AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking; notice of intent to
prepare an environmental impact statement.
SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is seeking
comments to assist us in developing a proposed rule on managing
activities associated with non-Federal oil and gas development on
lands and waters of the National Wildlife Refuge System (Refuge
System). Non-Federal oil and gas development refers to oil and gas
activities associated with any private, state, or tribally owned
mineral interest where the surface estate is administered by the
Service as part of the Refuge System. The proposed rule will clarify
and expand existing regulations. We seek public input on how to manage
non-Federal oil and gas operations on Refuge System lands to avoid or
minimize, to the greatest possible extent, adverse effects on natural
and cultural resources, wildlife-dependent recreation, and refuge
infrastructure and management; ensure a consistent and effective
regulatory environment for oil and gas operators; and protect public
health and safety. The Service lacks comprehensive regulations to
manage non-Federal oil and gas operations on the Refuge System, which
has led to unnecessary adverse impacts on refuge resources, as well as
an uncertain and inconsistent regulatory environment for oil and gas
operators on refuges.
This notice of intent starts the scoping process in compliance with
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its implementing
regulations. Currently, we are planning for the programmatic
environmental impact statement (PEIS) to focus on the national effects
of the rulemaking, realizing that further environmental analysis of the
more localized effects may be required with implementation of the rule.
As part of the scoping process, the Service seeks public comment on the
scope of the proposed rule; the NEPA alternatives to be considered; and
the physical, biological, social, and economic effects that should be
analyzed in the draft PEIS.
DATES: Submit comments on or before April 25, 2014.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal:
http://www.regulations.gov. Search for FWS-HQ-NWRS-2012-0086, which is
the docket number for this rulemaking. You may submit a comment by
clicking on "Comment Now!'' If your comments will fit in the provided
comment box, please use this feature of http://www.regulations.gov, as
it is most compatible with our comment review procedures. If you attach
your comments as a separate document, our preferred file format is
Microsoft Word. If you attach multiple comments (such as form letters),
our preferred format is a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.
By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to:
Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2012-0086; Division of
Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401
N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
We will not accept email or faxes. We will post all comments on
http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any
personal information you provide us (see Public Participation under
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for more information).
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Covington, (703) 358-2427.