National Wildlife Refuge System

Rulemaking & NEPA Compliance

Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) (64 KB PDF)
The Service issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) seeking information and public input on regulatory options for management of activities associated with nonfederal oil and gas development on lands and waters of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Nonfederal oil and gas development refers to oil and gas activities associated with development of privately owned mineral rights where the surface estate is administered by the Service as part of the Refuge System. The existing regulation at 50 CFR 29.32 has been in effect for more than 50 years and has not been updated or revised during that time. The Service has identified the need for revisions:

  • To reflect current regulations, policies, and  practices of other federal agencies such as the National Park ServiceBureau of Land Management, and U.S. Forest Service;
  • To provide the Service and industry with a more predictable and consistent regulatory environment; and
  • To ensure that nonfederal oil and gas operations conducted on refuges avoid or minimize, to the greatest possible extent, adverse effects on refuge resources and protect public health and safety.


National Environmental Policy Act Compliance
The National Environmental Policy Act requires the Service to consider the environmental implications of proposed actions, such as rulemaking, and determine the appropriate level of environmental documentation for the actions.  Currently, the Service intends to prepare a programmatic-level environmental impact statement (PEIS) to analyze the potential environmental effects of the proposed rule and alternatives.

A Notice of Intent (NOI) is a formal announcement of intent to prepare an EIS as defined in Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1508.22). The publication of the ANPR/NOI initiates public scoping for the PEIS.

Scoping provides the opportunity early in the environmental review process for the public, organizations, and other agencies to suggest issues and alternatives that the Service should consider in preparing the PEIS.  The PEIS will 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 proposed 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 PEIS.

How to Submit Comments
On February 24, 2014, the Service published the ANPR/NOI in the Federal Register opening a 60-day comment period that closed on April 25, 2014. The Service is reopening the ANPR/NOI for another 30-day comment period. The notice will publish in the Federal Register on June 9, 2014. Comments must be received on or before July 9, 2014. Information already submitted does not need to be resubmitted.

The ANPR/NOI asks a series of questions regarding management and oversight of nonfederal oil and gas operations on Refuge System lands and waters. We encourage you to provide comments and suggestions specific to the management and oversight issues described in the ANPRM/NOI. The Service will consider all comments received since first publishing the ANPR in the Federal Register. All data, research, and other information submitted will help determine what, if any, regulatory action is appropriate. If the Service decides to issue a rule, the first step in that process would be a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Draft EIS, which would give the public an opportunity to weigh in on the specifics of the proposed rule and alternatives.

You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

Electronically:  Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: 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, 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 This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us.

Comments and materials, as well as supporting documentation, will be available for public inspection at under the above docket number.


Last updated: June 5, 2014