Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Coalbed Methane Extraction Sector Questionnaire (New), EPA ICR Number 2291.01, OMB Control No. 2040-NEW, 4556-4559 [E8-1344]

Download as PDF 4556 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 17 / Friday, January 25, 2008 / Notices 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460, Attention Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OW–2006– 0771. Please include a total of 3 copies. (4) Hand Delivery: Water Docket, EPA Docket Center, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC, Attention Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OW–2006–0771. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket’s normal hours of operation and special arrangements should be made. Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OW–2006– 0771. EPA’s policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at http:// Dated: January 4, 2008. www.regulations.gov, including any Matthew Hale, personal information provided, unless the comment includes information Director, Office of Solid Waste. claimed to be Confidential Business [FR Doc. E8–1312 Filed 1–24–08; 8:45 am] Information (CBI) or other information BILLING CODE 6560–50–P whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information through regulations.gov or e-mail that you ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION consider to be CBI or otherwise AGENCY protected. The federal regulations.gov [EPA–HQ–OW–2006–0771, FRL–8521–2] website is an ‘‘anonymous access’’ system, which means EPA will not Agency Information Collection know your identity or contact Activities: Proposed Collection; information unless you provide it in the Comment Request; Coalbed Methane Extraction Sector Questionnaire (New), body of your comment. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends EPA ICR Number 2291.01, OMB that you include your name and other Control No. 2040–NEW contact information in the body of your AGENCY: Environmental Protection comment and with any disk or CD–ROM Agency (EPA). you submit. If you send an e-mail comment directly to EPA without going ACTION: Notice. through regulations.gov, your e-mail SUMMARY: In compliance with the address will be automatically captured Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. and included as part of the comment 3501 et seq.), this document announces that is placed in the public docket and that EPA is planning to submit a made available on the Internet. If EPA proposed Information Collection cannot read your comment due to Request (ICR) to the Office of technical difficulties and cannot contact Management and Budget (OMB). This is you for clarification, EPA may not be a request for a new collection. Before able to consider your comment. submitting the ICR to OMB for review Electronic files should avoid the use of and approval, EPA is soliciting special characters, any form of comments on specific aspects of the encryption, and be free of any defects or proposed information collection as viruses. described below. Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the index at http:// DATES: Comments must be submitted on www.regulations.gov. Although listed in or before March 25, 2008. the index, some information is not ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, publicly available, i.e., CBI or other data and information for the Coalbed information whose disclosure is Methane Extraction Sector restricted by statute. Certain other Questionnaire, Attention Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OW–2006–0771, by one of the material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be following methods: publicly available only in hard copy (1) http://www.regulations.gov. form. Publicly available docket Follow the on-line instructions for materials are available either submitting comments. electronically at http:// (2) E-mail: OW-Docket@epa.gov, Attention Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OW– www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the Water Docket in the EPA Docket 2006–0771. (3) Mail: Water Docket, Environmental Center, EPA/DC, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Protection Agency, Mailcode: 4203M, jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES What is the Next Step in the Process for This ICR? EPA will consider the comments received and amend the ICR as appropriate. The final ICR package will then be submitted to OMB for review and approval pursuant to 5 CFR 1320.12. At that time, EPA will issue another Federal Register notice pursuant to 5 CFR 1320.5(a)(1)(iv) to announce the submission of the ICR to OMB and the opportunity to submit additional comments to OMB. If you have any questions about this ICR or the approval process, please contact the technical person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:59 Jan 24, 2008 Jkt 214001 PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Washington, DC. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566–1744, and the telephone number for the Water Docket is (202) 566–2426. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Carey A. Johnston at (202) 566–1014 or johnston.carey@epa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: What Information is EPA Particularly Interested in? Pursuant to section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA, EPA specifically solicits comments and information to enable it to: (i) Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (ii) Evaluate the accuracy of the Agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (iii) Select appropriate entities to receive the questionnaire in terms of what units (e.g., well, operator) should be surveyed; how many should be surveyed; and the criteria used to select them; (iv) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (v) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses. In particular, EPA is requesting comments from very small businesses (those that employ less than 25) on examples of specific additional efforts that EPA could make to reduce the paperwork burden for very small businesses affected by this collection. What Should I Consider When I Prepare My Comments for EPA? You may find the following suggestions helpful for preparing your comments: 1. Explain your views as clearly as possible and provide specific examples. 2. Describe any assumptions that you used. 3. Provide copies of any technical information and/or data you used that support your views. 4. If you estimate potential burden or costs, explain how you arrived at the estimate that you provide. E:\FR\FM\25JAN1.SGM 25JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 17 / Friday, January 25, 2008 / Notices jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES 5. Offer alternative ways to improve the collection activity. 6. Make sure to submit your comments by the deadline identified under DATES. 7. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, be sure to identify the docket ID number assigned to this action in the subject line on the first page of your response. You may also provide the name, date, and Federal Register citation. What Information Collection Activity or ICR Does This Apply to? Affected Entities: Entities potentially affected by this action are operators of coalbed methane extraction activities. Title: Coalbed Methane Extraction Sector Questionnaire (New). ICR Numbers: EPA ICR No. 2291.01, OMB Control No. 2040–NEW. ICR Status: This ICR is for a new information collection activity. An Agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information, unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. The OMB control numbers for EPA’s regulations in title 40 of the CFR, after appearing in the Federal Register when approved, are listed in 40 CFR Part 9, are displayed either by publication in the Federal Register or by other appropriate means, such as on the related collection instrument or form, if applicable. The display of OMB control numbers in certain EPA regulations is consolidated in 40 CFR Part 9. Abstract: The Clean Water Act (CWA) directs EPA to develop regulations, called effluent guidelines, to limit the amount of pollutants that are discharged to surface waters or to sewage treatment plants. Coalbed methane (CBM) extraction activities accounted for about 10 percent of the total U.S. natural gas production in 2004 and are expanding in multiple basin across the U.S. EPA’s effluent guidelines do not currently regulate pollutant discharges from CBM extraction operations. CBM extraction requires removal of large amounts of water from underground coal seams before CBM can be released. CBM wells have a distinctive production cycle characterized by an early stage when large amounts of water are produced to reduce reservoir pressure which in turn encourages release of gas; a stable stage when quantities of produced gas increase as the quantities of produced water decrease; and a late stage when the amount of gas produced declines and water production remains low. Pollutants often found in these wastewaters include chloride, sodium, sulfate, bicarbonate, fluoride, iron, VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:59 Jan 24, 2008 Jkt 214001 barium, magnesium, ammonia, and arsenic. EPA identified the CBM sector as a candidate for a detailed study in the final 2006 Effluent Guidelines Program Plan (71 FR 76656; December 21, 2006) and also identified that it would develop an industry questionnaire to support this detailed study and would seek OMB approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). EPA is conducting this review to determine if it would be appropriate to conduct a rulemaking to revise the effluent guidelines for the Oil and Gas Extraction Point Source Category (40 CFR 435) to control pollutants discharged in CBM produced water. EPA also noticed it will conduct an ICR in the preliminary 2008 Plan (72 FR 61343; October 30, 2007). For each industrial sector, EPA’s planning process considers four factors: Pollutants discharged, current and potential pollution prevention and control technology options, growth and economic affordability, and implementation and efficiency considerations of revising existing effluent guidelines or publishing new effluent guidelines. EPA will use this ICR to collect technical and economic information from a wide range of CBM operations to address these factors in greater detail than previously (e.g., geographical and geologic differences in the characteristics of CBM produced waters, environmental data, current regulatory controls, availability and affordability of treatment technology options). See final 2006 Plan (71 FR 76666). Response to the questionnaire is mandatory for recipients and EPA will administer the questionnaire using its authority under section 308 of the CWA, 33 U.S.C. 1318. In 2007, EPA worked with a range of stakeholders (e.g., industry representatives; Federal, State, and Tribal representatives; public interest groups and landowners; and water treatment experts) to obtain the best available information on the industry and its CBM produced water management practices. EPA developed its outreach sequentially starting with teleconferences and continued afterwards with a series of meetings and site visits in the major CBM basins. In total EPA contacted over 700 people in eight states during the 63 outreach and data collection activities in 2007 and early 2008 (e.g., meetings, teleconferences, site visits). See DCN 05354. This outreach helped facilitate the development of the draft ICR as EPA incorporated data, comments, and suggestions from industry and other stakeholders into the questionnaire PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 4557 design prior to this Federal Register notice. Burden Statement: The annual public reporting and recordkeeping burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 163 hours per response. Burden means the total time, effort, or financial resources expended by persons to generate, maintain, retain, or disclose or provide information to, or for, a Federal agency. This includes the time needed to review instructions; develop, acquire, install, and utilize technology and systems for the purposes of collecting, validating, and verifying information, processing and maintaining information, and disclosing and providing information; adjust the existing ways to comply with any previously applicable instructions and requirements which have subsequently changed; train personnel to be able to respond to a collection of information; search data sources; complete and review the collection of information; and transmit or otherwise disclose the information. The EPA burden estimate is based on the number of entities receiving the questionnaire. To reduce the questionnaire burden, EPA intends to select a statistical random sample of entities within the CBM industry. The resulting sample will minimize both the burden to respondents in completing the questionnaire and to the Agency in managing and effectively utilizing the data and information supplied by respondents. EPA is soliciting comments on its assumptions for the burden estimate and its approach to selecting entities for the questionnaire. EPA is primarily interested in collecting information from ‘‘projects’’ but has used state data on CBM wells for developing the burden estimates. For purposes of the data collection, EPA is defining a CBM project to be comprised of a well, group of wells, lease, group of leases, or recognized unit operated as an economic unit when making production decisions. (EPA recognizes that industry has multiple definitions for the term ‘‘project.’’) One reason that EPA is most interested in economic and technical data at the project-level, in addition to well specific data, is because EPA has observed that most projects handle the produced water in a single water management system. EPA also is interested in information about the operator of each project. The operator is the firm or division (if a profit center) that is responsible for management and the day-to-day operation of a project. This operator is generally a workinginterest owner or a company under contract to the working interest E:\FR\FM\25JAN1.SGM 25JAN1 jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES 4558 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 17 / Friday, January 25, 2008 / Notices owner(s). The working-interest owner bears the costs of exploration, development, and operation of the property and, in return, is entitled to a share of the mineral production from the property or to a share of the proceeds there from. Although EPA’s primary interest is about projects and operators, this notice assumes that wells are the ‘‘entities’’ because complete lists of wells are readily available. Complete lists are essential in statistically selecting random samples of populations. EPA considers its current list of wells to be relatively complete. It has used licensed database information on historic well production from HPDI, Inc. HPDI, Inc. compiles information from nearly all of the oil and gas producing states and provides detailed data in a consistent format to clients accessed through a Web-based query system. This information includes well identification information (such as API number, lease name and number, well name and number, operator name, location, basin designation, field, and reservoir/ producing formation), historic production information (including summary information on first production, last production, cumulative production, and last 12 months production as well as detailed information on year-by-year production), status information (active/ inactive), and operator contact information (where available). EPA has supplemented this information with information publicly available from States. From these sources, EPA estimates that approximately 400 operators maintain over 43,000 wells that were active CBM producers in the U.S. as of mid-2007. In estimating the burden, EPA has assumed that each operator would answer certain questions only once, regardless of the number of its wells in the sample. For purposes of estimating the burden, EPA also assumed that each well is equivalent to a single project; however, operators will only be required to respond to the project-level questions once per project, regardless of the number of wells selected from the project. EPA’s burden estimate assumes that the statistical selection of the wells will result in approximately 400 operators to be selected. EPA further estimates that the operators will be required to provide information for approximately 2,000 projects. EPA solicits comments and supporting information that would allow it to evaluate alternative methods of selecting the random sample that will reduce the overall burden. First, EPA solicits information about publicly VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:59 Jan 24, 2008 Jkt 214001 available data sources that would permit EPA to assign wells to individual projects so that it could select fewer entities. Second, EPA solicits comments on approaches to obtaining project information from non-public sources. For example, one approach might be for EPA to conduct a two-phase questionnaire that would require all operators to complete a short questionnaire (‘‘screener’’) that identifies all of the projects and links the wells to each project ID. After receiving the results, EPA would statistically select a random sample of projects to receive a detailed questionnaire. In order to use this approach, EPA would require operators to return the completed screeners within a short period of time (e.g., 30 days), thereby lengthening the study schedule by a minimum of three months (assuming it takes EPA a month to process the completed screener results and another month to draw a representative sample and distribute the detailed questionnaire). EPA solicits comments on the two-phase approach and whether the assignment of all wells to projects is relatively easy for operators. EPA also solicits comment on other approaches that would provide information to assign wells to projects. Third, EPA solicits comments on ways to reduce the burden to operators with many wells and still collect information in a manner that will allow for appropriate statistical inferences to be drawn from responses. Under the current assumptions, large operators may be required to respond for many wells, thus resulting in a relatively large burden for them. EPA also is concerned that it would be collecting more information than necessary to characterize practices by the operator. To reduce burden, one approach might be for operators to select the wells using criteria specified by EPA. EPA is interested in comments about the appropriate number of wells and selection criteria. Fourth, EPA solicits comments on stratification variables to use in selecting the random sample. Existing information about the industry can be used to improve the questionnaire design and the precision estimates. One common technique is to use publicly available information to group similar entities together into mutually exclusive strata. Then, by selecting entities from each stratum to participate in the questionnaire, it ensures that the sample will include entities that have the various characteristics that are represented by the different strata. However, increasing the number of PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 stratification variables also increases the number of entities selected and the overall burden. EPA is considering stratifying by basin, state, and operator size (e.g., small, large). Incorporating each additional variable in a statistical design will provide more information about the industry; however, more entities must be selected to provide statistically representative results. EPA solicits comments on whether all variables (e.g., basin, state, operator size as defined by total CBM production) are necessary and whether it also should consider other variables (e.g., type of coal seams and geology, maturity of CBM projects as defined by start date). Fifth, EPA solicits comments on the extent to which the sample design should consider location of the CBM projects within a basin. EPA recognizes that location of the CBM project may result in wells being operated differently within each basin due to different produced water characteristics, geology, and available management options. EPA also recognizes that state requirements can impact the well operations and finances. EPA current statistical design selects wells at random within each basin, and can be easily modified to select wells within states. Because stratification is intended to distinguish between large groups, and thus, may not be the best statistical choice to distinguish between geographic locations, EPA also is researching an area-based design that uses location clusters of wells formed within the known basins, as well as within states. EPA then would randomly select clusters of wells. For each selected location cluster, EPA would require that the operators of the wells to provide information about all of their projects that fall within the cluster. Cluster sampling generally results in a higher burden because more entities must be selected (initial estimates range from 1.4 to ten times more), however, it will allow for more geographic and geologic representation. EPA solicits comments on the extent that basins and states should be considered within the statistical design. EPA further solicits comments on the extent to which statistical design should consider other geographic and geology features. Sixth, since the industry is constantly adding new wells, EPA’s questionnaire needs to incorporate industry changes between the time the data were collected and end of the study. This may require additional entities to be selected for the questionnaire. EPA solicits comments on the extent to which industry growth should be considered in selecting the entities for the questionnaire. E:\FR\FM\25JAN1.SGM 25JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 17 / Friday, January 25, 2008 / Notices Finally, EPA will also use the questionnaire to collect data to evaluate potential impacts to small businesses that might occur due to alternative produced water management options. To minimize burden, the only information requested at the ultimate parent company level, if different from the level at which detailed financial information is provided, is employment and revenue data. EPA solicits comment on alternative survey questions to collect data for EPA’s small business analyses. The ICR provides a detailed explanation of the Agency’s estimate, which is only briefly summarized here: Estimated total number of potential respondents: 400. Frequency of response: One-time. Estimated total average number of responses for each respondent: One. Estimated total annual burden hours: 65,100 hours. Estimated total annual costs: $2,839,000. This includes an estimated burden cost of $2,815,000 and an estimated cost of $24,000 for operational costs (photocopying and postage). What is the Next Step in the Process for this ICR? EPA will consider the comments received and amend the ICR as appropriate. The final ICR package will then be submitted to OMB for review and approval pursuant to 5 CFR 1320.12. At that time, EPA will issue another Federal Register notice pursuant to 5 CFR 1320.5(a)(1)(iv) to announce the submission of the ICR to OMB and the opportunity to submit additional comments to OMB. If you have any questions about this ICR or the approval process, please contact the technical person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Dated: January 17, 2008. Ephraim S. King, Director, Office of Science and Technology. [FR Doc. E8–1344 Filed 1–24–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [Docket# EPA–RO4–SFUND–2008–0001; FRL–8521–1] jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES Dixie Barrel Drum Superfund Site; Knoxville, Knox County, TN; Notice of Settlements Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ACTION: Notice of Settlements. AGENCY: SUMMARY: Under section 122(h)(1) of the Comprehensive Environmental VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:59 Jan 24, 2008 Jkt 214001 Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the United States Environmental Protection Agency has entered into two settlements for reimbursement of past response costs concerning the Dixie Barrel Drum Superfund Site located in Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee for publication. DATES: The Agency will consider public comments on the settlements until February 25, 2008. The Agency will consider all comments received and may modify or withdraw its consent to the settlements if comments received disclose facts or considerations which indicate that the settlements are inappropriate, improper, or inadequate. ADDRESSES: Copies of the settlements are available from Ms. Paula V. Batchelor. Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA–RO4– SFUND–2008–0001 or Site name Dixie Barrel Drum Superfund Site by one of the following methods: • http://www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments. • E-mail: Batchelor.Paula@epa.gov. • Fax: 404/562–8842/Attn Paula V. Batchelor. • Mail: Ms. Paula V. Batchelor, U.S. EPA Region 4, SD–SEIMB, 61 Forsyth Street, SW., Atlanta, Georgia 30303. ‘‘In addition, please mail a copy of your comments on the information collection provisions to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Attn: Desk Officer for EPA, 725 17th St., NW., Washington, DC 20503.’’ Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. [EPA–R04–SFUND–2008–0001]. EPA’s policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at http:// www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through http:// www.regulations.gov or e-mail. The http://www.regulations.gov Web site is an ‘‘anonymous access’’ system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an e-mail comment directly to EPA without going through http:// www.regulations.gov your e-mail address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 4559 made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD–ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses. For additional information about EPA’s public docket visit the EPA Docket Center homepage at http:// www.epa.gov/epahome/dockets.htm Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the http:// www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in hard copy. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in http:// www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the U.S. EPA Region 4 office located at 61 Forsyth Street, SW., Atlanta, Georgia 30303. Regional office is open from 7 am until 6:30 pm. Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. Written comments may be submitted to Ms. Batchelor within 30 calendar days of the date of this publication. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paula V. Batchelor at 404/562–8887. Dated: January 3, 2008. Melissa D. Waters, Acting Chief, Superfund Enforcement & Information Management Branch, Superfund Division. [FR Doc. E8–1349 Filed 1–24–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [ER–-FRL–6695–4] Environmental Impact Statements and Regulations; Availability of EPA Comments Availability of EPA comments prepared pursuant to the Environmental Review Process (ERP), under section 309 of the Clean Air Act and Section 102(2)(c) of the National Environmental Policy Act as amended. Requests for copies of EPA comments can be directed to the Office of Federal Activities at 202–564–7167. An explanation of the ratings assigned to draft environmental E:\FR\FM\25JAN1.SGM 25JAN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 17 (Friday, January 25, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 4556-4559]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-1344]


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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

[EPA-HQ-OW-2006-0771, FRL-8521-2]


Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; 
Comment Request; Coalbed Methane Extraction Sector Questionnaire (New), 
EPA ICR Number 2291.01, OMB Control No. 2040-NEW

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 
et seq.), this document announces that EPA is planning to submit a 
proposed Information Collection Request (ICR) to the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB). This is a request for a new collection. 
Before submitting the ICR to OMB for review and approval, EPA is 
soliciting comments on specific aspects of the proposed information 
collection as described below.

DATES: Comments must be submitted on or before March 25, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, data and information for the Coalbed 
Methane Extraction Sector Questionnaire, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-
HQ-OW-2006-0771, by one of the following methods:
    (1) http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the on-line instructions for 
submitting comments.
    (2) E-mail: OW-Docket@epa.gov, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-
2006-0771.
    (3) Mail: Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode: 
4203M, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460, Attention 
Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2006-0771. Please include a total of 3 copies.
    (4) Hand Delivery: Water Docket, EPA Docket Center, EPA West, Room 
3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC, Attention Docket ID 
No. EPA-HQ-OW-2006-0771. Such deliveries are only accepted during the 
Docket's normal hours of operation and special arrangements should be 
made.
    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2006-
0771. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in 
the public docket without change and may be made available online at 
http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be 
Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose 
disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information through 
regulations.gov or e-mail that you consider to be CBI or otherwise 
protected. The federal regulations.gov website is an ``anonymous 
access'' system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact 
information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you 
submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name 
and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any 
disk or CD-ROM you submit. If you send an e-mail comment directly to 
EPA without going through regulations.gov, your e-mail address will be 
automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is 
placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If EPA 
cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot 
contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your 
comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, 
any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses.
    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the index at 
http://www.regulations.gov. Although listed in the index, some 
information is not publicly available, i.e., CBI or other information 
whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such 
as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be 
publicly available only in hard copy form. Publicly available docket 
materials are available either electronically at http://
www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the Water Docket in the EPA 
Docket Center, EPA/DC, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., 
NW., Washington, DC. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 
4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The 
telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the 
telephone number for the Water Docket is (202) 566-2426.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Carey A. Johnston at (202) 566-
1014 or johnston.carey@epa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

What Information is EPA Particularly Interested in?

    Pursuant to section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA, EPA specifically 
solicits comments and information to enable it to:
    (i) Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is 
necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, 
including whether the information will have practical utility;
    (ii) Evaluate the accuracy of the Agency's estimate of the burden 
of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of 
the methodology and assumptions used;
    (iii) Select appropriate entities to receive the questionnaire in 
terms of what units (e.g., well, operator) should be surveyed; how many 
should be surveyed; and the criteria used to select them;
    (iv) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information 
to be collected; and
    (v) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those 
who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated 
electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or 
other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic 
submission of responses. In particular, EPA is requesting comments from 
very small businesses (those that employ less than 25) on examples of 
specific additional efforts that EPA could make to reduce the paperwork 
burden for very small businesses affected by this collection.

What Should I Consider When I Prepare My Comments for EPA?

    You may find the following suggestions helpful for preparing your 
comments:
    1. Explain your views as clearly as possible and provide specific 
examples.
    2. Describe any assumptions that you used.
    3. Provide copies of any technical information and/or data you used 
that support your views.
    4. If you estimate potential burden or costs, explain how you 
arrived at the estimate that you provide.

[[Page 4557]]

    5. Offer alternative ways to improve the collection activity.
    6. Make sure to submit your comments by the deadline identified 
under DATES.
    7. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, be sure to identify the docket 
ID number assigned to this action in the subject line on the first page 
of your response. You may also provide the name, date, and Federal 
Register citation.

What Information Collection Activity or ICR Does This Apply to?

    Affected Entities: Entities potentially affected by this action are 
operators of coalbed methane extraction activities.
    Title: Coalbed Methane Extraction Sector Questionnaire (New).
    ICR Numbers: EPA ICR No. 2291.01, OMB Control No. 2040-NEW.
    ICR Status: This ICR is for a new information collection activity. 
An Agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to 
respond to, a collection of information, unless it displays a currently 
valid OMB control number. The OMB control numbers for EPA's regulations 
in title 40 of the CFR, after appearing in the Federal Register when 
approved, are listed in 40 CFR Part 9, are displayed either by 
publication in the Federal Register or by other appropriate means, such 
as on the related collection instrument or form, if applicable. The 
display of OMB control numbers in certain EPA regulations is 
consolidated in 40 CFR Part 9.
    Abstract: The Clean Water Act (CWA) directs EPA to develop 
regulations, called effluent guidelines, to limit the amount of 
pollutants that are discharged to surface waters or to sewage treatment 
plants. Coalbed methane (CBM) extraction activities accounted for about 
10 percent of the total U.S. natural gas production in 2004 and are 
expanding in multiple basin across the U.S. EPA's effluent guidelines 
do not currently regulate pollutant discharges from CBM extraction 
operations.
    CBM extraction requires removal of large amounts of water from 
underground coal seams before CBM can be released. CBM wells have a 
distinctive production cycle characterized by an early stage when large 
amounts of water are produced to reduce reservoir pressure which in 
turn encourages release of gas; a stable stage when quantities of 
produced gas increase as the quantities of produced water decrease; and 
a late stage when the amount of gas produced declines and water 
production remains low. Pollutants often found in these wastewaters 
include chloride, sodium, sulfate, bicarbonate, fluoride, iron, barium, 
magnesium, ammonia, and arsenic.
    EPA identified the CBM sector as a candidate for a detailed study 
in the final 2006 Effluent Guidelines Program Plan (71 FR 76656; 
December 21, 2006) and also identified that it would develop an 
industry questionnaire to support this detailed study and would seek 
OMB approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). EPA is conducting 
this review to determine if it would be appropriate to conduct a 
rulemaking to revise the effluent guidelines for the Oil and Gas 
Extraction Point Source Category (40 CFR 435) to control pollutants 
discharged in CBM produced water. EPA also noticed it will conduct an 
ICR in the preliminary 2008 Plan (72 FR 61343; October 30, 2007). For 
each industrial sector, EPA's planning process considers four factors: 
Pollutants discharged, current and potential pollution prevention and 
control technology options, growth and economic affordability, and 
implementation and efficiency considerations of revising existing 
effluent guidelines or publishing new effluent guidelines. EPA will use 
this ICR to collect technical and economic information from a wide 
range of CBM operations to address these factors in greater detail than 
previously (e.g., geographical and geologic differences in the 
characteristics of CBM produced waters, environmental data, current 
regulatory controls, availability and affordability of treatment 
technology options). See final 2006 Plan (71 FR 76666). Response to the 
questionnaire is mandatory for recipients and EPA will administer the 
questionnaire using its authority under section 308 of the CWA, 33 
U.S.C. 1318.
    In 2007, EPA worked with a range of stakeholders (e.g., industry 
representatives; Federal, State, and Tribal representatives; public 
interest groups and landowners; and water treatment experts) to obtain 
the best available information on the industry and its CBM produced 
water management practices. EPA developed its outreach sequentially 
starting with teleconferences and continued afterwards with a series of 
meetings and site visits in the major CBM basins. In total EPA 
contacted over 700 people in eight states during the 63 outreach and 
data collection activities in 2007 and early 2008 (e.g., meetings, 
teleconferences, site visits). See DCN 05354. This outreach helped 
facilitate the development of the draft ICR as EPA incorporated data, 
comments, and suggestions from industry and other stakeholders into the 
questionnaire design prior to this Federal Register notice.
    Burden Statement: The annual public reporting and recordkeeping 
burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 163 
hours per response. Burden means the total time, effort, or financial 
resources expended by persons to generate, maintain, retain, or 
disclose or provide information to, or for, a Federal agency. This 
includes the time needed to review instructions; develop, acquire, 
install, and utilize technology and systems for the purposes of 
collecting, validating, and verifying information, processing and 
maintaining information, and disclosing and providing information; 
adjust the existing ways to comply with any previously applicable 
instructions and requirements which have subsequently changed; train 
personnel to be able to respond to a collection of information; search 
data sources; complete and review the collection of information; and 
transmit or otherwise disclose the information.
    The EPA burden estimate is based on the number of entities 
receiving the questionnaire. To reduce the questionnaire burden, EPA 
intends to select a statistical random sample of entities within the 
CBM industry. The resulting sample will minimize both the burden to 
respondents in completing the questionnaire and to the Agency in 
managing and effectively utilizing the data and information supplied by 
respondents.
    EPA is soliciting comments on its assumptions for the burden 
estimate and its approach to selecting entities for the questionnaire. 
EPA is primarily interested in collecting information from ``projects'' 
but has used state data on CBM wells for developing the burden 
estimates. For purposes of the data collection, EPA is defining a CBM 
project to be comprised of a well, group of wells, lease, group of 
leases, or recognized unit operated as an economic unit when making 
production decisions. (EPA recognizes that industry has multiple 
definitions for the term ``project.'') One reason that EPA is most 
interested in economic and technical data at the project-level, in 
addition to well specific data, is because EPA has observed that most 
projects handle the produced water in a single water management system. 
EPA also is interested in information about the operator of each 
project. The operator is the firm or division (if a profit center) that 
is responsible for management and the day-to-day operation of a 
project. This operator is generally a working-interest owner or a 
company under contract to the working interest

[[Page 4558]]

owner(s). The working-interest owner bears the costs of exploration, 
development, and operation of the property and, in return, is entitled 
to a share of the mineral production from the property or to a share of 
the proceeds there from.
    Although EPA's primary interest is about projects and operators, 
this notice assumes that wells are the ``entities'' because complete 
lists of wells are readily available. Complete lists are essential in 
statistically selecting random samples of populations. EPA considers 
its current list of wells to be relatively complete. It has used 
licensed database information on historic well production from HPDI, 
Inc. HPDI, Inc. compiles information from nearly all of the oil and gas 
producing states and provides detailed data in a consistent format to 
clients accessed through a Web-based query system. This information 
includes well identification information (such as API number, lease 
name and number, well name and number, operator name, location, basin 
designation, field, and reservoir/producing formation), historic 
production information (including summary information on first 
production, last production, cumulative production, and last 12 months 
production as well as detailed information on year-by-year production), 
status information (active/inactive), and operator contact information 
(where available). EPA has supplemented this information with 
information publicly available from States. From these sources, EPA 
estimates that approximately 400 operators maintain over 43,000 wells 
that were active CBM producers in the U.S. as of mid-2007.
    In estimating the burden, EPA has assumed that each operator would 
answer certain questions only once, regardless of the number of its 
wells in the sample. For purposes of estimating the burden, EPA also 
assumed that each well is equivalent to a single project; however, 
operators will only be required to respond to the project-level 
questions once per project, regardless of the number of wells selected 
from the project. EPA's burden estimate assumes that the statistical 
selection of the wells will result in approximately 400 operators to be 
selected. EPA further estimates that the operators will be required to 
provide information for approximately 2,000 projects.
    EPA solicits comments and supporting information that would allow 
it to evaluate alternative methods of selecting the random sample that 
will reduce the overall burden. First, EPA solicits information about 
publicly available data sources that would permit EPA to assign wells 
to individual projects so that it could select fewer entities.
    Second, EPA solicits comments on approaches to obtaining project 
information from non-public sources. For example, one approach might be 
for EPA to conduct a two-phase questionnaire that would require all 
operators to complete a short questionnaire (``screener'') that 
identifies all of the projects and links the wells to each project ID. 
After receiving the results, EPA would statistically select a random 
sample of projects to receive a detailed questionnaire. In order to use 
this approach, EPA would require operators to return the completed 
screeners within a short period of time (e.g., 30 days), thereby 
lengthening the study schedule by a minimum of three months (assuming 
it takes EPA a month to process the completed screener results and 
another month to draw a representative sample and distribute the 
detailed questionnaire). EPA solicits comments on the two-phase 
approach and whether the assignment of all wells to projects is 
relatively easy for operators. EPA also solicits comment on other 
approaches that would provide information to assign wells to projects.
    Third, EPA solicits comments on ways to reduce the burden to 
operators with many wells and still collect information in a manner 
that will allow for appropriate statistical inferences to be drawn from 
responses. Under the current assumptions, large operators may be 
required to respond for many wells, thus resulting in a relatively 
large burden for them. EPA also is concerned that it would be 
collecting more information than necessary to characterize practices by 
the operator. To reduce burden, one approach might be for operators to 
select the wells using criteria specified by EPA. EPA is interested in 
comments about the appropriate number of wells and selection criteria.
    Fourth, EPA solicits comments on stratification variables to use in 
selecting the random sample. Existing information about the industry 
can be used to improve the questionnaire design and the precision 
estimates. One common technique is to use publicly available 
information to group similar entities together into mutually exclusive 
strata. Then, by selecting entities from each stratum to participate in 
the questionnaire, it ensures that the sample will include entities 
that have the various characteristics that are represented by the 
different strata. However, increasing the number of stratification 
variables also increases the number of entities selected and the 
overall burden. EPA is considering stratifying by basin, state, and 
operator size (e.g., small, large). Incorporating each additional 
variable in a statistical design will provide more information about 
the industry; however, more entities must be selected to provide 
statistically representative results. EPA solicits comments on whether 
all variables (e.g., basin, state, operator size as defined by total 
CBM production) are necessary and whether it also should consider other 
variables (e.g., type of coal seams and geology, maturity of CBM 
projects as defined by start date).
    Fifth, EPA solicits comments on the extent to which the sample 
design should consider location of the CBM projects within a basin. EPA 
recognizes that location of the CBM project may result in wells being 
operated differently within each basin due to different produced water 
characteristics, geology, and available management options. EPA also 
recognizes that state requirements can impact the well operations and 
finances. EPA current statistical design selects wells at random within 
each basin, and can be easily modified to select wells within states. 
Because stratification is intended to distinguish between large groups, 
and thus, may not be the best statistical choice to distinguish between 
geographic locations, EPA also is researching an area-based design that 
uses location clusters of wells formed within the known basins, as well 
as within states. EPA then would randomly select clusters of wells. For 
each selected location cluster, EPA would require that the operators of 
the wells to provide information about all of their projects that fall 
within the cluster. Cluster sampling generally results in a higher 
burden because more entities must be selected (initial estimates range 
from 1.4 to ten times more), however, it will allow for more geographic 
and geologic representation. EPA solicits comments on the extent that 
basins and states should be considered within the statistical design. 
EPA further solicits comments on the extent to which statistical design 
should consider other geographic and geology features.
    Sixth, since the industry is constantly adding new wells, EPA's 
questionnaire needs to incorporate industry changes between the time 
the data were collected and end of the study. This may require 
additional entities to be selected for the questionnaire. EPA solicits 
comments on the extent to which industry growth should be considered in 
selecting the entities for the questionnaire.

[[Page 4559]]

    Finally, EPA will also use the questionnaire to collect data to 
evaluate potential impacts to small businesses that might occur due to 
alternative produced water management options. To minimize burden, the 
only information requested at the ultimate parent company level, if 
different from the level at which detailed financial information is 
provided, is employment and revenue data. EPA solicits comment on 
alternative survey questions to collect data for EPA's small business 
analyses.
    The ICR provides a detailed explanation of the Agency's estimate, 
which is only briefly summarized here:
    Estimated total number of potential respondents: 400.
    Frequency of response: One-time.
    Estimated total average number of responses for each respondent: 
One.
    Estimated total annual burden hours: 65,100 hours.
    Estimated total annual costs: $2,839,000. This includes an 
estimated burden cost of $2,815,000 and an estimated cost of $24,000 
for operational costs (photocopying and postage).

What is the Next Step in the Process for this ICR?

    EPA will consider the comments received and amend the ICR as 
appropriate. The final ICR package will then be submitted to OMB for 
review and approval pursuant to 5 CFR 1320.12. At that time, EPA will 
issue another Federal Register notice pursuant to 5 CFR 
1320.5(a)(1)(iv) to announce the submission of the ICR to OMB and the 
opportunity to submit additional comments to OMB. If you have any 
questions about this ICR or the approval process, please contact the 
technical person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Dated: January 17, 2008.
Ephraim S. King,
Director, Office of Science and Technology.
 [FR Doc. E8-1344 Filed 1-24-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6560-50-P