[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 206 (Monday, October 26, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 65571-65603]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-26812]



[[Page 65571]]

Vol. 80

Monday,

No. 206

October 26, 2015

Part IV





Department of Interior





-----------------------------------------------------------------------





National Park Service





-----------------------------------------------------------------------





36 CFR Parts 1 and 9





General Provisions and Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 80 , No. 206 / Monday, October 26, 2015 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 65572]]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

National Park Service

36 CFR Parts 1 and 9

[NPS-WASO-NRSS-15890; PX.XVPAD0520.00.1]
RIN 1024-AD78


General Provisions and Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights

AGENCY: National Park Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We are proposing to update our service-wide regulations 
governing the exercise of non-federal oil and gas rights, to improve 
our ability to protect park resources, values, and visitors from 
potential impacts associated with non-federal oil and gas operations 
located within National Park Service units. The proposed rule would 
also make the regulations consistent with existing policies and 
practices, and update the format to improve clarity and simplify 
application and compliance for oil and gas operators and our employees.

DATES: Comments on the proposed rule must be received by December 28, 
2015. Comments on the information collection requirements must be 
received by November 25, 2015

ADDRESSES: If you wish to comment on this proposed rule, you may submit 
your comments, identified by Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) 1024-
AD78, by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Edward O. Kassman, Jr., Geologic Resources Division, 
National Park Service, P.O. Box 25287, Denver, Colorado 80225.
    Instructions: Your comment must include the agency name and RIN 
(1024-AD78) for this rulemaking. Comments will be posted to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. For 
additional instructions on submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the Public Participation 
heading of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.
     Send your comments and suggestions on the information 
collection requirements to the Desk Officer for the Department of the 
Interior at OMB-OIRA at (202) 395-5806 (fax) or 
OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov (email). You may review all documents 
submitted to OMB to support the proposed new information collection 
requirements online at http://www.reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions 
to review Department of the Interior collections under review by OMB. 
Please provide a copy of your comments to the Information Collection 
Clearance Officer, National Park Service, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, 
Room 2C114, Mail Stop 242, Reston, VA 20192 (mail); or 
madonna_baucum@nps.gov (email). Please reference ``1024-O&G'' in the 
subject line of your comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Edward O. Kassman, Jr., Geologic 
Resources Division, National Park Service, P.O. Box 25287, Denver, 
Colorado 80225; edward_kassman@nps.gov; 303-969-2146.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

    The National Park Service (NPS) is proposing to update the existing 
regulations at 36 CFR part 9, subpart B (9B regulations), which govern 
the exercise of non-federal oil and gas rights in NPS units, to improve 
the effectiveness of the regulations in protecting park resources and 
values and to improve the clarity of the regulations for both operators 
and the NPS.
    Key updates to the regulations would include:
     Elimination of two regulatory provisions that exempt 
approximately 60% of the oil and gas operations located within the 
national park system;
     Elimination of the cap on financial assurance (bonding);
     Application of the penalty provisions of 36 CFR 1.3;
     Incorporation of fees for new access beyond that held as 
part of the operator's mineral right;
     Addition of a new well-plugging provision;
     Clarification that access to oil and gas properties in 
Alaska is controlled by 43 CFR part 36, which implements provisions of 
the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act;
     Clarification of well stimulation information requirements 
and operating standards;
     Incorporation of a new format that makes it easier to 
identify the information requirements for particular types of 
operations;
     Incorporation of a new format for operating standards so 
that both the NPS and the operator can readily identify what standards 
apply to particular operations;
     Elimination of redundant definitions and provisions;
     Consolidation of existing regulatory provisions; and
     Codification of some existing agency policies and 
practices.
    A detailed discussion of all changes to the regulations is 
contained in the section-by-section analysis.

Background

    On December 8, 1978, the NPS promulgated the current regulations in 
36 CFR part 9, subpart B (43 FR 57825), which govern the exercise of 
non-federal oil and gas rights in units of the National Park System 
(NPS units).

Current 9B Regulations

    The current 9B regulations apply to all activities associated with 
non-federal oil and gas exploration and development inside NPS unit 
boundaries where access is on, across, or through federally owned or 
controlled lands or waters (36 CFR 9.30(a)). Under the existing 
regulations, an operator must obtain our approval of a proposed plan of 
operations before commencing non-federal oil and gas operations in an 
NPS unit (36 CFR 9.32(b)). This requirement covers exploration, 
drilling, production, transportation, plugging, and reclamation 
operations.
    The plan of operations is a prospective operator's blueprint of all 
intended activities and is our primary means for evaluating the 
operation's potential adverse impacts on park resources and values. It 
must show that the operator is exercising a bona fide property right to 
non-federal oil and gas in an NPS unit (36 CFR 9.36(a)(2)). The plan of 
operations must also describe:
     The proposed operation, including the equipment, methods, 
and materials to be used in the operation;
     Access to the site;
     Mitigation measures that will be implemented to protect 
NPS resources and values;
     Environmental conditions in the vicinity of the site;
     Alternatives to the proposal; and
     The environmental impacts of the proposed operation (36 
CFR 9.36(a)).
    In addition to the plan of operations, the operator must submit a 
performance bond to ensure that funds are available to reclaim a site 
if the operator defaults on its obligations under an approved plan (36 
CFR 9.48). In order to make the regulatory process as efficient and 
transparent as possible, we work collaboratively with operators early 
in their planning process to provide guidance on information 
requirements, alternative area of operations locations, and potential 
mitigation and avoidance measures.
    As part of our approval process, we coordinate and consult with a 
variety of

[[Page 65573]]

state and other federal regulatory agencies to ensure that approval 
complies with applicable federal statutes, such as the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the Endangered Species Act, and the 
National Historic Preservation Act.
    Operators conducting non-federal oil and gas operations in NPS 
units must also comply with all applicable state and local laws (36 CFR 
9.36(a)(15)). Although state oil and gas regulations may contain 
provisions designed to protect natural resources (e.g., surface and 
groundwater), their primary focus is on oil and gas production and 
protection of associated ownership interests. The purpose and focus of 
the 9B regulations is to protect the National Park System's natural and 
cultural resources and visitor values and safety.
    When the NPS Regional Director has determined that the proposal 
meets the requirements contained in the regulations and the NPS has 
completed the required environmental compliance, the Regional Director 
will approve the plan (36 CFR 9.37). The approved plan is the 
operator's authorization to conduct its operation in an NPS unit (36 
CFR 9.32(a)).
    During the life of an oil or gas operation in a park, the park 
manager has the authority to monitor and ensure compliance with the 
approved plan of operations (36 CFR 9.37(f)). If there is a change in 
circumstances, the NPS or the operator can make a request to supplement 
and modify the plan (36 CFR 9.40). The 9B regulations authorize us to 
enforce the terms of the plan, as may be necessary, by suspending 
operations or revoking plan approval (36 CFR 9.51). The operator may 
appeal a Regional Director's decision (36 CFR 9.49).

Authority To Promulgate the Regulations

    The authority to promulgate these regulations is the statute 
commonly known as the NPS Organic Act (54 U.S.C. 100101 et seq.) as 
well as other statutes governing the administration of the National 
Park System. In the NPS Organic Act, Congress directs us to ``promote 
and regulate the use of the National Park System by means and measures 
that conform to the fundamental purpose of the System units, which 
purpose is to conserve the scenery, natural and historic objects, and 
wild life in the System units and to provide for the enjoyment of the 
scenery, natural and historic objects, and wild life in such manner and 
by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future 
generations.'' The Organic Act also gives us the authority to 
promulgate regulations ``necessary or proper for the use and management 
of System units.'' (54 U.S.C. 100751). This includes the authority to 
regulate the exercise of non-federal oil and gas rights within park 
boundaries for the purpose of protecting the resources and values 
administered by the NPS.
    In addition, the enabling legislation for several NPS units 
contains specific provisions authorizing us to regulate the exercise of 
non-federal oil and gas rights. In the authority section of the 
proposed rule, we list the individual enabling statutes that address 
non-federal oil and gas rights in specific NPS units.
    Our authority to promulgate the 9B regulations has been recognized 
as a valid exercise of NPS's Organic Act authority by a U.S. District 
Court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. See Dunn-McCampbell 
Royalty Interest v. National Park Service, 964 F. Supp. 1125 (S.D. Tex. 
1995), and Dunn-McCampbell Royalty Interest v. National Park Service, 
630 F.3d 431 (5th Cir. 2011). Courts have consistently recognized NPS's 
authority to regulate non-federal interests within units of the 
National Park System. See, e.g., United States v. Vogler, 859 F.2d 638 
(9th Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 1006 (1989); United States v. 
Garfield County, 122 F. Supp. 2d 1201 (D. Utah 2000). See also Southern 
Utah Wilderness Alliance v. Bureau of Land Management, 425 F. 3d 735, 
746-47 (10th Cir. 2005).
    As explained below, the NPS proposed rule uses most of the language 
from BLM's hydraulic fracturing information requirements at 43 CFR 
3162.3-3(d)(1) through (7), which BLM recently promulgated under 
authority of the Mineral Leasing Act, 30 U.S.C. 189, the Federal Land 
Policy and Management Act, 43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq., and other BLM 
authorities. On September 30, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the 
District of Wyoming preliminarily enjoined these regulations. State of 
Wyoming, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, Case No. 2:15-CV-
043-SWS. This litigation is ongoing and the status of the litigation 
will be addressed by NPS in development of its final rule. NPS will 
consider any comments addressing NPS' authority to promulgate the 
proposed rules concerning well stimulation operations within units of 
the National Park System, as well as comments on the proposed 
requirements (see in particular, proposed Sec. Sec.  9.88- 9.90 and 
9.118).
    For NPS units in Alaska that were established under the Alaska 
National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), access to non-
federal property is governed by the regulations at 43 CFR part 36, 
which implement section 1110(b) of ANILCA. This regulation gives 
operators the option to file for such access as part of their plans of 
operations, but they also may use a SF 299 as provided in the 43 CFR 
part 36 regulations. This is similar to the process applicable to 
mining claims under those regulations and the NPS regulations at 36 CFR 
part 9, subpart A. We also note that because these regulations are 
generally applicable to NPS units nationwide and to non-federal 
interests in those units, they are not ``applicable solely to public 
lands within [units established under ANILCA],'' and thus are not 
affected by section 103(c) of ANILCA. See Sturgeon v. Masica, 768 F.3d 
1066, 1077-78 (9th Cir. 2014).
    A unique provision exists under the Big Cypress National Preserve 
Addition Act of 1988, at 16 U.S.C. 698m-4. This provision states that 
the Secretary shall promulgate rules and regulations governing the 
exploration for and development and production of non-Federal interests 
in oil and gas located within the boundaries of the Big Cypress 
National Preserve and the Addition, and that such rules and regulations 
may be made by appropriate amendment to or in substitution of the rules 
and regulations respecting non-Federal oil and gas rights (currently 
codified at 36 CFR 9.30 et seq. (1986)). 16 U.S.C. 698m-4(a).
    The Addition Act also authorizes the Secretary prior to the 
promulgation of rules or regulations under this section, to enter into 
interim agreements with owners of non-Federal oil and gas interests 
governing the conduct of oil and gas exploration, development or 
production activities within the boundary of the Addition. 16 U.S.C. 
698m-4(e).
    Consistent with that authority, the present oil and gas operations 
within the Addition Area are controlled under the terms of the 
Agreement Governing The Exercise Of Reserved Oil And Gas Rights Of 
Collier Enterprises And Barron Collier Company, which is Appendix 6 to 
the Agreement Among the United States of America, Collier Enterprises, 
Collier Development Corporation, and Barron Collier Company (May 12, 
1988). If promulgated as proposed, the rule would supersede Appendix 6.

Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights in NPS Units

    Non-federal oil and gas rights exist within NPS units in situations 
where

[[Page 65574]]

the United States does not own the oil and gas interest, either 
because:
     The United States acquired the property from a grantor 
that did not own the oil and gas interest; or
     The United States acquired the property from a grantor 
that reserved the oil and gas interest from the conveyance.
    Non-federal oil and gas interests can be held by individuals; 
nonprofit organizations; corporations, including Alaska Native 
corporations; or state and local governments. Interests in non-federal 
oil and gas are property rights that may only be taken for public use 
with payment of just compensation in accordance with the Fifth 
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Accordingly, from their initial 
promulgation, the existing regulations at 36 CFR 9.30(a) have stated 
that they are ``not intended to result in the taking of a property 
interest, but rather to impose reasonable regulations on activities 
that involve and affect federally owned lands.'' The proposed rule 
includes this same provision.
    There are currently 534 non-federal oil and gas operations in a 
total of 12 NPS units. These units are: Alibates Flint Quarries 
National Monument (Texas), Aztec Ruins National Monument (New Mexico), 
Big Cypress National Preserve (Florida), Big Thicket National Preserve 
(Texas), Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (Tennessee/
Kentucky), Cumberland Gap National Historical Park (Tennessee), 
Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio), Gauley River National Recreation 
Area (West Virginia), Lake Meredith National Recreation Area (Texas), 
New River Gorge National River (West Virginia), Obed Wild and Scenic 
River (Tennessee), and Padre Island National Seashore (Texas).
    Based on the presence of split estates, exploration and production 
occurring on adjacent or nearby lands, and likely future increases in 
energy prices, we believe that non-federal oil and gas operations 
within park boundaries could affect up to 30 additional NPS units.

Summary of Potential Impacts From Oil and Gas Operations on NPS 
Resources and Values

    The types of non-federal oil and gas operations conducted in NPS 
units generally include: Geophysical (seismic) exploration; exploratory 
well drilling; field development well drilling; oil and gas well 
production operations, including installation and operation of well 
flowlines and gathering lines; well plugging and abandonment; and site 
reclamation.
    Oil and gas activities may adversely impact NPS unit resources in 
some or all of the following manners:
     Surface water quality degradation from spills, storm water 
runoff, erosion, and sedimentation. Through site inspections the NPS 
has documented 26 instances of sites with surface contamination;
     Soil and ground water contamination from existing drilling 
mud pits, poorly constructed wells, spills, and leaks. Through site 
inspections the NPS has documented 47 instances of sites with wellhead 
leaks, pump jack leaks, tank battery leaks, and operations and 
maintenance spills;
     Air quality degradation from dust, natural gas flaring, 
hydrogen sulfide gas, and emissions from production operations and 
vehicles. Through site inspections the NPS has documented 14 instances 
of notable odors emanating from the wellhead;
     Increased noise from seismic operations, blasting, 
construction, oil and gas drilling and production operations. Through 
site inspections the NPS has documented 6 instances of noise issues 
from well pad equipment;
     Noise and human presence effects on wildlife behavior, 
breeding, and habitat utilization;
     Disruption of wildlife migration routes;
     Adverse effects on sensitive and endangered species. 
Through site inspections the NPS has documented 15 sites with sensitive 
species or habitat;
     Viewshed intrusion by roads, traffic, drilling equipment, 
production equipment, pipelines, etc.;
     Night sky intrusion from artificial lighting and gas 
flares;
     Disturbance to archeological and cultural resources from 
blasting associated with seismic exploration and road/site preparation, 
maintenance activities, or by spills. Through site inspections the NPS 
has documented 6 sites with associated cultural resources.; and
     Visitor safety hazards from equipment, pressurized vessels 
and lines, presence of hydrogen sulfide gas, and leaking oil and gas 
that can create explosion and fire hazards. Through site inspections 
the NPS has documented 62 instances of visitor safety hazards.
    Examples of documented impacts can be found in many parks. For 
example, at Big South Fork natural gas fired pump jack engines have 
caused notable noise at visitor overlooks that are 2 to 3 miles away. 
Simple mitigation such as a corrugated steel fence would abate this 
impact, however, due to the well's grandfathered status; the NPS is 
unable to require this mitigation and forced to accept this unnecessary 
impact.
    Another example of unnecessary impacts can be found at Aztec Ruins 
National Monument where an operation exempt from the 9B regulations due 
to the grandfathered exemption contained a road that traversed an 
undeveloped and buried archeological site. When this well lost its 
grandfathered status, the NPS was able to require the new operator to 
conduct a cultural resource survey to determine the impacts to the 
site. As mitigation the operator installed a layer of dirt between the 
resource and the road base to protect the resources. Unfortunately, in 
this case the damage was already done and it did not make sense to move 
the road but the resource is better preserved for future enjoyment.

Summary of Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Comments

    On November 25, 2009, we issued an Advance Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking (ANPRM) (74 FR 61597) to assist us in developing the 
proposed rule. The ANPRM and the analysis of public comments for the 
ANPRM are available online at http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/oil_and_gas/9b_index.cfm#prev_docs. Although we are proposing updates 
to all of subpart B, the ANPRM focused its request for public comment 
on six topics that we identified as major areas of concern:
    (1) Regulation of previously exempt operations;
    (2) Directional drilling;
    (3) Operating standards;
    (4) Financial assurance;
    (5) Access fees; and
    (6) Assessments for non-compliance.
    We received comments from oil and gas owners and operators (2), 
Alaska Native Corporations (2), unaffiliated private citizens (6), and 
environmental organizations (10), including 1,477 comments from members 
of the Sierra Club in the form of personal comments added to a form 
letter.
    The majority of commenters were in favor of strengthening and 
expanding the regulations to better protect park resources and values. 
Some commenters requested that we not expand the scope of the 9B 
regulations, while others questioned the legality of regulating non-
federal oil and gas operations in parks. Additionally, some comments 
asked us to consider the impacts of potential natural gas development 
of the Marcellus Shale formation in the eastern United States.
    More information on the ANPRM and these comments is available at 
http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/oil_and_

[[Page 65575]]

gas/documents/2011-01-11%20ANPR_Comment_Analysis_Report.pdf.

Draft Environmental Impact Statement

    We have prepared a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS), 
which will be published shortly after this proposed rule. The DEIS will 
be available for review and public comment at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/DEIS9B by clicking on the link entitled ``Document 
List.''
    The DEIS describes three alternatives: Alternative A--No action; 
Alternative B--preferred alternative and proposed rule; and Alternative 
C. Alternative C would include all the proposed changes in alternative 
B, except that it would expand NPS jurisdiction under the regulations 
to encompass surface and subsurface directional drilling operations 
outside the boundary of the park; would provide an operator, under 
limited circumstances, with an exemption to the operations permit 
requirement for operations located wholly on non-federally owned land 
within a park boundary; and would hold mineral owners and operators 
jointly and severally liable for compliance with an operations permit 
or other applicable provisions of the 9B regulations.

Section-by-Section Analysis

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.  Sec.   9.30 through 9.33        Sec.   9.30(a), (b), (c).
 Purpose and Scope.                   Sec.   9.32(a), (b).
                                      Sec.   9.36(a)(2).
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec. Sec.  9.30 through 9.33--Purpose and Scope

Access on, Across, or Through Federally Owned or Controlled Lands or 
Waters

    The existing 9B regulations apply only when an operator's ``access 
[is] on, across, or through federally owned or controlled lands or 
waters.'' Seventy-eight operations (15% of all oil and gas operations 
in NPS units) do not require access on, across, or through federally 
owned or controlled lands or waters and are thus outside the scope of 
the 9B regulations. These operators are not required to obtain an 
approved NPS plan of operations, post financial assurance, or otherwise 
comply with this subpart to protect park resources and values. However, 
our experience over the past three decades has demonstrated that these 
operations have the potential to have adverse effects on NPS resources, 
values, and visitor health and safety. Through site inspections, the 
NPS has found at least 10 instances of sites with oil spills or leaks 
resulting in contamination of soils and water.
    For example, a poorly operated oil tank battery within the boundary 
of Big Thicket National Preserve that is currently exempt because it 
does not require access across federally owned land has contaminated 
storm water runoff that runs into adjacent federally owned land near 
Village Creek. Another example is a large compressor that was located 
on nonfederal lands within the boundary of Big South Fork National 
River and Recreation Area. The compressor causes unabated noise for 
which the NPS is unable to require mitigation due to the current scope 
of the regulations.
    In 1978 the NPS made a policy choice to limit the application of 
its non-federal-oil-and-gas regulatory program to operators requiring 
access on, across, or through federally owned or controlled lands or 
waters. That choice was not required by any statutory provision. The 
NPS now believes that it is appropriate to revisit and modify the 
application of its regulations.
    Under the proposed rule at Sec. Sec.  9.30 through 9.33, all 
operators conducting operations within NPS boundaries would be subject 
to permit requirements. The permitting process would include an 
evaluation to determine whether, and the extent to which, such 
operations would have an adverse effect on federally owned or 
administered lands, waters, or resources of NPS units, visitor uses or 
experiences, or visitor or employee health and safety. These operations 
would also be subject to measures to mitigate such adverse effects, as 
well as to the financial assurance and reclamation requirements.

Regulations Not Intended To Result in a Taking

    Proposed Sec.  9.30(c) retains the existing regulatory language 
from Sec.  9.30(a) that the intention of this subpart is to reasonably 
regulate such activities, but not to result in a taking of private 
property. Although the NPS has placed park-protecting mitigation 
measures on proposed operations, we have never, in the more than 35 
years of applying this subpart, denied prospective operators access to 
exercise their non-federal oil and gas rights. We will continue to work 
with operators to ensure they have reasonable access to their 
operations and that park resources and values are protected without 
resulting in a taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the United 
States Constitution.

Interests Regulations Are Designed To Protect

    The existing regulations inconsistently describe the interests that 
the regulations are designed to protect. The proposed rule would 
clarify and consistently state that the 9B regulations are designed to 
protect federally owned or administered lands, waters, or resources of 
NPS units, visitor uses or experiences, and visitor or employee health 
and safety. The proposed rule would replace the phrase ``federally 
owned or controlled'' with the phrase ``federally owned or 
administered'' to be consistent with the terminology we use in our 
general regulations, at 36 CFR 1.2, and 36 CFR 1.4(a) (definition of 
``National Park System''), and in our NPS Management Policies (2006).

Operations Subject to These Regulations

    Proposed Sec.  9.31(a) applies these regulations to all nonfederal 
oil and gas operations within the boundary of an NPS unit. Proposed 
Sec.  9.31(b) covers those operations that become part of an NPS unit 
either by boundary expansion or establishment of a new NPS unit. 
Proposed Sec.  9.31(c) covers those operations that have accessed oil 
and gas rights from a surface location outside the park boundary but 
due to a boundary expansion or establishment of a new unit, the surface 
location is now within an NPS unit. Those operations covered under 
Sec.  9.31(b) and (c) would be required to follow the same requirements 
and procedures as previously exempt operations at Sec. Sec.  9.50 
through 9.53.

Type of Authorization Required

    Proposed Sec.  9.32(a) would clarify that an operator must have 
either a temporary access permit or an operations permit before 
conducting either reconnaissance surveys or operations in an NPS unit.

Demonstration of Valid Existing Right

    The existing regulation contains a requirement that operators 
demonstrate that they hold valid rights to conduct activities. The 
proposed rule would move this requirement to Sec.  9.32(b) under 
``Scope and Purpose'' to clarify that all operators must demonstrate 
``up front'' that they hold a valid existing right to conduct 
operations in an NPS unit. Unless an operator can demonstrate a valid 
existing right to conduct operations, we would not undertake formal 
review of an operator's operations permit application.

[[Page 65576]]

Elimination of Unnecessary Regulatory Language

    The proposed rule would delete existing Sec.  9.30(b) and (c). We 
view these sections as advisory and more appropriate for inclusion in 
guidance materials that we will develop following the promulgation of 
this subpart.

Operations Authorized Under Previous 9B Regulations

    Proposed Sec.  9.33(a) would authorize an operator that currently 
holds an approved plan of operations under the existing regulations to 
continue operations, subject to the applicable provisions of the 
regulations.
    Proposed Sec.  9.33(b) would authorize an operator that remains 
exempt from the plan of operations requirement because it is currently 
accessing oil and gas rights inside a park boundary from a surface 
location outside the park boundary to continue operations, subject to 
the General Terms and Conditions and the Compliance Procedure 
provisions of the regulations.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.   9.40 Definitions.............  Sec.  Sec.   9.31(a) through (o).
                                      Sec.   9.32(c) and (d).
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec.  9.40 Definitions

    The proposed rule would organize the definitions in alphabetical 
order to make this section more user-friendly. The proposed rule would 
also delete several redundant definitions because the same terms are 
defined at 36 CFR 1.4. The definitions proposed for deletion are: 
``Secretary'' (existing Sec.  9.31(a)), ``Director'' (existing Sec.  
9.31(b)), ``Person'' (existing Sec.  9.31(e)), and ``Superintendent'' 
(existing Sec.  9.31(f)). The proposed rule also deletes two 
definitions that are no longer applicable: ``Commercial Vehicle'' 
(existing Sec.  9.31(g)) and ``Statement for Management'' (existing 
Sec.  9.31(o)).

New or Revised Definitions

    The proposed rule would add a new term, ``Area of Operations,'' to 
the Definition section to replace the term ``Site,'' at existing Sec.  
9.31(m). The new term would identify all areas where an operator is 
authorized to conduct its activities, including access to the 
operations site.
    The proposed rule would expand the definition of ``Contaminating 
Substances,'' at existing Sec.  9.31(n), to include other toxic or 
hazardous substances. The NPS is proposing to remove the term ``waste'' 
from this definition and include a new separate definition of waste in 
the proposed rule.
    The proposed rule would revise the definition of the term ``Unit'' 
to ``NPS unit'' and make this term the same as ``National Park System 
(Park Area)'' found at 36 CFR 1.4(a).
    The proposed rule would change the definition of ``Operations'' at 
existing Sec.  9.31(c), to clarify that ``access'' includes ``any means 
of ingress to or egress from an area of operations.'' The NPS intends 
this change to cover any and all types of access, including access via 
aircraft, to and from an area of operations. For access via aircraft, 
the NPS regulates only the time, place, and manner of aircraft landing 
on NPS administered lands or waters within an NPS unit. The NPS does 
not regulate aircraft overflight under the 9B regulations. Accordingly, 
the NPS would remove existing Sec.  9.32(c), which regulates 9B 
aircraft access. The proposed rule would also delete existing Sec.  
9.32(d). This access is controlled by NPS commercial vehicle 
regulations at 36 CFR 5.6(c).
    The definition of ``Operations'' also clarifies that the operation 
of a flowline or a gathering line is included within this definition, 
but not the installation, operation, or maintenance of oil and gas 
pipelines that are located within the park under authority of a deeded 
easement or other right-of-way, which are not covered by the 9B 
regulations.
    The proposed rule would add a new term ``Operations Permit'' as the 
permitting vehicle for all operations. An operations permit will be a 
special use permit subject to cost recovery under 54 U.S.C. 103104, 
which authorizes the NPS to recover all costs associated with providing 
necessary services associated with special use permits.
    The proposed rule would update the definition of ``Operator'' at 
existing Sec.  9.31(d) by clarifying that responsibilities and 
liability under this subpart can attach to the operator or the 
operator's agents, assignees, designees, lessees, or representatives.
    The proposed rule defines ``owner'' as a ``person'' which 
incorporates the definition of ``person'' from Sec.  1.4.
    The proposed rule adds a new definition of ``Previously Exempt 
Operation'' to clarify which types of operations are covered by 
proposed Sec. Sec.  9.50 through 9.53. This definition does not include 
those operations where the operator was granted an exemption under 
existing Sec.  9.32(e) to the plan of operations requirement by the NPS 
because it accessed oil and gas rights inside the park boundary from a 
surface location outside the park boundary (which are covered by 
proposed Sec.  9.33(b)).
    The proposed rule would add a new term ``Reconnaissance Survey'' to 
clarify that reconnaissance surveys do not include surface disturbance 
activities, except minimal disturbance necessary to perform surveys.
    The proposed rule would add a new term ``Right to Operate'' that 
incorporates much of the language in existing Sec.  9.36(a)(2) (right 
to operate description for a Plan of Operations). The new definition 
would clarify that an operator's right-to-operate documentation must 
demonstrate the proposed activities are within the scope of that right.
    The proposed rule would add a new term ``Technologically feasible, 
least damaging methods'' to describe the general standard that all 
operators must satisfy when meeting applicable operating standards.
    The proposed rule would add a new term ``Temporary Access Permit'' 
to clarify that under the proposed rule the NPS would grant temporary 
access only for reconnaissance surveys and to collect basic information 
necessary to prepare a permit application.
    The proposed rule would add a new term ``Third-Party Monitor'' to 
identify a third-party monitor's necessary qualifications.
    The proposed rule would add a new term ``Usable water'' to describe 
the criteria that the NPS uses to identify protected sources of 
groundwater.
    The proposed rule would add a new term ``Waste'' to differentiate 
between ``waste'' and ``contaminating substances.''
    The proposed rule would add a new set of terms ``We and us'' to 
refer to the National Park Service.
    The proposed rule would add a definition of ``You'' to be 
consistent with the plain language format of this subpart.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.  Sec.   9.50 through 9.53        Sec.   9.30(a).
 Previously Exempt Operations.        Sec.   9.33.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec. Sec.  9.50 Through 9.53--Previously Exempt Operations

    The proposed rule would create a new section ``Previously Exempt 
Operations'' to describe the process for bringing all previously exempt 
operations into compliance with the proposed rule. These include 
operations that do not require access on, across, or through federal 
lands (15% of total operations are currently exempt due to existing 
Sec.  9.30, see above discussion) and grandfathered operations (45% of 
total

[[Page 65577]]

operations are currently exempt due to existing Sec.  9.33).

Grandfathered Operations

    Under existing Sec.  9.33, operators who were conducting operations 
at the time the regulations became effective (January 8, 1979) and who 
had already obtained a valid federal or state permit were 
``grandfathered.'' These operators were not required to obtain an 
approved plan of operations; comply with NPS operating standards, 
including reclamation of their area of operations to NPS standards; or 
post a reclamation bond. The Superintendent does have authority under 
existing Sec.  9.33(c) to suspend grandfathered operations if there is 
an ``immediate threat of significant injury to federally owned or 
controlled lands or waters.'' The NPS has used this authority, in 
limited cases, to suspend grandfathered operations--suspensions that 
would not have been necessary if the operators were proactively meeting 
NPS standards. For example, at Big Thicket National Preserve, the NPS 
suspended two grandfathered operations that were causing unnecessary 
impacts, including poor spill prevention equipment and methods 
resulting in localized contamination to soils, lack of proper 
vegetation control that increased risk of fire, and poor site security 
that presented risks to visitor health and safety. Under existing Sec.  
9.33(a)(1), when the existing federal or state permit expires and the 
operator is issued a new permit, the operator then becomes subject to 
all provision of the 9B regulations.
    In 1978 the NPS expected that over time the permits associated with 
these operators would expire and that the operators would then be 
required to come into compliance with the 9B regulations. However, the 
rate of permit expiration has been much slower than anticipated. This 
has left approximately 45% of operations (241 wells service-wide) still 
exempt from the regulations over thirty years later, causing 
unnecessary and readily avoidable impacts to NPS-administered resources 
and values. For example, through site inspections, the NPS has found 20 
instances of hydrocarbon spills and leaks, 3 instances of gas venting, 
2 instances of notable noise issues, and 3 instances of notable 
hydrocarbon odors emanating from the well site. The grandfather 
exemption is not required by statute, and was a discretionary policy 
choice by the NPS to provide for a ``smooth and fair phase in of [the 
1978] regulations.'' (43 FR 57822)
    This rulemaking is intended to ensure that all operations within 
NPS units are conducted in a manner that protects park resources and 
values. A majority of comments to the ANPRM regarding previously exempt 
operations suggested that to achieve this goal, the NPS's new rule 
should require previously exempt operators to obtain an operations 
permit. The NPS agrees, and has tailored the process for obtaining an 
operations permit to the specific circumstances presented by previously 
exempt operations.

Procedure for Bringing Previously Exempt Operations Into Compliance

    Proposed Sec.  9.50(a) would establish that previously exempt 
operators must obtain an Operations Permit.
    In proposed Sec.  9.51, the NPS describes the information that a 
previously exempt operator would be required to submit to the NPS to 
obtain an operations permit. For a new oil and gas operation in an NPS 
unit, the NPS requires an operator to submit the information necessary 
for the NPS to select the least damaging locations for its access 
route, drilling site, production facilities, and gathering-line routes. 
However, for previously exempt operations, the operator's well has 
already been drilled and the area of operations (access route, well 
site, production facilities, and routes for gathering lines) has 
already been established. Therefore, under proposed Sec.  9.51, within 
90 days after the effective date of this subpart, operators must 
provide the NPS with information that would enable the NPS to evaluate 
the previously exempt operation to determine whether these operations 
are being conducted in compliance with NPS operating standards. This 
information is also needed for future monitoring of the approved 
operations to ensure compliance with NPS operating standards. The 
information requirements under this proposed section also require 
operators to submit information if they intend to change existing 
operations (e.g., if they intend to plug their wells).
    Once the operator provides the information required under proposed 
Sec.  9.51, the NPS would review the operations permit application 
under proposed Sec.  9.52, which states that the NPS will review the 
application under the same standards that apply to new operations, 
Sec. Sec.  9.100 through 9.104 (Operations Permit: Application Review 
Process).
    Under proposed Sec.  9.53, from the effective date of the final 
rule and during the time a previously exempt operator's application is 
under consideration for approval by the NPS, the continuation of 
operations would be limited to those activities and the specific area 
of disturbance as of the effective date. Previously exempt operations 
would also become subject to the General Terms and Conditions at 
proposed Sec. Sec.  9.120 through 9.122 and the Prohibitions and 
Penalties at proposed Sec. Sec.  9.180 through 9.182. Finally, proposed 
Sec.  9.53(a)(2) provides that except in an emergency, the NPS would 
not take any steps to directly regulate the previously exempt 
operator's activities under proposed Sec. Sec.  9.180 through 9.182 
within 90 days after the effective date of the final rule.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.  Sec.   9.60 through 9.63        Sec.   9.38.
 Temporary Access Permits.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec. Sec.  9.60 Through 9.63--Temporary Access Permits

    Existing Sec.  9.38(a)(2) (temporary approval for the continuance 
of existing operations) and existing Sec.  9.38(b) (temporary approval 
of new operations) would not be retained in the proposed rule. Because 
the proposed rule would make all operations subject to the 9B 
regulations, including (after a 90-day grace period) previously exempt 
operations, temporary approval of existing operations is no longer 
applicable. Existing Sec.  9.38(b) would also be deleted because the 
provision has rarely been used and the NPS does not anticipate a need 
for temporary approval of new operations.
    Proposed Sec.  9.60 would focus solely on the information 
requirements and approval process for obtaining temporary approval to 
collect basic information to develop the information required to obtain 
an Operations Permit. Proposed Sec.  9.61 identifies the information 
necessary for the NPS to evaluate the operator's proposal to collect 
this information. This includes intended future operations, so the NPS 
can determine what information is available and what additional 
information needs to be gathered. Proposed Sec.  9.61(d) would require 
that the operator describe the qualifications of the specialist who 
will perform the reconnaissance survey. The requirement to hire a 
qualified specialist codifies existing NPS guidance and is included in 
the definition of ``reconnaissance survey'' so that information and 
conclusions are accurate and verifiable.
    Proposed Sec.  9.62 would clarify that under a Temporary Access 
Permit, an operator may not engage in ground disturbing activities 
unless they are minimal and necessary to conduct the surveys.

[[Page 65578]]

    Under proposed Sec.  9.63, Temporary Access Permits would be issued 
for a period not to exceed 60 days and may be extended for a reasonable 
additional period when justified by an operator.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.  Sec.   9.70 through 9.73        Sec.   9.32(e).
 Accessing Oil and Gas Rights from a
 Surface Location Outside the Park
 Boundary.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec. Sec.  9.70 Through 9.73--Accessing Oil and Gas Rights From a 
Surface Location Outside the Park Boundary

    Existing Sec.  9.32(e) allows operators to apply for an exemption 
from the regulations if they directionally drill from a surface 
location outside an NPS unit to reach a bottom hole located within NPS 
boundaries. This exemption is available if operations pose no 
significant threat of damage to NPS resources, both surface and 
subsurface, resulting from surface subsidence, fracture of geological 
formations with resultant fresh water aquifer contamination, or natural 
gas escape. Surface activities located outside the NPS boundary are not 
within the scope of the existing 9B regulation. Under these 
regulations, regulatory authority over these operations continues to 
begin at the subsurface point where the proposed operation (borehole) 
crosses the park boundary and enters federally owned or controlled 
lands or water, and applies to all infrastructure and activities within 
the NPS unit.
    The availability of the exemption provides an incentive for 
operators to locate surface facilities outside an NPS unit. Location of 
operations outside an NPS unit generally avoids direct impacts to NPS 
resources and values. Therefore, proposed Sec.  9.72 retains a similar 
exemption.
    The NPS proposes to retain the ``no significant threat of damage'' 
review standard for exemption applications. Proposed Sec.  9.70 updates 
and clarifies the review standards for exemption applications. If an 
operator is exempt from the Operations Permit requirement, it would 
still be subject to the General Terms and Conditions and the 
Prohibitions and Penalties provisions in the regulations. The proposed 
rule also addresses circumstances under which the method of operation 
or environmental conditions of an operation changes.
    Proposed Sec.  9.71 identifies the information an operator would be 
required to submit to the NPS to be considered for an exemption. 
Proposed Sec.  9.71 directs operators to those information 
requirements, located at proposed Sec.  9.89, applicable to proposed 
hydraulic fracturing operations.
    Proposed Sec.  9.72 describes how the NPS would review and consider 
information submitted by the operator under this section.
    Proposed Sec.  9.73 describes requirements that an operator still 
must meet if it does not need an operations permit.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.  Sec.   9.80 through 9.90        Sec.   9.36.
 Operations Permit: Application       Sec.   9.42.
 Contents.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec. Sec.  9.80 Through 9.90--Operations Permit: Application Contents

Format

    The proposed rule at Sec. Sec.  9.80 through 9.90 reorganizes 
information requirements for each type of operation. The proposed rule 
would separate information requirements into the following categories: 
Sec.  9.83, information that must be included in all applications; 
Sec.  9.87, additional information that must be included for a proposed 
geophysical exploration; Sec.  9.88, additional information that must 
be included for a proposed drilling operations; Sec.  9.89 additional 
information must be included for a proposed well stimulation 
operations, including hydraulic fracturing; and, Sec.  9.90 additional 
information that must be included for a proposed production operations.

Additions to and Clarification of Existing Information Requirements

    Some of the information requirements in the existing 9B regulation 
are minimally described. The NPS provided additional information on 
some of those information requirements in the NPS's 2006 9B Operator's 
Handbook. The NPS intends to clarify all information requirements in 
the proposed rule.

Information Requirements That Apply to All Operations Permit 
Applications

    Some of the existing information requirements were incorporated 
into the proposed rule without substantial change. However, the NPS is 
proposing to clarify the following information requirements:

Ownership Information

    Existing regulation Sec.  9.83 limits identification of an 
operation's key personnel to the operator, owners, and lessees. To 
ensure that the NPS has all appropriate contact information, proposed 
Sec.  9.83(b) requires that operators also identify agents, assignees, 
designees, contractors, and other representatives.
     New Surface Disturbance and Construction
    Proposed Sec.  9.84 requires an operator to specify site security 
measures and an operation's power sources and transmission systems.
     Use of Water
    Proposed Sec.  9.83(e) would clarify and expand upon the existing 
Sec.  9.36(a)(5). It would require information regarding the source, 
transportation method and quantity of water to be used in addition to 
how the operator will manage waste water.
     Environmental Conditions and Mitigation Actions
    Proposed Sec.  9.85 would codify the existing practice of requiring 
operators to include within their permit application natural resource 
and cultural resource survey reports for the operator's proposed area 
of operations.
    Proposed Sec.  9.85 would require an operator to describe steps 
proposed to mitigate adverse environmental impacts and list and discuss 
the impacts that cannot be mitigated. Additionally, operators are 
required to describe all alternative technologically feasible, least 
damaging methods that were considered. Technologically feasible, least 
damaging alternatives are those alternatives that are viable (based on 
economic, environmental, and technological considerations) and conform 
to federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
     Cultural Resources
    The NPS proposes to eliminate existing Sec.  9.47(a), ``Cultural 
Resource Protection,'' because the section merely summarizes the 
requirements of the Antiquities Act (54 U.S.C. 320301 et seq.). 
Restating these statutory requirements in the 9B Regulations is 
unnecessary, and the section also fails to acknowledge other statutes 
that could also apply to these resources.
     Spill Control and Emergency Preparedness Plan
    Proposed Sec.  9.86 consolidates various sections of the existing 
regulation, clarifies that an operator must submit a Spill Control and 
Emergency Preparedness Plan (SCEPP) plan to the NPS, and identifies the 
information necessary to complete a SCEPP.

Additional Information Requirements That Apply to Geophysical 
Operations

    Proposed Sec.  9.87 clarifies the additional information a 
geophysical operator would need to submit to the NPS.

[[Page 65579]]

Additional Information Requirements That Apply to Drilling, 
Stimulation, and Production

    Proposed Sec. Sec.  9.88 through 9.90 clarify the additional 
information an operator would need if it is proposing to drill, 
stimulate, or produce a well.
    Proposed Sec.  9.89 is a new set of information requirements for 
well stimulation, including hydraulic fracturing operations. 
Information requirements include identifying the geologic barriers 
between the target zone and the deepest usable water zone, verifying 
mechanical integrity of the wellbore, and describing water use and 
disposal management of flowback fluids. NPS notes that the Bureau of 
Land Management (BLM) has recently promulgated regulations addressing 
hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands at 43 CFR part 3160 
(80 FR 16128, March 26, 2015). We have carefully considered the BLM 
regulations to ensure that the NPS regulations are as consistent as 
possible. Here, the NPS proposed rule uses most of the language from 
BLM's hydraulic fracturing information requirements at 43 CFR 3162.3-
3(d)(1) through (7). Where a BLM information requirement is not 
specifically included in proposed Sec.  9.89, it is because NPS already 
has equivalent information requirements that are applicable to all 
operations. Additionally, NPS has specific guidance on the means to 
ensure well integrity standards are met in its NPS's 2006 9B Operator's 
Handbook.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.  Sec.   9.100 through 9.105      Sec.   9.37.
 Operations Permit: Application       Sec.   9.48.
 Review Process.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec. Sec.  9.100 Through 9.105--Operations Permit: Application Review 
Process

    Existing Sec.  9.37(a)(1) requires that, before approving a plan of 
operations, the Regional Director determine that the operator uses 
technologically feasible, least damaging methods that provide for 
protection of the park's resources and public health and safety.
    The existing rule has two different approval standards, depending 
on whether the operation is proposed on non-federally or federally 
owned surface. For operations proposed on non-federally owned surface a 
Regional Director cannot approve an operation that would constitute a 
nuisance to federal lands or waters in the vicinity of the operations, 
or would significantly injure federally owned or controlled lands or 
waters. For more information on what would constitute ``significantly 
injury'' please see NPS Procedures Governing Nonfederal Oil and Gas 
(1992), pages 30-31,which can be found at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/documentsList.cfm?projectID=28329. For operations proposed on federally 
owned surface a Regional Director cannot approve an operation that 
would substantially interfere with management of the unit to ensure the 
preservation of its natural and ecological integrity in perpetuity, or 
would significantly injure federally owned or controlled lands or 
waters. If applying the standard for operations proposed on federally 
owned lands would constitute a taking of a property interest, the NPS 
may either approve the operations if it uses technologically feasible, 
least damaging methods or acquire the mineral interest.
    Existing Sec.  9.37(b) and (c) require the NPS to make a decision 
on the plan of operations within 60 days after the date that the NPS 
determines that the materials submitted under the plan are adequate. 
Within 60 days, the Regional Director must make one of six final 
decisions in writing. The final decisions are: Approval or rejection; 
conditional approval; modification to the plan or additional 
information is required; more time is necessary to complete review; 
environmental statement is required before approval; or more time is 
necessary for public participation and analysis of public comments.
    Existing Sec.  9.37(c) provides that failure of the NPS to make a 
final decision within 60 days constitutes a rejection of the plan. The 
operator has a right to appeal this decision under existing Sec.  9.49.

Proposed Application Review Process

    The proposed rule establishes a two-stage permit application review 
process, eliminates the dual approval standards, provides more 
realistic timeframes to provide notice back to an operator, and 
consolidates the final decisions the NPS can make on an operator's 
permit application.

Stage One: Initial Review

    Proposed Sec.  9.101 describes the NPS's initial review of an 
operator's permit application. During initial review the NPS would 
determine whether the applicant has supplied all information necessary 
for the NPS to evaluate the operation's potential effects affecting 
federally owned or administered lands, waters, or resources of NPS 
units, visitor uses or experiences, or visitor or employee health and 
safety. The NPS would respond to applicants within 30 days and tell 
them whether the information contained in their permit applications is 
complete. If the NPS needs more time to complete the review, the NPS 
will provide the applicant with an estimate of the amount of additional 
time reasonably needed and an explanation for the delay. Once a permit 
application is complete the NPS conducts formal review.

Stage Two: Formal Review

    During formal review under proposed Sec.  9.102 the NPS evaluates 
whether the proposed operation meets the NPS approval standards (Sec.  
9.103) and conducts its compliance responsibilities under applicable 
federal statutes (e.g. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 
Endangered Species Act (ESA), and National Historic Preservation Act 
(NHPA)).

Timeframe for Final Action

    In light of NPS experience over the past 35 years in implementing 
the 9B regulations, the current 60-day period for reaching a final 
decision on a permit application is not realistic. These decisions 
require time to adequately analyze an operator's proposal, work with 
the operator on a design that incorporates acceptable avoidance and 
mitigation measures, and comply with the associated federal statutory 
responsibilities such as NEPA, ESA, and NHPA. The regulations should 
provide operators with realistic expectations of the timeframe to 
process operations permits in order to adequately plan for the start of 
operations. Similarly, the NPS must take into account realistic 
timeframes for its coordination with other federal and state agencies. 
Thus, proposed Sec.  9.104 allows the NPS 180 days to complete its 
formal review. The proposed regulation would allow for a longer period 
of time, if the parties agree to it, or if the NPS determines that it 
needs more time to comply with applicable laws, executive orders, and 
regulations. In some cases, the NPS may be able to complete formal 
review in less than 180 days. The NPS is seeking comment on whether 180 
days is reasonable and any incremental impacts on operators.
    The proposed rule would remove existing section Sec.  9.37(c), 
which results in a rejection of the proposal if the NPS does not 
respond within 60 days, and replaces it with Sec.  9.104, which 
authorizes the Superintendent to notify the operator in writing that 
additional time is necessary to make a final decision.

Elimination of Dual Approval Standards

    Proposed Sec.  9.103 would replace the existing dual approval 
standards with a single three-part approval standard that

[[Page 65580]]

applies to all operations, regardless of surface ownership. Oil and gas 
operations located on non-federally owned surface have the potential to 
impact federally owned or administered lands, waters, or resources of 
NPS units, visitor uses or experiences, or visitor or employee health 
and safety to the same degree as operations sited on federally owned 
surface.
    Proposed Sec.  9.103(a) lists three basic determinations that the 
Regional Director must make before approving an application for an 
operations permit.
    Proposed Sec.  9.103(b) adds two other prerequisites to approval: 
(1) Submittal of adequate financial assurance and (2) proof of adequate 
liability insurance.

Final Actions

    Proposed Sec.  9.104 would establish two final actions: (1) 
Approved, with or without conditions, or (2) denial, and the 
justification for the denial. The Regional Director would notify the 
operator in writing of the final action. If approved, this written 
notification constitutes the NPS's authorization to conduct activities.
    The NPS has eliminated the proviso in the approval standard in 
current section Sec.  9.37(a)(3), which allows for approval using only 
the ``technologically feasible, least damaging methods'' standard of 
section Sec.  9.37(a)(1) if application of the more stringent Sec.  
9.37(a)(3) standard would constitute a taking of a property interest. 
Over the past 35 years of implementing the 9B Regulations, the NPS has 
never used this exception. In every instance, the NPS has authorized 
operators' access and protected park resources and values by applying 
reasonable avoidance and mitigation measures to the exercise of 
operators' mineral rights. As noted in the Purpose and Scope section 
above, the proposed rule at Sec.  9.30(c) maintains the existing 
regulatory provision stating that the 9B regulations are not intended 
to result in a taking of mineral rights. The approval standard in the 
proposed rule simply incorporates that provision by reference, rather 
than expressly spelling it out as part of the standard. This change is 
not intended or expected to authorize any taking of property rights, 
and is intended solely to simplify the approval standards and avoid 
redundancy and confusion. The NPS will continue to work with operators 
to help plan and design their operations in a way that meets NPS 
operating standards and other applicable provisions of these 
regulations.

Compliance With Big Cypress National Preserve Addition Act

    The Big Cypress National Preserve Addition Act (BCNPAA), (16 U.S.C. 
698m-4), requires that the NPS include language describing the 
procedures for reviewing an Operations Permit application within the 
Big Cypress National Preserve and Addition Area.
    Accordingly, proposed Sec.  9.105 describes the procedure for 
initial review of a proposed operation in Big Cypress National 
Preserve. This procedure would differ slightly from the service-wide 
procedure described in Sec. Sec.  9.101 and 9.102. The NPS's service-
wide proposed rule incorporates the 30-day initial review period from 
the BCNPAA. However, the BCNPAA at 16 U.S.C. 698m-4(b)(2)(C) places a 
regulatory limit on the amount of collaboration that can occur between 
the NPS and the operator. Under this provision, there is no regulatory 
mechanism for the NPS to request further information from an operator 
after the NPS has made its initial request for additional information. 
After making such a request, the NPS's only options are to approve or 
deny the application. This procedure could conceivably result in denial 
of applications that would have been approved if the NPS had the 
regulatory authority to again request the additional information 
necessary to fully evaluate a proposed operation. In practice, the NPS 
will continue to collaborate with prospective operators in Big Cypress 
National Preserve early in their planning process and as much as 
possible during initial review, in order to reduce such theoretical 
problems. The NPS is not proposing to use the Big Cypress procedure in 
its service-wide regulations, because it does not want to constrain its 
ability to have more robust collaboration with operators.
    The BCNPAA also differs slightly from the proposed service-wide 
rule in that under the BCNPAA the 90-day time period for final action 
begins upon submission of the permit application to the NPS. For the 
service-wide rule, the NPS has chosen not to adopt submission of the 
permit application as the triggering event for the 180-day time period. 
Rather, the NPS proposed service-wide rule provides that the 180-day 
time period begins upon the NPS determination that the operator's 
permit application contains complete information. This is consistent 
with the existing 9B Regulations at 36 CFR 9.36(c). Before the NPS can 
begin to conduct an analysis of an operator's proposal, it must have 
all necessary information from an operator. For proposals within Big 
Cypress National Preserve, the NPS will strive to meet the applicable 
timeframe for final action while otherwise complying with applicable 
laws including NEPA and the ESA.
    The NPS has decided to include applicable language from the BCNPAA 
in this regulation instead of in a new park-specific regulation in Part 
7, because the remaining sections of the 9B regulation still apply to 
oil and gas operations in Big Cypress National Preserve and the NPS 
believes it will be easier for operators to have all applicable 
regulations in one place.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.  Sec.   9.110 through 9.118      Sec.   9.35.
 Operating Standards.                 Sec.   9.39.
                                      Sec.   9.41.
                                      Sec.   9.42.
                                      Sec.   9.43.
                                      Sec.   9.44.
                                      Sec.   9.45.
                                      Sec.   9.46.
                                      Sec.   9.47.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec. Sec.  9.110 Through 9.118--Operating Standards

Purpose and Function

    Proposed Sec.  9.110 clarifies the purpose and function of 
operating standards. The NPS would maintain the current practice of 
setting non-prescriptive operating standards to allow operators the 
flexibility to design their proposed operation using the latest 
technological innovations that will best protect park system resources, 
values, and visitor health and safety.
    Proposed Sec.  9.110(c) is a general standard that requires all 
operators to use technologically feasible, least damaging methods to 
protect NPS resources and values while assuring human health and 
safety.
    Proposed Sec.  9.110(a) maintains the practice of incorporating 
applicable operating standards into an approved operations permit so 
that the operating standards become enforceable terms and conditions of 
an approved permit.
    The existing regulation has a specific operating standards 
provision at Sec.  9.41. Additional operating standards are scattered 
throughout other sections of the existing regulations (See, Sec. Sec.  
9.43 through 9.46).

Reorganization

    The proposed rule would reorganize operating standards into one 
section and separate operating standards into the following categories: 
Sec. Sec.  9.111 through 9.116, are operating standards that apply to 
all operations; Sec.  9.117, additional operating standards that

[[Page 65581]]

apply to geophysical operations; and Sec.  9.118, additional operating 
standards that apply to drilling, stimulation, and production 
operations. The NPS believes that organizing the standards in this 
manner would allow the NPS and the operator to readily understand which 
operating standards are applicable to the particular type of proposed 
operation.

Additions to and Clarification of Existing Operating Standards

    Some of the operating standards in the existing 9B regulation are 
minimally described. The NPS has clarified some operating standards in 
its 2006 9B Operator's Handbook. The NPS proposes to include all 
operating standards in the proposed rule. The NPS would incorporate 
some operating standards from the existing regulations into the 
proposed rule largely without substantive change; those standards are 
not further discussed here. The standards summarized below either 
clarify existing standards or are new standards that the NPS proposes 
to add to the regulations.

Operating Standards That Apply to All Operations

    The NPS is proposing to include new standards at Sec.  9.111(a) to 
ensure that either existing or newly created surface disturbance is 
kept to the minimum necessary for safe conduct of operations.
    The NPS is proposing to include new standards at Sec.  9.114 and 
Sec.  9.115 that would reasonably limit the visual and sound impacts of 
oil and gas operations on park visitor use and experience.
    The NPS is proposing to add a new standard at Sec.  9.111(h) that 
would avoid or limit the introduction of exotic species.
    The NPS is proposing to add specific standards at Sec.  9.112 that 
would address hydrologic connectivity.

Reclamation Operating Standards

    Proposed Sec.  9.116 would specify reclamation operating standards.

Operating Standards That Apply to Geophysical Operations

    Proposed Sec.  9.117 covers operating standards for surveying 
methods; source points; use of equipment and methods; and shot holes.

Operating Standards That Apply to Drilling, Stimulation, and Production 
Operations

    Proposed Sec.  9.118(a)(1) requires all operators to use 
containerized mud systems during drilling operations.
    Proposed Sec.  9.118(a)(2) prohibits the establishment of new 
earthen pits for any use. Use of existing earthen pits may continue if 
the pits are in compliance with applicable law and subject to the 
Superintendent's periodic inspection.
    Proposed Sec.  9.118(b) is a new section that establishes standards 
for well stimulation, including standards that address hydraulic 
fracturing operations, such as ensuring the mechanical integrity of the 
wellbore, water use and disposal, and management of flowback fluids. We 
have carefully considered the recently promulgated BLM oil and gas 
regulations to ensure that the NPS regulations are as consistent as 
possible. The two agencies take different approaches to operating 
standards, though, because of their differing statutory bases for 
regulating the exercise of oil and gas rights. BLM's regulatory 
authority is derived primarily from the Mineral Leasing Act and the 
Federal Land Policy and Management Act and controls the use of federal 
property. The NPS 9B regulations address private property rights within 
park units and are based largely on the directive of the NPS Organic 
Act to ``conserve the scenery, natural and historic objects, and wild 
life in the System units and to provide for the enjoyment of the 
scenery, natural and historic objects, and wild life in such manner and 
by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future 
generations.'' As a result, BLM can and has appropriately set more 
prescriptive standards in its regulation, while NPS has generally set 
required non-prescriptive operating standards which allow operators 
flexibility to design operations while still protecting park system 
resources, values, and visitor health and safety. For example, BLM's 
regulation at 43 CFR 3162.5-2 (Control of wells) sets a performance 
standard with regard to protection of usable water, and BLM also 
prescribes regulatory measures necessary to achieve and verify the 
performance standard (43 CFR 3162.3-3(e)). NPS's approach is to review 
an operator's submissions to determine if they meet the overall 
operating standard of using the most ``technologically feasible, least 
damaging methods'' that protect park resources and values, and all 
other applicable operation standards. If not, the NPS would to add 
terms and conditions in the permits to ensure that they do so. Guidance 
on the specific means to meet NPS operating standards is found in NPS's 
2006 9B Operator's Handbook, which is distributed to every operator and 
available electronically.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.  Sec.   9.120 through 9.122      Sec.   9.35.
 General Terms and Conditions.        Sec.   9.36(a)(15).
                                      Sec.   9.37(f).
                                      Sec.   9.41(g).
                                      Sec.   9.42.
                                      Sec.   9.46.
                                      Sec.   9.51(b).
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec. Sec.  9.120 Through 9.122--General Terms and Conditions

    The NPS proposes a new ``General Terms and Conditions'' section to 
summarize those terms and conditions that apply to all operations. This 
section consolidates existing: Sec. Sec.  9.35; 9.36(a)(15); 9.37(f); 
9.41(g); 9.42; 9.46; 9.47(b); and, 9.51(a) and (b).
    The water use section at existing Sec.  9.35 does not address all 
state water law systems under which water rights are established or 
decided. Proposed Sec.  9.120(b) would require that the NPS approve, in 
accordance with NPS policy, the use of surface or groundwater owned or 
administered by the United States.
    Because monitoring and reporting requirements apply, in varying 
degrees, to all operations, the NPS is proposing to include monitoring 
and reporting requirements under General Terms and Conditions. Some of 
these monitoring and reporting requirements are taken from the existing 
regulation while others are new requirements. The new requirements are 
described below.
    Proposed Sec.  9.121(b) would allow the NPS to require that 
operators hire third party monitors when they are necessary to ensure 
compliance and protect park resources and values. The NPS currently 
requires the use of third party monitors to help the NPS ensure that it 
receives unbiased, reliable, and timely monitoring information 
demonstrating an operator's compliance with its plan of operations. 
See, 2006 9B Operator's Handbook, Chapter 3 (Geophysical Exploration). 
Over the past fifteen years, Big Thicket National Preserve, Padre 
Island National Seashore, Jean Lafitte National Historic Site, and Big 
Cypress National Preserve have required operators to use third party 
monitors for geographically extensive and logistically complex 3D 
seismic operations. The use of third party monitors has allowed the NPS 
to augment monitoring by park staff so that the operator can 
simultaneously engage in multiple operations at different locations, 
while still ensuring compliance with the operator's plan. The proposed 
rule would also make the NPS's requirements more consistent with the 
practice of other federal agencies (BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, and 
the U.S.

[[Page 65582]]

Fish and Wildlife Service have all required third party monitoring for 
oil and gas operations on lands they administer), as well as state oil 
and gas regulatory agencies. This section describes the criteria that 
the NPS will consider when making the decision to require a third party 
monitor. The third party monitor would report directly to the NPS to 
ensure oversight and accountability.
    Proposed Sec.  9.121(e) would broaden the reporting requirement to 
require that the operator submit any information requested by the 
Superintendent that is necessary to verify compliance with either a 
provision of the operations permit or this subpart. To ease this burden 
the proposed rule would allow an operator to submit reports that the 
operator has already submitted to a state or other federal agency to 
meet this reporting requirement, similar to existing Sec.  9.42.
    Proposed Sec.  9.122 would require reporting related to the 
hydraulic fracturing process, including the disclosure of chemicals 
used in the hydraulic fracturing process and the volume of recovered 
fluids. In Sec.  9.122, NPS has used BLM's post-hydraulic fracturing 
reporting requirements, but did not include two provisions (requirement 
for affidavit of compliance and general supporting documentation), as 
these requirements are addressed in other sections of this proposed 
rule.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.  Sec.   9.130 through 9.132      Sec.   9.50.
 Access to Oil and Gas Rights.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec. Sec.  9.130 Through 9.132--Access to Oil and Gas Rights

    Existing Sec.  9.50 authorizes the NPS to charge a fee for 
commercial vehicles using NPS administered roads.
    Proposed 9.130(b) would clarify that adequate and feasible access 
to oil and gas rights located within the boundaries of NPS units in 
Alaska is governed by the regulations at 43 CFR part 36, which 
implements Sec.  1110(b).
    Proposed Sec.  9.131(a)(1) would supplement that authority to allow 
a fee based on fair market value for access (e.g., roads or gatherings 
lines) across federal lands outside the scope of an operator's oil and 
gas right. The NPS would set fees consistent with NPS Part 14 Rights-
of-way guidance (NPS Reference Manual 53, Special Park Uses, Appendix 
5, Exhibit 2).
    The NPS is seeking public comment on whether the NPS should include 
a provision that would allow the NPS to authorize an operator to 
undertake compensatory mitigation in lieu of payment. The value of the 
compensatory mitigation would be proportional to the reasonable 
estimated cost of the access fee. This would allow the operator and the 
NPS to agree on an option to, for example, reclaim an area of 
previously disturbed land elsewhere within the park to offset the 
operator's new access.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.  Sec.   9.140 through 9.144      Sec.   9.48.
 Financial Assurance.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec. Sec.  9.140 Through 9.144--Financial Assurance

    The NPS proposes to rename the ``Performance Bond'' section as 
``Financial Assurance'' to reflect the variety of instruments that an 
operator can provide to the NPS to meet its obligation under this 
section.
    Existing Sec.  9.48(a) requires an operator to file a performance 
bond, or other acceptable method of financial assurance, for all types 
of non-federal oil and gas operations and all phases of the operations. 
The performance bond requirement ensures that in the event an operator 
becomes insolvent or defaults on its obligations under an approved plan 
of operations, adequate funds will be available for reclamation.
    Existing Sec.  9.48(d)(3) limits the performance bond amount to 
$200,000 per operator, per NPS unit. Therefore, if one operator has 
multiple wells in an NPS unit, the NPS can only require up to $200,000 
financial assurance from that operator. The existing $200,000 limit was 
established in 1979 and in most cases no longer represents the current 
potential costs of reclamation. In the event of a default by the 
operator, reclamation costs exceeding the limit could require the NPS 
to bring a civil action in federal court to recover the additional 
costs.
    Proposed Sec.  9.141 would make the financial assurance amount 
equal to the estimated cost of reclamation. This revision would 
substantially reduce the risk of the American taxpayers being left to 
assume the operator's reclamation-responsibility costs if an operator 
defaults on its obligations.
    Proposed Sec.  9.142 outlines the process for adjusting the amount 
of financial assurance due to changed conditions. Proposed Sec.  9.143 
describes the conditions under which the NPS would release the 
financial assurance. Proposed Sec.  9.144 describes those circumstances 
that would result in forfeiture.
    Proposed Sec.  9.144(b)(3) is a new provision allowing the NPS to 
suspend review of an operator's pending permit applications, if that 
operator has forfeited its financial assurance. Suspension would last 
until the Superintendent determines that all violations have been 
resolved.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.  Sec.   9.150--Modification to   Sec.   9.40.
 an Operation.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec.  9.150--Modification to an Operation

    Proposed Sec.  9.150, would rename the ``Supplementation or 
Revision of Plan of Operations'' section as ``Modification to an 
Operation'' to characterize any change to an approved operations 
permit. This section would clarify that either the NPS or the operator 
can request modification of the operator's permit, and describes the 
modification procedures. Approval of any modification to an approved 
permit must meet the same criteria that apply to Temporary Access 
Permits (proposed Sec. Sec.  9.60 through 9.63) or Operations Permit: 
Application Review Process (proposed Sec. Sec.  9.100 through 9.105).
    Proposed Sec.  9.150(c) would prohibit an operator from 
implementing a modification until the NPS has provided written approval 
of the modification to the operator.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.  Sec.   9.160 and 9.161 Change   Sec.   9.34.
 of Operator.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec. Sec.  9.160 and 9.161--Change of Operator

    This proposed section renames the existing Sec.  9.34 ``Transfer of 
Interest'' section as ``Change of Operator.''
    Existing Sec.  9.34(a) provides that a previous owner remains 
liable on its financial assurance until it informs the NPS that the 
rights have been transferred to another party. A new owner cannot 
operate until it posts financial assurance and ratifies the existing 
plan of operations. If the previous owner provides notice to the 
Superintendent, the previous owner could request release of its 
financial assurance before the new owner posts its own financial 
assurance with the NPS. Therefore, if the new owner abandons operations 
before posting financial assurance with the NPS, the burden of 
reclaiming the site could fall on the taxpayers.
    Proposed Sec.  9.160 holds the previous operator responsible to the 
NPS until

[[Page 65583]]

the new operator adopts and agrees to the terms and conditions of the 
previous operator's permit and provides financial assurance. Proposed 
Sec.  9.160(a) addresses a transfer of operation where the previous 
operator did not have an approved NPS permit. Proposed Sec.  9.160(b) 
requires the previous operator to notify the NPS of its transfer.
    Proposed Sec.  9.161 requires that the new operator adopts and 
agrees to the terms and conditions of any previous operator's 
operations permit. Proposed Sec.  9.161(b) addresses transfer of an 
operation where an exemption was previously granted under proposed 
Sec.  9.72.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.  Sec.   9.170 and 9.171 Well     Sec.   9.39.
 Plugging.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec. Sec.  9.170 and 9.171--Well Plugging

    This section replaces, in part, existing Sec.  9.39(a)(2)(iv) and 
creates a new section ``Well Plugging.''
    Existing Sec.  9.39(a)(2)(iv) requires operators to plug and cap 
all non-productive wells and to fill dump holes, ditches, reserve pits, 
and other excavations. Proposed Sec.  9.116(d)(1) (Operating Standards) 
would retain the requirement that an operator conduct reclamation by 
plugging all wells. However, the existing regulations do not give the 
NPS the authority to require an operator to plug wells that have been 
in extended shut-in status. As a result inactive wells have remained 
unplugged for years and, in some instances, decades. Unplugged wells 
could adversely impact park resources and could also present risks to 
park visitors.
    Proposed Sec.  9.170(a) would establish that operators are required 
to plug a well within a specified time period after cessation of 
drilling or production operations or upon the expiration of NPS 
approved shut-in status. Under proposed Sec.  9.171, an operator can 
seek an extension to the plugging requirement if the operator describes 
why drilling or production operations have ceased and its reasonable 
future use of the well, demonstrates mechanical integrity, and follows 
maintenance requirements.
    The proposed procedures are consistent with the way many states 
approach the issue of inactive wells, and recognize that certain 
economical or logistical reasons exist to justify maintenance of wells 
in shut-in status for extended periods of time. Rather than a ``produce 
or plug'' policy, the proposed regulation provides assurance that shut-
in wells are maintained in an environmentally sound and safe manner.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.  Sec.   9.180 through 9.182      Sec.   9.48(e).
 Prohibitions and Penalties.          Sec.   9.51.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec. Sec.  9.180 Through 9.182--Prohibitions and Penalties

    Existing Sec.  9.51(c) provides two different compliance procedures 
for suspending an operation, depending on whether or not the violation 
poses an ``immediate threat of significant injury to federally owned 
lands or waters.'' Proposed Sec.  9.181 would allow the Superintendent 
discretion to suspend an operation regardless of whether an operator's 
violation poses an ``immediate threat of significant injury.'' Whether 
the threat is immediate or not, any violation that results in a threat 
of damage to park resources and values should be addressed by the 
Superintendent.

Prohibited Acts

    Proposed Sec.  9.180 lists the prohibited acts to provide operators 
with notice of the acts that would constitute a violation of the 9B 
regulations. The proposed rule expands the prohibited acts to include 
not only violation of the terms and conditions of an Operations Permit, 
but also violations of other provisions of the 9B regulations.

Incorporating Existing 36 CFR 1.3 Penalties Provision in the 9B 
Regulations

    Existing Sec.  9.51 authorizes the NPS to suspend an operation for 
non-compliance and if the violation or damage is not corrected, revoke 
an operator's plan of operations. The process to suspend an operation 
requires coordination between park staff and other NPS offices during 
which time damage to park system resources and values may continue. 
Additionally, suspension and revocation are not necessarily the most 
appropriate means to correct minor acts of non-compliance (minor leaks 
and spills, improper road maintenance, or not maintaining proper site 
security). Therefore, we are proposing to incorporate our existing 
penalties at 36 CFR 1.3 that would allow NPS law enforcement rangers 
and special agents to issue citations, which would result only in fines 
for minor acts of non-compliance, while treating the more serious acts 
as ones that may be subject to a fine or imprisonment, or both.

No New Authorization Unless Operator Is in Compliance

    Under proposed Sec.  9.182 NPS would not review any new operating 
permit applications or continue to review any pending permit 
applications anywhere in the National Park System until an operator 
comes into compliance with a violation of this subpart or a violation 
of a term or condition of an operations permit.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.  Sec.   9.190 through Sec.       Sec.   9.49.
 9.194 Reconsideration and Appeals.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec. Sec.  9.190 Through Sec.  9.194--Reconsideration and Appeals

    Most of the procedures outlined in existing Sec.  9.49 remain the 
same. The operator continues to have the right to appeal a decision 
made by either the Superintendent or the Regional Director. The 
operator now must exhaust these remedies before the NPS decision is 
considered a final agency action that is subject to review under the 
Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
    The proposed rule now describes the first step of the process as a 
request for ``reconsideration,'' rather than an appeal, since it is 
directed to the same official who issued the original decision. The 
proposed rule also includes other clarifications of the existing 
language, makes editorial corrections, and reorganizes the sequence of 
some of the paragraphs.
    Consistent with the APA, proposed Sec.  9.193(a) would provide that 
during the reconsideration and appeals process the NPS's decision will 
be suspended and the decision will not become effective until the 
completion of the appeals process. Proposed Sec.  9.193(b) addresses 
suspension of operations due to emergencies that pose an immediate 
threat of injury to injury to federally owned or controlled lands or 
waters.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.   9.200 Public Participation...  Sec.   9.52.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec.  9.200--Public Participation

    The proposed rule renames the ``Public Inspection of Documents'' 
section to ``Public Participation.''
    Existing Sec.  9.52(a) requires a Superintendent to publish a 
notice in a local newspaper of a request to conduct non-federal oil and 
gas operations whether or not a complete plan of operations is ever 
submitted by an

[[Page 65584]]

operator. Existing Sec.  9.52(b) further requires a Superintendent to 
publish a notice in the Federal Register of receipt of a plan of 
operations. The proposed rule eliminates the public notice steps 
currently required under existing Sec.  9.52(a) and (b) and replaces 
them with a more efficient public involvement and review process.
    The proposed rule retains the ability for an operator to protect 
proprietary or confidential information from disclosure to the public. 
Operators need to clearly mark those documents that they wish to 
protect from public disclosure as ``proprietary or confidential 
information'' such that these documents are readily identifiable by the 
NPS decision maker. The NPS has also included proposed provisions that 
allow an operator engaged in hydraulic fracturing operations to 
withhold chemical formulations that are deemed to be a trade secret.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Proposed rule                     Existing regulation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sec.   9.210 Information Collection.  New Section.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec.  9.210--Information Collection

    See Paperwork Reduction Act discussion below.

Renumbering and Redesignation of Subpart D

    As a result of the new organization and section numbering in the 
proposed subpart B, it is necessary to renumber the sections in the 
existing part 9, subpart D. In addition, because we see no reason to 
continue to reserve subpart C, the proposed rule redesignates the 
existing subpart D as subpart C. The proposed rule makes no substantive 
changes to these provisions.

Compliance With Other Laws, Executive Orders, and Department Policies--
Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563)

    Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget will review 
all significant rules. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs 
has determined that this proposed rule is significant because it may 
raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the 
President's priorities, or the principles set forth in the Executive 
order.
    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of Executive Order 
12866 while calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system 
to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, 
most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory 
ends. The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory 
approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of 
choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, 
and consistent with regulatory objectives. Executive Order 13563 
emphasizes further that regulations must be based on the best available 
science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public 
participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this 
proposed rule in a manner consistent with these requirements. As noted 
above, we have carefully considered the BLM regulations to ensure 
consistency to the greatest extent possible between provisions of these 
proposed NPS regulations that relate to hydraulic fracturing, and the 
recent BLM regulations. The NPS is aware of the current litigation 
concerning BLM's final hydraulic fracturing rule, State of Wyoming v. 
U.S. Department of the Interior, Case No: 2:15-CV-043-SWS, and will 
consider public comment as well as any rulings that may occur in the 
litigation in reaching final decisions on its final rule.

Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)

    This rule would not have a significant economic effect on a 
substantial number of small entities under the RFA (5 U.S.C. 601 et 
seq.). This certification is based on the cost-benefit and regulatory 
flexibility analysis found in the report Cost-Benefit and Regulatory 
Flexibility Analyses: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park 
Service for Proposed Revisions to 36 CFR Part 9, Subpart B which can be 
viewed at http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/oil_and_gas/9b_index.cfm.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA)

    This proposed rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2) of the 
SBREFA. This proposed rule:
    (a) Does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million 
or more;
    (b) Would not cause a major increase in costs or prices for 
consumers, individual industries, Federal, state, or local government 
agencies, or geographic regions; and
    (c) Does not have significant adverse effects on competition, 
employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of 
U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises.
    These conclusions are based upon the cost-benefit and regulatory 
flexibility analysis found in the report entitled Cost-Benefit and 
Regulatory Flexibility Analyses: U.S. Department of the Interior, 
National Park Service for Proposed Revisions to 36 CFR Part 9, Subpart 
B which can be viewed at http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/oil_and_gas/9b_index.cfm.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA)

    This proposed rule does not impose an unfunded mandate on State, 
local, or tribal governments or the private sector of more than $100 
million per year. The proposed rule does not have a significant or 
unique effect on State, local, or tribal governments or the private 
sector. It addresses use of national park lands, and imposes no 
requirements on other agencies or governments. A statement containing 
the information required by the UMRA (2 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) is not 
required.

Takings (Executive Order 12630)

    The proposed rule does not take private property or authorize the 
taking of private property. Moreover, NPS believes that implementation 
of the proposed rule is not likely to result in a taking of private 
property. Accordingly, NPS believes that the proposed rule does not 
require the preparation of a takings implications assessment under 
Executive Order 12630.
    The proposed rule would update regulations that have been in effect 
since 1979. It would update various provisions of the existing 
regulations in a manner that is consistent with current industry 
standards and technological capabilities, prevailing industry and 
investor expectations, and the most recent developments in regulatory 
and takings law. It would authorize NPS to recover its legitimate 
permit-processing and monitoring costs and to charge operators for 
privileged access across federal lands (i.e., access that is not a 
legal right incident to the mineral estate). Although it would 
potentially increase the amount of financial assurance that operators 
must post, it would do so only to a level commensurate with the cost of 
restoring the federally owned surface estate.
    The proposed rule would extend the applicability of the 9B 
regulations to most currently exempt operations located within park 
boundaries. During the 36 years that the existing regulations have been 
in place, however, NPS has never disapproved a submitted plan of 
operations and no mineral owner or operator has ever filed a claim 
asserting that implementation of the regulations has resulted in a 
taking of private property. Moreover, as described above, the proposed 
rule would update the

[[Page 65585]]

existing regulations in a manner consistent with current industry 
standards and technological capabilities. Accordingly, NPS does not 
believe that the application of the proposed rule to currently exempt 
operations is likely to result in a taking. The proposed rule would 
continue to allow operators reasonable access across federally owned 
surface to develop non-federal mineral rights. No other private 
property is affected. The proposed rule would bring outdated provisions 
into line with modern regulatory practice and, NPS believes, is a 
reasonable exercise of its regulatory authority.
    Finally, the regulatory text will continue to state (as do the 
existing regulations) that it is not intended to result in a taking. 
The existing regulations also contain a second provision that expressly 
applies the lower of the two standards of review in the event of a 
possible taking. Because the proposed rule would contain only one 
standard of review (in an effort to simplify the rule), such a 
provision no longer appears appropriate. NPS has never actually needed 
to invoke that second provision, nor has it ever failed to provide 
final approval for a plan of operations that has been sought. Under the 
proposed rule, NPS would retain discretion to make individual permit 
decisions that will avoid a taking if an unexpected problem should 
arise.
    For the foregoing reasons, NPS believes that a takings implications 
assessment is not required.

Federalism (Executive Order 13132)

    Under the criteria in section 1 of Executive Order 13132, the rule 
does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the 
preparation of a Federalism summary impact statement. It addresses use 
of national park lands, and imposes no requirements on other agencies 
or governments. A Federalism summary impact statement is not required.

Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988)

    This proposed rule complies with the requirements of Executive 
Order 12988. Specifically, this rule:
    (a) Meets the criteria of section 3(a) requiring that all 
regulations be reviewed to eliminate errors and ambiguity and be 
written to minimize litigation; and
    (b) Meets the criteria of section 3(b)(2) requiring that all 
regulations be written in clear language and contain clear legal 
standards.

Consultation With Indian Tribes (Executive Order 13175 and Department 
Policy)

    The Department of the Interior strives to strengthen its 
government-to-government relationship with Indian Tribes through a 
commitment to consultation with Indian Tribes and recognition of their 
right to self-governance and tribal sovereignty. We have evaluated this 
rule under the Department's consultation policy and under the criteria 
in Executive Order 13175 and have determined that it has no substantial 
direct effects on federally recognized Indian tribes and that 
consultation under the Department's tribal consultation policy is not 
required. Nonetheless, NPS has consulted with all federal tribes 
traditionally associated with Category 1 parks, which have current oil 
and gas operations, and Category 2 parks, which do not have active 
operations, but have potential for future operations.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA)

    This proposed rule contains information collection requirements 
that we are submitting to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for 
review and approval under the PRA (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). We may not 
conduct or sponsor and you are not required to respond to a collection 
of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.
    OMB has reviewed and approved the current information collection 
requirements associated with non-Federal oil and gas rights in national 
parks and assigned OMB Control Number 1024-0064, which expires March 
31, 2016. We are asking OMB to assign a new OMB Control Number for the 
information collection requirements in this proposed rule. If OMB 
approves this request, we plan to keep the new number for subpart B 
requirements after we publish the final rule. We will delete the burden 
associated with subpart B from OMB Control No. 1024-0064.
    We are proposing to collect the following information under 36 CFR 
Part 9, Subpart B associated with non-Federal oil and gas operations 
within units of the National Park System.

Previously Exempt Operations (Sec. Sec.  9.50 Through 9.53)

    Previously exempt operators must submit the following information 
to the NPS:
     Brief description of the current operations and any 
anticipated changes to the current operations.
     Documentation showing the right to operate within an NPS 
unit.
     State well identification permit number or American 
Petroleum Institute (API) well number.
     Maps delineating the area of operations and the area of 
surface disturbance and equipment layout within the area of operations.
     Spill Control Environmental Preparedness Plan.
     Documentation of the current operating methods, surface 
equipment, downhole well construction and completion, materials 
produced or used, and monitoring methods.
     Description of how the operation will meet NPS operating 
standards.
     Description of procedures to be used and cost estimates 
for well plugging and surface reclamation.
     Results of any necessary reconnaissance surveys.

Temporary Access Permits (9.60 Through 9.63)

Application for Temporary Access Permit

    To gather necessary background information for an Operations 
Permit, the operator will need to obtain a Temporary Access permit by 
submitting the following information to the NPS:
     Brief description of the intended future operation.
     Demonstration of the right to operate.
     Contact information for the person responsible for the 
overall management of the proposed operations.
     Contact information and qualifications of all specialists 
responsible for conducting the reconnaissance surveys.
     Map delineating the proposed reconnaissance survey area.
     Description of proposed means of access and routes to the 
survey area; and a description of the survey methods.

Extension of Temporary Access Permit

    To extend the term of a Temporary Access Permit, operators must 
submit a written request that explains why the extension is necessary.

Accessing Oil and Gas Rights From a Surface Location Outside the Park 
Boundary (9.70 Through 9.73)

Application for Exemption

    This proposed rule allows operators to apply for an exemption from 
the operations permit requirement of the regulations if they 
directionally drill from a surface location outside an NPS unit to 
reach a bottom hole located within NPS boundaries. To apply for an 
exemption, NPS requires the following information.
     Names and addresses of the operator; the mineral owner; 
and any

[[Page 65586]]

agents, assignees, designees, lessees, contractors, employees, or other 
representatives of the operator responsible for the overall management 
of the proposed operations.
     Documentation demonstrating the legal right to operate in 
an NPS unit.
     Contact information for the operator's representative 
responsible for field supervision of the proposed operations and for 
emergency response for the proposed operations.
     Maps and plats to scale showing the boundaries of each of 
the mineral tracts that are relevant to the proposed operations within 
the NPS unit boundary.
     Maps and plats to scale showing all proposed surface uses 
(well site, access route, flowlines, production facilities) that occur 
outside the NPS unit.
     Description, including depths, thicknesses, and properties 
of geologic horizons between the target zone and the base of the 
deepest aquifer.
     Drilling plan, including directional-drilling program, 
horizontal distance along the wellbore's path from well's surface 
location to the park boundary, depth at which wellbore crosses NPS unit 
boundary, and timeline for operations.
     Casing, cementing, and mud programs.
     Stimulation programs.
     Well plugging and abandonment program.
     If hydraulic fracturing is proposed, information required 
in Sec.  9.89.

Notification of Change

    Within 30 days, operators must notify NPS if the method of 
operation or environmental conditions of operation change.

Operations Permit: Application Contents (Sec. Sec.  9.80 Through 9.90)

All Applications

    All applications for an Operations Permit, must contain the 
following information:
     Documentation demonstrating the right to operate within an 
NPS unit.
     Contact information for the operator; the mineral owner; 
any agents, assignees, designees, contractors, or other representatives 
of the owner; and the operator's representative responsible for overall 
management, field supervision, and emergency response for the proposed 
operation.
     Existing condition and proposed area of operations, 
including all information required by Sec.  9.84.
     Reclamation Plan, including (1) a description of the 
specific equipment and methods used to meet the operating standards for 
reclamation (Sec.  9.116); and (2) a breakdown of the estimated costs 
that a third party would charge to complete reclamation as proposed in 
the reclamation plan.
     Use of water, including (1) the source, quantity, access 
route, and transportation/conveyance method for all water to be used in 
access road and pad construction, well drilling, stimulation, and 
production; and (2) estimations of any anticipated waste water volumes 
generated and how they will be managed (i.e., handled, temporarily 
stored, disposed, recycled, reused) throughout stages of the operation.
     Environmental condition and mitigation actions, including 
all information required in Sec.  9.85.
     Spill control and emergency preparedness plan, including 
all information required by Sec.  9.86.

Additional Information

    Geophysical Exploration (Sec.  9.87). If you are proposing 
geophysical exploration, the application must include:
     Number of crews and number of workers in each crew.
     Names and depths of geologic zones targeted for imaging.
     Description of the acquisition methods, including the 
procedures, specific equipment you will use, and energy sources (e.g., 
explosives or vibroseis trucks).
     Methods of access along each survey line for personnel, 
materials, and equipment.
     List of all explosives, blasting equipment, chemicals, and 
fuels you will use in the proposed operations, including a description 
of proposed disposal methods, transportation methods, safety measures, 
and storage facilities.
     Map showing the positions of each survey line including 
all source and receiver locations as determined by a locational survey, 
and including shotpoint offset distances from wells, buildings, other 
infrastructure, and areas the NPS has indicated to you as 
environmentally sensitive areas.
    Drilling Operations (Sec.  9.88). If you are proposing drilling 
operations, the application must include:
     Well-pad construction, including dimensions and cross 
sections of: Cut and fill areas and excavations for ditches, sumps, and 
spill control equipment or structures, including lined areas.
     Drill-rig and equipment layout, including rig components, 
fuel tanks, testing equipment, support facilities, storage areas, and 
all other well-site equipment and facilities.
     Drilling program, including hole size for each section and 
the directional program, if applicable.
     Proposed drilling depth and the estimated depths and names 
of usable water, brine, hydrocarbon, geothermal, or other mineral-
bearing zones.
     Type and characteristics of the proposed mud systems.
     Casing program, including the size, grade, weight, and 
setting depth of each string.
     Cementing program, including downhole location of any 
stage equipment, cement types, volumes, and additives to be used, and a 
description of pressure tests and cement verification techniques used 
that will be run to evaluate cement placement and integrity.
     Minimum specifications for pressure control equipment 
function and pressure testing frequency and the blowout preventer stack 
arrangement.
     Proposed logging, coring, and testing programs. Proposed 
completion program, including completion type (open-hole, perforated, 
slotted liner, etc.).
     Procedures, including considerations for well control.
     Description of the equipment, materials, and procedures 
proposed for well plugging, including plug depths, plug types, and 
minimum mud weight.
    Well Simulation Operations (Sec.  9.89). If you are proposing well 
simulation operations, including hydraulic fracturing, the application 
must include:
     Geologic names, a geologic description, and the estimated 
depths (measured and true vertical) to the top and bottom of the 
formation into which hydraulic fracturing fluids are to be injected. 
The estimated minimum vertical distance between the top of the fracture 
zone and the nearest usable water zone, and the measured depth of the 
proposed perforated or open-hole interval.
     Estimated depths (measured and true vertical) to the top 
and bottom of the confining zone(s). Include a map showing the 
location, orientation, and extent of any known or suspected faults or 
fractures within one-half mile (horizontal distance) of the wellbore 
trajectory that may transect the confining zone(s).
     Map showing all existing wellbore trajectories, regardless 
of type, within one-half mile (horizontal distance) of any portion of 
the wellbore into which hydraulic fracturing fluids are to be injected. 
The true vertical depth of each wellbore identified on the map must be 
indicated.

[[Page 65587]]

     Steps to be taken before treatment to verify mechanical 
integrity of all downhole tubulars and tools and cement quality, 
including pressure tests and cement bond logs (or other logs acceptable 
to the Superintendent) demonstrating that the occurrences of usable 
water zones have been isolated to protect them from contamination.
     Detailed description of the proposed well-stimulation 
design, including:
    (1) Proposed stimulation fluid, including, but not limited to, the 
base fluid and each additive by trade name, and purpose of additive.
    (2) Proposed proppant system.
    (3) Estimated total volume of fluid to be used.
    (4) Anticipated surface treating pressure range.
    (5) Maximum anticipated surface pressure that will be applied 
during the hydraulic fracturing process.
    (6) Trajectory of the wellbore into which hydraulic fracturing 
fluids are to be injected and the estimated direction and length of the 
fractures that will be propagated and a notation indicating the true 
vertical depth of the top and bottom of the fractures; and
    (7) Any microseismic monitoring planned or proposed in conjunction 
with well stimulation.
     Source and location of water supply, such as reused or 
recycled water, rivers, creeks, springs, lakes, ponds, and water supply 
wells, and the source and location of water supply, such as reused or 
recycled water, rivers, creeks, springs, lakes, ponds, and water supply 
wells.
     Storage, mixing, pumping, and control equipment needed to 
perform the stimulation.
     Information on recovered fluids, including:
    (1) Estimated volume of stimulation fluids to be recovered during 
flow back.
    (2) Proposed methods of handling the recovered fluids including any 
onsite treatment for re-use of fluids in other stimulation activities.
    (3) Proposed disposal method of the recovered fluids, including, 
but not limited to, injection, hauling by truck, or transporting by 
pipeline.
    Production Operations (Sec.  9.90). If you are proposing to produce 
a well, you must submit all of the following information:
     Dimensions and the to-scale layout of the wellpad, clearly 
identifying well locations, noting partial reclamation areas; 
gathering, separation, metering, and storage equipment; electrical 
lines; fences; spill control equipment or structures including lined 
areas, artificial lift equipment, tank batteries, treating and 
separating vessels, secondary or enhanced recovery facilities, water 
disposal facilities, gas compression and/or injection facilities; 
metering points; sales point (if on lease); tanker pick-up points; gas 
compressor, including size and type (if applicable); and any other well 
site equipment.
     Size, grade, weight, and setting depth of all casing and 
tubing strings; cementing history; type and size of packers and 
subsurface flow control devices; top and bottom depths of each 
completed interval; and method of completion.
     Well history, including completions, stimulations, 
servicing, and workovers.
     Minimum specifications for pressure-control equipment, 
function, and pressure-testing frequency.
     Method and means used to transport produced oil and gas, 
including vehicular transport; flowline and gathering line 
construction; operation; pipe size; operating pressure; cathodic 
protection methods; surface equipment use; surface equipment location; 
maintenance procedures; maintenance schedules; pressure detection 
methods; and shutdown procedures.
     Road and wellpad maintenance plan, including equipment and 
materials to maintain the road surface and control erosion.
     Vegetation management plan on well sites, roads, pipeline 
corridors, and other disturbed surface areas, including control of 
exotic species.
     Storm water management plan on the well site.
     Produced water storage and disposal plan.
     Procedures proposed for well plugging, the depths and the 
types of plugs, and minimum mud weight.

Operating Standards (Sec. Sec.  9.110-9.118)

    Simulation operations (Sec.  9.118(a)). You must:
     Not begin injection activities before you demonstrate the 
mechanical integrity of all surface and downhole tubulars and equipment 
to differential pressures equal to at least those calculated at the 
maximum anticipated treating pressure. Continuously monitor and record 
the treating pressures and all annular pressures before, during, and 
after the treatment to ensure that treatment materials are directed to 
the intended zone.
     If mechanical integrity is lost during the treatment, 
immediately cease the operation and notify the Superintendent as soon 
as feasible, but no later than 24 hours after the incident.
     Within 15 days after the occurrence, submit to the 
Superintendent a report containing all details pertaining to the 
incident, including corrective actions taken.
    Production (Sec.  9.118(b)). You must:
     Monitor producing conditions to document maintenance of 
mechanical integrity of both surface and subsurface equipment.
     Identify wells and related facilities by a sign, which 
must remain in place until the well is plugged and abandoned and the 
related facilities are closed. The sign must be of durable 
construction, and the lettering must be legible and large enough to be 
read under normal conditions at a distance of at least 50 feet. Each 
sign must show the name of the well, name of the operator, and the 
emergency contact phone number.

General Terms and Conditions (Sec. Sec.  9.120 Through 9.122)

     Provide the NPS an affidavit, signed by an official who is 
authorized to legally bind the company, stating that proposed 
operations are in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and 
local laws and regulations and that all information submitted to the 
NPS is true and correct. (Sec.  9.120(c)).
     Third party monitor will report to NPS on compliance with 
permit. (Sec.  9.121(b)(2)).
     Notify the Superintendent of any accidents involving 
serious personal injury or death and of any fires or spills on the site 
within 24 hours after the accident occurs. (Sec.  9.121(c)).
     Submit a full written report on the accident to the 
Superintendent within 90 days after the accident occurs. (Sec.  
9.121(c)).
     Notify the Superintendent within 24 hours after the 
discovery of any cultural or scientific resource you encounter that 
might be altered or destroyed by your operation. (Sec.  9.121(d)).
     Submit reports or other information necessary to verify 
compliance with your permit or with any provision of this subpart. 
(Sec.  9.121(d)).
     If your operations include hydraulic fracturing, you must 
provide the Superintendent with a report including all of the 
information below within 30 days after the completion of the last stage 
of hydraulic fracturing operations for each well (Sec.  9.122):
    (a) The true vertical depth of the well, total water volume used, 
and a description of the base fluid and each additive in the hydraulic 
fracturing fluid, including the trade name, supplier, purpose, 
ingredients, Chemical Abstract Service Number (CAS), maximum ingredient

[[Page 65588]]

concentration in additive (percent by mass), and maximum ingredient 
concentration in hydraulic fracturing fluid (percent by mass).
    (b) The actual source(s) and location(s) of the water used in the 
hydraulic fracturing fluid;
    (c) The maximum surface pressure and rate at the end of each stage 
of the hydraulic fracturing operation and the actual flush volume.
    (d) The actual, estimated, or calculated fracture length, height, 
and direction.
    (e) The actual measured depth of perforations or the open-hole 
interval.
    (f) Actual volume of stimulation fluids recovered during flow back, 
including a description of how the volumes were measured or calculated.
    (g) The following information concerning the handling of fluids 
recovered, covering the period between the commencement of hydraulic 
fracturing and the implementation of the approved permit for the 
disposal of produced water under NPS requirements:
    (1) Methods of handling the recovered fluids, including, but not 
limited to, transfer pipes and tankers, holding pond use, re-use for 
other stimulation activities, or injection; and
    (2) Disposal method of the recovered fluids, including, but not 
limited to, the percent injected, the percent stored at an off-lease 
disposal facility, and the percent recycled.
    (h) Continuous monitoring records of annulus pressure at the 
bradenhead and other annular pressures that document pressures before, 
during, and after injection operations.

Financial Assurance (Sec. Sec.  9.140 Through 9.144)

    All operators are required to post adequate financial assurance 
with the NPS and are required to submit the following documentation to 
the NPS:
     Proof of financial assurance in a form acceptable to the 
Regional Director and payable upon demand.
     If necessary, an adjustment to the financial assurance 
amount because of any circumstance that increases or decreases the 
estimated costs.

Modification to an Operation (Sec.  9.150)

    Operators may request or we may require an operator to modify their 
operations. To request a modification to an approved permit, operators 
must provide written notice to the Superintendent describing the 
modification and why it is needed.

Change of Operator (Sec. Sec.  9.160 and 9.161)

    If an operator transfers its operation to a new operator, both the 
old and new operator must provide information to the NPS.
    Information Current Owner Must Provide. When current operator 
transfers operations, current operator must:
     Notify the Superintendent in writing within 30 calendar 
days after the date the new owner acquires the rights to conduct 
operations providing:
    (a) Names and addresses of the person or entity conveying the right 
and the person or entity acquiring the right.
    (b) Effective date of transfer.
    (c) Description of the rights, assets, and liabilities being 
transferred and which ones, if any, are being reserved by the previous 
owner.
    (d) Written acknowledgement from the new owner that the contents of 
the notification are true and correct.

Information New Operator Must Provide

     Adopt and agree in writing to conduct operations in 
accordance with all terms and conditions of the previous operator's 
operations permit;
     File financial assurance with us that is acceptable to the 
Regional Director and made payable to the NPS.
    If the previous operator was granted an exemption for accessing oil 
and gas rights from a surface location outside the park boundary, you 
must provide to the Superintendent:
     Documentation demonstrating that you hold the right to 
operate within an NPS unit;
     The names and addresses of the operator; the mineral 
owner; any agents, assignees, designees, lessees, or other 
representatives of the operator; the operator's representative 
responsible for the overall management of the proposed operations; the 
operator's representative responsible for field supervision of the 
proposed operations; and the operator's representative responsible for 
emergency response for the proposed operations.

Well Plugging (Sec. Sec.  9.170 and 9.171)

    An operator may apply for either an operations permit or a 
modification to its approved operations permit to maintain its well in 
a shut-in status for up to 5 years. The application must include the 
following information:
     Explanation of why the well is shut-in or temporarily 
abandoned and your future plans for utilization.
     Demonstration of the mechanical integrity of both surface 
and downhole equipment such that there is no migration of fluid from 
any formation in which it originally occurred or from the surface to 
the well.
     Description of the manner in which the operator well, 
equipment, and area of operations will be maintained.

Reconsideration and Appeals (Sec. Sec.  9.190 Through 9.194)

    To appeal an NPS decision, the operator must submit a written 
statement describing the alleged factual or legal errors in the 
original decision and requesting that the Regional Director reconsider 
the decision.

Public Participation (Sec.  9.200)

    An operator may request that information required to be reported 
under these regulations concerning chemical formulations that are 
deemed to be trade secrets be withheld from disclosure. To make this 
request the operator must:
     Identify the owner of the withheld information and provide 
the name, address and contact information for a corporate officer, 
managing partner, or sole proprietor of the owner of the information.
     Identify the Federal statute or regulation that would 
prohibit the NPS from publicly disclosing the information if it were in 
the NPS's possession.
     Affirm that the operator has been provided the withheld 
information from the owner of the information and is maintaining 
records of the withheld information, or that the operator has access 
and will maintain access to the withheld information held by the owner 
of the information.
     Affirm that the information is not publicly available.
     Affirm that the information is not required to be publicly 
disclosed under any applicable laws and policies local, State, tribal, 
or Federal law;
     Affirm that the owner of the information is in actual 
competition and identifies competitors or others that could use the 
withheld information to cause the owner of the information substantial 
competitive harm;
     Affirm that the release of the information would likely 
cause substantial competitive harm to the owner of the information and 
provides the factual basis for that affirmation; and
     Affirm that the information is not readily apparent 
through reverse engineering with publicly available information.
    Title: Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights, 36 CFR part 9, subpart B.
    OMB Control Number: 1024-XXXX.
    Service Form Number: None.
    Type of Request: Request for a new OMB control number.
    Description of Respondents: Businesses.
    Respondent's Obligation: Required to obtain or retain a benefit.

[[Page 65589]]

    Frequency of Collection: On occasion.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Estimated      Completion
                                                                     number of       time per        Estimated
                      Activity/requirement                            annual         response      total annual
                                                                     responses        (hours)      burden hours
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Previously Exempt Operations (Sec.  Sec.   9.50-9.53)...........             106              10           1,060
Application for Temporary Access Permit (Sec.  Sec.   9.60-9.63)               5              15              75
Amendment of Temporary Access Permit............................               1               1               1
Accessing Oil and Gas Rights From a Surface Location Outside the               3              80             240
 Park Boundary--Application for Exemption (Sec.  Sec.   9.70-
 9.73)..........................................................
Accessing Oil and Gas Rights From a Surface Location Outside the               1               2               2
 Park Boundary--Notice of change (Sec.  Sec.   9.70-9.73).......
Operations Permit Operations Permit (New Operations):
    Application Contents--(Sec.  Sec.   9.80-9.90)..............               5             140             700
Operating Standards--Stimulation Operations (Sec.   9.118(b)):
    Demonstrate mechanical integrity............................               5               4              20
    Record treating pressures and all annular pressures.........               5               4              20
    Notify Superintendent if mechanical integrity is lost.......               1               1               1
    Report of accident..........................................               2               1               2
Operating Standards--Production (Sec.   9.118(c)):
    Document maintenance of mechanical integrity................             534               2           1,068
    Signage to identify wells...................................               5               4              20
General Terms and Conditions (Sec.  Sec.   9.120-9.122):
    Affidavit that proposed operations are in compliance with                111               1             111
     all laws and that information submitted to NPS is accurate.
    Third-Party Monitor Report..................................              60              17           1,020
    Notification--Accidents involving Serious Personal Injuries/               2               1               2
     Death and Fires/Spills.....................................
    Written Report--Accidents Involving Serious Injuries/Deaths                2              16              32
     and Fires/Spills...........................................
    Notification--Discovery of any cultural or scientific                      1               1               1
     resources..................................................
    Report--Verify Compliance with Permits......................             534               4           2,136
    Reporting for Hydraulic Fracturing..........................               1               2               2
Financial Assurance (Sec.  Sec.   9.140-9.144)..................               5               1               5
Modification to an Operation (Sec.   9.150).....................               1              16              16
Change of Operator (Sec.  Sec.   9.160-9.161)...................               5               8              40
Well Plugging (Sec.  Sec.   9.170-9.171)........................              33              14             462
Reconsideration and Appeals (Sec.  Sec.   9.190-9.194)..........               1              16              16
Public Participation (Sec.   9.200).............................               1               4               4
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................................           1,430  ..............           7,056
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As part of our continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent 
burdens, we invite the public and other Federal agencies to comment on 
any aspect of this information collection, including:
    (1) Whether or not the collection of information is necessary, 
including whether or not the information will have practical utility;
    (2) The accuracy of our estimate of the burden for this collection 
of information;
    (3) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected; and
    (4) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on 
respondents.
    Send your comments and suggestions on this information collection 
by the date indicated in the DATES section to the Desk Officer for the 
Department of the Interior at OMB-OIRA. See ADDRESSES section for 
instructions on submitting comments.

National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA)

    This rule constitutes a major Federal action with the potential to 
significantly affect the quality of the human environment. We have 
prepared the DEIS under the requirements of NEPA. The DEIS will publish 
shortly after this proposed rule and be available online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/DEIS9B, by clicking on the link entitled 
``Document List.''

Effects on the Energy Supply (Executive Order 13211)

    This proposed rule is not a significant energy action under the 
definition in Executive Order 13211. A statement of Energy Effects is 
not required.

Clarity of This Regulation

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 (section 1(b)(12)), 12988 
(section 3(b)(1)(B)), and 13563 (section 1(a)), and by the Presidential 
Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain language. This 
means that each rule we publish must:
    (a) Be logically organized;
    (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (c) Use common, everyday words and clear language rather than 
jargon;
    (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (e) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you believe we have not met these requirements, send us comments 
by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To better help 
us revise this proposed rule, your comments should be as specific as 
possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections 
or paragraphs that you find unclear, which sections or sentences are 
too long, the sections where you believe lists or tables would be 
useful, etc.

Drafting Information

    This proposed rule reflects the collective efforts of NPS staff in 
the Geologic Resources Division, parks, and field offices, with 
assistance from the Division of Jurisdiction, Regulations and Special 
Park Uses.

[[Page 65590]]

Public Participation

    It is the policy of the Department of the Interior, whenever 
feasible, to afford the public an opportunity to participate in the 
rulemaking process. Accordingly, interested persons may submit written 
comments regarding this proposed rule by one of the methods listed in 
the ADDRESSES section. All comments must be received by midnight of the 
close of the comment period. Bulk comments in any format (hard copy or 
electronic) submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted.
    We are particularly interested in comments concerning:
    1. Substantive differences between NPS's proposed regulations of 
oil and gas activity and those of other Federal agencies, including 
differences in the associated costs and benefits.
    2. The costs and benefits of not applying this rule to inholdings, 
and to operators' surface operations when accessing oil and gas rights 
inside an NPS unit from a surface location outside the park boundary.
    3. Whether relevant guidance presently, or planned to be, included 
in the NPS 9B Operators Handbook should instead be included in this 
rule.
    4. Whether the performance and operating standards are clear and 
certain in their purpose, including Sec. Sec.  9.30(a), 9.103(a), 
9.110(c), and 9.118.
    5. Alternative approaches to removing public financial exposure 
including multi-well blanket bonding, the establishment of industry 
provided plugging fund, or increasing the financial assurance cap to a 
fixed amount higher than $200,000. Please note that these alternatives 
were considered but dismissed from further analysis in the DEIS because 
they do not meet a fundamental purpose of the rulemaking, which is to 
ensure that bonding amounts are sufficient to meet reclamation needs 
and do not result in taxpayer liability.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

List of Subjects

36 CFR Part 1

    National parks, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements

36 CFR Part 9

    National parks, Oil and gas exploration, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements.

    In consideration of the foregoing, the National Park Service 
proposes to amend 36 CFR parts 1 and 9 as follows:

PART 1--GENERAL PROVISIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 1 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 54 U.S.C. 100101, 100751, 320102.

0
2. Revise Sec.  1.3 to read as follows:


Sec.  1.3  Penalties.

    (a) A person convicted of violating a provision of the regulations 
contained in parts 1 through 7, part 9 subpart B, and parts 12 and 13 
of this chapter, within a park area not covered in paragraphs (b) or 
(c) of this section, shall be punished by a fine as provided by law, or 
by imprisonment not exceeding 6 months, or both, and shall be adjudged 
to pay all costs of the proceedings.
    (b) A person who knowingly and willfully violates any provision of 
the regulations contained in parts 1 through 5, 7, part 9 subpart B, 
and part 12 of this chapter, within any national military park, 
battlefield site, national monument, or miscellaneous memorial 
transferred to the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Interior from 
that of the Secretary of War by Executive Order No. 6166, June 10, 
1933, and enumerated in Executive Order No. 6228, July 28, 1933, shall 
be punished by a fine as provided by law, or by imprisonment for not 
more than 3 months, or by both.

    Note: These park areas are enumerated in a note under 5 U.S.C. 
901.

    (c) A person convicted of violating any provision of the 
regulations contained in parts 1 through 7, and part 9 subpart B of 
this chapter, within a park area established pursuant to the Act of 
August 21, 1935, 49 Stat. 666, shall be punished by a fine as provided 
by law and shall be adjudged to pay all costs of the proceedings. 54 
U.S.C. 320105.
    (d) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) 
of this section, a person convicted of violating Sec.  2.23 of this 
chapter shall be punished by a fine as provided by law. 16 U.S.C. 6811.

PART 9--MINERALS MANAGEMENT

0
3. Revise subpart B to read as follows:
Subpart B--Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights

Purpose and Scope

Sec.
9.30 What is the purpose and scope of this subpart?
9.31 When does this subpart apply to me?
9.32 What authorization do I need to conduct operations?
9.33 If am already operating under an NPS authorization, what do I 
need to do?

Definitions

9.40 What do the terms used in this subpart mean?

Previously Exempt Operations

9.50 Do I need an operations permit for my previously exempt 
operations?
9.51 How do I apply for my operations permit?
9.52 What will the NPS do with my application?
9.53 May I continue to operate while the NPS reviews my application?

Temporary Access Permits

9.60 When do I need a temporary access permit?
9.61 How do I apply for a temporary access permit?
9.62 When will the NPS grant a temporary access permit?
9.63 How long will I have to conduct my reconnaissance surveys?

Accessing Oil and Gas Rights From a Surface Location Outside the Park 
Boundary

9.70 Do I need an operations permit for accessing oil and gas rights 
from outside the park boundary?
9.71 What information must I submit to the NPS?
9.72 How will the NPS act on my submission?
9.73 If I don't need an operations permit, are there still 
requirements that I must I meet?

Operations Permit: Application Contents

9.80 Who must apply for an operations permit?
9.81 May I use previously submitted information?
9.82 What must I include in my application?
9.83 What information must be included in all applications?
9.84 Existing conditions.
9.85 Environmental conditions and mitigation actions.
9.86 Spill control and emergency preparedness plan.
9.87 What additional information must be included if I am proposing 
geophysical exploration?
9.88 What additional information must be included if I am proposing 
drilling operations?
9.89 What additional information must be included if I am proposing 
well stimulation operations, including hydraulic fracturing?

[[Page 65591]]

9.90 What additional information must be included if I am proposing 
production operations?

Operations Permit: Application Review Process

9.100 How will NPS process my application?
9.101 How will the NPS conduct initial review
9.102 How will the NPS conduct formal review?
9.103 What standards must be met to approve my application?
9.104 What final actions may the Regional Director take on my 
Operations Permit application?
9.105 What is the approval process for operations in Big Cypress 
National Preserve?

Operating Standards

9.110 What are the purposes and functions of NPS operating 
standards?
9.111 What general facility design and management standards must I 
meet?
9.112 What hydrologic standards must I meet?
9.113 What safety standards must I meet?
9.114 What lighting and visual standards must I meet?
9.115 What noise reduction standards must I meet?
9.116 What reclamation and protection standards must I meet?
9.117 What additional operating standards apply to geophysical 
operations?
9.118 What additional operating standards apply to drilling, 
stimulation, and production operations?

General Terms and Conditions

9.120 What terms and conditions apply to all operators?
9.121 What monitoring and reporting is required for all operators?
9.122 What additional reports must I submit if my operation includes 
hydraulic fracturing?

Access to Oil and Gas Rights

9.130 May I cross Federal property to reach the boundary of my 
mineral right?
9.131 Will the NPS charge me a fee for access?
9.132 Will I be charged a fee for emergency access to my operations?

Financial Assurance

9.140 Do I have to provide financial assurance to the NPS?
9.141 How does the NPS establish the amount of financial assurance?
9.142 Will the NPS adjust my financial assurance?
9.143 When will the NPS release my financial assurance?
9.144 Under what circumstances will I forfeit my financial 
assurance?

Modification to an Operation

9.150 Can my approved permit be modified?

Change of Operator

9.160 What are my responsibilities if I transfer my operations?
9.161 What must I do if operations are transferred to me?

Well Plugging

9.170 When must I plug my well?
9.171 Can I get an extension to the well plugging requirement?

Prohibitions and Penalties

9.180 What acts are prohibited under this subpart?
9.181 What enforcement actions can the NPS take?
9.182 How do violations affect my ability to obtain a permit?

Reconsideration and Appeals

9.190 Can I request reconsideration of NPS decisions?
9.191 How does the NPS process my request for reconsideration?
9.192 Can I appeal the Regional Director's decision?
9.193 Will filing a request for reconsideration or appeal stop the 
NPS from taking action under this subpart?
9.194 What if the original decision was made by the Superintendent?

Public Participation

9.200 How can the public participate in the approval process?

Information Collection

9.210 Has the Office of Management and Budget approved the 
information collection requirements?

Subpart B--Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 230a(a)(4), 459d-3, 460cc-2(i), 
460ee(c)(4), 698c(b)(2), 698i(b)(2), and 698m-4; 18 U.S.C. 3571 and 
3581; 31 U.S.C. 9701; 54 U.S.C. 100101, 100751, and 103104.

Purpose and Scope


Sec.  9.30  What is the purpose and scope of this subpart?

    (a) This subpart ensures that operators exercising non-federal oil 
and gas rights within an NPS unit use technologically feasible, least 
damaging methods to:
    (1) Protect federally owned or administered lands, waters, or 
resources of NPS units;
    (2) Protect NPS visitor uses or experiences, or visitor or employee 
health and safety; and
    (3) Protect park resources and values under the statute commonly 
known as the NPS Organic Act;
    (b) This subpart applies to all operators conducting non-federal 
oil or gas operations on lands or waters within an NPS unit, regardless 
of the ownership or jurisdictional status of those lands or waters.
    (c) We do not intend for this subpart to result in a taking of a 
property interest. The purpose of this subpart is to reasonably 
regulate operations affecting federally owned or administered lands, 
waters, and resources of NPS units, visitor uses and experiences, and 
visitor and employee health and safety.


Sec.  9.31  When does this subpart apply to me?

    (a) This subpart applies to you if you are an operator who conducts 
or proposes to conduct non-federal oil or gas operations.
    (b) If you were operating outside of an NPS unit and your operation 
has been included within an existing NPS unit as a result of a change 
to the boundary, or included within a newly established NPS unit, you 
are subject to Sec. Sec.  9.50 through 9.53.
    (c) If you were operating under an exemption because your operation 
accessed oil and gas rights inside the park boundary from a surface 
location outside the park boundary, and your surface location has been 
included within an existing NPS unit as a result of a change to the 
boundary, or included within a newly established NPS unit, you are 
subject to Sec. Sec.  9.50 through 9.53.


Sec.  9.32  What authorization do I need to conduct operations?

    (a) Except as provided in Sec. Sec.  9.70 through 9.73, you must 
obtain a temporary access permit under Sec. Sec.  9.60 through 9.63 or 
an operations permit under Sec. Sec.  9.80 through 9.90 before starting 
operations.
    (b) You must demonstrate that you have the right to operate in 
order to conduct activities within an NPS unit.


Sec.  9.33  If I am already operating under an NPS authorization, what 
do I need to do?

    (a) If you already have an NPS-approved plan of operations, you may 
continue to operate according to the terms and conditions of that 
approval, subject to the provisions of this subpart. For purposes of 
this subpart, we will consider your approved plan of operations to be 
either a temporary access permit or operations permit.
    (b) This section applies to you if we have granted you an exemption 
to the plan of operations requirement because your operation accesses 
oil and gas rights inside a park boundary from a surface location 
outside the park's boundary. You may continue to operate under the 
exemption provided that your operations comply with the general terms 
and conditions of Sec. Sec.  9.120 through 9.122. You are also subject 
to the prohibitions and penalties in Sec. Sec.  9.180 through 9.182.

[[Page 65592]]

Definitions


Sec.  9.40  What do the terms used in this subpart mean?

    In addition to the definitions in 36 CFR 1.4, the following 
definitions apply to this subpart:
    Area of operations means lands or waters within an NPS unit on 
which operations are approved to be carried out, including roads or 
other areas where you are authorized to exercise the oil and gas 
rights.
    Contaminating substance means any toxic or hazardous substance 
which is used in or results from the conduct of operations and is 
listed under the Clean Water Act at 40 CFR part 116, the Resource 
Conservation and Recovery Act at 40 CFR part 261, or the Hazardous 
Materials Transportation Act at 49 CFR part 172. This includes, but is 
not limited to, explosives, radioactive materials, brine waters, 
formation waters, petroleum products, petroleum by-products, and 
chemical compounds used for drilling, production, processing, well 
testing, well completion, and well servicing.
    Gas means any fluid, either combustible or noncombustible, which is 
produced in a natural state from the earth and which maintains a 
gaseous or rarefied state at ordinary temperature and pressure 
conditions.
    NPS unit has the same meaning as ``National Park System (Park 
Area)'' defined at 36 CFR 1.4(a).
    Oil means any viscous combustible liquid hydrocarbon or solid 
hydrocarbon substance easily liquefiable on warming that occurs 
naturally in the earth, including drip gasoline or other natural 
condensates recovered from gas without resort to manufacturing process.
    Operations means all existing and proposed functions, work, and 
activities in connection with the exercise of oil or gas rights not 
owned by the United States and located or occurring within an NPS unit.
    (1) Operations include, but are not limited to: Access by any means 
to or from an area of operations; construction; geological and 
geophysical exploration; drilling, well servicing, workover, or 
recompletion; production; gathering (including installation and 
maintenance of flowlines and gathering lines); storage, transport, or 
processing of petroleum products; earth moving; excavation; hauling; 
disposal; surveillance, inspection, monitoring, or maintenance of 
wells, facilities, and equipment; reclamation; road and pad building or 
improvement; shot hole and well plugging and abandonment, and 
reclamation; and all other activities incident to any of the foregoing.
    (2) Operations do not include reconnaissance surveys as defined in 
this subpart or oil and gas pipelines that are located within the park 
under authority of a deeded or other right-of-way.
    Operations permit means an NPS special use permit authorizing an 
operator to conduct operations in an NPS unit. An operations permit is 
subject to cost recovery under 54 U.S.C. 103104.
    Operator means any person or entity, agent, assignee, designee, 
lessee, or representative thereof who is conducting operations or 
proposing to exercise non-federal oil and gas rights within the 
boundaries of an NPS unit.
    Owner means the person that holds title to non-federal oil and gas 
minerals.
    Previously exempt operations means those operations being conducted 
in an NPS unit without an approved permit from the NPS as of the 
effective date of these regulations. This term does not include 
operations where, before the effective date of these regulations, the 
NPS granted the operator an exemption to the plan of operations 
requirement because the operation accessed oil and gas rights inside 
the park from a surface location outside the park.
    Reconnaissance survey means an inspection or survey conducted by 
qualified specialists for the purpose of preparing a permit 
application.
    (1) A reconnaissance survey includes identification of the area of 
operations and collection of natural and cultural resource information 
within and adjacent to the proposed area of operations.
    (2) A reconnaissance survey does not include surface disturbance 
activities except for minimal disturbance necessary to perform cultural 
resource surveys, natural resource surveys, and location surveys 
required under this subpart.
    Right to operate means a deed, lease, memorandum of lease, 
designation of operator, assignment of right, or other documentation 
demonstrating that you hold a legal right to conduct the operations you 
are proposing within an NPS unit.
    Technologically feasible, least damaging methods are those that we 
determine, on a case-by-case basis, to be most protective of park 
resources and values while ensuring human health and safety, taking 
into consideration all relevant factors, including environmental, 
economic, and technological factors and the requirements of applicable 
law.
    Temporary access permit means an NPS special use permit authorizing 
an operator to access that operator's proposed area of operations to 
conduct reconnaissance surveys necessary to collect basic information 
necessary to prepare an operations permit application. A temporary 
access permit is subject to cost recovery under 54 U.S.C. 103104.
    Third-party monitor means a qualified specialist who is not an 
employee, agent, or representative of the operator and who has 
demonstrated to the NPS the relevant expertise to monitor operations 
for compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and permit 
requirements.
    Usable water means an aquifer or its portion which supplies any 
public water system; or which contains a sufficient quantity of ground 
water to supply a public water system; and currently supplies drinking 
water for human consumption; or contains fewer than 10,000 mg/l total 
dissolved solids; and which is not an exempted aquifer.
    Waste means any material that is discarded. It includes, but is not 
limited to: Drilling fluids and cuttings; produced fluids not under 
regulation as a toxic or hazardous substance; human waste; garbage; 
fuel drums; pipes; oil; contaminated soil; synthetic materials; man-
made structures or equipment; or native and nonnative materials.
    We and us mean the National Park Service.
    You and I mean the operator, unless otherwise specified or 
indicated by the context.

Previously Exempt Operations


Sec.  9.50  Do I need an operations permit for my previously exempt 
operations?

    Yes. You must obtain an NPS operations permit in accordance with 
Sec. Sec.  9.80 through 9.90.


Sec.  9.51  How do I apply for my operations permit?

    Within 90 days after [effective date of the final rule] or within 
90 days after the effective date of a boundary change, or establishment 
of a new NPS unit, as applicable, you must submit the following to the 
Superintendent of the NPS unit in which you propose to continue to 
conduct operations:
    (a) A brief description of the current operations and any 
anticipated changes to the current operations;
    (b) Documentation demonstrating that you hold the right to operate 
within an NPS unit;
    (c) The State well-identification permit number or American 
Petroleum Institute (API) well number;

[[Page 65593]]

    (d) Maps to scale that clearly delineate your proposed area of 
operations as of [effective date of the final rule] or the effective 
date of a boundary change, or establishment of a new NPS unit, as 
applicable, and that identify the area of surface disturbance and 
equipment layout within your proposed area of operations;
    (e) A spill control environmental preparedness plan as required by 
Sec.  9.86;
    (f) Documentation of the current operating methods, surface 
equipment, downhole well construction and completion, materials 
produced or used, and monitoring methods;
    (g) A description of how your proposed operation will meet each 
applicable operating standard in this subpart;
    (h) A description of the procedures to be used and cost estimates 
for well plugging and surface reclamation; and
    (i) The results of any reconnaissance surveys you have conducted to 
be used by the Superintendent to identify resource protection measures 
in your operations permit.


Sec.  9.52  What will the NPS do with my application?

    The NPS will review your application and take action under 
Sec. Sec.  9.100 through 9.104.


Sec.  9.53  May I continue to operate while the NPS reviews my 
application?

    Before obtaining an approved operations permit, you may continue to 
conduct operations subject to the following conditions:
    (a) Continuation of operations is limited to those methods and the 
area of disturbance that existed on [insert effective date] or the 
effective date of a boundary change, or establishment of a new NPS 
unit, as applicable.
    (b) Your operation is also subject to the general terms and 
conditions in Sec. Sec.  9.120 through 9.122 and the prohibitions and 
penalties in Sec. Sec.  9.180 through 9.182.
    (c) Except in an emergency, we will not take any steps to directly 
regulate your operation before 90 days after [effective date of the 
final rule] or 90 days after the effective date of a boundary change, 
or establishment of a new NPS unit, as applicable.

Temporary Access Permits


Sec.  9.60  When do I need a temporary access permit?

    You must apply to the Regional Director for a temporary access 
permit to access your proposed area of operations in order to conduct 
reconnaissance surveys. This permit will describe the means, routes, 
timing, and other terms and conditions of your access as determined by 
the Regional Director.


Sec.  9.61  How do I apply for a temporary access permit?

    To apply for a temporary access permit, you must submit the 
following information to the Superintendent of the NPS unit in which 
you propose to conduct operations:
    (a) A brief description of the intended future operation so that we 
can determine what information needs to be gathered;
    (b) Documentation demonstrating that you hold a legal right to 
operate located within an NPS unit;
    (c) The name, legal address, and telephone number of the owner, 
operator, employee, agent, or contractor responsible for overall 
management of the proposed operations;
    (d) The name, legal address, telephone number, and qualifications 
of all specialists responsible for conducting the reconnaissance 
surveys;
    (e) A map delineating the proposed reconnaissance survey area in 
relation to the park boundary and the proposed area of operations at a 
minimum scale of 1:24,000, or a scale specified by the Superintendent 
as acceptable;
    (f) A description of proposed means of access and routes proposed 
for conducting the reconnaissance surveys; and
    (g) A description of the survey methods you intend to use to 
identify the natural and cultural resources.


Sec.  9.62  When will the NPS grant a temporary access permit?

    If the Regional Director determines that your proposed 
reconnaissance survey will not result in surface disturbance, except 
for minimal disturbance necessary to perform surveys, the Regional 
Director will issue you a temporary access permit within 30 days after 
receipt of a complete application, unless the Regional Director 
notifies you that additional time is necessary to evaluate or process 
your application.


Sec.  9.63  How long will I have to conduct my reconnaissance surveys?

    Your temporary access permit will be in effect for a maximum of 60 
days from the date of issuance. The Regional Director may extend the 
term of the temporary access permit for a reasonable period of time, 
based upon your written request that explains why an extension is 
necessary.

Accessing Oil and Gas Rights From a Surface Location Outside the Park 
Boundary


Sec.  9.70  Do I need an operations permit for accessing oil and gas 
rights from outside the park boundary?

    Your downhole activities inside an NPS unit are subject to these 
regulations. If you wish to access your oil and gas rights located 
inside an NPS unit from a surface location outside the unit, you must 
submit the information required by Sec.  9.71. We will evaluate this 
information to determine whether your operations are exempt or require 
an operations permit. We will require an operations permit only if we 
determine that permit requirements are needed to protect against a 
significant threat of damage to:
    (a) Federally owned or administered lands, waters, or resources 
within NPS units;
    (b) NPS visitor uses or experiences; or
    (c) Visitor or employee health or safety.


Sec.  9.71  What information must I submit to the NPS?

    You must provide the information required by this section to the 
Superintendent of the relevant NPS unit. You must provide all of the 
following.
    (a) The names and addresses of:
    (1) The operator;
    (2) The mineral owner; and
    (3) Any agents, assignees, designees, lessees, contractors, 
employees, or other representatives of the operator responsible for the 
overall management of the proposed operations.
    (b) Documentation demonstrating that you hold a legal right to 
operate in an NPS unit.
    (c) Contact information for the operator's representative 
responsible for field supervision of the proposed operations and for 
emergency response for the proposed operations.
    (d) Maps and plats to scale showing the boundaries of each of the 
mineral tracts that are relevant to your proposed operations within the 
NPS unit boundary.
    (e) Maps and plats to scale showing all proposed surface uses (well 
site, access route, flowlines, production facilities) that occur 
outside the NPS unit.
    (f) Information regarding downhole operations and conditions, 
including:
    (1) Description, including depths, thicknesses, and properties of 
geologic horizons between the target zone and the base of the deepest 
aquifer;
    (2) Drilling plan, including directional-drilling program, 
horizontal

[[Page 65594]]

distance along the wellbore's path from well's surface location to the 
park boundary, depth at which wellbore crosses NPS unit boundary, and 
timeline for operations;
    (3) Casing, cementing, and mud programs;
    (4) Stimulation programs; and
    (5) Well plugging and abandonment program.
    (g) If you propose hydraulic fracturing, then you must also provide 
the information required by Sec.  9.89.


Sec.  9.72  How will the NPS act on my submission?

    (a) Within 30 days after receiving your submission under Sec.  
9.71, the Superintendent will notify you in writing that your 
information is complete, you need to submit more information, or we 
need more time to review your submission.
    (b) Within 30 days after receiving your complete submission, the 
Superintendent will notify you in writing that either:
    (1) No further action is required by the NPS and you are exempt 
from the operations permit requirement; or
    (2) You must obtain an operations permit.
    (c) If you need an operations permit, the information provided 
under Sec.  9.71 is your permit application and the NPS will review 
your application under Sec. Sec.  9.100 through 9.104.


Sec.  9.73  If I don't need an operations permit, are there still 
requirements that I must I meet?

    If the NPS notifies you under Sec.  9.72 that you do not need an 
operations permit, you are still subject to the general terms and 
conditions in Sec. Sec.  9.120 through 9.122, the prohibitions and 
penalties in Sec. Sec.  9.180 through 9.182, and the requirements in 
this section.
    (a) You must notify the NPS within 30 days if your method of 
operation or the environmental conditions of your operation change.
    (b) The Regional Director may notify you in writing that you are no 
longer exempt from the operations permit requirement after determining 
that operational requirements are needed to protect against a 
significant threat of damage to any of the following:
    (1) Federally owned or administered lands, waters, or resources of 
NPS units;
    (2) NPS visitor uses or experiences; or
    (3) Visitor or employee health or safety.
    (c) Within 30 days after receiving this notification, you must file 
your operations permit application with the Superintendent.

Operations Permit: Application Contents


Sec.  9.80  Who must apply for an operations permit?

    Except as otherwise provided Sec. Sec.  9.70 through 9.73, an 
operator proposing to conduct operations within the boundary of an NPS 
unit must submit an application for an operations permit to the 
Superintendent.


Sec.  9.81  May I use previously submitted information?

    (a) In satisfying the requirements of Sec. Sec.  9.82 through 9.90, 
you do not need to resubmit information that is already on file with 
the NPS. Instead, you may reference the previously submitted 
information in your permit application.
    (b) You may submit documents and materials containing the 
information required by Sec. Sec.  9.82 through 9.90 that you have 
submitted to other Federal and State agencies. If you do this, you must 
clearly identify the information required by Sec. Sec.  9.82 through 
9.90.


Sec.  9.82  What must I include in my application?

    (a) Your application for an operations permit must include all of 
the information required by Sec.  9.83. You must also submit the 
information required by Sec. Sec.  9.87 through 9.90, where applicable, 
and any additional information that the Superintendent may require.
    (b) You may provide information for only the phase of operations 
you propose. Each permit application is only required to describe those 
functions for which you want immediate approval. However, approval of 
an Operations Permit covering one phase of operations does not 
guarantee future approval of an Operations Permit covering a subsequent 
phase.


Sec.  9.83  What information must be included in all applications?

    All applications must include the information required by this 
section.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
All operations permit applications
 must include information on . . .     and must include the following
                                         detailed information . . .
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(a) Ownership.....................  documentation demonstrating that you
                                     hold the right to operate inside of
                                     an NPS unit.
(b) The owner/operator............  names, addresses, and other contact
                                     information for:
                                    (1) The operator;
                                    (2) The mineral owner;
                                    (3) Any agents, assignees,
                                     designees, contractors, or other
                                     representatives of the operator;
                                    (4) The operator's representatives
                                     responsible for overall management,
                                     field supervision, and emergency
                                     response for the proposed
                                     operations.
(c) Existing conditions and         all the information required by Sec.
 proposed area of operations.          9.84.
(d) Reclamation plan..............  (1) A description of the specific
                                     equipment and methods used to meet
                                     the operating standards for
                                     reclamation at Sec.   9.116; and
                                    (2) A breakdown of the estimated
                                     costs that a third party would
                                     charge to complete reclamation as
                                     proposed in your reclamation plan.
(e) Use of water..................  (1) The source, quantity, access
                                     route, and transportation/
                                     conveyance method for all water to
                                     be used in access road and pad
                                     construction, well drilling,
                                     stimulation, and production; and
                                    (2) Estimations of any anticipated
                                     waste water volumes generated and
                                     how they will be managed (i.e.
                                     handled, temporary stored,
                                     disposed, recycled, reused)
                                     throughout stages of the operation.
(f) Environmental conditions and    all the information required by Sec.
 mitigation actions.                   9.85.
(g) The spill control and           all the information required by Sec.
 emergency preparedness plan.          9.86.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec.  9.84  Existing conditions.

    (a) You must submit to-scale maps that clearly identify:
    (1) The boundaries of each of your mineral tracts in relation to 
your proposed operations and the relevant NPS unit boundary;

[[Page 65595]]

    (2) The natural features, including, but not limited, to streams, 
lakes, ponds, topographic relief, and areas the NPS has indicated to 
you as environmentally sensitive;
    (3) The locations of existing roads, trails, railroad tracks, pads, 
and other disturbed areas; and
    (4) The locations of existing structures that your operations could 
affect, including, but not limited to: Buildings, pipelines, producing 
oil and gas wells, freshwater wells, underground and overhead 
electrical lines, and other utility lines.
    (b) You must submit the following information about geologic 
conditions under natural conditions and under the proposed operating 
conditions:
    (1) Estimated depths and names of zones of usable water, brine, 
hydrocarbon, geothermal, or other mineral-bearing zones based on the 
best available information;
    (2) Potential hazards to persons and the environment such as 
abnormal pressure zones, lost circulation zones, hydrogen sulfide gas, 
or karst formations; and
    (3) Nature and extent (depth if known) of near-surface bedrock 
fracturing/jointing relative to proposed cemented surface casing-seat 
depth and any open annular interval proposed in the well design.
    (c) You must submit the following information about new surface 
disturbances and construction:
    (1) Maps showing the proposed area of operations; boundaries of new 
surface disturbances as determined by a location survey; and proposed 
access routes as determined by a location survey;
    (2) Maps showing the proposed location of all support facilities, 
including those for transportation (e.g., vehicle parking areas, 
airstrips, helicopter pads), sanitation, occupation, staging areas, 
fuel dumps, refueling areas, loading docks, water supplies, and 
disposal facilities;
    (3) The method and diagrams, including cross-sections, of any 
proposed pad construction, road construction, cut-and-fill areas, and 
surface maintenance, including erosion control;
    (4) The number and types of equipment and vehicles, including an 
estimate of vehicular round trips associated with each phase of your 
operation;
    (5) An estimated timetable for each phase of the proposed 
operations, including any operational timing constraints;
    (6) The type and extent of security measures proposed at your area 
of operations;
    (7) The power sources and their transmission systems for the 
proposed operations; and
    (8) The types and quantities of all solid and liquid waste 
generation and the proposed methods of storage, handling, and disposal.


Sec.  9.85  Environmental conditions and mitigation actions.

    You must submit the following information about environmental 
conditions and mitigation actions:
    (a) The natural resource and the cultural resource survey reports 
for your proposed area of operations;
    (b) A description of the steps you propose to take to mitigate any 
adverse environmental impacts on park resources and values, including 
but not limited to, the unit's: Land features, land uses, fish and 
wildlife, vegetation, soils, surface and subsurface water resources, 
air quality, noise, lightscapes, viewsheds, cultural resources, and 
economic environment; and
    (c) A discussion of:
    (1) Any anticipated impacts that you cannot mitigate; and
    (2) All alternative technologically feasible, least damaging 
methods of operations, their costs, and their environmental effects.


Sec.  9.86  Spill control and emergency preparedness plan.

    You must submit the following information about your spill control 
and emergency preparedness plan. You may use a spill prevention control 
and countermeasure (SPCC) plan prepared under 40 CFR part 112 if the 
plan includes all of the information required by this section. You must 
submit:
    (a) A list of names, addresses, and telephone numbers of persons 
that the Superintendent can contact in the event of a spill, fire, or 
accident, including the order in which the persons should be contacted;
    (b) Notification and reporting procedure in the event of a spill, 
fire, or accident;
    (c) Identification of contaminating or toxic substances used within 
your area of operations or expected to be encountered during 
operations;
    (d) Identification of abnormal pressure, temperature, toxic gases 
or substances, or other hazardous conditions at your area of operations 
or expected to be encountered during operations;
    (e) Measures (e.g., procedures, facility design, equipment) to 
minimize risks to human health and safety and the environment;
    (f) Steps to prevent accumulations of oil or other materials deemed 
to be fire hazards from occurring in the vicinity of well locations and 
lease tanks;
    (g) The equipment and methods for containment and cleanup of 
contaminating substances, including a description of the equipment 
available at your area of operations and equipment available from local 
contractors;
    (h) A storm water drainage plan and actions intended to mitigate 
storm water runoff;
    (i) Safety data sheets for each material you will use or encounter 
during operations; including expected quantities maintained at your 
area of operations;
    (j) A description of the emergency actions you will take in the 
event of accidents causing human injury; and
    (k) Contingency plans for conditions and emergencies other than 
spills, such as if your area of operations is located in areas prone to 
hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, fires, or earthquakes.


Sec.  9.87  What additional information must be included if I am 
proposing geophysical exploration?

    If you propose to conduct geophysical exploration, you must submit 
the following additional information:
    (a) The number of crews and numbers of workers in each crew;
    (b) Names and depths of geologic zones targeted for imaging;
    (c) A description of the acquisition methods, including the 
procedures, specific equipment you will use, and energy sources (e.g., 
explosives or vibroseis trucks);
    (d) The methods of access along each survey line for personnel, 
materials, and equipment;
    (e) A list of all explosives, blasting equipment, chemicals, and 
fuels you will use in the proposed operations, including a description 
of proposed disposal methods, transportation methods, safety measures, 
and storage facilities; and
    (f) A map showing the positions of each survey line including all 
source and receiver locations as determined by a locational survey, and 
including shotpoint offset distances from wells, buildings, other 
infrastructure, and areas the NPS has indicated to you as 
environmentally sensitive areas.


Sec.  9.88  What additional information must be included if I am 
proposing drilling operations?

    If you are proposing to drill a well, you must submit the following 
additional information:
    (a) Well-pad construction, including dimensions and cross sections 
of: Cut

[[Page 65596]]

and fill areas and excavations for ditches, sumps, and spill control 
equipment or structures, including lined areas;
    (b) Drill-rig and equipment layout, including rig components, fuel 
tanks, testing equipment, support facilities, storage areas, and all 
other well-site equipment and facilities;
    (c) The drilling program, including hole size for each section and 
the directional program, if applicable;
    (d) Proposed drilling depth and the estimated depths and names of 
usable water, brine, hydrocarbon, geothermal, or other mineral-bearing 
zones;
    (e) The type and characteristics of the proposed mud systems;
    (f) The casing program, including the size, grade, weight, and 
setting depth of each string;
    (g) The cementing program, including downhole location of any stage 
equipment, cement types, volumes, and additives to be used, and a 
description of pressure tests and cement verification techniques used 
that will be run to evaluate cement placement and integrity;
    (h) The minimum specifications for pressure control equipment 
function and pressure testing frequency and the blowout preventer stack 
arrangement;
    (i) The proposed logging, coring, and testing programs;
    (j) The proposed completion program, including completion type 
(open-hole, perforated, slotted liner, etc.) and procedures, including 
considerations for well control; and
    (k) A description of the equipment, materials, and procedures 
proposed for well plugging, including plug depths, plug types, and 
minimum mud weight.


Sec.  9.89  What additional information must be included if I am 
proposing well-stimulation operations, including hydraulic fracturing?

    If you are proposing well stimulation operations, including 
hydraulic fracturing, you must submit the following additional 
information:
    (a) The geologic names, a geologic description, and the estimated 
depths (measured and true vertical) to the top and bottom of the 
formation into which hydraulic fracturing fluids are to be injected. 
The estimated minimum vertical distance between the top of the fracture 
zone and the nearest usable water zone, and the measured depth of the 
proposed perforated or open-hole interval.
    (b) The estimated depths (measured and true vertical) to the top 
and bottom of the confining zone(s). Include a map showing the 
location, orientation, and extent of any known or suspected faults or 
fractures within one-half mile (horizontal distance) of the wellbore 
trajectory that may transect the confining zone(s).
    (c) A map showing all existing wellbore trajectories, regardless of 
type, within one-half mile (horizontal distance) of any portion of the 
wellbore into which hydraulic fracturing fluids are to be injected. The 
true vertical depth of each wellbore identified on the map must be 
indicated.
    (d) Steps to be taken before treatment to verify mechanical 
integrity of all downhole tubulars and tools and cement quality, 
including pressure tests, monitoring of cement returns to surface, and 
cement evaluation logs (or other logs acceptable to the Superintendent) 
demonstrating that the occurrences of usable water zones have been 
isolated to protect them from contamination.
    (e) A detailed description of the proposed well-stimulation design, 
including:
    (1) The proposed stimulation fluid, including, but not limited to, 
the base fluid and each additive by trade name, and purpose of 
additive;
    (2) Proposed proppant system;
    (3) The estimated total volume of fluid to be used;
    (4) The anticipated surface treating pressure range;
    (5) The maximum anticipated surface pressure that will be applied 
during the hydraulic fracturing process;
    (6) The trajectory of the wellbore into which hydraulic fracturing 
fluids are to be injected and the estimated direction and length of the 
fractures that will be propagated and a notation indicating the true 
vertical depth of the top and bottom of the fractures; and
    (7) Any microseismic monitoring planned or proposed in conjunction 
with well stimulation.
    (f) The source and location of water supply, such as reused or 
recycled water, rivers, creeks, springs, lakes, ponds, and water supply 
wells, and the source and location of water supply, such as reused or 
recycled water, rivers, creeks, springs, lakes, ponds, and water supply 
wells.
    (g) The storage, mixing, pumping, and control equipment needed to 
perform the stimulation.
    (h) The following information concerning the handling of recovered 
fluids:
    (1) The estimated volume of stimulation fluids to be recovered 
during flow back;
    (2) The proposed methods of handling the recovered fluids including 
any onsite treatment for re-use of fluids in other stimulation 
activities; and
    (3) The proposed disposal method of the recovered fluids, 
including, but not limited to, injection, hauling by truck, or 
transporting by pipeline.


Sec.  9.90  What additional information must be included if I am 
proposing production operations?

    If you are proposing to produce a well, you must submit all of the 
following information:
    (a) The dimensions and the to-scale layout of the wellpad, clearly 
identifying well locations, noting partial reclamation areas; 
gathering, separation, metering, and storage equipment; electrical 
lines; fences; spill control equipment or structures including lined 
areas, artificial lift equipment, tank batteries, treating and 
separating vessels, secondary or enhanced recovery facilities, water 
disposal facilities, gas compression and/or injection facilities; 
metering points; sales point (if on lease); tanker pick-up points; gas 
compressor, including size and type (if applicable); and any other well 
site equipment;
    (b) The size, grade, weight, and setting depth of all casing and 
tubing strings; cementing history; type and size of packers and 
subsurface flow control devices; top and bottom depths of each 
completed interval; and method of completion;
    (c) The well history, including completions, stimulations, 
servicing, and workovers;
    (d) The minimum specifications for pressure-control equipment, 
function, and pressure-testing frequency;
    (e) The method and means used to transport produced oil and gas, 
including vehicular transport; flowline and gathering line 
construction; operation; pipe size; operating pressure; cathodic 
protection methods; surface equipment use; surface equipment location; 
maintenance procedures; maintenance schedules; pressure detection 
methods; and shutdown procedures;
    (f) Road and wellpad maintenance plan, including equipment and 
materials to maintain the road surface and control erosion;
    (g) Vegetation management plan on well sites, roads, pipeline 
corridors, and other disturbed surface areas, including control of 
exotic species;
    (h) Storm water management plan on the well site;
    (i) Produced water storage and disposal plan; and
    (j) The procedures proposed for well plugging, the depths and the 
types of plugs, and minimum mud weight.

[[Page 65597]]

Operations Permit: Application Review Process


Sec.  9.100  How will NPS process my application?

    We will conduct initial review of your application to determine if 
all information is complete. Once your information is complete, we can 
begin formal review. If you propose operations in Big Cypress National 
Preserve, the requirements in Sec.  9.105 apply instead of those in 
Sec.  9.101 and Sec.  9.102.


Sec.  9.101  How will the NPS conduct initial review?

    (a) Within 30 days after receipt of your application, the 
Superintendent will notify you in writing that either:
    (1) Your application is complete and the NPS will begin formal 
review;
    (2) Your permit application does not meet the information 
requirements and additional information is required before the NPS will 
conduct formal review of your permit application; or
    (3) More time is necessary to complete the review, in which case 
the NPS will provide you an estimate of the amount of additional time 
reasonably needed and an explanation for the delay.
    (b) If you resubmit information requested by the NPS under this 
section and the Superintendent determines that you have met all 
applicable information requirements, the Superintendent will notify you 
within 30 days after receipt of the additional information that either:
    (1) Your application is complete and the NPS will begin formal 
review; or
    (2) More time is necessary to complete the review, in which case 
the NPS will provide you an estimate of the amount of additional time 
reasonably needed and an explanation for the delay.


Sec.  9.102  How will the NPS conduct formal review?

    (a) The Superintendent will evaluate the potential impacts of your 
proposal on federally owned or administered lands, waters, or resources 
within NPS units, visitor uses and experiences, and visitor and 
employee health and safety. As part of this evaluation process, the NPS 
will comply with all applicable federal laws, including the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The Superintendent will then make a 
recommendation to the Regional Director regarding final action on your 
operations permit.
    (b) As part of the evaluation process, the Superintendent may 
consult with other Federal, State, and local agencies.


Sec.  9.103  What standards must be met to approve my application?

    (a) In order to approve your operations permit application, the 
Regional Director first must determine that your operations:
    (1) Will not impair park resources and values under the statute 
commonly known as the NPS Organic Act;
    (2) Will meet all applicable operating standards; and
    (3) Will comply with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws 
and regulations.
    (b) Before approval of your permit application, you must submit to 
the Superintendent:
    (1) Financial assurance in the amount specified by the Regional 
Director and in accordance with the requirements of Sec. Sec.  9.140 
through 9.144; and
    (2) Proof of liability insurance with limits sufficient to cover 
injuries to persons or property caused by your operations.


Sec.  9.104  What final actions may the Regional Director take on my 
Operations Permit application?

    (a) The Regional Director will take final action within 180 days 
after the date the NPS deems your application complete unless:
    (1) We and you agree that such final action will occur within a 
shorter or longer period of time; or
    (2) We determine that an additional period of time is required to 
ensure that we have, in reviewing the permit application, complied with 
other applicable laws, Executive orders, and regulations.
    (b) The Regional Director will notify you in writing that your 
permit application is:
    (1) Approved, and provide you a list of required operating 
conditions; or
    (2) Denied, and provide you justification for the denial. Any such 
denial must be consistent with Sec.  9.30(c).


Sec.  9.105  What is the approval process for operations in Big Cypress 
National Preserve?

    (a) Within 30 days after the date of submission of your 
application, we will notify you whether the application contains all 
information reasonably necessary to allow us to consider the 
application and, if not, will request that you provide additional 
information. After receiving this notification, you must either supply 
any reasonably necessary additional information or must notify us that 
you believe that the application contains all reasonably necessary 
information and is therefore complete; whereupon we may:
    (1) Within 30 days after receipt of the notice from the applicant, 
determine that the application does not contain all reasonably 
necessary additional information and, on that basis, deny the 
application; or
    (2) Review the application and take final action within 60 days 
after the date that you provided notification to the NPS that your 
application is complete.
    (b) The Regional Director will take final action within 90 days 
after the date you submitted your application unless:
    (1) We and you agree that final action can occur within a shorter 
or longer period of time; or
    (2) We determine that an additional period of time is required to 
ensure that we have, in reviewing the permit application, complied with 
other applicable laws, executive orders, and regulations.

Operating Standards


Sec.  9.110  What are the purposes and functions of NPS operating 
standards?

    (a) You must comply with all operating standards in Sec. Sec.  
9.111 through 9.116, as well as with the standards in Sec. Sec.  9.117 
and 9.118, if applicable. The standards apply only to operations that 
occur within a park unit, including downhole activities, and do not 
apply to surface activities located outside a park unit. These 
operating standards are incorporated into the terms and conditions of 
your operations permit. Violation of these operating standards will 
subject you to the prohibitions and penalties provisions of Sec. Sec.  
9.180 through 9.182.
    (b) NPS operating standards ensure protection of federally owned 
administered lands, waters, and resources of NPS units, visitor uses 
and experiences, and visitor and employee health and safety. The 
operating standards give us and the operator flexibility to consider 
using alternative methods, equipment, materials design, and conduct of 
operations.
    (c) In applying standards to a particular operation, you must use 
technologically feasible, least damaging methods to protect federally 
owned or administered lands, waters, and resources of NPS units, 
visitor uses and experiences, and visitor and employee health and 
safety.


Sec.  9.111  What general facility design and management standards must 
I meet?

    (a) You must design, construct, operate, and maintain access to 
your operational site to cause the minimum amount of surface 
disturbance needed to safely conduct operations and to avoid areas the 
NPS has indicated to you as sensitive resources.
    (b) You must install and maintain secondary containment materials 
and structures for all equipment and facilities using or storing 
contaminating substances. The containment system must be sufficiently 
impervious to

[[Page 65598]]

prevent discharge and must have sufficient storage capacity to contain, 
at a minimum, the largest potential spill incident.
    (c) You must keep temporarily stored waste in the smallest feasible 
area, and confine it to prevent escape as a result of percolation, 
rain, high water, or other causes. You must regularly remove waste from 
the NPS unit and lawfully dispose of it in a direct and workable 
timeframe. Under 36 CFR part 6, you may not establish a solid waste 
disposal site in an NPS unit.
    (d) You must use engines that adhere to current Federal and State 
emission standards.
    (e) You must construct, maintain, and use roads to minimize 
fugitive dust emissions;
    (f) You must use equipment and practices that minimize releases or 
flaring of gas.
    (g) You must provide a safe environment for fish and wildlife free 
from exposure to physical and chemical hazards.
    (h) You must control the invasion of exotic plant and animal 
species in your area of operations from the beginning through final 
reclamation.


Sec.  9.112  What hydrologic standards must I meet?

    (a) You must not conduct ground-disturbing operations within 500 
feet of surface water, including an intermittent or ephemeral 
watercourse, or wetland; or within 500 feet of any structure or 
facility used by the NPS for interpretation, public recreation, or 
administration. The Superintendent may increase or decrease this 
distance as needed to protect federally owned or administered lands, 
waters, or resources of NPS units, visitor uses or experiences, or 
visitor or employee health and safety. Measurements for purposes of 
this paragraph are by map distance.
    (b) You must construct facilities in a manner that maintains 
hydrologic connectivity between surface water and groundwater.
    (c) You must not cause measureable degradation of surface water or 
groundwater beyond that of existing conditions.
    (d) You must conduct operations in a manner that maintains natural 
processes of erosion and sedimentation.


Sec.  9.113  What safety standards must I meet?

    (a) You must maintain your area of operations in a manner that 
avoids or minimizes the cause or spread of fires and does not intensify 
fires originating outside your operations area.
    (b) You must maintain structures, facilities, improvements, and 
equipment in a safe and professional manner in order to provide a safe 
environment for park resources, park visitors, and NPS employees, free 
from exposure to physical and chemical hazards.
    (c) You must provide site-security measures to protect visitors 
from hazardous conditions resulting from the conduct of your 
operations.


Sec.  9.114  What lighting and visual standards must I meet?

    (a) You must design, shield, and focus lighting to minimize the 
effects of spill light on the night sky or adjacent areas.
    (b) You must reduce visual contrast in the landscape by selecting 
the area of operations, avoiding unnecessary disturbance, choosing 
appropriate colors for permanent facilities, and other means.
    (c) You must use road and pad materials similar in structure to 
soils in surrounding profiles whenever feasible.


Sec.  9.115  What noise reduction standards must I meet?

    You must prevent or minimize all noise that:
    (a) Adversely affects the natural soundscape or other park 
resources or values, taking into account frequency, magnitude, or 
duration; or
    (b) Exceeds levels that have been identified through monitoring as 
being acceptable to or appropriate for visitor uses at the sites being 
monitored.


Sec.  9.116  What reclamation and protection standards must I meet?

    (a) You must promptly clean up and remove any released 
contaminating substances and provide documentation to the 
Superintendent that the substances were disposed of in accordance with 
all applicable Federal, State, and local laws.
    (b) You must perform partial reclamation of areas no longer 
necessary to conduct operations. You must begin final reclamation as 
soon as possible but no later than 6 months after you complete your 
permitted operations unless the Regional Director authorizes a longer 
period in writing.
    (c) You must protect all survey monuments, witness corners, 
reference monuments, and bearing trees against destruction, 
obliteration, or damage from operations. You are responsible for 
reestablishment, restoration, and referencing of any monuments, corners 
and bearing trees that are destroyed, obliterated, or damaged by your 
operations.
    (d) You must complete reclamation by:
    (1) Plugging all wells;
    (2) Removing all above-ground structures, equipment, and roads and 
all other man-made material and debris resulting from operations;
    (3) Removing or neutralizing any contaminating substances;
    (4) Reestablishing native vegetative communities, or providing for 
conditions where ecological processes typical of the ecological zone 
(e.g., plant or wildlife succession) will reestablish themselves;
    (5) Grading to reasonably conform the contours to preexisting 
elevations that are most appropriate to maximizing ecologic functional 
value;
    (6) Restoring conditions to pre-disturbance hydrologic movement and 
functionality;
    (7) Restoring natural systems using native soil material that is 
similar in character to the adjacent undisturbed soil profiles;
    (8) Ensuring that reclaimed areas do not interfere with visitor use 
or with administration of the unit;
    (9) Meeting conditions compatible with the management objectives of 
the park; and
    (10) Ensuring proper and equitable apportionment of reclamation 
responsibilities by coordinating with us or with other operators who 
may be using a portion of your area of operations.


Sec.  9.117  What additional operating standards apply to geophysical 
operations?

    If you conduct geophysical operations, you must do all of the 
following:
    (a) Use surveying methods that minimize the need for vegetative 
trimming and removal;
    (b) Locate source points using industry-accepted minimum safe-
offset distances from pipelines, telephone lines, railroad tracks, 
roads, power lines, water wells, oil and gas wells, oil and gas-
production facilities, and buildings;
    (c) Use equipment and methods that, based upon the specific 
environment, will minimize impacts to federally owned or administered 
lands, waters, and resources of NPS units, visitor uses and 
experiences, and visitor and employee health and safety; and
    (d) If you use shot holes, you must:
    (1) Use biodegradable charges;
    (2) Plug all shot holes to prevent a pathway for migration for 
fluids along any portion of the bore; and
    (3) Leave the site in a clean and safe condition that will not 
impede surface reclamation or pose a hazard to human health and safety.

[[Page 65599]]

Sec.  9.118  What additional operating standards apply to drilling, 
stimulation, and production operations?

    If you conduct drilling, stimulation, and production operations, 
you must meet all of the standards in this section.
    (a) Drilling. (1) You must use containerized mud circulation 
systems for operations.
    (2) You must not create earthen pits for any use. Earthen pits used 
solely for secondary containment on sites existing before [effective 
date of the final rule] may continue in use; however, the 
Superintendent may require such structures to be lined or removed 
depending on site-specific operational and environmental conditions.
    (3) You must take all necessary precautions to keep your wells 
under control at all times, use only contractors or employees trained 
and competent to drill and operate the wells, and use only oil field 
equipment and practices generally used in the industry.
    (4) You must design, implement, and maintain integrated casing, 
cementing, drilling fluid, completion, stimulation, and blowout 
prevention programs. These programs must be based upon sound 
engineering principles to prevent escape of fluids to the surface and 
to isolate and protect usable water zones throughout the life of the 
well, taking into account all relevant geologic and engineering 
factors.
    (b) Stimulation operations including hydraulic fracturing. (1) You 
must not begin injection activities before you demonstrate the 
mechanical integrity of all surface and downhole tubulars and equipment 
to differential pressures equal to at least those calculated at the 
maximum anticipated treating pressure.
    (2) You must continuously monitor and record the treating pressures 
and all annular pressures before, during, and after the treatment to 
ensure that treatment materials are directed to the intended zone.
    (3) If mechanical integrity is lost during the treatment, you must 
immediately cease the operation and notify the Superintendent as soon 
as feasible, but no later than 24 hours after the incident. Within 15 
days after the occurrence, you must submit to the Superintendent a 
report containing all details pertaining to the incident, including 
corrective actions taken.
    (c) Production. (1) You must monitor producing conditions to 
document maintenance of mechanical integrity of both surface and 
subsurface equipment.
    (2) You must maintain your well to prevent escape of fluids to the 
surface and to isolate and protect usable water zones throughout the 
life of the well, taking into account all relevant geologic and 
engineering factors.
    (3) You must identify wells and related facilities by a sign, which 
must remain in place until the well is plugged and abandoned and the 
related facilities are closed. The sign must be of durable 
construction, and the lettering must be legible and large enough to be 
read under normal conditions at a distance of at least 50 feet. Each 
sign must show the name of the well, name of the operator, and the 
emergency contact phone number.
    (4) You must remove all equipment and materials that are no longer 
needed for a particular phase of your operation.
    (5) You must plug all wells to:
    (i) Prevent a pathway of migration for fluids along any portion of 
the bore; and
    (ii) Leave the surface in a clean and safe condition that will not 
impede surface reclamation or pose a hazard to human health and safety.

General Terms and Conditions


Sec.  9.120  What terms and conditions apply to all operators?

    The following terms and conditions apply to all operators, 
regardless of whether these terms and conditions are expressly included 
in the operator's operations permit:
    (a) The operator/permittee is responsible for ensuring that all of 
its contractors and subcontractors comply fully with all of the 
requirements of this subpart;
    (b) The operator/permittee may not use any surface water or 
groundwater owned or administered by the United States that has been 
diverted or withdrawn from a source located within the boundaries of an 
NPS unit unless the use has been approved in accordance with NPS 
policy;
    (c) The operator/permittee must provide the NPS an affidavit, 
signed by an official who is authorized to legally bind the company, 
stating that proposed operations are in compliance with all applicable 
federal, state, and local laws and regulations and that all information 
submitted to the NPS is true and correct; and
    (d) The operator/permittee agrees to indemnify and hold harmless 
the United States and its officers and employees from and against any 
and all liability of any kind whatsoever arising out of or resulting 
from the acts or omissions of the operator and its employees, agents, 
representatives, contractors, and subcontractors in the conduct of 
activities under the operations permit.


Sec.  9.121  What monitoring and reporting is required for all 
operators?

    (a) The NPS may access your area of operations at any time to 
monitor the potential effects of the operations and to ensure 
compliance with this subpart where applicable.
    (b) The Regional Director may determine that third-party monitors 
are necessary to protect federally owned or administered lands, waters, 
or resources of NPS units, visitor uses or experiences, or visitor or 
employee health and safety.
    (1) The Regional Director's determination will be based on the 
scope and complexity of the proposed operation and whether the park has 
the staff and technical ability to ensure compliance with the 
operations permit and any provision of this subpart.
    (2) A third-party monitor will report directly to the NPS at 
intervals determined by the Superintendent, and you will be responsible 
for the cost of the third party monitor. We will make the information 
reported available to you upon your request.
    (c) You must notify the Superintendent of any accidents involving 
serious personal injury or death and of any fires or spills on the site 
within 24 hours after the accident occurs. You must submit a full 
written report on the accident to the Superintendent within 90 days 
after the accident occurs.
    (d) You must notify the Superintendent within 24 hours after the 
discovery of any cultural or scientific resource you encounter that 
might be altered or destroyed by your operation. You must cease 
operations if necessary and leave the discovered resource intact until 
the Superintendent provides you with instructions. The Superintendent 
will determine, within 10 working days after notification what action 
will be taken with respect to the discovery.
    (e) Upon the Superintendent's request, you must submit reports or 
other information necessary to verify compliance with your permit or 
with any provision of this subpart. To fulfill this request, you may 
submit to the NPS reports that you have submitted to the State under 
State regulations, or that you have submitted to any other Federal 
agency.


Sec.  9.122  What additional reports must I submit if my operation 
includes hydraulic fracturing?

    If your operations include hydraulic fracturing, you must provide 
the Superintendent with a report including all of the following details 
of the stimulation within 30 days after the

[[Page 65600]]

completion of the last stage of hydraulic fracturing operations for 
each well. The information required in paragraph (a) of this section 
must be submitted to the authorized officer through FracFocus or 
another NPS-designated database:
    (a) The true vertical depth of the well, total water volume used, 
and a description of the base fluid and each additive in the hydraulic 
fracturing fluid, including the trade name, supplier, purpose, 
ingredients, Chemical Abstract Service Number (CAS), maximum ingredient 
concentration in additive (percent by mass), and maximum ingredient 
concentration in hydraulic fracturing fluid (percent by mass).
    (b) The actual source(s) and location(s) of the water used in the 
hydraulic fracturing fluid;
    (c) The maximum surface pressure and rate at the end of each stage 
of the hydraulic fracturing operation and the actual flush volume.
    (d) The actual, estimated, or calculated fracture length, height 
and direction.
    (e) The actual measured depth of perforations or the open-hole 
interval.
    (f) You must submit the actual volume of stimulation fluids 
recovered during flow back, including a description of how the volumes 
were measured or calculated.
    (g) The following information concerning the handling of fluids 
recovered, covering the period between the commencement of hydraulic 
fracturing and the implementation of the approved permit for the 
disposal of produced water under NPS requirements:
    (1) The methods of handling the recovered fluids, including, but 
not limited to, transfer pipes and tankers, holding pond use, re-use 
for other stimulation activities, or injection; and
    (2) The disposal method of the recovered fluids, including, but not 
limited to, the percent injected, the percent stored at an off-lease 
disposal facility, and the percent recycled.
    (h) You must submit continuous monitoring records of annulus 
pressure at the bradenhead and other annular pressures that document 
pressures before, during, and after injection operations. You must 
submit a signed certification that wellbore integrity was maintained 
throughout the operation.

Access to Oil and Gas Rights


Sec.  9.130  May I cross Federal property to reach the boundary of my 
oil and gas right?

    (a) The Regional Director may grant you the privilege of access on, 
across, or through federally owned or administered lands or waters in 
any NPS unit to reach the boundary of your oil and gas right.
    (b) In NPS units in Alaska, regulations and standards at 43 CFR 
part 36 govern access to an operator's oil and gas right.


Sec.  9.131  Will the NPS charge me a fee for access?

    (a) The Regional Director may charge you a fee if you use federally 
owned or administered lands or waters outside the scope of your oil and 
gas right.
    (1) If you require use of federally owned or administered lands or 
waters for your operation, the Regional Director will charge you a fee 
based on the fair market value of the use of the lands for access.
    (2) If access to your mineral right is across an existing park 
road, the Regional Director will charge the fee according to a posted 
fee schedule.
    (b) Fees under this section will not be charged for access within 
the scope of your oil and gas right or access to your mineral right 
that is otherwise provided for by law.


Sec.  9.132  Will I be charged a fee for emergency access to my 
operations?

    The Regional Director will not charge a fee for access across 
federally owned or administered lands beyond the scope of your oil and 
gas right as necessary to respond to an emergency situation at your 
area of operations if the Regional Director determines that the 
circumstances require an immediate response to either:
    (a) Prevent or to minimize injury to park resources; or
    (b) Ensure public health and safety.

Financial Assurance


Sec.  9.140  Do I have to provide financial assurance to the NPS?

    Yes. You must file financial assurance with us in a form acceptable 
to the Regional Director and payable upon demand. This financial 
assurance is in addition to any financial assurance required by any 
other regulatory authority.


Sec.  9.141  How does the NPS establish the amount of financial 
assurance?

    We will base the financial assurance amount upon the estimated cost 
for a third-party contractor to complete reclamation in accordance with 
this subpart. If the cost of reclamation exceeds the amount of your 
financial assurance, you will remain liable for all costs of 
reclamation in excess of the financial assurance.


Sec.  9.142  Will the NPS adjust my financial assurance?

    The Regional Director may require, or you may request, an 
adjustment to the financial assurance amount because of any 
circumstance that increases or decreases the estimated costs 
established under Sec.  9.141.


Sec.  9.143  When will the NPS release my financial assurance?

    (a) Your responsibility and that of any surety under the financial 
assurance will continue until either:
    (1) The Regional Director determines that you have met all 
applicable reclamation operating standards and any additional 
reclamation requirements that may be included in your operations 
permit; or
    (2) A new operator assumes your operations, as provided in 
Sec. Sec.  9.160 through 9.161.
    (b) You will be notified within 30 days after the Regional 
Director's determination that your financial assurance has been 
released.


Sec.  9.144  Under what circumstances will I forfeit my financial 
assurance?

    (a) You will forfeit all or part of your financial assurance if all 
efforts to secure your compliance with your reclamation 
responsibilities under the approved permit or any provisions of this 
regulation are unsuccessful.
    (b) If you forfeit your financial assurance, we may:
    (1) Prohibit you from removing all structures, equipment, or other 
materials from your area of operations;
    (2) Require you to secure the operations site and take any 
necessary actions to protect federally owned or administered lands, 
waters, or resources of NPS units, visitor uses or experiences, or 
visitor or employee health and safety; and
    (3) Suspend review of any permit applications you have submitted 
until the Regional Director determines that all violations of permit 
provisions or of any provision of this subpart are resolved.
    (4) Seek recovery as provided in Sec.  9.141 for all costs of 
reclamation in excess of the posted financial assurance.

Modification to an Operation


Sec.  9.150  Can my approved permit be modified?

    The Regional Director may modify an approved temporary access or 
operations permit to adjust to changed conditions or to address 
unanticipated conditions, either unilaterally or at your request.
    (a) To request a modification to your approved permit, you must 
provide written notice to the Superintendent

[[Page 65601]]

describing the modification and why it is needed. The Regional Director 
will review your request for modification, under the approval standards 
and timeframes at Sec.  9.62 or 9.104.
    (b) If the Regional Director authorizes a modification to your 
permit, you will receive a written notice that:
    (1) Describes the modification required and justification; and
    (2) Specifies the time within which you must incorporate the 
modification into your operations.
    (c) You may not implement any modification until you have received 
the Regional Director's written approval.

Change of Operator


Sec.  9.160  What are my responsibilities if I transfer my operations?

    Until you meet the requirements of this subpart and the Regional 
Director accepts the new operator's financial assurance, you remain 
responsible for compliance with your operations permit and we will 
retain your financial assurance.
    (a) If you were operating without an operations permit, you are 
subject to Sec. Sec.  9.120 through 9.122 and Sec. Sec.  9.180 through 
9.182 until the new operator meets the requirements of this subpart and 
the Regional Director accepts the new operator's financial assurance.
    (b) You must notify the Superintendent in writing within 30 
calendar days after the date the new owner acquires the rights to 
conduct operations. Your written notification must include:
    (1) The names and addresses of the person or entity conveying the 
right and the person or entity acquiring the right;
    (2) The effective date of transfer;
    (3) The description of the rights, assets, and liabilities being 
transferred and which ones, if any, are being reserved by the previous 
owner, and
    (4) A written acknowledgement from the new owner that the contents 
of the notification are true and correct.


Sec.  9.161  What must I do if operations are transferred to me?

    (a) If another operator transfers operations to you, you must:
    (1) Adopt and agree in writing to conduct operations in accordance 
with all terms and conditions of the previous operator's operations 
permit; and
    (2) File financial assurance with us that is acceptable to the 
Regional Director and made payable to the NPS.
    (b) If the previous operator was granted an exemption under Sec.  
9.72, you must provide to the Superintendent:
    (1) Documentation demonstrating that you hold the right to operate 
within an NPS unit; and
    (2) The names and addresses of:
    (i) The operator;
    (ii) The mineral owner;
    (iii) Any agents, assignees, designees, lessees, or other 
representatives of the operator;
    (iv) The operator's representative responsible for the overall 
management of the proposed operations;
    (v) The operator's representative responsible for field supervision 
of the proposed operations; and
    (vi) The operator's representative responsible for emergency 
response for the proposed operations.

Well Plugging


Sec.  9.170  When must I plug my well?

    Except as provided in Sec.  9.171, you must plug your well when any 
of the following occurs:
    (a) Your drilling operations have ended and you have taken no 
further action on your well within 60 days;
    (b) Your well, which has been completed for production operations, 
is continuously inactive for a period of 1 year; or
    (c) The period approved in your operations permit to maintain your 
well in shut-in status has expired.


Sec.  9.171  Can I get an extension to the well plugging requirement?

    (a) You may apply for either an operations permit or a modification 
to your approved operations permit to maintain your well in a shut-in 
status for up to 5 years. The application must include:
    (1) An explanation of why the well is shut-in or temporarily 
abandoned and your future plans for utilization;
    (2) A demonstration of the mechanical integrity of both surface and 
downhole equipment such that there is no migration of fluid from any 
formation in which it originally occurred or from the surface to the 
well; and
    (3) A description of the manner in which your well, equipment, and 
area of operations will be maintained.
    (b) Based on the information provided under this section, the 
Regional Director may approve your application to maintain your well in 
shut-in status for a period up to 5 years.
    You may apply for additional extensions by submitting a new 
application under paragraph (a) of this section.

Prohibitions and Penalties


Sec.  9.180  What acts are prohibited under this subpart?

    The following are prohibited:
    (a) Operating in violation of terms or conditions of a temporary 
access permit, or an approved operations permit, or any provision of 
this subpart;
    (b) Damaging federally owned or administered lands, waters, or 
resources of an NPS unit as a result of failure to comply with the 
terms or conditions of a temporary access permit, an operations permit, 
or any provision of this subpart;
    (c) Conducting operations without a temporary access permit or 
operations permit;
    (d) Failure to comply with any suspension or revocation order 
issued under this subpart; and
    (e) Failure to comply with any applicable Federal, State, or local 
laws.


Sec.  9.181  What enforcement actions can the NPS take?

    If you engage in a prohibited act described in Sec.  9.180:
    (a) You may be subject to a fine or imprisonment, or both, in 
accordance with 36 CFR 1.3;
    (b) The Superintendent may suspend your operations; or
    (c) The Regional Director may revoke your approved temporary access 
permit or operations permit.


Sec.  9.182  How do violations affect my ability to obtain a permit?

    Until you comply with this subpart or the terms and conditions of 
an existing temporary access permit or operations permit, we will not 
consider any new requests for access to conduct operations within any 
NPS units.

Reconsideration and Appeals


Sec.  9.190  Can I, as operator, request reconsideration of NPS 
decisions?

    Yes. If you disagree with a decision of the Regional Director under 
this subpart, you may file with the Regional Director a written 
statement describing the alleged factual or legal errors in the 
original decision and requesting that the Regional Director reconsider 
the decision. You must file your request for reconsideration within 60 
calendar days after your receipt of the Regional Director's decision. 
The NPS will dismiss as untimely any request for reconsideration 
received more than 60 days after your receipt of the original decision.


Sec.  9.191  How does the NPS process my request for reconsideration?

    The Regional Director will review his or her original decision and, 
within 90 days after receipt of your appeal, provide you with a written 
statement reversing, affirming, or modifying that decision, unless the 
Regional Director notifies you that he or she needs additional time to 
review the original

[[Page 65602]]

decision. When issued, that written statement constitutes the Regional 
Director's final decision on the matter.


Sec.  9.192  Can I appeal the Regional Director's decision?

    (a) If the Regional Director affirms or modifies his or her 
original decision after you file a request for reconsideration, you may 
then file an appeal with the NPS Director within 60 calendar days after 
your receipt of the Regional Director's decision under Sec.  9.191.
    (b) Your appeal must include a statement of exceptions specifying 
your specific disagreements with the Regional Director's final 
decision. If you do not file your statement of exceptions within 60 
calendar days, your appeal will be dismissed, and the Regional 
Director's decision will constitute the NPS's final decision on the 
matter.
    (c) If you timely file your statement of exceptions, the Regional 
Director will forward his or her decision and the record for the appeal 
to the NPS Director. The record will consist of NPS's official files on 
the proposed permit application, as well as any documents submitted by 
the parties upon which the Regional Director based his or her decision. 
The Regional Director will maintain that record under separate cover 
and will certify that he or she based the decision on that record. The 
Regional Director will make the record available to you at your 
request.
    (d) If, upon review, the NPS Director considers the record 
inadequate, then the NPS Director may require additional appropriate 
documentation or information, or may remand the case to the Regional 
Director with appropriate instructions for further action.
    (e) Within 45 calendar days from the date the NPS Director receives 
your statement of exceptions, the Director will make his or her 
decision in writing. If the Director requires more than 45 calendar 
days to reach his or her decision, then the Director will notify you 
and specify the reasons for the delay. The Director's written decision 
will include:
    (1) A statement of facts;
    (2) A statement of conclusions; and
    (3) An explanation of the reasons upon which he or she based his or 
her conclusions.
    (f) No NPS decision under these regulations that is subject to 
appeal to the Regional Director or the Director shall be considered 
final agency action subject to judicial review under 5 U.S.C. 704 until 
the Director has rendered his or her decision on the matter. The 
decision of the NPS Director will constitute NPS's final agency action, 
and no further appeal will lie in the Department from that decision.


Sec.  9.193  Will filing a request for reconsideration or appeal stop 
the NPS from taking action under this subpart?

    (a) Except as provided for in paragraph (b) of this section, during 
the reconsideration and appeal processes, the decision at issue will be 
stayed (suspended). The decision will not become effective until the 
appeals process is completed.
    (b) If NPS suspends your operation due to an emergency within your 
area of operation that poses an immediate threat of injury to federally 
owned or controlled lands or waters, you have a right to request 
reconsideration and appeal the decision under Sec. Sec.  9.190 through 
9.194, but the suspension will not be stayed until the threat is 
corrected.


Sec.  9.194  What if the original decision was made by the 
Superintendent?

    Where the Superintendent has the authority to make the original 
decision, requests for reconsideration and appeals may be filed in the 
manner provided by the preceding sections, except that:
    (a) The request for reconsideration will be filed with and decided 
by the Superintendent;
    (b) The appeal will be filed with and decided by the Regional 
Director; and
    (c) The Regional Director's decision will constitute the final 
agency action on the matter.

Public Participation


Sec.  9.200  How can the public participate in the approval process?

    (a) Interested parties may view the publicly available documents at 
the Superintendent's office during normal business hours or by other 
means prescribed by the Superintendent. The availability for public 
inspection of information about the nature, location, character, or 
ownership of park resources will conform to all applicable law and 
implementing regulations, standards, and guidelines.
    (b) The Superintendent will make available for public inspection 
any documents that an operator submits to the NPS under this subpart 
except those that you have identified as proprietary or confidential.
    (c) For the information required in Sec.  9.122 of this subpart, 
the operator and the owner of the information will be deemed to have 
waived any right to protect from public disclosure information 
submitted through FracFocus or another NPS-designated database. For 
information required under Sec.  9.122 of this subpart that the owner 
of the information claims to be exempt from public disclosure and is 
withheld from the NPS, a corporate officer, managing partner, or sole 
proprietor of the operator must sign and the operator must submit to 
the authorized officer an affidavit that:
    (1) Identifies the owner of the withheld information and provides 
the name, address and contact information for a corporate officer, 
managing partner, or sole proprietor of the owner of the information;
    (2) Identifies the Federal statute or regulation that would 
prohibit the NPS from publicly disclosing the information if it were in 
the NPS's possession;
    (3) Affirms that the operator has been provided the withheld 
information from the owner of the information and is maintaining 
records of the withheld information, or that the operator has access 
and will maintain access to the withheld information held by the owner 
of the information;
    (4) Affirms that the information is not publicly available;
    (5) Affirms that the information is not required to be publicly 
disclosed under any applicable local, State, tribal, or Federal law;
    (6) Affirms that the owner of the information is in actual 
competition and identifies competitors or others that could use the 
withheld information to cause the owner of the information substantial 
competitive harm;
    (7) Affirms that the release of the information would likely cause 
substantial competitive harm to the owner of the information and 
provides the factual basis for that affirmation; and
    (8) Affirms that the information is not readily apparent through 
reverse engineering with publicly available information.
    (d) If the operator relies upon information from third parties, 
such as the owner of the withheld information, to make the affirmations 
in paragraphs (c)(6) through (8) of this section, the operator must 
provide a written affidavit from the third party that sets forth the 
relied-upon information.
    (e) The NPS may require any operator to submit to the NPS any 
withheld information, and any information relevant to a claim that 
withheld information is exempt from public disclosure.
    (f) If the NPS determines that the information submitted under 
paragraph (e) of this section is not exempt from disclosure, the NPS 
will make the information available to the public after providing the 
operator and owner of the information with no fewer than 10 business 
days' notice of the NPS's determination.

[[Page 65603]]

    (g) The operator must maintain records of the withheld information 
until the later of the NPS's release of the operator's financial 
assurance, or 6 years after completion of hydraulic fracturing 
operations on Indian lands, or 7 years after completion of hydraulic 
fracturing operations on Federal lands. Any subsequent operator will be 
responsible for maintaining access to records required by this 
paragraph during its operation of the well. The operator will be deemed 
to be maintaining the records if it can promptly provide the complete 
and accurate information to NPS, even if the information is in the 
custody of its owner.
    (h) If any of the chemical identity information required in Sec.  
9.122 of this subpart is withheld, the operator must provide the 
generic chemical name in the submission required by Sec.  9.122 of this 
subpart. The generic chemical name must be only as nonspecific as is 
necessary to protect the confidential chemical identity, and should be 
the same as or no less descriptive than the generic chemical name 
provided to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Information Collection


Sec.  9.210  Has the Office of Management and Budget approved the 
information collection requirements?

    (a) The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has reviewed and 
approved the information collection requirements in 36 CFR part 9, 
subpart B, and assigned OMB Control Number 1024-XXXX. We may not 
conduct or sponsor and you are not required to respond to a collection 
of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. 
We use the information collected to:
    (1) Evaluate proposed operations;
    (2) Ensure that all necessary mitigation measures are employed to 
protect park resources and values; and
    (3) Ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
    (b) You may submit comments on any aspect of the information 
collection requirements to the Information Collection Clearance 
Officer, National Park Service, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Room 2C114, 
Mail Stop 242, Reston, VA 20192.

Subpart D--[Redesignated as Subpart C]

0
4. Redesignate subpart D as subpart C.

Subpart C--[Amended]

0
5. The authority citation for newly redesignated subpart C is revised 
to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 410hh; 16 U.S.C. 3101, et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 
347; 16 U.S.C. 410bb; 16 U.S.C. 1131 et seq.; 54 U.S.C. 320301; 54 
U.S.C. 100101, et seq.

0
6. In newly redesignated subpart C, redesignate Sec. Sec.  9.80 through 
9.89 as Sec. Sec.  9.300 through 9.309.
0
7. In newly redesignated Sec.  9.302, in paragraph (b)(2), remove the 
reference Sec.  9.86 and add in its place the reference Sec.  9.306.
0
8. In newly redesignated Sec.  9.304, in paragraph (a), remove the 
reference Sec.  9.84(b) and add in its place the reference Sec.  
9.304(b) and remove the reference Sec.  9.83(b) and add in its place 
the reference Sec.  9.303(b).
0
9. In newly redesignated Sec.  9.306, in paragraph (a), remove the 
reference Sec.  9.84 and add in its place the reference Sec.  9.304.
0
10. In newly redesignated Sec.  9.308, in paragraph (a), remove the 
reference Sec.  9.86 and add in its place the reference Sec.  9.306.

    Dated: October 16, 2015.
Karen Hyun,
Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and 
Parks.
[FR Doc. 2015-26812 Filed 10-23-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-EJ-P