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.


Background

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 reopened the ANPR/NOI for another 30-day comment period until July 9, 2014.

The ANPR/NOI asks a series of questions regarding management and oversight of nonfederal oil and gas operations on Refuge System lands and waters. As part of the process, the Service is reviewing all comments the agency 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.

For a summary report of the public comments: Summary Report

Comments and materials, as well as supporting documentation, are available for public inspection at http://www.regulations.gov under docket number: FWS–HQ–NWRS–2012–0086.

More information on the announcement here: Press Release

Last updated: December 1, 2014