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DOC/NOAA RIN: 0648-BM10 Publication ID: Fall 2023 
Title: Withdrawal of 50 CFR Part 217 Subpart Q-Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Oil and Gas Activities in Cook Inlet, Alaska 

NMFS promulgated a Marine Mammal Protection Act Incidental Take Regulation (ITR) in 2019 for Hilcorp Alaska LLC (Hilcorp) oil and gas production activities in Cook Inlet, AK.  Environmental groups sued and prevailed on the claim that NMFS' administrative record was insufficient on the issue of whether a specific type of tug boat noise will result in take of marine mammals. On remand, Hilcorp requested an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) for its remaining activities involving tug boats, rather than the lengthier process needed to amend the rule to allow for a Letter of Authorization (LOA).  This was an option because Hilcorp had completed or abandoned all other activities that the rule covers, and needed take authorization for tug boat use in a timelier fashion than amending the rule allowed. This rule will invalidate/remove the existing Incidental Take Regulations as Hilcorp has no plans to conduct activity under the regulations. The ITR serves no further purpose because no other activities will take place under the ITR. Moreover, public comments on NMFS's proposed IHA makes clear that there is confusion and concern about the fact that the ITR is still on the books at the same time as the IHA.  Because the ITR is no longer needed Hilcorp will not seek any more LOAs under the ITR -- Hilcorp has requested withdrawal of the regulations from the Code of Federal Regulations.  This will eliminate public confusion.

Agency: Department of Commerce(DOC)  Priority: Substantive, Nonsignificant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 50 CFR 217   
Legal Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.   
Legal Deadline:  None
Action Date FR Cite
Final Rule  11/00/2023 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: None 
Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: No 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Kim Damon-Randall
Director, Office of Protected Resources
Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1315 East-West Highway,
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone:301 427-8400