[Federal Register: April 24, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 80)]
[Page 22162-22164]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Bureau of Land Management


Notice of Availability of Revised NEPA Handbook

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: This notice announces the availability of the Bureau of Land 
Management's (BLM) Handbook to support implementation of the procedures 
the BLM uses to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act 

DATES: You may submit written comments on the NEPA Handbook within 90 
days following the date this Notice of Availability is published in the 
Federal Register.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
     E-mail: NEPA@blm.gov.
     Mail: U.S. Department of the Interior, Director (210), 
Bureau of Land Management, Mail Stop 850 LS, 1849 C St., NW., 
Attention: AD200, Washington, DC 20240.
     Personal or messenger delivery: 1620 L Street, NW., Room 
850, Washington, DC 20036.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peg Sorensen, Senior Planning and 
Environmental Analyst--NEPA, 202-557-3564, peg_sorensen@blm.gov.
    Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may 
call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to 
contact the above individuals during business hours. The FIRS is 
available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to leave a 
message or question with the above individuals. You will receive a 
reply during normal business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice announces the availability of 
the revised BLM NEPA Handbook for use by BLM personnel in the field. 
The handbook provides supplemental information, guidance, and examples 
to assure consistency with the Department of the Interior's 
Departmental Manual (DOI DM) and the Council on Environmental Quality 
(CEQ) NEPA regulations. The BLM NEPA Handbook (H-1790-1) was last 
updated October 25, 1988 and revisions are necessary to update the 
information and to reflect current NEPA guidance. The public can review 
the revised edition of the NEPA Handbook on the BLM Web site at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.blm.gov, on the left click on Information and then click on NEPA. 
Note that the Web Guide links will be functional at a later date. The 
handbook will be mailed to those who indicate that they want a hard 
copy or compact disk. The handbook is based upon current regulation, 
policy, and procedures.
    The handbook revisions focus on helping the BLM improve analysis to 
support decision making. The revisions to the NEPA Handbook are also 
designed to make the NEPA process more efficient, avoiding redundant or 
unnecessary documentation. The revisions include updates to clarify 
definitions and incorporate new Departmental requirements.

Written Comments

    The public is welcome to review and comment on the handbook. 
Today's publication is a notice of internal BLM guidance and not a 
rulemaking. Therefore, no formal comment period will occur resulting in 
no obligation for the BLM to respond or address

[[Page 22163]]

comments from the public. If you choose to submit comments, please 
limit such comments to issues pertinent to the handbook itself and 
explain the reasons for any recommended changes. Where possible, 
reference the specific section or paragraph of the handbook which you 
are addressing.
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail 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.
    Procedural Requirements: Although the NEPA Handbook is not a 
rulemaking, we have addressed the various procedural requirements that 
are generally applicable to proposed and final rulemaking to contribute 
to this open review process.

Regulatory Planning and Review

    Under Executive Order 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) it has 
been determined that this action is the implementation of policy and 
procedures applicable only to the BLM and not a significant regulatory 
action. These policies and procedures would not impose a compliance 
burden on the general economy.

Administrative Procedure Act

    The NEPA Handbook is not subject to prior notice and opportunity to 
comment under the Administrative Procedures Act because it provides 
internal guidance to BLM personnel [5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A)]. In addition, 
the Handbook does not establish agency procedures for implementing the 
NEPA, and therefore does not require review by the CEQ or public notice 
and the opportunity to comment under the CEQ regulations [40 CFR 
1507.3(a)]. However, the Department of the Interior's (DOI) Office of 
Environmental Policy and Compliance has reviewed the Handbook, and the 
BLM has elected to invite public comment as well.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This document is not subject to notice and comment under the 
Administrative Procedures Act, and, therefore, is not subject to the 
analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 
et seq.). This document provides the BLM with instruction and 
information under the NEPA and does not compel any other party to 
conduct any action.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This handbook does not comprise a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), 
the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. The document 
will not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more 
and is expected to have no significant economic impacts. Further, it 
will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, 
individual industries, Federal, State, or local government agencies, or 
geographic regions and will [[Page 52596]] impose no additional 
regulatory restraints in addition to those already in operation. 
Finally, the document does not have significant adverse effects on 
competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the 
ability of United States based enterprises to compete with foreign 
based enterprises.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501, 
et seq.), this document will not significantly or uniquely affect small 
governments. A Small Government Agency Plan is not required. The 
document does not require any additional management responsibilities. 
Further, this document will not produce a Federal mandate of $100 
million or greater in any year, that is, it is not a significant 
regulatory action under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. These 
policies and procedures are not expected to have significant economic 
impacts nor will they impose any unfunded mandates on other Federal, 
State, or local government agencies to carry out specific activities.


    In accordance with Executive Order 13132, this document does not 
have significant Federalism effects; and, therefore, a Federalism 
assessment is not required. The policies and procedures will not have 
substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between 
the Federal government and the States, or on the distribution of power 
and responsibilities among the various levels of government. No 
intrusion on State policy or administration is expected, roles or 
responsibilities of Federal or State governments will not change, and 
fiscal capacity will not be substantially, directly affected. 
Therefore, the document does not have significant effects or 
implications on Federalism.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This document does not require information collection as defined 
under the Paperwork Reduction Act. Therefore, this document does not 
constitute a new information collection system requiring Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act 
(44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

National Environmental Policy Act

    The CEQ regulations do not direct agencies to prepare a NEPA 
analysis or document before establishing agency procedures that 
supplement the CEQ regulations for implementing the NEPA. The 
requirements for establishing agency NEPA procedures are set forth at 
40 CFR 1505.1 and 1507.3. As explained above, however, this Handbook 
does not establish procedures for implementing the NEPA but provides 
supplemental information, guidance, and examples for the use of BLM 
personnel in the field. Therefore, no NEPA analysis, or preparation of 
analytical documents pursuant to the NEPA is required to support its 
publication. To the extent any documentation of compliance with the 
NEPA or the CEQ regulations may be required; the DOI's Department 
Categorical exclusion 1.10 is applicable. See DOI DM 2 (Appendix 1).

Essential Fish Habitat

    We have analyzed this document in accordance with section 305(b) of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and 
determined that issuance of this document will not affect the essential 
fish habitat of federally managed species; and, therefore, an essential 
fish habitat consultation on this document is not required.

Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

    In accordance with Executive Order 13175 of November 6, 2000, and 
512 DM 2, we have assessed this handbook's impact on tribal trust 
resources and have determined that it does not directly affect tribal 
resources since it supports implementation of the BLM's procedures for 
its compliance with the NEPA.

Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use

    Executive Order 13211 of May 18, 2001, requires a Statement of 
Energy Effects for significant energy actions. Significant energy 
actions are actions normally published in the Federal Register that 
lead to the promulgation of a final rule or regulation and may have

[[Page 22164]]

any adverse effects on energy supply, distribution, or use. We have 
explained above that this document is an internal BLM action which only 
affects how the BLM conducts its business under the NEPA. This handbook 
is not a rulemaking; and therefore, not subject to Executive Order 

Actions To Expedite Energy-Related Projects

    Executive Order 13212 of May 18, 2001, requires agencies to 
expedite energy-related projects by streamlining internal processes 
while maintaining safety, public health, and environmental protections. 
Today's publication is in conformance with this requirement as it 
promotes existing process streamlining requirements and revises the 
text to emphasize this concept.

Government Actions and Interference With Constitutionally Protected 
Property Rights

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630 (March 15, 1988) and Part 
318 of the Departmental Manual, the BLM has reviewed today's notice to 
determine whether it would interfere with constitutionally protected 
property rights. Again, we believe that as internal instructions to the 
BLM on implementation of the NEPA, this publication would not cause 
such interference.

James Caswell,
Director, Bureau of Land Management.
 [FR Doc. E8-8866 Filed 4-23-08; 8:45 am]