[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 72 (Thursday, April 14, 2011)]
[Pages 20974-20976]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-9097]



[FRL-9295-7; Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2011-0368]

Implications of Climate Change for Bioassessment Programs and 
Approaches To Account for Effects

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

[[Page 20975]]

ACTION: Notice of Peer review Workshop and Public Comment Period.


SUMMARY: EPA is announcing that Eastern Research Group, Inc. (ERG), an 
EPA contractor for external scientific peer review, will convene an 
independent panel of experts and organize and conduct an external peer 
review workshop to review the external review draft report titled, 
``Implications of Climate Change for Bioassessment Programs and 
Approaches to Account for Effects'' (EPA/600/R-11/036A) and its 
supporting document, ``Freshwater Biological Traits Database'' (EPA/
600/R-11/038). The EPA also is announcing a 30-day public comment 
period for both documents. These draft documents were prepared by the 
National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) within EPA's Office 
of Research and Development.
    The main report identifies the components of state and tribal 
bioassessment programs that may be affected by climate change. The 
study (1) Investigates the potential to identify biological response 
signals to climate change within existing bioassessment data from 
Maine, North Carolina, Ohio, and Utah; (2) analyzes how biological 
responses can be categorized and interpreted; and, (3) assesses how the 
programs may influence decision-making processes. The study focused on 
benthic macroinvertebrates, i.e. animals without backbones that are 
larger than the size of a pencil point, which are important indicators 
used in bioassessments of shallow rivers and streams. The ultimate 
goals of the main report are (1) to provide a foundation for 
understanding the potential climatic vulnerability of bioassessment 
indicators, and, (2) to advance the development of specific strategies 
to ensure the effectiveness of monitoring and management plans under 
changing conditions. The results of the study support research needs 
and key actions identified in the ``National Water Program Strategy: A 
Response to Climate Change'' (U.S. EPA, 2008; http://water.epa.gov/scitech/climatechange/strategy.cfm).
    The public comment period and the external peer review workshop are 
separate processes that provide opportunities for all interested 
parties to comment on the documents. EPA intends to forward public 
comments that are submitted in accordance with this notice and received 
by 5 p.m. on Friday, May 6, 2011, to the external peer review panel 
prior to the meeting for their consideration. When finalizing the draft 
documents, EPA will consider all public comments received throughout 
the 30-day period in accordance with this notice.
    EPA is releasing these draft documents solely for the purpose of 
pre-dissemination peer review under applicable information quality 
guidelines. These documents have not been formally disseminated by EPA. 
They do not represent and should not be construed to represent any 
Agency policy or determination.
    ERG invites the public to register to attend this workshop as 
observers. In addition, ERG invites the public to give oral and/or 
provide written comments at the workshop regarding the draft documents 
under review. The draft documents and EPA's peer review charge are 
available primarily via the Internet on NCEA's home page under the 
Recent Additions and the Data and Publications menus at http://www.epa.gov/ncea. In preparing final reports, EPA will consider ERG's 
report of the comments and recommendations from the external peer 
review workshop and any public comments that EPA receives in accordance 
with this notice.

DATES: The peer review panel workshop will begin on Wednesday, May 11, 
2011, at 8:30 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. The 30-day public comment 
period begins April 14, 2011, and ends May 16, 2011. Technical comments 
should be in writing and must be received by EPA by May 16, 2011.

ADDRESSES: The peer review workshop will be held at the Navy League 
Building, 2300 Wilson Boulevard, 1st Floor (Mtg. Rm. to the Left of 
Concierge Desk), Arlington, VA 22204. The EPA contractor, ERG, is 
organizing, convening, and conducting the peer review workshop. To 
attend the workshop, register by Wednesday, May 4, 2011, by calling 
ERG's subcontractor LCLM at 301-593-2800 (ask for Diedre Watkins), 
sending a facsimile to 301-593-5800 (please reference: ``Bioassessment 
peer review workshop'' and include your name, title, affiliation, full 
address, and contact information, and whether you wish to make oral 
comments), or sending an e-mail to [email protected] (subject line: 
``Bioassessment peer review workshop'' and include your name, title, 
affiliation, full address, and contact information, and whether you 
wish to make oral comments). You may also register via the Internet at 
    The draft report ``Implications of Climate Change for Bioassessment 
Programs and Approaches to Account for Effects'' and its supporting 
draft document, ``Freshwater Biological Traits Database,'' are 
available primarily via the Internet on the National Center for 
Environmental Assessment's home page under the Recent Additions and the 
Data and Publications menus at http://www.epa.gov/ncea. A limited 
number of paper copies are available from the Information Management 
Team, NCEA; telephone: 703-347-8561; facsimile: 703-347-8691. If you 
are requesting a paper copy, please provide your name, mailing address, 
and the document titles, ``Implications of Climate Change for 
Bioassessment Programs and Approaches to Account for Effects'' and 
``Freshwater Biological Traits Database.'' Copies are not available 
from ERG.
    Comments may be submitted electronically via http://www.regulations.gov, by mail, by facsimile, or by hand delivery/
courier. Please follow the detailed instructions as provided in the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this notice.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Questions regarding information, 
registration, access, or services for individuals with disabilities, or 
logistics for the external peer review workshop should be directed to 
ERG's subcontractor, LCLM, 1299 Lamberton Drive, Suite 205, Silver 
Spring, MD 20902; telephone: 301-593-2800 (ask for Diedre Watkins); 
facsimile: 301-593-5800; e-mail: [email protected] (subject line: 
Bioassessment peer-review workshop). To request accommodation of a 
disability, please contact LCLM (ask for Diedre Watkins), preferably at 
least 10 days prior to the meeting, to give as much time as possible to 
process your request.
    For information on the public comment period, contact the Office of 
Environmental Information Docket; telephone: 202-566-1752; facsimile: 
202-566-1753; or e-mail: [email protected].
    If you need technical information about the document, please 
contact Britta Bierwagen, National Center for Environmental Assessment 
(NCEA); telephone: 703-347-8613; facsimile: 703-347-8694; or e-mail: 
[email protected].


I. Summary of Information About the Project/Documents

    Bioassessment is used for resource management to determine the 
ecological consequences of environmental stressors. All states utilize 
some form of bioassessment as part of their implementation of the Clean 
Water Act. The report identifies the components of state and tribal 
bioassessment programs

[[Page 20976]]

that may be affected by climate change. The study describes biological 
responses to changes in temperature, precipitation and flow that will, 
in the long term, affect the metrics and indices used to define 
ecological status. Not all regions are equally threatened or responsive 
because of large-scale variability in climate and other environmental 
factors. We found that climatically vulnerable components of 
bioassessment programs include:
     Assessment design (e.g., multi-metric indices [MMIs], 
selection of reference sites and determination of reference condition).
     Implementation (e.g., data collection and analysis).
     Environmental management (e.g., determination of 
impairment and water quality standards).
    The main report identifies methods that can assist with detecting 
climate change-related effects and analytically controlling them. The 
appendices to the main report provide more detailed information on 
data, analyses and results, while the supporting document describes the 
compilation of a species traits database used in the analyses in the 
main report. Implementing the recommendations in the main report will 
allow programs to continue to meet their goals for resource protection 
and restoration in the context of climate change.

II. Workshop Information

    Members of the public may attend the workshop as observers, and 
there will be a limited time for comments from the public during the 
morning session. Please let ERG's subcontractor, LCLM, know if you wish 
to make comments during the workshop. Space is limited, and 
reservations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

III. How To Submit Technical Comments to the Docket at 

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD 2011-
0368, by one of the following methods:
     http://www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line 
instructions for submitting comments.
     E-mail: [email protected].
     Fax: 202-566-1753.
     Mail: Office of Environmental Information (OEI) Docket 
(Mail Code: 2822T), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 
Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460. The phone number is 202-
     Hand Delivery: The OEI Docket is located in the EPA 
Headquarters Docket Center, Room 3334 EPA West Building, 1301 
Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC. The EPA Docket Center Public 
Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public 
Reading Room is 202-566-1744. Deliveries are only accepted during the 
Docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be 
made for deliveries of boxed information.
    If you provide comments by mail or hand delivery, please submit 
three copies of the comments. For attachments, provide an index, number 
pages consecutively with the comments, and submit an unbound original 
and three copies.
    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-
2011-0368. Please ensure that your comments are submitted within the 
specified comment period. Comments received after the closing date will 
be marked ``late,'' and may only be considered if time permits. It is 
EPA's policy to include all comments it receives in the public docket 
without change and to make the comments available online at http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, 
unless a comment includes information claimed to be Confidential 
Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is 
restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to 
be CBI or otherwise protected through http://www.regulations.gov or e-
mail. The http://www.regulations.gov Web site is an ``anonymous 
access'' system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact 
information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you 
send an e-mail comment directly to EPA without going through http://www.regulations.gov, your e-mail address will be automatically captured 
and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket 
and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic 
comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact 
information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you 
submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties 
and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to 
consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special 
characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or 
viruses. For additional information about EPA's public docket visit the 
EPA Docket Center homepage at http://www.epa.gov/epahome/dockets.htm.
    Docket: Documents in the docket are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some 
information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information 
whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other materials, 
such as copyrighted material, are publicly available only in hard copy. 
Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically 
in http://www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the OEI Docket in the 
EPA Headquarters Docket Center.

    Dated: April 7, 2011.
Darrell A. Winner,
Acting Director, National Center for Environmental Assessment.
[FR Doc. 2011-9097 Filed 4-13-11; 8:45 am]