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Final RIR/4(b)(2) Preparatory Assessment/FRFA for the Critical Habitat Designation of Cook Inlet Beluga Whale

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    The action being addressed in this Final Regulatory Impact Review (Final RIR)/Section 4(b)(2) Preparatory Assessment/Final Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis (FRFA) (hereinafter together, “Final RIR/4(b)(2) Preparatory Assessment/FRFA”) is the designation of critical habitat in waters of Cook Inlet, Alaska for the population of Delphinapterus leucas (hereinafter, “Cook Inlet beluga whale” or “species”), under authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). The purpose of this Final RIR/4(b)(2) Preparatory Assessment/FRFA is to evaluate the economic, socioeconomic, and other costs and benefits of designating critical habitat for the Cook Inlet beluga whale (hereinafter, “CHD”), and assist the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) in determining whether the benefits of excluding any particular area from the designation outweigh the benefits of including that area in the designation. This information allows the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to address the requirements of Executive Orders 12866 and 13211, and the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act.
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