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Home arrowNews arrowACHP Considers Program Comment for RUS/NTIA Communications Facilities

ACHP Considers Program Comment for RUS/NTIA Communications Facilities

September 17, 2009 – The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) is considering issuing a Program Comment, pursuant to 36 CFR 800.14(e), for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) setting forth the way in which the agencies will comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act for communications facilities construction or modification that is subject to Section 106 review by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Under Section 800.14(e) of the regulations, agencies can request the ACHP provide a Program Comment on a particular category of undertakings in lieu of conducting individual reviews of each undertaking under such category, as set forth in 36 CFR 800.4 through 800.7. An agency can meet its Section 106 responsibilities for considering the effects of particular aspects of those undertakings on historic properties by following the steps set forth in the Program Comment.

The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) appropriated $7.2 billion for RUS and NTIA to expand access to broadband services across the United States. NTIA, through its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), and RUS, through its Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP), will award grants and loans to support broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas and rural communities. Technological solutions available to speed the deployment of affordable broadband include the construction and modification of communications towers and antennas. Some of those towers and antennas will be regulated by the FCC, which will conduct a Section 106 review under two existing FCC Nationwide Programmatic Agreements. RUS and NTIA have requested the ACHP issue a Program Comment that would relieve them of the need to conduct a separate Section 106 review regarding the effects of communications facilities construction or modification that has undergone or will undergo review by the FCC.

The compressed timeframes for the award of grants and loans associated with the ARRA have prompted the need for this alternative approach to eliminate duplicative Section 106 reviews for broadband communications facilities. The resulting proposed Program Comment, which may be applied to undertakings assisted by RUS and NTIA, will not change the FCC Nationwide Programmatic Agreements.

The ACHP is seeking public input on the proposed Program Comment. Read the draft Program Comment and background as published on the Federal Register. The public input period will close on Thursday, October 8, 2009.

Please address all comments concerning this proposed Program Comment to Blythe Semmer, Office of Federal Agency Programs, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 803, Washington, DC 20004. Fax (202) 606-8647. You may submit electronic comments to: bsemmer@achp.gov.

For more information, please contact Blythe Semmer at (202) 606-8552.

Posted September 17, 2009

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