The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Secure Handling of Ammonium Nitrate Program in the Federal Register. This notice seeks industry comments on a new DHS program, which requires the agency to regulate the sale and transfer of Ammonium Nitrate by a facility to prevent the misappropriation or use of this product in an act of terrorism. ARA worked with The Fertilizer Institute in support of enactment of this DHS program as it will help to further secure Ammonium Nitrate and keep it available to America's agricultural industry.

DHS is seeking written data, views or arguments on all aspects of this proposed program, especially as it relates to economic, environmental, or federalism effects that may result from any final rule. Comments will help DHS in the development of procedures for this ammonium nitrate registration program. Please e-mail your comments on the DHS questions posted below to Richard Gupton, ARA vice president of legislative policy and counsel, at ARA plans to submit a comment letter on this new Ammonium Nitrate registration program and needs input from ARA members.

Questions for industry

Comments that will provide the most assistance to DHS in this rulemaking include, but are not limited to, the following:

Comments regarding submission of registration applications (e.g., whether applications should be submitted electronically or in paper form; whether applications should be available only through DHS or through Local Cooperative Extension Service Offices or at United States Post Offices).

Comments regarding the technical capabilities (e.g., access to computers; access to Internet; average level of computing skills; frequency of use of integrated Information Technology systems) of AN manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and end-users.

Comments regarding DHS distribution of AN registration letters or certificates (e.g., whether DHS should use email or regular mail).

Comments regarding a verification process for registrations and AN purchases, including methods for verifying the identity of any AN purchaser, as well as the identity of designated agents purchasing AN on behalf of registered AN purchasers.

Comments on the detonability of AN at certain concentrations, including research being conducted concerning the detonability of AN.

Comments on how likely AN fertilizer users would be to use an alternative fertilizer that is potentially less detonable, such as, for example, Sulf-N 26 Fertilizer Process and Product (ammonium sulfate nitrate fertilizer) which DHS recently "designated" as a Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology (QATT) pursuant to 6 U.S.C. 441-444 (the Support Antiterrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002, or SAFETY Act).

Comments on how best to conduct or oversee regulatory compliance inspections and audits of AN facilities' records to ensure that regulated facilities are properly maintaining records, to monitor compliance with the requirements of Section 563, and to deter or prevent misappropriation of AN for terrorist acts.

Comments on the economic impacts (both long-term and short-term, quantifiable and qualitative) of the implementation of section 563, including potential impacts on State, local, and tribal governments of the United States; potential impacts on agribusiness, including AN manufacturers, importers, packagers, distributors, retailers, and end-users including farmers (e.g., whether current AN purchasers would likely reduce their AN purchases as a result of a new regulatory regime); and potential impacts on small businesses.

Comments on the monetary and other costs anticipated to be incurred by U.S. citizens and others as a result of the new compliance requirements, such as the costs in time and money that an individual may incur to obtain an AN registration. These costs may or may not be quantifiable and may include actual monetary outlays, transitional costs incurred to obtain alternative documents, and the costs that will be incurred in connection with potential delays at the point of sale.

Comments on a possible fee structure to address some or all of the costs of this new program, such as registration, TSDB checks, and issuance of registration numbers.

Comments on the benefits of this rulemaking.

Comments on any alternative methods of complying with the legislation.

Comments on the best methods or processes for interacting with state and local governments regarding AN security.
Dates: Written comments must be submitted to DHS on or before Dec. 29. Comments can be submitted, identified Docket # 2008-0076, through Comments sent by mail should go to the following address: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Protection and Programs Directorate, Office of Infrastructure Protection, Infrastructure Security Compliance Division, Mail Stop 8100, Washington, D.C. 20528.