[Federal Register: May 16, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 96)]
[Page 28500-28502]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Bureau of Land Management


 Information Notice of Planning Criteria for the Programmatic 
Environmental Impact Statement for Leasing of Geothermal Resources

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Information Notice of Planning Criteria.


SUMMARY: On June 13, 2007, the Department of the Interior, Bureau of 
Land Management (BLM), and the United States Department of Agriculture, 
Forest Service (FS), published in the Federal Register [72FR32679] a 
Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a joint Programmatic Environmental 
Impact Statement (PEIS) to analyze the leasing of BLM- and FS-
administered lands with potential for geothermal resources in 11 
western states and Alaska. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act 
(FLPMA) requires the BLM to develop land use plans, also known as 
Resource Management Plans (RMPs), to guide the BLM's management of the 
public lands. The BLM's land use planning regulations, which implement 
FLPMA, require the BLM to publish, and provide for public review of, 
the proposed planning criteria that will guide the BLM's land use 
planning process. The purpose of this Information Notice is to identify 
the RMPs that the BLM may amend and set out the proposed planning 
criteria that would guide the BLM's planning amendment process. Please 
note that while the preparation of the PEIS is a joint project with the 
FS, this Notice applies only to public lands that the BLM manages and 
does not apply in any way to lands that the FS administers. The FS 
manages lands that are under its jurisdiction under a separate 
statutory and regulatory framework.

DATES: Comments concerning the BLM's preliminary list of RMPs to be 
amended (identified by Field Office) and proposed planning criteria 
should be received by June 16, 2008. Individuals, groups, or other 
agencies who

[[Page 28501]]

responded to previous scoping efforts for this PEIS are not required to 
respond to this Notice. The BLM considered comments submitted in 
response to the previous Notice during development of the planning 
criteria proposed in this Notice.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
     E-mail: geothermal_EIS@blm.gov.
     Fax: 1-866-625-0707.
     U.S. Mail: Geothermal Programmatic EIS, c/o EMPS Inc., 182 
Howard Street, Suite 110, San Francisco, CA 94105.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information, including 
information on how to comment, you may contact Jack G. Peterson, Bureau 
of Land Management, at 208-373-4048, Jack_G_Peterson@blm.gov or visit 
the PEIS Web site at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.blm.gov/Geothermal--EIS.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FLPMA requires the BLM to develop land use 
plans, also known as RMPs, to guide the BLM's management of the public 
lands. In order for geothermal resource leasing and development to take 
place on the public lands that the BLM manages, such activities must be 
provided for in these RMPs. The aforementioned NOI published by the BLM 
and the FS initiated a lengthy and comprehensive scoping process, 
including 10 public meetings held throughout the western United States. 
This Notice fulfills the BLM's obligation under FLPMA and the BLM's 
planning regulations (43 CFR 1610.2(f) and 43 CFR 1610.4-2) to notify 
the public that in response to input during the scoping process, the 
BLM has developed proposed planning criteria to guide the amendment of 
the listed RMPs, including the analysis of the amendments and their 
reasonable alternatives in the PEIS. Please note that while the 
preparation of the PEIS is a joint project with the FS, this Notice 
applies only to public lands that the BLM manages and does not apply in 
any way to lands that the FS administers. The FS manages lands that are 
under its jurisdiction under a separate statutory and regulatory 
    Planning criteria are the constraints, standards, and guidelines 
that determine what the BLM will or will not consider during its 
planning process. As such, they establish parameters and help focus 
analysis of the issues identified in scoping, and structure the 
preparation of the PEIS in so far as it addresses amendment of BLM 
RMPs, including data collection, analysis and decision making. The BLM 
welcomes public comment on the following proposed planning criteria, 
which would be used in the development of the PEIS as it is prepared to 
analyze these BLM RMP amendments:
     The BLM will prepare the PEIS and BLM RMP amendments in 
compliance with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the 
Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the 
National Environmental Policy Act and all other applicable laws, 
Executive Orders and BLM management policies.
     The BLM will use the PEIS as the analytical basis for any 
decision it makes to amend an individual land use plan as necessary to 
respond to the potential for increased levels of geothermal resource 
leasing and development on BLM-administered lands.
     The BLM will develop a reasonably foreseeable development 
(RFD) scenario to predict levels of development and will identify lands 
to be allocated as open, closed, and open with restrictive stipulations 
to geothermal leasing in the affected plans.
     The BLM will limit its amendment of these plans to 
geothermal resource leasing and development issues and will not address 
management of other resources, although the BLM will consider and 
analyze the impacts from this increased use on other managed resource 
     The BLM will continue to manage other resources in the 
affected planning areas under the pre-existing terms, conditions and 
decisions in the applicable RMPs for those other resources.
     The BLM will recognize valid existing rights under the 
RMPs, as amended.
     The BLM will coordinate with local, state, tribal and 
Federal agencies in the PEIS and plan amendment process to strive for 
consistency with their existing plans and policies, to the extent 
     The BLM will coordinate with tribal governments and will 
provide strategies for the protection of recognized traditional uses in 
the PEIS and plan amendment process.
     The BLM will take into account appropriate protection and 
management of cultural and historic resources in the PEIS and plan 
amendment process, and will engage in all required consultation.
     The BLM will recognize in the PEIS and plan amendments the 
specific niche occupied by public lands in the life of the communities 
that surround them and in the nation as a whole.
     The BLM will make every effort to encourage public 
participation throughout the process.
     The BLM has the authority to develop protective management 
prescriptions for lands with wilderness characteristics within RMPs. As 
part of the public involvement process for land use planning, the BLM 
will consider public input regarding lands to be managed to maintain 
wilderness characteristics.
     Environmental protection and energy production are both 
desirable and necessary objectives of sound land management practices 
and are not to be considered mutually exclusive priorities.
     The BLM will consider and analyze relevant climate change 
impacts in its land use plans and associated NEPA documents, including 
the anticipated climate change benefits of geothermal energy.
     The BLM will prepare the PEIS in compliance with the 
Geothermal Steam Act, as amended, and the legislative directives set 
forth in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
     The BLM will use geospatial data that are automated within 
a Geographic Information System (GIS) to facilitate discussions of the 
affected environment, formulation of alternatives, analysis of 
environmental consequences, and display of results.
    The following is a list of BLM Field Offices that manage lands that 
BLM has identified as having geothermal potential. You may view these 
areas on a map with a GIS overlay showing the BLM and the FS 
jurisdictional boundaries at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.blm.gov/Geothermal--EIS. Some 
BLM offices may decide not to use this PEIS and amendment process to 
amend certain RMPs that appear on this list because those offices may 
already have land use plan amendments or revisions underway or recently 
completed. Please contact your local BLM office for more information. 
In addition, the BLM will exclude many units or areas within certain 
RMPs from any consideration for geothermal development. The plan 
amendments will reflect the fact that some units or portions of the 
areas identified as having geothermal resource potential will not be 
developed because they are unavailable for leasing, either by statute, 
regulation or other authority. These designations are described at 43 
CFR 3201.11, and include, but are not limited to: Lands where the 
Secretary has determined that issuing a lease would cause unnecessary 
or undue degradation to public lands and resources; lands contained 
within a unit of the National Park System, lands within a National 
Recreation Area; and lands where the Secretary determines after notice 
and comment that

[[Page 28502]]

geothermal operations are reasonably likely to result in a significant 
adverse effect on a significant thermal feature within a National Park 
System unit, for example, the geothermal features in Yellowstone 
National Park; wilderness areas; wilderness study areas; fish 
hatcheries; wildlife management areas; Indian trust lands; and other 
areas referred to in the above regulation. As mentioned above, this 
Notice does not address the FS lands. Therefore, no affected Forests 
are listed below. The BLM Field Offices that manage lands that have 
geothermal resource potential are as follows (Where the name of the BLM 
Field Office that has jurisdiction over a Resource Area differs from 
the name of the District Office, the name of the District office 
appears in parentheses following the name of the Field Office. A table 
identifying the affected Field Offices along with the name of the 
affected RMP under its jurisdiction, which sometimes differ, will 
appear in the Draft EIS, and on the Web site above in the near future.

                  State                   Field office (district office)
Alaska..................................  Central Yukon (Fairbanks).
                                          Anchorage (Anchorage).
                                          Glennallen (Anchorage).
Arizona.................................  Arizona Strip (Arizona Strip).
                                          Kingman (Colorado River).
                                          Lake Havasu (Colorado River).
                                          Yuma (Colorado River).
                                          Safford (Gila).
                                          Tucson (Gila).
                                          Hassayampa (Phoenix).
                                          Lower Sonoran (Phoenix).
California..............................  Barstow (California Desert).
                                          El Centro (California Desert).
                                          Needles (California Desert).
                                          Palm Springs-South Coast
                                           (California Desert).
                                          Ridgecrest (California
                                          Eagle Lake.
Colorado................................  Columbine (San Juan).
                                          Del Norte (San Luis Valley).
                                          Dolores (San Juan).
                                          Glenwood Springs.
                                          Grand Junction.
                                          La Jara (San Luis Valley).
                                          Little Snake.
                                          Pagosa Springs (San Juan).
                                          Royal Gorge.
                                          Saguache (San Luis Valley).
                                          White River.
Idaho...................................  Bruneau (Boise).
                                          Four Rivers (Boise).
                                          Owyhee (Boise).
                                          Cottonwood (Coeur d'Alene).
                                          Challis (Idaho Falls).
                                          Pocatello (Idaho Falls).
                                          Salmon (Idaho Falls).
                                          Upper Snake (Idaho Falls).
                                          Burley (Twin Falls).
                                          Jarbridge (Twin Falls).
                                          Shoshone (Twin Falls).
Montana.................................  Billings.
                                          Miles City.
Nevada..................................  Carson City.
                                          Battle Mountain.
                                          Carson City.
                                          Las Vegas.
New Mexico..............................  Rio Puerco (Albuquerque).
                                          Soccoro (Albuquerque).
                                          Taos (Farmington).
                                          Las Cruces.
                                          Carlsbad (Pecos).
                                          Roswell (Pecos).
Oregon/Washington.......................  Andrews (Burns).
                                          Three Rivers (Burns).
                                          Upper Willamette (Eugene).
                                          Klamath Falls (Lakeview).
                                          Lakeview (Lakeview).
                                          Ashland (Medford).
                                          Butte Falls (Medford).
                                          Central Oregon (Prineville).
                                          Deschutes (Prineville).
                                          Cascades (Salem).
                                          Border (Spokane).
                                          Wenatchee (Spokane).
                                          Baker (Vale).
                                          Jordan (Vale).
                                          Malheur (Vale).
Utah....................................  Cedar City.
                                          Salt Lake.
                                          St. George.
Wyoming.................................  Buffalo.
                                          Rock Springs.

    You may submit comments in writing on the stated planning criteria 
and plans to be amended using one of the methods listed in the 
ADDRESSES section. 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.

    Authority: 43 CFR 1610.2(f)(2).

Michael D. Nedd,
Assistant Director, Minerals and Realty Management, Bureau of Land 
[FR Doc. E8-11059 Filed 5-15-08; 8:45 am]