News regs for Monday: Feds extend ban on ancient Chinese art

Monday's edition of the Federal Register contains 175 new agency submissions, including a handful of rules and proposed rules that govern the importation of Chinese art and several security and environmental measures, as well as notices and meetings.

Here's what's happening:

Chinese art: The U.S. Treasury Department and Customs and Border Protection are teaming up to ban certain archaeological materials from China.

The two agencies issued a joint final rule extending import restrictions on Chinese monumental sculptures and wall art that is at least 250 years old. The provision, now in place through Jan. 14, 2019, was due to expire next week.

The rule is part of a United Nations effort to preserve Chinese culture by preventing the illicit import and export of ancient works or art.

Airports: The Transportation Security Administration issued a final rule designed to improve security at aircraft repair stations.

The new regulations extend the TSA's authority beyond airports to allow agency officials to enter aircraft repair stations that have been certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, inspect the aircraft there, and view and copy records. The TSA can then issue a determination of whether the repair station presents an immediate risk to security and if it needs to address security deficiencies.

The rule goes into effect 45 days from Monday.

Coast Guard: The U.S. Coast Guard is proposing to update its fire safety rules for inspected and uninspected vessels, outer continental shelf facilities, deepwater ports, and mobile offshore drilling units.

The new rules would require such watercraft to incorporate technology advances with regards to fire protection, detection and extinguishing equipment.

"These proposed changes are necessary to ensure Coast Guard regulations remain current and address advances in technology," the agency wrote.

Roads: The Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration are issuing a joint final rule that excludes certain roadway projects from complying with the National Environmental Policy Act. The new rule, which will go into effect one month from Monday, will exclude projects within an existing operational right-of-way and those that receiving less than $5 million in federal funding.

Postal service: The United States Postal Service issued an interim final rule that will exclude it from having to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act in certain cases.

Currently, the USPS has to issue an environmental impact statement or assessment for each facility that it "disposes" of, or closes. But as more USPS branches are closed, this has become a tedious process that wastes government resources, USPS claims. Between 2008 and 2012, for instance, USPS shut down more than 1,500 facilities.

The new rule will free USPS from filing an environmental report for each time it closes a branch, a move that it notes other agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard have already made.

"The Postal Service anticipates that the frequency of property disposals will persist or increase in the foreseeable future," USPS wrote. "As a result, the Postal Service would reduce paperwork and delay by updating (this process) to clarify that an (environmental assessment) is not required for the overwhelming majority of its normal course of business property disposals.