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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

[Federal Register: April 24, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 78)]
[Notices]               
[Page 18798-18799]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr24ap09-115]                         

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

[Public Notice 6590]

 
Inclusion of Expiration Dates in Presidential Permits for 
International Border Crossings

SUMMARY: The Department of State announces, in consultation with 
relevant Federal agencies, that it will include an expiration date 
among the conditions it establishes in Presidential permits that it 
issues for the construction, operation, and maintenance of border 
crossing facilities. Based on the Department's experience and on 
interagency consultations, the Department intends to provide for the 
expiration of permits for vehicular border crossings (i.e., crossings 
for cars, trucks, buses, and trains) ten (10) years after issuance 
unless the permittee notifies the Department within that timeframe that 
construction has begun, and for the expiration of permits for all other 
border crossing facilities (e.g., pipelines, conveyor belts, pedestrian 
crossings, etc.) five (5) years after issuance unless the permittee 
notifies the Department within that timeframe that construction has 
begun. The Department believes that this provision provides sufficient 
time for viable projects to move forward while preventing unexecuted 
permits from creating needless uncertainty and/or hindering the 
development of worthy projects that would better serve the national 
interest.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Daniel Darrach, U.S.-Mexico Border 
Affairs Coordinator, via e-mail at WHA-BorderAffairs@state.gov; by 
phone at 202-647-9894; or by mail at Office of Mexican Affairs--Room 
3909, Department of State, 2201 C St., NW., Washington, DC 20520. 
Information about Presidential permits is available at http://
www.state.gov/p/wha/rt/permit/.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Executive Order (EO) 11423 of August 16, 
1968, as amended, authorizes the Secretary of State to issue 
Presidential permits for the construction, connection, operation, and 
maintenance of facilities crossing the international borders of the 
United States, including, but not limited to, bridges and pipelines 
connecting the United States with Canada or Mexico. EO 13337, dated 
April 30, 2004, amended EO 11423, inter alia, by expanding the 
Presidential permit program to include at-grade land border crossings. 
In order to issue a Presidential permit, the Secretary or her delegate 
must find that a border crossing is in the U.S. national interest. 
Within the context of appropriate border security, safety, health, and 
environmental requirements, it is in the U.S. national interest to 
facilitate the efficient movement of legitimate goods and travelers 
across U.S. borders.
    Since 1968, the Department has issued 21 Presidential permits for 
non-pipeline border crossings on the U.S.-Mexico border and one for the 
U.S.-Canada border. Of the 21 U.S.-Mexican border projects that have 
received permits, most began construction within two to five years. One 
permitted project took 16 years to be built, one is under construction 
nearly 30 years after receiving a permit, and three are not likely to 
be built although they have had permits more than 10 years (one of 
these permits is more than 30 years old). These permits were issued to 
the City of Mission, Texas (1978), the Union Pacific Railroad Company 
(1995), and the Brownsville Navigation District (1997). The Department 
is currently evaluating whether it should revoke these permits, given 
the change of circumstances in each of the project areas, development 
of nearby projects, inaction by the permittees on the proposed 
projects, and lack of interest in pursuing the corresponding projects 
in Mexico.
    The Presidential permit process, which emphasizes interagency and 
binational coordination, is designed to ensure that border crossings 
are built if and only if there is clear local, binational, and 
interagency support for the project and construction is in the U.S. 
national interest. It is not in the U.S. national interest to commit 
scarce government resources (e.g., Customs and Border Protection 
inspectors, highway improvement funds, etc.) as well as private 
resources (e.g., land, capital, etc.) for border crossing projects that 
cannot be successfully implemented within a reasonable time period. The 
lapse of time may have an impact on the Department's national interest 
determination. While the Department may find a project to be in the 
U.S. national interest under a certain set of circumstances in one 
period, those circumstances may change over time so that five or ten 
years later, the Department may conclude that the project is no longer 
in the U.S. national interest or that the relevant agencies should 
reconsider their recommendations on the Department's initial grant of 
the permit. Border regions are dynamic and fast-changing and it is 
important that an outdated permit not be used to build a border 
crossing on a site that is no longer appropriate for a crossing due to 
the lapse of time (e.g., due to changes in transportation patterns, 
development patterns, etc.).
    At the same time, the Department recognizes that, by their nature, 
border crossing projects are complex, time consuming, and subject to 
political, financial, regulatory, and logistical setbacks. It is 
unrealistic to expect permits to be implemented instantly and it would 
be inefficient to set permit expiration dates on such a short timeframe 
that the relevant agencies are required to review them repeatedly while 
waiting for construction to begin.
    The Department has determined, after consulting with relevant 
Federal agencies, including the Border Facilitation Working Group, and 
giving the matter careful consideration, that Presidential permits for 
vehicular border crossings (for cars, trucks, buses, and trains) will 
be valid for a period of ten (10) years, while permits for all other 
border crossing facilities (e.g., pipelines, conveyor belts, pedestrian 
crossings, etc.) will be valid for a period of five (5) years. In the 
Department's experience, vehicular border crossings typically involve 
intricate coordination among numerous agencies and often use Federal 
financing that is not immediately available, whereas other border 
crossing projects are generally smaller in scale, less expensive, and 
dependent on private financing that is more readily available. The 
Department intends to tie the expiration condition in the permit to the 
date the permit is signed and expects that this expiration condition 
will be satisfied by the permittee's notice to the Department

[[Page 18799]]

that the construction authorized by the permit has begun.
    If, after a permit has expired, a permittee continues to believe 
that the project should be built, the Department would welcome the 
submission of a revised Presidential permit application that 
demonstrats current local support, shows that the project is 
financially feasible, and explains based on updated traffic and other 
studies why the project continues to be in the U.S. national interest. 
This new application would generally need to be accompanied by updated 
environmental review documents, in keeping with the Council on 
Environmental Quality's guidance that environmental documents more than 
five years old are considered out of date.
    In December 2008, the Department issued to the General Services 
Administration a Presidential permit containing an expiration clause 
for the new border crossing to be built at Otay Mesa East, near San 
Diego, California.

    Dated: April 17, 2009.
Alex Lee,
Director, Office of Mexican Affairs, Department of State.
[FR Doc. E9-9352 Filed 4-23-09; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4710-29-P




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