Market Dominant Products

CourtPostal Regulatory Commission
Citation86 FR 68202
Publication Date01 December 2021
Record Number2021-26035
Federal Register, Volume 86 Issue 228 (Wednesday, December 1, 2021)
[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 228 (Wednesday, December 1, 2021)]
                [Proposed Rules]
                [Pages 68202-68203]
                From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
                [FR Doc No: 2021-26035]
                =======================================================================
                -----------------------------------------------------------------------
                POSTAL REGULATORY COMMISSION
                39 CFR Part 3065
                [Docket Nos. RM2020-4; Order No. 6047]
                RIN 3211-AA26
                Market Dominant Products
                AGENCY: Postal Regulatory Commission.
                ACTION: Proposed rulemaking.
                -----------------------------------------------------------------------
                SUMMARY: The Commission is proposing to add rules which describe
                instances when letters may be carried out of the mail, or when the
                letter monopoly does not apply to a mailpiece. The Commission invites
                public comment on the proposed rule.
                DATES: Comments are due: January 3, 2022.
                ADDRESSES: For additional information, Order No. 6047 can be accessed
                electronically through the Commission's website at https://www.prc.gov.
                Submit comments electronically via the Commission's Filing Online
                system at http://www.prc.gov. Those who cannot submit comments
                electronically should contact the person identified in the FOR FURTHER
                INFORMATION CONTACT section by telephone for advice on filing
                alternatives.
                FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David A. Trissell, General Counsel, at
                202-789-6820.
                SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
                Table of Contents
                I. Relevant Statutory Requirements
                II. Background
                III. Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rules
                IV. Proposed Rules
                I. Relevant Statutory Requirements
                 Section 601 of title 39 describes instances when letters may be
                carried out of the mail, or when the letter monopoly does not apply to
                a mailpiece. Section 601(a) sets forth the conditions under which a
                letter may be carried out of the mail, which include requiring that the
                letter be enclosed in an envelope, that the proper amount of postage is
                affixed to the envelope, and that the postage is canceled. 39 U.S.C.
                601(a). Section 601(b) provides the price and weight limitations such
                that the letter monopoly does not apply to letters charged more than
                six times the current rate for the first ounce of a Single-Piece First-
                Class Letter or to letters weighing more than 12.5 ounces. 39 U.S.C.
                601(b)(1) and (2). Section 601(b)(3) references exceptions from the
                Postal Service regulations that purported to permit private carriage as
                in effect on July 1, 2005. 39 U.S.C. 601(b)(3); see also 39 CFR 310.1;
                39 CFR 320.2 through 320.8. Section 601(c) directs the Commission to
                promulgate any regulations necessary to carry out this section. 39
                U.S.C. 601(c).
                II. Background
                 The Postal Service has exclusive rights in the carriage and
                delivery of letters under certain circumstances.\1\ This letter
                monopoly is codified in the Private Express Statutes (PES), a group of
                civil and criminal statutes that make it unlawful for any entity other
                than the Postal Service to send or carry letters. See 18 U.S.C. 1693-
                1699; 39 U.S.C. 601-606.\2\
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \1\ This exclusive right is known as the ``letter monopoly.''
                The Commission has previously discussed the background and history
                of the letter monopoly. See Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to
                Consider Regulations to Carry Out the Statutory Requirements of 39
                U.S.C. 601, February 7, 2020 (Order No. 5422); 85 FR 8789 (Feb. 18,
                2020).
                 \2\ Although these provisions of the U.S. Code are customarily
                referred to collectively as the ``PES,'' they do not all relate to
                private expresses or prohibit carriage of letters out of the mails.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) of
                2006,\3\ Congress added Section 601(b)(3) to authorize the continuation
                of private activities that the Postal Service had purportedly permitted
                by regulations to be carried out of the mail.\4\ Congress gave the
                Commission the authority to promulgate any regulations necessary to
                carry out the section. 39 U.S.C. 601(c).
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \3\ See Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, Public Law
                109-435, 120 Stat. 3198 (2006).
                 \4\ The House Report on the PAEA explains that the clause
                protects mailers and private carriers who had relied upon the
                regulations adopted as of the date of the bill. See H.R. Rep. No.
                109-66, 109th Cong., 1st Sess., pt. 1, at 58 (2005) (H.R. Rep. No.
                109-66), at 58.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 On February 7, 2020, the Commission issued Order No. 5422, seeking
                input from the public about what regulations promulgated by the
                Commission may be necessary to carry out the requirements of 39 U.S.C.
                601. In particular, the Commission sought comments on 14 issues, such
                as whether the statutory requirements of Section 601 are clear and
                concise, whether any terms in the statute required further definition,
                and whether consumers and competitors can easily determine when a
                mailpiece is subject to monopoly protections. Order No. 5422 at 7-8.
                 The Commission received a wide range of comments in response to
                Order No. 5422, but found it necessary to gather more information
                before promulgating regulations under Section 601. Thus, the Commission
                held this docket in abeyance and initiated a public inquiry seeking
                further input from the public.\5\ In particular, the Commission sought
                comments on two issues: (1) Whether Postal Service regulations
                administering current Sections 601(a), 601(b)(1), and 601(b)(2) should
                be adopted by the Commission; and (2) what private carrier services are
                within the scope of Section 601(b)(3). For both issues, the goal of the
                Commission was to determine whether it is necessary to clarify the
                statutory exemptions regarding the letter monopoly. The Commission
                sought information as to how best to resolve any ambiguities in the
                application of the exceptions. The Commission also inquired whether
                consolidating regulations and definitions under one section, rescinding
                redundant and/or conflicting sections, or standardizing the terminology
                used in the regulations would be helpful.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \5\ See Order Holding Rulemaking in Abeyance, July 2, 2021
                (Order No. 5929); Docket No. PI2021-2, Notice and Order Providing an
                Opportunity to Comment on Regulations Pertaining to 39 U.S.C. 601,
                July 2, 2021 (Order No. 5930); 86 FR 36246 (Jul. 9, 2021).
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                [[Page 68203]]
                 Having received adequate input from the public in order to propose
                regulations in this docket, the Commission issued an order, filed
                concurrently with this order, closing the public inquiry docket.\6\
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \6\ See Docket No. PI2021-2, Order Closing Docket, November 24,
                2021 (Order No. 6046).
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                III. Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rule
                 The Commission finds it necessary to provide some clarity on the
                statute, and its relationship with the Postal Service's regulations.
                The Commission also finds it necessary to provide the public a process
                to seek clarification of the statute or the letter monopoly should the
                need arise in the future. Thus, the Commission proposes the following
                rules.
                 First, the Commission proposes a provision stating that certain
                Postal Service regulations in parts 310 and 320 of this title are
                within the scope of these new rules and subject to Commission
                interpretation. The Postal Service asserts that only certain provisions
                in parts 310 and 320 of this title are subject to Commission authority,
                namely Sec. 310.1(a)(7) of this title, Sec. 310.2(b)(1) and (2) of
                this title, and Sec. Sec. 320.2 through 320.8 of this title. However,
                the Commission notes that Section 601(b)(3) specifically references
                Sec. 310.1 of this title in its entirety and thus, the entirety of
                that provision is under Commission authority. Additionally, the
                definitions referenced in Sec. 310.1 of this title are referenced in
                Sec. 320.1 of this title and therefore, the Commission also includes
                Sec. 320.1 of this title. The Commission also proposes a provision
                that if there is a conflict between the Postal Service regulations and
                Section 601, Section 601 takes precedence.
                 Next, the Commission proposes a provision explicitly stating that
                the Postal Service no longer has authority to issue regulations
                interpreting, suspending or otherwise defining the scope of the letter
                monopoly. These provisions also include a prohibition on issuing
                guidance or entering into agreements purporting to do the same. The
                Commission also proposes a provision stating that it has the sole
                authority to promulgate regulations necessary to carry out Section 601.
                 Finally, the Commission proposes a provision allowing interested
                parties to seek interpretation of Postal Service regulations or
                statutory language by filing a rulemaking petition with the Commission,
                or requesting an advisory opinion from the Commission's General
                Counsel. The Commission may also initiate its own proceeding. These
                procedures allow for interpretation of statutory and regulatory
                requirements that is accessible and transparent to the public.
                IV. Proposed Rule
                 The Commission proposes to place the new regulations clarifying
                Section 601 in new 39 CFR part 3065.
                 Proposed Sec. 3050.1 states that the rules in this part implement
                39 U.S.C. 601. It lists the Postal Service regulations that are subject
                to the proposed rules and clarifies that the Commission has authority
                to interpret them. It also provides that in the event of a conflict
                between Section 601 and the Postal Service regulations, Section 601
                would supersede any applicable requirements.
                 Proposed Sec. 3065.2 provides that the Commission has the sole
                authority to promulgate new regulations necessary to carry out Section
                601. It also prohibits the Postal Service from promulgating any new
                regulations, issuing any guidance, or entering into agreements
                purporting to suspend or otherwise define the letter monopoly. It
                further states that the Postal Service may not promulgate new
                regulations or issue any guidance purporting to interpret Section 601.
                 Proposed Sec. 3065.3 provides two procedures for parties seeking
                clarification or interpretation of the statute or regulations
                concerning Section 601. It also states that the Commission may initiate
                its own proceeding for clarification or interpretation.
                List of Subjects in 39 CFR Part 3065
                 Administrative practice and procedure, Postal Service.
                 For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Commission proposes to
                amend chapter III of title 39 of the Code of Federal Regulations as
                follows:
                PART 3065--RULES FOR LETTERS CARRIED OUT OF THE MAIL
                0
                1. Add part 3065 to read as follows:
                PART 3065--RULES FOR LETTERS CARRIED OUT OF THE MAIL
                 Sec.
                3065.1 Applicability and scope.
                3065.2 Prohibition on new regulations.
                3065.3 Procedure for seeking clarification or interpretation.
                 Authority: 39 U.S.C. 503, 601.
                Sec. 3065.1 Applicability and scope.
                 (a) The rules in this part implement 39 U.S.C. 601, which generally
                describes when letters may be carried out of the mail.
                 (b) Notwithstanding placement in Postal Service chapter I of this
                title, the following provisions in parts 310 and 320 of this title are
                within the scope of this part and the Commission has the authority to
                interpret them:
                 (1) Sec. 310.1 of this title;
                 (2) Sec. 310.2(b)(1) and (2) of this title; and
                 (3) Sec. Sec. 320.1 through 320.8 of this title.
                 (c) In the event of a conflict between 39 U.S.C. 601 and applicable
                regulations under parts 310 and 320 of this title, 39 U.S.C. 601 shall
                supersede any other generally applicable requirements.
                Sec. 3065.2 Prohibition on new regulations.
                 (a) The Postal Service may not promulgate any new regulations,
                issue guidance, or enter into agreements purporting to suspend or
                otherwise define the scope of the letter monopoly.
                 (b) The Postal Service may not promulgate any new regulations or
                issue guidance purporting to interpret 39 U.S.C. 601.
                 (c) The Commission has the sole authority to promulgate new
                regulations necessary to carry out 39 U.S.C. 601.
                Sec. 3065.3 Procedure for seeking clarification or interpretation.
                 (a) The Commission may, on its own motion, initiate a proceeding
                under this subpart pursuant to Sec. 3010.201(a) of this chapter.
                 (b) The Commission may provide interpretation of these regulations
                or 39 U.S.C. 601 upon:
                 (1) A party's request to initiate a rulemaking proceeding with the
                Commission pursuant to the requirements of Sec. 3010.201(b) of this
                chapter; or
                 (2) a party's request for an advisory opinion from the General
                Counsel.
                By the Commission.
                Erica A. Barker,
                Secretary.
                [FR Doc. 2021-26035 Filed 11-30-21; 8:45 am]
                BILLING CODE 7710-FW-P
                

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT