existing under the laws of any of the United States; and
(3) Any corporation, partnership, joint venture, association, or other entity (whether organized or existing under the laws of any of the United States or a foreign nation) if the controlling interest in such entity is held by an individual or entity described in paragraph (v)(1) or (v)(2).
§ 971.102 Nature of permits.
(a) A permit issued under this part authorizes the holder thereof to engage in commercial recovery within a specific portion of the sea floor consistent with the provisions of the Act and this part and consistent with the specific terms, conditions, and restrictions (TCRs) applied to the permit by the Administrator.
(b) A permit issued under this part is exclusive with respect to the holder thereof as against any other United States citizen or any citizen, national or governmental agency of, or any legal entity organized or existing under the laws of, any reciprocating state.
(c) A valid existing license under 15 CFR part 970 will entitle the holder, if otherwise eligible under the provisions of the Act and implementing regulations, to a permit for commercial recovery from an area selected from within the license area. Such a permit will recognize the right of the holder to recover hard mineral resources, and to own, tranport, use, and sell hard mineral resources recovered under the permit and in accordance with the requirements of the Act and this part.
§ 971.103 Prohibited activities and restrictions.
(a) Prohibited activities and exceptions. (1) No United States citizen may engage in any commercial recovery unless authorized to do so under—
(i) A permit issued pursuant to the Act and implementing regulations;
(ii) A license, permit or equivalent authorization issued by a reciprocating state; or
(iii) An international agreement which is in force with respect to the United States.
(2) The prohibitions of paragraph (a)(1) of this section do not apply to any of the following activities:
(i) Scientific research, including that concerning hard mineral resources;
(ii) Mapping, or the taking of any geophysical, geochemical, oceanographic, or atmospheric measurements or random bottom samplings of the deep seabed, if such taking does not significantly alter the surface or subsurface of the seabed or significantly affect the environment;
(iii) The design, construction, or testing of equipment and facilities which will or may be used for exploration or commercial recovery, if such design, construction or testing is conducted onshore, or does not involve the recovery of any but incidental hard mineral resources;
(iv) The furnishing of machinery, products, supplies, services, or materials for any exploration or commercial recovery conducted under a license or permit issued under the Act and implementing regulations, a license or permit or equivalent authorization issued by a reciprocating state, or any relevant international agreement; and
(v) Activities, other than exploration or commercial recovery activities, of the Federal Government.
(3) No United States citizen may interfere or participate in interference with any activity conducted by any permittee which is authorized to be undertaken under a permit issued by the Administrator to a permittee under the Act or with any activity conducted by the holder of, and authorized to be undertaken under, a license or permit or equivalent authorization issued by a reciprocating state for the commercial recovery of hard mineral resources. For purposes of this section, interference includes physical interference with activities authorized by the Act, this part, and a license or permit issued pursuant thereto; the filing of a specious claim in the United States or any other nation; and any other activity designed to harass, or which has the effect of harassing, persons conducting deep seabed mining activities authorized by law. Interference does not include the exercise of any superior rights granted to United States citizens by the Constitution of the United States, or any Federal or State law, treaty, or agreement or regulation promulgated pursuant thereto.
(4) United States citizens shall exercise their rights on the high seas with reasonable regard for the interests of other states in their exercise of the freedoms of the high seas.
(b) Restrictions on issuance of permits. The Administrator will not issue any permit—
(1) After the date on which any relevant international agreement is ratified by and enters into force with respect to the United States, except to the extent that issuance of the permit is not inconsistent with that agreement.
(2) The recovery plan of which, submitted pursuant to the Act and implementing regulations, would apply to an area to which applies, or would conflict with:
(i) Any exploration plan or recovery plan submitted with any pending application to which priority of right for issuance applies under 15 CFR part 970 or this part;
(ii) Any exploration plan or recovery plan associated with any existing license or permit; or
(iii) An equivalent authorization which has been issued, or for which formal notice of application has been submitted, by a reciprocating state prior to the filing date of any relevant application for licenses or permits pursuant to the Act and implementing regulations;
(3) Authorizing commercial recovery within any area of the deep seabed in which exploration is authorized under a valid existing license if such permit is issued to a person other than the licensee for such area;
(4) Which authorizes commercial recovery to commence before January 1, 1988;
(5) The recovery plan for which applies to any area of the deep seabed if, within the 3-year period before the date of application for that permit:
(i) The applicant therefor surrendered or relinquished such area under an exploration plan or recovery plan associated with a previous license or permit issued to such applicant; or
(ii) A permit previously issued to the applicant had an exploration plan or recovery plan which applied to such area and such license or permit was revoked under section 106 of the Act;
(6) Or approve the transfer of a permit, except to a United States citizen; or
(7) That would authorize commercial recovery activities in an area other than for which the applicant therefore holds a valid exploration license under part 970 of this title.
§ 971.104 OMB control number.
The information collection requirements and reporting and recordkeeping requirements contained in this part were approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 0648–0170.
§ 971.200 General.
(a) Who may apply; how. Any United States citizen holding a valid exploration license may apply to the Administrator for issuance of a commercial recovery permit for all or part of the area to which the license applies. Any holder of a commercial recovery permit may apply to the Administrator for transfer of the permit. Applications must be submitted in the form and manner described in this subpart.
(b) Place, form and copies. An application for the issuance or transfer of a commerical recovery permit must be in writing, verified and signed by an authorized officer or other authorized representative of the applicant. The application and 25 copies thereof must be submitted to:
Ocean Minerals and Energy Division, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Suite 710, 1825 Connecticut Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20235.
The Administrator may waive in whole or in part, at his discretion, the requirement that 25 copies of an application be filed with NOAA.
(c) General contents. The application must contain a proposed commerical recovery plan and the financial, technical, environmental and other information specified in this part, which in total are necessary for the Administrator to make the determinations required by the Act and this part. Although the ultimate standards for determinations under these rules are identical for both transferees and original preexisting licensees, NOAA anticipates that applicants who are transferees will have to supply more information with the application than licensees will [see subsection (e) in this section].
(d) Identification of requirements. Each portion of the application should identify the requirements of this part to which it responds.
(e) Information previously submitted in connection with an exploration license. Information previously submitted as part of an exploration license application, as well as information submitted during the course of license activities (such as data included in annual reports to NOAA), may be incorporated in the commercial recovery permit application by reference.
(f) Request for confidential treatment of information. If an applicant wishes to have any information in its application not be subject to public disclosure, it must so request, at the time of submitting the information, pursuant to §971.802 which will govern disposition of the request.
(g) Pre-application consultation. The Administrator will make NOAA staff available to potential applicants for pre-application consultations on how to respond to the provisions of this part. In appropriate circumstances, the Administrator will provide written confirmation to the applicant of oral guidance resulting from such consultations. Such consultation is required for the purpose of §971.207. The applicant is encouraged to consult with affected States as early as is practicable [see also §§971.213 and 971.606(b)].
(h) Compliance with Federal consistency requirements. An applicant for a commercial recovery permit must comply with all necessary requirements, including procedures, pursuant to 15 CFR part 930, subpart D. Applications and other necessary data and information must be transmitted to the designated State agency as prescribed under 15 CFR 930.50.
§ 971.201 Statement of financial resources.
(a) General. The application must contain information sufficient to demonstrate to the Administrator pursuant to §971.301 that, upon issuance or transfer of the permit, the applicant will have access to the financial resources to carry out, in accordance with this part, the commercial recovery program set forth in the applicant's commercial recovery plan.
(b) Specific. In particular, the information on financial resources is expected to be general in nature but must include the likely sources and timing of funds to meet the applicant's scheduled expenditures in the recovery plan. These sources may include cash flow, reserves, and outside funding.
§ 971.202 Statement of technological experience and capabilities.
(a) General. The application must contain information sufficient to demonstrate to the Administrator pursuant to §971.301 that, upon issuance or transfer of the permit, the applicant will have the technological capability to carry out, in accordance with the regulations contained in this part, the commercial recovery program set out in the applicant's commercial recovery plan.
(b) Specific. In particular, the information submitted pursuant to this section must describe the equipment, knowledge, and skills the applicant possesses, or to which it can demonstrate access [see §971.200(e)]. The information must include:
(1) A description of the technology or the equipment and methods to be used by the applicant in carrying out each step in the mining process, including nodule collection, retrieval, transfer to ship, environmental monitoring, transport to processing facilities, nodule processing, waste disposal and compliance with applicable water quality standards. The description must include:
(i) An analysis of the performance of experimental systems, sub-systems, or analogous machinery;
(ii) The rationale for extrapolating from test results to commercial mining. The more test data offered with the application the less analysis will be expected; and
(iii) Anticipated system reliability within the context of anticipated production time lost through equipment failure.
(2) A functional description of the types of technical persons on whom the applicant will rely to operate its equipment.
§ 971.203 Commercial recovery plan.
(a) General. The application must include a proposed commercial recovery plan which describes the applicant's projected commercial recovery activities, in a general way, for the twenty year period to be covered by the proposed permit. Although preliminary and subject to change, the plan must be more detailed for that portion of the permit term leading up to the initiation of commercial recovery. The plan must include sufficient information for the Administrator, pursuant to this part, to make the necessary determinations pertaining to the certification and issuance or transfer of a permit and to the development and enforcement of the TCRs for a permit.
(b) Specific. The plan must include:
(1) A description of the activities proposed to be carried out during the period of the permit;
(2) The intended schedule of commercial recovery (see “Diligent commercial recovery,” §971.503);
(3) Environmental safeguards and monitoring systems, which must take into account requirements under subpart F of this part, including best available technologies (BAT) (§971.604) and monitoring (§971.603);
(4) Details of the area or areas proposed for commercial recovery, which meet requirements for diligence (§971.503) and conservation of resources pursuant to subpart E (especially §971.502);
(5) A resource assessment of the area or areas proposed for commercial recovery which meets the requirements for resource assessment and logical mining unit (§971.501);
(6) A description of the methods and technology to be used for commercial recovery and processing (see §971.202(b)(1)); and
(7) The methods to be used for disposal of wastes from recovery and processing, including the areas for disposal and identification of any toxic substances in wastes.
§ 971.204 Environmental and use conflict analysis.
(a) Environmental information submission. The application must be supported by sufficient marine environmental information for the Administrator to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) on the proposed mining activities, and to determine the appropriate permit TCRs based on environmental characteristics of the requested minesite. The Administrator may require the submission of additional data, in the event he determines that the basis for a suitable EIS, or a determination of appropriate TCRs, is not available.
(b)(1) In preparing the EIS, the Administrator will attempt to characterize the environment in such a way as to provide a basis for judging the potential for significant adverse effects or irreparable harm triggered by commercial mining (see subpart F). In compiling these data, the Administrator will utilize existing information including the relevant license EIS, additional exploration data acquired by the applicant, and other data in the public domain.
(2) The EIS must present adequate physical, chemical, and biological information for the permit area. If the permit area lies within the area of NOAA's Deep Ocean Mining Environmental Study (DOMES), the parameters listed in NOAA's Technical Guidance Document pertaining to the upper and lower water column should be included. Specifically, these parameters include:
(i) Upper water column—
Salinity, temperature, density
(ii) Lower water column and seafloor—
Suspended particulate matter dispersion
Sediment characteristics (mineralogy, particle size, shape and density, and water content)
(3) For a permit area outside the DOMES area, the applicant is encouraged to consult with NOAA at the earliest opportunity in order to determine the specific parameters to be measured based on the location and specific environmental characteristics of the permit area. The Administrator, in consultation with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and with the assistance of other appropriate Federal agencies, may determine that a programmatic EIS is required for any new area.
(c) The application must include a monitoring plan for test mining and at-sea commercial recovery activities which meets the objectives and requirements of §971.603.
(d) Use conflict analysis. The application must include information known to the applicant on other uses of the proposed mining area to support the Administrator's determination regarding potential use conflicts between commercial mining activities and those activities of other nations or of other U.S. citizens.
(e) Onshore information. Because of NEPA requirements, the Administrator must include in the EIS on the proposed permit the complete spectrum of activities resulting from the issuance of a permit. Therefore, onshore information including the location and operation of nodule processing facilities must be submitted with the application in accordance with the details in §971.606.
§ 971.205 Vessel safety and documentation.
In order to provide a basis for the necessary determinations with respect to the safety of life and property at sea, pursuant to §971.407, §971.422 and Subpart G of this part, the application must contain the following information for vessels used in commercial recovery, except for those vessels under 300 gross tons which are engaged in oceanographic research:
(a) U.S. flag vessel. All mining ships and at least one of the transport ships used by each permittee must be documented under the laws of the United States. To the extent that the applicant knows which United States flag vessels it will use, it must include with its application copies of the vessels' current valid Coast Guard Certificates of Inspection.
(b) Foreign flag vessels. To the extent that the applicant knows which foreign flag vessel(s) it will be using for other purposes, the application must include evidence of the following:
(1) That any foreign flag vessel whose flag state is party to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (SOLAS 74) possesses current valid SOLAS 74 certificates;
(2) That any foreign flag vessel whose flag state is not party to SOLAS 74 but is party to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1960 (SOLAS 60) possesses current valid SOLAS 60 certificates; and
(3) That any foreign flag vessel whose flag state is not a party to either SOLAS 74 or SOLAS 60 meets all applicable structural and safety requirements contained in the published rules of a member of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS).
(c) Supplemental certificates. If the applicant does not know at the time of submitting an application which vessels it will be using, it must submit the applicable certification for each vessel before the cruise on which it will be used.
§ 971.206 Statement of ownership.
(a) General. The application must include sufficient information to demonstrate that the applicant is a United States citizen.
(b) Specific. In particular, the application must include:
(1) Name, address, and telephone number of the United States citizen responsible for commercial recovery operations;
(2) A description of the citizen or citizens engaging in commercial recovery, including:
(i) Whether the citizen is a natural person, partnership, corporation, joint venture, or other form of association;
(ii) The state of incorporation or state in which the partnership or other business entity is registered;
(iii) The name and place of business of the registered agent or equivalent representative to whom notices and orders are to be delivered;
(iv) Copies of all essential and nonproprietary provisions in articles of incorporation, charter or articles of association; and
(v) The name of each member of the association, partnership, or joint venture, including information about the participation and/or ownership of stock of each partner or joint venturer.
§ 971.207 Antitrust information.
In order to support the antitrust review referenced in §971.211, the application must contain information sufficient, in the applicant's view and based on preapplication consultations pursuant to §971.200(g), to identify the applicant and describe any significant existing market share it has with respect to the mining or marketing of the metals proposed to be recovered under the permit.
§ 971.208 Fee.
(a) General. Section 104 of the Act provides that no application for the issuance or transfer of a permit will be certified unless the applicant pays to NOAA an administrative fee which reflects the reasonable administrative costs incurred in reviewing and processing the application.
(b) Amount. A fee payment of $100,000, payable to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce, must accompany each application. If the administrative costs of reviewing and processing the application are significantly less than or in excess of $100,000, the Administrator, after determining the amount of the under- or over-charge, as applicable, will refund the difference or require the applicant to pay the additional amount before issuance or transfer of the permit. In the case of an application for transfer of a permit to, or for a significant change to a permit held by, an entity which has previously been found qualified for a permit, the Administrator may reduce the fee in advance by an appropriate amount which reflects costs avoided by reliance on previous findings made in relation to the proposed transferee.
§ 971.209 Processing outside the United States.
(a) Except as provided in this section and §971.408, the processing of hard minerals recovered pursuant to a permit shall be conducted within the U.S., provided that the President or his designee does not determine that this restriction contravenes the overriding national interests of the United States.
(b) If foreign processing is proposed, the applicant shall submit a justification demonstrating the basis for a finding pursuant to §971.408(a)(1). The justification shall include an analysis of each factor which the applicant considers essential to its conclusion that processing at a site within the U.S. is not economically viable.
(c) If the Administrator determines that the justification provided by the applicant is insufficient, or if the Administrator receives during the public comment or hearing period what the Administrator determines to be a serious alternative U.S. processing site proposal, the Administrator may require the applicant to supply, within a specified reasonable time, additional information relevant to the §971.408(a)(1) finding.
(d) The applicant must include in its application satisfactory assurances 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 determines pursuant to §971.408 that the national interest necessitates such return. Assurances must include proposed arrangements with the host country.
§ 971.210 Determination whether application is complete for further processing.
Upon receipt of an application, the Administrator will review it to determine whether it includes information specifically identifiable with and fully responsive to each requirement in §971.201 through §971.209. The Administrator will notify the applicant whether the application is complete within 60 days after it is received. The notice will identify, if applicable, in what respects the application is not complete, and will specify the information which the applicant must submit in order to make it complete, why the additional information is necessary, and a reasonable date by which the application must be completed. Application processing will not begin until the Administrator determines that the application is complete.
§ 971.211 Consultation and cooperation with Federal agencies.
(a) Promptly after receipt of an application that the Administrator has determined pursuant to §971.210 is complete, the Administrator will distribute a copy of the application to every Federal agency or department which, pursuant to section 103(e) of the Act, has identified programs or activities within its statutory responsibilities which would be affected by the activities proposed in the application (e.g., the Departments of State, Transportation, Justice, Interior, Defense, Treasury and Labor, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Trade Commission, International Trade Administration and National Science Foundation). Based on its legal responsibilities and authorities, each such agency or department may, not later than 60 days after it receives a copy of the application, recommend certification of the application, issuance or transfer of the permit, or denial of such certification, issuance or transfer. The advice or recommendation by the Attorney General or Federal Trade Commission on antitrust review, pursuant to section 103(d) of the Act, must be submitted within 90 days after their receipt of a copy of the application.
(b) NOAA will use this process of consultation and cooperation to facilitate necessary Federal decisions on proposed commercial recovery activities, pursuant to the mandate of section 103(e) of the Act to reduce the number of separate actions required to satisfy Federal agencies' statutory responsibilities. The Administrator will not issue or transfer the permit during the 90 day period after receipt by the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission except upon written confirmation of the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission that neither intends to submit further comments or recommendations with respect to the application.
(c) In any case in which a Federal agency or department recommends a denial, it must set forth in detail the manner in which the application does not comply with any law or regulation within its area of responsibility and how the application may be amended, or how TCRs might be added to the permit, to assure compliance with such law or regulation.
(d) NOAA will cooperate with such agencies and with the applicant with the goal of resolving any concerns raised and satisfying the statutory responsibilities of these agencies.
(e) If the Administrator decides to issue or transfer a permit with respect to which denial of the issuance or transfer has been recommended by the Attorney General or the Federal Trade Commission, or to issue or transfer a permit without imposing TCRs recommended by the Attorney General or the Federal Trade Commission, as appropriate, the Administrator will, before or at issuance or transfer of the permit, notify the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission of the reasons for his decision.
§ 971.212 Public notice, hearing and comment.
(a) Notice and comments. The Administrator will publish in the Federal Register, for each complete application for issuance or transfer of a commercial recovery permit, notice that the application has been received. Subject to §971.802, interested persons will be allowed to examine the materials relevant to the application, and will have at least 60 days after publication of notice to submit written comments to the Administrator.
(b) Hearings. After preparation of the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on an application, the Administrator will hold a public hearing on the application and the draft EIS in an appropriate location and may employ additional methods he/she deems appropriate to inform interested persons about each application and to invite comments thereon. A hearing will be conducted in any State in which a processing plant or any of its ancillary facilities (such as a marine terminal or a waste disposal facility) are proposed to be located.
(c) 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 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 of the Administrator's decisions on an application.
(d) Hearings held pursuant to this section and other procedures will be consolidated, if practicable, with hearings held and procedures employed by other Federal and State agencies.
§ 971.213 Amendment to an application.
After an application has been submitted to the Administrator, but before a determination is made on the issuance or transfer of a permit, the applicant must submit an amendment to the application if there is a significant change in the circumstances represented in the original application which affects the requirements of this subpart. Applicants should consult with NOAA to determine if changes in circumstances are sufficiently significant to require submission of an amendment. The application, as amended, would then serve as the basis for determinations by the Administrator under this part. For each amendment judged by the Administrator to be significant, the Administrator will provide a copy of that amendment to each other Federal agency and department which received a copy of the original application, and also will provide for public notice, hearing and comment on the amendment pursuant to §971.212. After the issuance or transfer of a permit, any revision of the permit will be made pursuant to §971.413. Any amendment or modification which would cause coastal zone effects substantially different than those originally reviewed by the state agency would be subject to Federal consistency review as prescribed in 15 CFR part 930.
§ 971.214 Consolidated license and permit procedures. [Reserved]
Subpart C—Certification of Applications
§ 971.300 General.
(a) Certification is an intermediate step between receipt of an application for issuance or transfer of a permit and actual issuance or transfer. It is a determination which focuses on the eligibility of the applicant.
(b) Before the Administrator may certify an application for issuance or transfer of a permit, the Administrator must determine that issuance of the permit would not violate any of the restrictions in §971.103(b). The Administrator also must make written determinations with respect to the requirements with respect to the requirements set forth in §971.301.
(c) To the maximum extent possible, the Administrator will endeavor to complete certification within 100 days after receipt of a complete application. If final certification or denial of certification has not occurred within 100 days after receipt of the application, the Administrator will inform the applicant in writing of the pending unresolved issues, the efforts to resolve them, and an estimate of the time required to do so.
§ 971.301 Required findings.
Before the Administrator may certify an application for a commercial recovery permit, the Administrator must:
(a) Approve the size and location of the commercial recovery area selected by the applicant, and this approval will occur unless the Administrator determines that (1) the area is not a logical mining unit under §971.501, or (2) commercial recovery activities in the proposed area would result in a significant adverse environmental effect which cannot be avoided by imposition of reasonable restrictions; and
(b) Find that the applicant—
(1) Has demonstrated that, upon issuance or transfer of the permit, the applicant will be financially responsible to meet all obligations which may be required to engage in its proposed commercial recovery activities;
(2) Has demonstrated that, upon permit issuance or transfer, it will possess, or have access to, the technological capability to engage in the proposed commercial recovery;
(3) Has satisfactorily fulfilled all past obligations under any license or permit previously issued or transferred to the applicant under the Act;
(4) Has a commercial recovery plan which meets the requirements of §971.203; and
(5) Has paid the permit fee specified in §971.208.
§ 971.302 Denial of certification.
(a) The Administrator may deny certification of an application if the Administrator finds that the requirements of this subpart, or the requirements for issuance or transfer under §971.403 through §971.408, have not been met.
(b) When the Administrator proposes to deny certification the Administrator will send to the applicant, via certified mail, return receipt requested, and publish in the Federal Register, written notice of intention to deny certification. The notice will include:
(1) The basis upon which the Administrator proposes to deny certification; 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 certification:
(1) On the 30th day after the date the notice is received by the applicant, under paragraph (b) of the 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 that 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. If the proposed denial is the result of a correctable deficiency, the administrative review will proceed concurrently with any attempts to correct the deficiency, unless the parties agree otherwise or the administrative law judge orders differently.
(e) If the Administrator denies certification, he will send to the applicant written notice of the denial, including the reasons therefor.
(f) Any final determination by the Administrator granting or denying certification is subject to judicial review as provided in chapter 7 of title 5, United States Code.
§ 971.303 Notice of certification.
Upon making a final determination to certify an application for a commercial recovery permit, the Administrator will promptly send written notice of the determination to the applicant.
Subpart D—Issuance/Transfer: Terms, Conditions and Restrictions
§ 971.400 General.
(a) Proposal. After certification of an application pursuant to subpart C of this part, the Administrator will proceed with a proposal to issue or transfer a permit for the commercial recovery activities described in the application.
(b) Terms conditions and restrictions. (1) Within 180 days after certification (or such longer period as the Administrator may establish for good cause shown in writing), the Administrator will propose terms and conditions for, and restrictions on, the proposed commercial recovery which are consistent with the provisions of the Act and this part as set forth in §§971.418 through 971.430. Proposed and final TCRs will be uniform in all permits, except to the extent that differing physical and environmental conditions and/or mining methods require the establishment of special TCRs for the conservation of natural resources, protection of the environment, or the safety of life and property at sea. The Administrator will propose TCRs in writing to the applicant, and public notice thereof will be provided pursuant to §971.401. The proposed TCRs will be included with the draft of the EIS on permit issuance.
(2) If the Administrator does not propose TCRs within 180 days after certification, the Administrator will notify the applicant in writing of the reasons for delay and of the approximate date on which the proposed TCRs will be completed.
(c) Findings. Before issuing or transferring a commercial recovery permit, the Administrator must make written findings in accordance with the requirements of §971.403 through §971.408. These findings will be made after considering all information submitted with respect to the application and proposed issuance or transfer. The Administrator will make a final determination of issuance or transfer of a permit, and will publish a final EIS on that action, within 180 days (or such longer period of time as the Administrator may establish for good cause shown in writing) following the date on which proposed TCRs and the draft EIS are published.
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. (continued)