[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 97 (Monday, May 20, 2013)]
[Pages 29379-29380]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-11994]

[[Page 29379]]



Bureau of Land Management

[LLWO320000 L13100000 DT0000 LXSIOSHL0000]

BLM Director's Response to the Appeal by the Governors of Utah 
and Wyoming of the BLM Assistant Director's Governor's Consistency 
Review Determination

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The Approved Land Use Plan Amendments/Record of Decision (ROD) 
for Allocation of Oil Shale and Tar Sands Resources on Lands 
Administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Colorado, Utah, 
and Wyoming was signed by the BLM Principal Deputy Director on March 
22, 2013. The ROD constitutes the final decision of the BLM and the 
Approved Plan Amendments were effective immediately upon its signing. 
In accordance with its regulations, the BLM is publishing the reasons 
for rejecting the recommendations of the Governors of Utah and Wyoming 
regarding the Land Use Plan Amendments for Allocation of Oil Shale and 
Tar Sands Resources on Lands Administered by the BLM in Colorado, Utah, 
and Wyoming, which were published as proposed in November, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sherri Thompson, BLM Project Manager, 
303-239-3758, (sthompso@blm.gov), Bureau of Land Management, 2850 
Youngfield Street, Lakewood, CO 80215 or Mitchell Leverette, BLM 
Division Chief, Solid Minerals, 202-912-7113, (mleveret@blm.gov), 
Bureau of Land Management, 20 M Street SE., Washington, DC 20003. 
Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call 
the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to 
contact the above individuals during normal business hours. The FIRS is 
available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question 
with the above individuals. You will receive a reply during normal 
business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The decision in the ROD selects a modified 
version of Alternative 2(b) from the proposed plan in the Final Oil 
Shale and Tar Sands Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, as the 
Approved Land Use Plan Amendments. The ROD amends 10 land use plans in 
Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming to make approximately 678,600 acres of 
lands containing oil shale resources open to application for future 
leasing and development and approximately 132,100 acres open to 
application for future leasing and development of tar sands.
    In accordance with the regulations at 43 CFR 1610.3-2(e), the BLM 
submitted the Proposed Plan Amendments on November 8, 2012, to the 
Governors of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming for a 60-day Governors 
Consistency Review in order for the Governors to review the Proposed 
Plan Amendments and identify any inconsistencies with State plans, 
policies, or programs. The 60-day review period ended on January 9, 
2013. The BLM received letters from the Governors of Utah and Wyoming 
detailing inconsistencies with State and local plans, policies, and 
programs. These letters are available at http://ostseis.anl.gov. Both 
Governors expressed reservations about the BLM's proposal to close to 
oil shale and tar sands leasing and development lands the BLM has 
identified as having wilderness characteristics and, in Utah, lands 
identified as occupied Greater Sage-grouse (GSG) habitat. The Governor 
of Utah expressed concern that the BLM's proposal would limit 
opportunities for economic development; the Governor of Wyoming 
included in his letter comments from certain county governments in 
Wyoming expressing similar concerns. As the BLM proposed to leave open 
to oil shale leasing and development (GSG) habitat on public lands in 
Wyoming, the Governor of Wyoming recommended that protective 
stipulations be adopted in the land use plan amendments. After careful 
consideration of the concerns raised by the two States, the Assistant 
Director decided not to adopt the recommendations raised by the 
Governors. Copies of the February 6, 2013, letters from the Assistant 
Director to the Governors are also available at http://ostseis.anl.gov.
    On March 7, 2013, the Governors of Utah and Wyoming, respectively, 
appealed the Assistant Director's decision to the BLM Director. On 
March 22, 2013, the BLM Principal Deputy Director issued a final 
response to the Governors detailing the reasons for rejecting the 
recommendations. Copies of both the incoming appeal letters from the 
Governors and the outgoing BLM response are available at http://ostseis.anl.gov. Pursuant to 43 CFR 1610.3-2(e), the following 
describes the reasons for the BLM's decision.
    This planning initiative is a targeted plan amendment process that 
addresses only the management of oil shale and tar sands resources. The 
ROD makes only land use allocation decisions that do not authorize any 
future leasing or development. The Approved Plan Amendments reflect the 
BLM's determination that because of the nascent character of the oil 
shale and tar sands technologies, a measured approach should be taken 
to oil shale and tar sands leasing and development. This approach is 
intended to ensure that commercial viability is proven, and the 
environmental consequences of these technologies known, before any 
commitment is made to broad-scale development, which may impact other 
resource values. Consistent with this approach, the BLM is closing 
lands that have been identified as having wilderness characteristics 
from future oil shale and tar sands leasing and development. For the 
same reason, the BLM is closing occupied (GSG) habitat in Utah. The 
BLM, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the State 
of Utah are still in the process of coordinating management of this 
resource, and the occupied habitat maps relied on in this oil shale/tar 
sands planning initiative represent the best information available to 
depict areas warranting protection at this early stage of the oil shale 
and tar sands industries. We recognize that Utah has recently submitted 
to the BLM its Conservation Plan for GSG; however, until the USFWS and 
the BLM complete their review of Utah's Conservation Plan in accordance 
with the BLM National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy, the 
State's occupied habitat map represents the best source of information 
regarding (GSG) habitat.
    By contrast, in Wyoming, interagency coordination regarding sage-
grouse habitat is at a different stage. In Wyoming, the USFWS has 
concurred with the Wyoming Governor's Executive Order (EO) 2011-5, and 
the EO has been adopted in relevant part by the Wyoming BLM in 
accordance with the guidance issued in the BLM Washington Office 
Instruction Memorandum No. 2012-43. Under the Approved Plan Amendments, 
the BLM is not excluding from potential oil shale leasing and 
development (GSG) habitat, but instead, similar to the State of 
Wyoming's own approach, will consider adopting protective measures at 
the time it considers lease issuance, if warranted on the basis of 
environmental review conducted at that time. Because this ROD approves 
land use allocation decisions that do not authorize any future leasing 
or development, site-specific issues, including, but not

[[Page 29380]]

limited to, protection of sage-grouse habitat, will be resolved at the 
lease sale and development stages of the process.
    The BLM has made minor modifications and editorial clarifications 
to the Approved Plan Amendments. These modifications provided further 
clarification of some of the decisions. Because the Governor of 
Colorado did not submit a letter, the Proposed Plan Amendments are 
presumed to be consistent with State plans, policies, and programs in 
that State.

    Authority: 40 CFR 1506.6, 43 CFR 1610.3-2.

Michael D. Nedd,
Assistant Director, Minerals and Realty Management.
[FR Doc. 2013-11994 Filed 5-17-13; 8:45 am]