[Federal Register: September 5, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 173)]
[Notices]               
[Page 51838-51840]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr05se08-71]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[WO-320-1310-DT-OSHL]

 
Notice of Availability of Proposed Oil Shale and Tar Sands 
Resource Management Plan Amendments To Address Land Use Allocations in 
Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming and Final Programmatic Environmental Impact 
Statement

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Availability (NOA).

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Federal Land Policy and 
Management Act of 1976, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has 
prepared the Proposed Oil Shale and Tar Sands Resource Management Plan 
Amendments to Address Land Use Allocations in Colorado, Utah, and 
Wyoming (PRMP Amendments) and

[[Page 51839]]

Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (FPEIS).

DATES: As required by the NEPA, the EPA will publish a Notice in the 
Federal Register announcing the availability of the FPEIS. The BLM will 
wait at least 60 days after the publication of the EPA's Notice before 
signing and issuing the Record of Decision (ROD) approving the plan 
amendments.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the PRMP Amendments and FPEIS have been sent to 
affected Federal, state, and local government agencies and to 
interested parties. Paper and electronic (CD-ROM) copies of the PRMP 
Amendments and FPEIS are available at the following BLM locations:
     Colorado State Office, 2850 Youngfield Street, Lakewood, 
CO 80215.
     Utah State Office, 440 West 200 South, Suite 500, Salt 
Lake City, UT 84101.
     Wyoming State Office, 5353 Yellowstone, Cheyenne, WY 
82009.
     Vernal Field Office, 170 South 500 East, Vernal, UT 84078.
     Price Field Office, 125 South 600 West, Price, UT 84501.
     Richfield Field Office, 150 East 900 North, Richfield, UT 
84701.
     Monticello Field Office, 435 North Main, P.O. Box 7, 
Monticello, UT 84535.
     White River Field Office, 220 E. Market Street, Meeker, CO 
81641.
     Glenwood Springs Field Office, 2425 S. Grand Ave., Suite 
101, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601.
     Grand Junction Field Office, 2815 H Road, Grand Junction, 
CO 81506.
     Kemmerer Field Office, 312 Highway 189 North, Kemmerer, WY 
83101.
     Rawlins Field Office, at 1300 North Third, P.O. Box 2407, 
Rawlins, WY 82301.
     Rock Springs Field Office, 280 Highway 191 North, Rock 
Springs, WY 82901.
    Interested persons may also review the PRMP Amendments and FPEIS on 
the Internet at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://ostseis.anl.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sherri Thompson, BLM Project Manager, 
at (303) 239-3758, (sherri_thompson@blm.gov), Bureau of Land 
Management, 2850 Youngfield Street, Lakewood, Colorado 80215 or 
Mitchell Leverette, BLM Division Chief, Solid Minerals, at (202) 452-
5088, (mitchell_leverette@blm.gov), Bureau of Land Management, 1620 L 
Street, NW., Washington DC 20036.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Oil Shale and Tar Sands Resources PRMP 
Amendments and FPEIS are being prepared to meet the requirements 
established by Congress in Section 369 of the Energy Policy Act of 
2005, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and the Federal 
Land Policy Management Act of 1976. It evaluates the amendment of 12 
resource management plans to designate lands as available for 
application for commercial leasing of oil shale and tar sands resources 
on public lands in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming managed by the BLM. 
Specifically, the FPEIS evaluates amendments of nine land use plans to 
designate lands as available for commercial oil shale leasing and 
amendment of six lands use plans to designate lands as available for 
commercial tar sands leasing. Three of the plans contain both oil shale 
and tar sands resources, so a total of 12 plans will be amended. This 
FPEIS evaluates the amendment of BLM land use plans in those areas 
where oil shale and tar sands resources are present to provide the 
opportunity for application to lease BLM administered land for 
commercial oil shale and tar sands development. The planning area lies 
within the Green River Formation in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.
    The purpose and need for the PRMP Amendments is to:
    (1) Identify the most geologically prospective areas where oil 
shale and tar sands resources are present on public lands; and
    (2) Amend 12 land use plans to allow for application for commercial 
oil shale or tar sands leasing, exploration and development.
    In the Notice of Intent to prepare a PEIS, published in the Federal 
Register on December 13, 2005 (70 FR 73791), the BLM identified 
planning criteria, initiated the public scoping process, and invited 
the public to provide comments on the scope and objectives of the PEIS 
and to identify issues to be addressed in the planning process. During 
the scoping process, public meetings were held in Salt Lake City, 
Vernal, and Price, Utah; Rock Springs and Cheyenne, Wyoming; and Rifle 
and Denver, Colorado. Approximately 5,000 people participated in the 
scoping process by attending public meetings or submitting comments. 
The BLM published a scoping report in March 2006, summarizing and 
categorizing issues, concerns, and comments, and considered them in 
developing the alternatives in this PEIS.
    A Notice of Availability of the RMP Amendments and Draft PEIS was 
published in the Federal Register on December 21, 2007 (72 FR 72751), 
for a 90-day public review and comment period. The comment period 
closed on March 20, 2008, reopened on March 21, 2008, for an additional 
30-day review and comment period, and closed on April 21, 2008. Open 
Houses were held during February 2008 to provide additional information 
on the Draft PEIS. Comments on the Draft PEIS received from the public 
and cooperating agencies were considered and incorporated, as 
appropriate, into the proposed plan amendments. As a result of comments 
received, and upon further consideration, clarifications were made to 
the analysis and description of the proposed action, but proposed land 
use plan alternatives remained unchanged. Of the over 105,000 comments 
received, approximately 5,000 were individual comments and 
approximately 100,000 appeared to be similar or identical to one 
another (i.e., form letters).
    The study area analyzed in the PEIS for the oil shale resources 
includes the most geologically prospective resources of the Green River 
Formation located in the Green River, Piceance, Uinta, and Washakie 
Basins, encompassing approximately 3,540,000 acres. The BLM has 
identified the most geologically prospective areas for oil shale 
development on the basis of the grade and thickness of the oil shale 
deposits. For the purposes of this PEIS, the most geologically 
prospective oil shale resources in Colorado and Utah are those deposits 
that yield 25 gallons of shale oil per ton of rock (gal/ton) or more 
and are 25 feet thick or greater. In Wyoming, where the oil shale 
resources are of lesser quality than in Colorado and Utah, the most 
geologically prospective oil shale resources are those deposits that 
yield 15 gal/ton or more of shale oil and are 15 feet thick or greater.
    For the tar sands resources, the study area analyzed in the PEIS 
includes those locations designated as Special Tar Sand Areas (STSAs) 
by Congress in the Combined Hydrocarbon Leasing Act of 1981 (Pub. L. 
97-78). Eleven STSAs were identified in Utah: Argyle Canyon-Willow 
Creek (hereafter referred to as Argyle Canyon), Asphalt Ridge-
Whiterocks and Vicinity (hereafter referred to as Asphalt Ridge), 
Circle Cliffs East and West Flanks (hereafter referred to as Circle 
Cliffs), Hill Creek, Pariette, P.R. Spring, Raven Ridge-Rim Rock and 
Vicinity (hereafter referred to as Raven Ridge), San Rafael Swell, 
Sunnyside and Vicinity (hereafter referred to as Sunnyside), Tar Sand 
Triangle, and White Canyon. The total area of the tar sands study area 
is approximately 1,026,000 acres.
    The oil shale and tar sands resources within the study areas 
defined in the PEIS are located within the jurisdiction

[[Page 51840]]

of 12 separate BLM administrative units. These units include the 
Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, and White River Field Offices in 
Colorado; the Moab, Monticello, Price, Richfield, and Vernal Field 
Offices, and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah; 
and the Kemmerer, Rawlins, and Rock Springs Field Offices in Wyoming. 
With the exception of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, 
the ROD for this PEIS would direct which land use plans in affected BLM 
administrative units will be amended to make designated lands available 
for application for commercial leasing, exploration, and development of 
oil shale and tar sands resources.
    Within the above-listed administrative units, and within the 
defined boundaries of the most geologically prospective resources of 
the Green River formation and the designated STSAs, public lands 
managed by the BLM where the Federal government owns full fee title are 
included in the scope of the PEIS analysis. Lands where the surface 
estate is owned by Tribes, States, or private parties but where the 
Federal government owns the subsurface mineral estate (i.e., split 
estate lands) are also included in the scope of this analysis. Tribal 
lands on which both the surface estate and subsurface mineral estate 
are owned by the Tribe are not included in the scope of analysis.
    In the PEIS, three alternatives were analyzed for amending land use 
plans to make BLM-administered lands available for application for 
future commercial leasing of both oil shale and tar sands resources, 
including a No Action alternative. These alternatives were developed 
through issue identification during the scoping process. Such issues 
included air quality, water quality and quantity, socio-economic 
concerns, ecological concerns, cultural, paleontology, and non-
Wilderness Study Area lands with wilderness characteristics. The BLM 
has identified Alternative B as the proposed plan amendment. Of the 
3,540,000 acres in the study areas, the preferred alternative would 
amend plans to make approximately 2 million acres of lands containing 
oil shale resources available for application for commercial leasing 
and approximately 430,000 acres available for tar sands. Alternative A, 
the no action alternative, would not amend land use plans to identify 
lands as available for application for lease, but would leave 352,780 
acres of lands available for lease application under existing plans. 
Alternative C, which is similar to the Alternative B, would amend land 
use plans to identify areas available for application for lease 
comprising approximately 830,000 acres containing oil shale resources 
and approximately 230,000 acres available for tar sands.
    This PEIS has been developed to analyze the direct, indirect, and 
cumulative environmental, cultural, and socioeconomic impacts of the 
three alternatives. The BLM's action of amending land use plans to open 
lands for application to lease oil shale and tar sands resources will 
not authorize issuance of any leases or ground disturbing activities. 
Future lease issuance and approval of development plans will be subject 
to additional NEPA analysis. As such, the BLM has determined that there 
are no environmental impacts associated with the amendment of land use 
plans. However, because BLM intends to establish a commercial leasing 
program to facilitate future development, BLM has included a broad, 
programmatic-level analysis of the potential impacts of oil shale and 
tar sands development technologies as they are currently known, in 
order to inform the land use planning decision as well as the 
development of this program.
    Because developing this and other alternative energy resources is 
of strategic importance in enhancing our Nation's domestic energy 
supplies, the Assistant Secretary, Land and Minerals Management, in the 
Department of the Interior is the responsible official for these 
proposed plan amendments. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act 
and its implementing regulations provide land use planning authority to 
the Secretary, as delegated to this Assistant Secretary. Because this 
decision is being made by the Assistant Secretary, Land and Minerals 
Management, it is the final decision for the Department of the 
Interior. This decision is not subject to administrative review 
(protest) under the BLM or Departmental regulations (43 CFR 1610.5-2).

    Authority: 40 CFR 1506.6, 43 CFR 1610.2, 43 CFR 1610.5-1.

Michael D. Nedd,
Assistant Director, Minerals and Realty Management.
[FR Doc. E8-20693 Filed 9-4-08; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4210-84-P