Segregation of Lands-Renewable Energy, 23230-23236 [2011-10017]

Download as PDF 23230 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 80 / Tuesday, April 26, 2011 / Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management 43 CFR Parts 2090 and 2800 [WO 300–1430–PQ] RIN 1004–AE19 Segregation of Lands—Renewable Energy Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Proposed Rule. AGENCY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing this rule to amend the BLM’s regulations found in 43 CFR parts 2090 and 2800 by adding provisions allowing the BLM to temporarily segregate from the operation of the public land laws, by publication of a Federal Register notice, public lands included in a pending or future wind or solar energy generation right-ofway (ROW) application, or public lands identified by the BLM for a potential future wind or solar energy generation ROW authorization under the BLM’s ROW regulations, in order to promote the orderly administration of the public lands. If segregated under this rule, such lands would not be subject to appropriation under the public land laws, including location under the Mining Law of 1872 (Mining Law), but not the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 (Mineral Leasing Act) or the Materials Act of 1947 (Materials Act), subject to valid existing rights, for a period of up to 2 years. The BLM is also publishing in today’s Federal Register an interim temporary final rule (Interim Rule) that is substantively similar to this proposed rule. The Interim Rule is effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register for a period not to exceed 2 years after publication, or the completion of the notice and comment rulemaking process for this proposed rule whichever occurs first. DATES: You should submit your comments on the proposed rule on or before June 27, 2011. The BLM need not consider, or include in the administrative record for the final rule, comments that the BLM receives after the close of the comment period or comments delivered to an address other than those listed below (see ADDRESSES). ADDRESSES: Mail: Director (630) Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, Mail Stop 2143LM, 1849 C St., NW., Washington, DC 20240, Attention: 1004–AE19. Personal or messenger delivery: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, 20 M Street, SE., Room jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:08 Apr 25, 2011 Jkt 223001 2134LM, Attention: Regulatory Affairs, Washington, DC 20003. Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions at this Web site. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ray Brady at (202) 912–7312 or the Division of Lands, Realty, and Cadastral Survey at (202) 912–7350 for information relating to the BLM’s renewable energy program or the substance of the proposed rule, or Ian Senio at (202) 912–7440 for information relating to the rulemaking process generally. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1– 800–877–8339, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to contact the above individuals. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Public Comment Procedures II. Background III. Section-by-Section Analysis IV. Procedural Matters I. Public Comment Procedures If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments by one of several methods: You may mail comments to Director (630) Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, Mail Stop 2143LM, 1849 C St., NW., Washington, DC 20240, Attention: 1004–AE19. You may deliver comments to U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, 20 M Street, SE., Room 2134LM, Attention: Regulatory Affairs, Washington, DC 20003; or You may access and comment on the proposed rule at the Federal eRulemaking Portal by following the instructions at that site (see ADDRESSES). Written comments on the proposed rule should be specific, should be confined to issues pertinent to the proposed rule, and should explain the reason for any recommended change. Where possible, comments should reference the specific section or paragraph of the proposed rule that the comment is addressing. The BLM need not consider or include in the Administrative Record for the proposed rule comments that we receive after the close of the comment period (see DATES) or comments delivered to an address other than those listed above (see ADDRESSES). Comments, including names and street addresses of respondents, will be available for public review at the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, 20 M Street, SE., Room 2134LM, Washington, DC 20003 during regular hours (7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.) Monday through Friday, except PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 holidays. They will also be available at the Federal eRulemaking Portal http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions at this Web site. Before including your address, telephone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, be advised that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask in your comment for the BLM to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. II. Background Congress has directed the Department of the Interior (Department) to facilitate the development of renewable energy resources. Promoting renewable energy is one of this Administration’s and this Department’s highest priorities. In Section 211 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (119 Stat. 660, Aug. 8, 2005) (EPAct), Congress declared that before 2015 the Secretary of the Interior should seek to have approved non-hydropower renewable energy projects (solar, wind, and geothermal) on public lands with a generation capacity of at least 10,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity. Even before the EPAct was enacted by Congress, President Bush issued Executive Order 13212, ‘‘Actions to Expedite Energy-Related Projects’’ (May 18, 2001), which requires Federal agencies to expedite the production, transmission, or conservation of energy. After passage of the EPAct, the Secretary of the Interior issued several orders emphasizing the importance of renewable energy development on public lands. On January 16, 2009, Secretary Kempthorne issued Secretarial Order 3283, ‘‘Enhancing Renewable Energy Development on the Public Lands,’’ which states that its purpose is to ‘‘facilitate[ ] the Department’s efforts to achieve the goal Congress established in Section 211 of the * * * [EPAct] to approve non-hydropower renewable energy projects on the public lands with a generation capacity of at least 10,000 megawatts of electricity by 2015.’’ The order also declared that ‘‘the development of renewable energy resources on the public lands will increase domestic energy production, provide alternatives to traditional energy resources, and enhance the energy security of the United States.’’ Approximately 1 year later, Secretary Salazar issued Secretarial Order 3285A1, ‘‘Renewable Energy Development by the Department of the Interior’’ (Feb. 22, 2010), which reemphasized the development of E:\FR\FM\26APP1.SGM 26APP1 jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 80 / Tuesday, April 26, 2011 / Proposed Rules renewable energy as a priority for the Department. The order states: ‘‘Encouraging the production, development, and delivery of renewable energy is one of the Department’s highest priorities. Agencies and bureaus within the Department will work collaboratively with each other, and with other Federal agencies, departments, states, local communities, and private landowners to encourage the timely and responsible development of renewable energy and associated transmission while protecting and enhancing the Nation’s water, wildlife, and other natural resources.’’ As a result of these and other initiatives, the interest in renewable energy development on public lands has increased significantly. In addition to these specific directives, the BLM is charged generally with managing the public lands for multiple uses under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), 43 U.S.C. 1701, et seq., including for mining and energy development. In some instances, different uses may present conflicts. For example, a mining claim located within a proposed ROW for a utility-scale solar energy generation facility could impede the BLM’s ability to process the ROW application because the Federal government’s use of the surface cannot endanger or materially interfere with a properly located mining claim. In order to help avoid such conflicts while carrying out the Congressional and Executive mandates and direction to prioritize the development of renewable energy, the BLM is proposing this rule. This rule will help promote the orderly administration of the public lands by giving the BLM a tool to minimize potential resource conflicts between ROWs for proposed solar and wind energy generation facilities and other uses of the public lands. Under existing regulations, lands within a solar or wind energy generation ROW application or within an area identified by the BLM for such ROWs, unlike lands proposed for exchange or sale, remain open to appropriation under the public land laws, including location and entry under the Mining Law, while BLM is considering the ROW. Over the past 5 years, the BLM has processed 24 solar and wind energy development ROW applications. New mining claims were located on the public lands described in two of these proposed ROWs during the BLM’s consideration of the applications. Many of the mining claims in the two proposed ROWs were not located until after the existence of the wind or solar ROW application or the identification of VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:08 Apr 25, 2011 Jkt 223001 an area by the BLM for such ROWs became publicly known. In addition, over the past 2 years, 437 new mining claims were located within wind energy ROW application areas in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming and 216 new mining claims were located within solar energy ROW application areas. In the BLM’s experience, some of these claims are likely to be valid, but others are likely to be speculative and not located for true mining purposes. As such, the latter are likely filed for no other purpose than to provide a means for the mining claimant to compel some kind of payment from the ROW applicant to relinquish the mining claim. The potential for such a situation exists because, while it is relatively easy and inexpensive to file a mining claim, it can be difficult, time-consuming, and costly to prove that the mining claim was not properly filed or does not contain a valid discovery. Regardless of the merits of a particular claim, the location of a mining claim in an area covered by a ROW application (or identified for such an application) creates uncertainty that interferes with the orderly administration of the public lands. This uncertainty makes it difficult for the BLM, energy project developers, and institutions that finance such development to proceed with such projects because a subsequently located mining claim potentially precludes final issuance of the ROW and increases project costs, jeopardizing the planned energy development. For example, the location of a new mining claim during the pendency of the BLM’s review process for a ROW application could preclude the applicant from providing a concrete proposal for their use and occupancy of the public lands. This is because under the Mining Law, a ROW cannot materially interfere with a previously located mining claim. Since all properly located claims are treated as valid until proven otherwise, the filing of any mining claim can substantially delay the processing of a ROW application. As a result, a ROW applicant could either wait for the BLM to determine the validity of a claim, or the applicant could choose to modify or relocate its proposed surface use to avoid conflicts with the newly located mining claim, leading to additional expense, which could jeopardize the renewable energy project.1 The BLM’s processing time for the ROW application could be significantly increased if any changes necessitated by the newly located 1 This uncertainty may also discourage banks from financing such projects. PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 23231 mining claim require the BLM to undertake any additional analyses, such as those required by the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. (NEPA). Under these circumstances, the BLM’s ability to administer the public lands in an orderly manner is impeded. This proposed rule is needed to provide the BLM with the necessary authority to ensure the orderly administration of the public lands and to prevent conflicts between competing uses of those lands. By allowing for temporary segregation, it would enable the BLM to prevent new resource conflicts from arising as a result of new mining claims that may be located within land covered by any pending or future wind or solar energy generation facility ROW applications, or public lands identified by the BLM for potential future wind or solar energy generation ROWs pursuant to its ROW regulations. Temporary segregation is generally sufficient because once a ROW has been authorized, subsequently located mining claims would be subject to the previously authorized use, and any future mining claimant would have notice of such use. The proposed rule would supplement the authority contained in 43 CFR subpart 2091 to allow the BLM to segregate from appropriation under the public land laws, including location under the Mining Law, but not the Mineral Leasing Act or the Materials Act, public lands included in a pending or future wind or solar energy generation ROW application or public lands identified by the BLM for a wind or solar energy generation ROW authorization under 43 CFR subpart 2804, subject to valid existing rights.2 This proposed rule would not affect valid existing rights in mining claims located before any segregation made pursuant to the final rule. The proposed rule also would not affect ROW applications for uses other than wind or solar energy generation facilities. Segregations under the proposed rule would be accomplished by publishing a notice in the Federal Register and would be effective upon the date of publication. The BLM considered a rule that would allow for segregation through notation to the public land records, but it rejected this approach because it would not provide the public 2 The existing regulations define segregation as ‘‘the removal for a limited period, subject to valid existing rights, of a specified area of the public lands from the operation of some or all of the public land laws, including the mineral laws, pursuant to the exercise by the Secretary of regulatory authority for the orderly administration of the public lands.’’ 43 CFR 2091.0–5(b). E:\FR\FM\26APP1.SGM 26APP1 jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with PROPOSALS 23232 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 80 / Tuesday, April 26, 2011 / Proposed Rules with the same level of notice that a Federal Register notice would accomplish. The proposed rule would provide for segregation periods of up to 2 years, with the option, if deemed necessary by the appropriate BLM State Director, to extend the segregation of the lands for up to an additional 2 years. The proposed rule would not authorize the BLM to continue the segregation after a final decision on a ROW has been made. Finally, not all wind or solar ROW applications would lead to a segregation, as the BLM may reject some applications and others may not require segregation because conflicts with mining claims are not anticipated. Segregation rules, like this proposed rule, have been held to be ‘‘reasonably related’’ to the BLM’s broad authority to issue rules related to ‘‘the orderly administration of the public land laws,’’ 3 because they allow the BLM to protect an applicant for an interest in such lands from ‘‘the assertion by others of rights to the lands while the applicant is prevented from taking any steps to protect’’ its interests because it has to wait for the BLM to act on its application.4 It is for this purpose that existing regulations at 43 CFR subpart 2091 provide the BLM with the discretion to segregate lands that are proposed for various types of land disposals, such as land sales, land exchanges, and transfers of public land to local governments and other entities under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act of 1926. These regulatory provisions allowing segregations were put in place over the years to prevent resource conflicts, including conflicts arising from the location of new mining claims, which could create encumbrances on the title of the public lands identified for transfer out of Federal ownership under the applicable authorities. Such a situation occurred in Nevada, and the proposed land purchaser chose to pay the mining claimant to relinquish his claims in order to enable the sale to go forward. In fact, in the land sales context, the segregative period was increased from 270 days to a maximum term of 4 years, as it was found that the original segregative period was insufficient and that conflicting mining claims were being located before sales could be completed. This proposed rule would provide the BLM the same flexibility it currently has for land disposals by allowing the BLM to 3 See Bryon v. United States, 259 F. 371, 376 (9th Cir. 1919); Hopkins v. United States, 414 F.2d 464, 472 (9th Cir. 1969). 4 See, e.g., Marian Q. Kaiser, 65 I.D. 485 (Nov. 25, 1958). VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:08 Apr 25, 2011 Jkt 223001 temporarily segregate lands that are included in pending or future applications for solar and wind facility ROWs or on lands identified by the BLM for such ROWs. This would allow for the orderly administration of the public lands by eliminating the potential for conflicts with mining claims located after the BLM publishes a Federal Register notice of such ROW applications or areas. As noted above, the development of renewable energy is a high priority for the Department of the Interior and the BLM. The location of mining claims, however, under certain circumstances, may impede the BLM’s ability to administer the public lands in an orderly manner and to carry out its Congressional and Executive mandate to facilitate renewable energy development on those lands because the BLM currently lacks the ability to maintain the status quo on such lands while it is processing a ROW application for a wind or solar energy generation facility. This proposed rule would help the BLM maintain the status quo and prevent potential resource use conflicts by allowing the BLM to temporarily segregate lands being considered for a wind or solar energy generation facility. III. Section-by-Section Analysis This proposed rule would revise 43 CFR sections 2091.3–1 and 2804.25 by adding language that would allow the BLM to segregate lands, if the BLM determines it to be necessary for the orderly administration of the public lands. This authority to segregate lands would be limited to lands included in a pending or future wind or solar energy ROW application, or public lands identified by the BLM for a wind or solar energy generation ROW authorization under the BLM’s ROW regulations. If segregated under this rule, such lands, during the limited segregation period, would not be subject to appropriation under the public land laws, including location under the Mining Law, but not the Mineral Leasing Act or the Materials Act, subject to valid existing rights. The new language also specifies that the segregative effect terminates and the lands would automatically reopen to appropriation under the public land laws, including the mining laws: (1) Upon the BLM’s issuance of a decision regarding whether to issue a ROW authorization for the solar or wind energy generation proposal; (2) Upon publication of a Federal Register notice of termination of the segregation; or (3) Without further administrative action at the end of the segregation period provided for in the Federal Register PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 notice initiating the segregation, whichever occurs first. The segregation would be effective for a period of up to 2 years; however, the rule provides that the segregation may be extended for an additional 2 years if the appropriate BLM State Director determines and documents in writing, prior to the expiration of the segregation, that an extension of the segregation is necessary for the orderly administration of the public lands. The BLM would publish an extension notice in the Federal Register, if it determines that an extension of the segregation is necessary. The extension of the segregation would not be for more than 2 years. The maximum total segregation period would not exceed 4 years. IV. Procedural Matters Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review This proposed rule is not a significant regulatory action 5 and is not subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866. The proposed rule would provide the BLM with regulatory authority to segregate public lands included within a pending or future wind or solar energy generation ROW application, or public lands identified by the BLM for a potential future wind or solar energy generation ROW authorization, from appropriation under the public land laws, including location under the Mining Law, but not the Mineral Leasing Act or the Materials Act, if the BLM determines that segregation is necessary for the orderly administration of the public lands. To assess the potential economic impacts, the BLM must first make some assumptions concerning when and how often this segregation authority may be exercised. The purpose of any segregation would be to allow for the orderly administration of the public lands to facilitate the development of renewable energy resources by avoiding conflicts between renewable energy development and the location of mining claims. Wind—Wind energy ROW site testing and development applications are widely scattered in many western states. Most of the public lands with pending 5 ‘‘Significant regulatory action’’ means any regulatory action that is likely to result in a rule that may: (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely effect in a material way the economy * * *; (2) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; (3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs * * * or (4) Raise novel legal and policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President’s priorities, or * * * this Executive Order.’’ Exec. Order No. 12866, 58 FR 51738 (Oct. 4, 1993). E:\FR\FM\26APP1.SGM 26APP1 jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 80 / Tuesday, April 26, 2011 / Proposed Rules wind energy ROW applications are currently managed for multiple resource use, including being open to mineral entry under the mining laws. Over the past 2 fiscal years, 437 new mining claims were located within wind energy ROW application areas in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. Based on the BLM’s recent experience processing wind energy ROW applications, it is anticipated that approximately 25 percent of the lands with current wind energy ROW applications will reach the processing stage where a Notice of Intent (NOI) is issued. Without trying to identify specific locations of new mining claims located within those application areas, we assume a quarter of those new mining claims, or 109 new mining claims, would be located within wind application areas that would be segregated under this new regulation. The actual number of claimants affected will likely be less than this estimate since a single claimant typically files and holds multiple mining claims. Of the 437 new mining claims filed within the wind energy ROW application areas in fiscal year (FY) 2009 and 2010, there was an average of about eight mining claims per claimant. Assuming that there was nothing unique about the number of claims and distribution of claims per claimant for FY 2009 and 2010, we estimate that 14 entities would be potentially precluded from filing new mining claims on lands that would be segregated within the identified wind energy ROW application areas under this rule. For these entities, the economic impacts of the segregation are the delay in when they could locate their mining claims and a potential delay in the development of such claims because such development would be subject to any approved ROW issued during the segregative period. However, a meaningful estimate of the value of such delays is hard to quantify given the available data because it depends on the validity and commercial viability of any individual claim, and the fact that the location of a mining claim is an early step in a long process that may eventually result in revenue generating activity for the claimant. The other situation where entities might be affected by the segregation provision is if a new Plan of Operations or Notice is filed with the BLM during the 2-year segregation period. In such a situation, the BLM has the discretion under the Surface Management Regulations (43 CFR subpart 3809) to require the preparation of a mineral examination report to determine if the mining claims were valid before the VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:08 Apr 25, 2011 Jkt 223001 lands were segregated before it processes the Plan of Operations or accepts the filed Notice. If required, the operator is responsible to pay the cost of the examination and report. Within the past 2-year period, five Plans of Operations and two Notices were filed with the BLM within wind ROW application areas. Assuming (1) A quarter of those filings would be on lands segregated under this rule, (2) the number of Plan and Notice filings received in the past 2 years is somewhat reflective of what might occur within a 2-year segregation period, and (3) the BLM would require mineral examination reports to determine claim validity on all Plans and Notices filed within the segregation period, we estimate two entities might be affected by this rule change.6 Should the BLM require the preparation of mineral examination reports to determine claim validity, the entity filing the Plan or Notice would be responsible for the cost of making that validity determination. Understanding that every mineral examination report is unique and the costs vary accordingly, we assume an average cost of $100,000 to conduct the examination and prepare the report. Based on the number of Plans and Notices filed within the wind energy right-of-way application areas in FY 2009 and 2010, we estimate the total cost of this provision could be about $200,000 over the 2-year period. Solar—As noted above, the primary purpose of any segregation under this proposed rule would be to allow for the orderly administration of the public lands to facilitate the development of valuable renewable resources and to avoid conflicts between renewable energy generation and mining claim location. The main resource conflict of concern involves mining claims that are located after the first public announcement that the BLM is evaluating a ROW application, and prior to when the BLM issues a final decision on the ROW application. Most of the public lands with pending solar energy ROW applications are currently managed for multiple resource use, including mineral entry under the mining laws. Where the BLM segregates lands from mineral entry, claimants would not be allowed to locate any new mining claims during the 2-year segregation period. Over the past 2 years, 216 new mining claims were 6 With respect to any particular Plan of Operation or Notice that might be filed in areas segregated under the rule, the BLM would separately determine, on a case-by-case basis and consistent with the requirements of 43 CFR 3809.100(a), whether to require a validity determination for such Plan or Notice. PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 23233 located within solar energy ROW application areas. Based on the BLM’s recent experience processing solar energy ROW applications, it is anticipated that approximately 25 percent of the lands with current solar energy ROW applications would reach the processing stage where a NOI is issued. Without trying to identify which ROWs would be granted or the specific locations of new mining claims within those application areas, we assume a quarter of those new mining claims, or 54 new mining claims, would be located within solar ROW application areas that would be segregated under this rule. The actual number of claimants affected will likely be less than this estimate since a single claimant typically locates and holds multiple mining claims. Of the 216 new mining claims located within solar energy ROW application areas in the past 2 years, there was an average of about eight mining claims per claimant. Assuming that there was nothing unique about the number and distribution of claims per claimant for the past 2 years, we estimate seven entities would potentially be precluded from locating new mining claims on lands segregated within the identified solar energy ROW application areas under the rule change. For these entities the economic impacts of the segregation would be the delay in when they can locate their mining claim and a potential delay in the development of such claim because such development would be subject to any approved ROW issued during the segregative period. However, a meaningful estimate of the value of such delays is hard to quantify given the available data because it depends on the validity and commercial viability of any individual claim, and the fact that the location of a mining claim is an early step in a long process that may eventually result in revenue generating activity for the claimant. The other situation where entities might be affected by the proposed segregation provisions is where a new Plan of Operations or Notice is filed with the BLM during the 2-year segregation period. In such a situation, the BLM has the discretion under the Surface Management Regulations (43 CFR subpart 3809) to require a mineral examination to determine if the mining claims were valid before the lands were segregated before it approves the Plan of Operations or accepts the filed Notice. If required, the operator is responsible to pay the cost of the examination and report. Within the past 2-year period, two Plans of Operations and two Notices were filed with the BLM within solar E:\FR\FM\26APP1.SGM 26APP1 jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with PROPOSALS 23234 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 80 / Tuesday, April 26, 2011 / Proposed Rules ROW application areas. Assuming (1) a quarter of those filings would be on lands segregated under this rule, (2) the number of Plan and Notice filings received in the past 2 years is reflective of what might occur within a 2-year segregation period, and (3) the BLM would require mineral examination reports to determine claim validity on all Plans and Notices filed within the segregation period, we estimate one entity might be affected by this rule change.7 Should the BLM require a mineral examination to determine claim validity, the entity filing the Plan or Notice would be responsible for the cost of making that validity determination. Understanding that every mineral examination report is unique and the costs would vary accordingly, we assume an average cost of $100,000 to conduct the examination and prepare the report. Based on the number of Plans and Notices filed within the solar energy ROW application areas in the past 2 years, we estimate the total cost of this provision could be about $100,000 over the 2-year period. It is not possible to estimate the number of future rights-of-way for wind or solar energy developments that could be filed on areas identified as having potential for either of these sources of energy. This is because there are many variables that could have an impact on such filings. Such variables include: the quantity and sustainability of wind at any one site, the intensity and quantity of available sunlight, the capability of obtaining financing for either wind or solar energy projects, the proximity of transmission facilities that could be used to carry the power generated from a specific wind or solar energy right-ofway project, and the topography of the property involved. The number of mining claims would also be based on speculation as to the mineral potential of an area, access to markets, potential for profitability, and a host of other geologic factors, such as type of mineral, depth of the mineral beneath the surface, quantity and quality of the mineral, and other such considerations. Based on this analysis, the BLM concludes that this proposed rule would not have an annual effect of $100 million or more on the economy. It would not adversely affect in a material way the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, 7 With respect to any particular Plan of Operation or Notice that might be filed in areas segregated under the rule, the BLM would separately determine, on a case-by-case basis and consistent with the requirements of 43 CFR 3809.100(a), whether to require a validity determination for such Plan or Notice. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:08 Apr 25, 2011 Jkt 223001 public health or safety, or State, local, or Tribal governments or communities. This proposed rule would not create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency. This proposed rule would not alter the budgetary effects of entitlements, grants, user fees or loan programs or the rights or obligations of their recipients; nor would it raise novel legal or policy issues. The full economic analysis is available at the office listed under the ADDRESSES section of this preamble. Clarity of the Regulation Executive Order 12866 requires each agency to write regulations that are simple and easy to understand. The BLM invites your comments on how to make this proposed rule easier to understand, including answers to questions such as the following: 1. Are the requirements in the proposed rule clearly stated? 2. Does the proposed rule contain technical language or jargon that interferes with its clarity? 3. Does the format of the proposed rule (grouping and order of sections, use of headings, paragraphing, etc.) aid or reduce its clarity? 4. Would the regulations be easier to understand if they were divided into more (but shorter) sections? 5. Is the description of the proposed rule in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this preamble helpful in understanding the proposed rule? How could this description be more helpful in making the proposed rule easier to understand? Please send any comments you have on the clarity of the regulations to the address specified in the ADDRESSES section. National Environmental Policy Act The BLM has determined that this proposed rule is administrative in nature and involves only procedural changes addressing segregation requirements. This proposed rule would result in no new surface disturbing activities and therefore would have no effect on ecological or cultural resources. Potential effects from associated wind and/or solar ROWs would be analyzed as part of the sitespecific NEPA analysis for those activities. In promulgating this rule, the government is conducting routine and continuing government business of an administrative nature having limited context and intensity. Therefore, it is categorically excluded from environmental review under section 102(2)(C) of NEPA, pursuant to 43 CFR 46.205. The proposed rule does not PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 meet any of the extraordinary circumstances criteria for categorical exclusions listed at 43 CFR 46.215. Pursuant to Council on Environmental Quality regulation (40 CFR 1508.4) and the environmental policies and procedures of the Department, the term ‘‘categorical exclusion’’ means a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment and which have been found to have no such effect on procedures adopted by a Federal agency and for which, therefore, neither an environmental assessment nor an environmental impact statement is required. Regulatory Flexibility Act The Congress enacted the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) of 1980, as amended, 5 U.S.C. 601–612, to ensure that Government regulations do not unnecessarily or disproportionately burden small entities. The RFA requires a regulatory flexibility analysis if a rule would have a significant economic impact, either detrimental or beneficial, on a substantial number of small entities. The RFA requires agencies to analyze the economic impact of regulations to determine the extent to which there is anticipated to be a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. We anticipate that the proposed rule could potentially affect a few entities that might otherwise have located new mining claims on public lands covered by a wind or solar energy facility ROW application currently pending or filed in the future. We further anticipate that most of these entities would be small entities as defined by the Small Business Administration; however, we do not expect the potential impact to be significant. Therefore, the BLM has determined under the RFA that this proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. A copy of the analysis that supports this determination is available at the office listed under the ADDRESSES section of this preamble. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act For the same reasons as discussed under the Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review section of this preamble, this proposed rule is not a ‘‘major rule’’ as defined at 5 U.S.C. 804(2). That is, it would not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; it would not result in major cost or price increases for consumers, industries, government agencies, or regions; and it would not E:\FR\FM\26APP1.SGM 26APP1 23235 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 80 / Tuesday, April 26, 2011 / Proposed Rules have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises. A copy of the analysis that supports this determination is available at the office listed under the ADDRESSES section of this preamble. jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with PROPOSALS Unfunded Mandates Reform Act This proposed rule would not impose an unfunded mandate on State, local, or Tribal governments, in the aggregate, or the private sector of $100 million or more per year; nor would it have a significant or unique effect on State, local, or Tribal governments. The rule would impose no requirements on any of these entities. Therefore, the BLM does not need to prepare a statement containing the information required by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Executive Order 12630, Governmental Actions and Interference With Constitutionally Protected Property Rights (Takings) This proposed rule is not a government action that interferes with constitutionally protected property rights. This proposed rule would set out a process, by publication of a notice in the Federal Register, that could be used to segregate public lands included within a pending or future solar or wind energy generation ROW application, or public lands identified by the BLM for a potential future wind or solar energy generation ROW authorization. This segregation would remove public lands from the operation of the public land laws, including the location of new mining claims under the Mining Law, but not the Mineral Leasing Act or the Materials Act for a period of up to 2 years, with the authority to extend the segregation for up to an additional 2year period, in order to promote the orderly administration of the public lands. Because any segregation under this proposed rule would be subject to valid existing rights, it does not interfere with constitutionally protected property rights. Therefore, the Department has determined that this proposed rule does not have significant takings implications and does not require further discussion of takings implications under this Executive Order. Executive Order 13132, Federalism The proposed rule would not have a substantial direct effect on the States, or the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the levels of VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:08 Apr 25, 2011 Jkt 223001 government. It would not apply to States or local governments or State or local government entities. Therefore, in accordance with Executive Order 13132, the BLM has determined that this proposed rule does not have sufficient Federalism implications to warrant preparation of a Federalism Assessment. Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform Under Executive Order 12988, the BLM has determined that this proposed rule would not unduly burden the judicial system and that it meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order. Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments In accordance with Executive Order 13175, the BLM has found that this proposed rule does not include policies that have Tribal implications. This rule would apply exclusively to lands administered by the BLM. It would not be applicable to and would have no bearing on trust or Indian lands or resources, or on lands for which title is held in fee status by Indian Tribes, or on U.S. Government-owned lands managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Information Quality Act In developing this proposed rule, the BLM did not conduct or use a study, experiment, or survey requiring peer review under the Information Quality Act (Section 515 of Pub. L. 106–554). Executive Order 13211, Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use In accordance with Executive Order 13211, the BLM has determined that this proposed rule is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on energy supply, distribution, or use, including a shortfall in supply, price increase, or increased use of foreign supplies. The BLM’s authority to segregate lands under this rule would be of a temporary nature for the purpose of encouraging the orderly administration of public lands, including the generation of electricity from wind and solar resources on the public lands. Any increase in energy production as a result of this rule from wind or solar sources is not easily quantified, but the proposed rule is expected to relieve obstacles and hindrances to energy development on public lands. PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Executive Order 13352—Facilitation of Cooperative Conservation In accordance with Executive Order 13352, the BLM has determined that this proposed rule would not impede the facilitation of cooperative conservation. The rule takes appropriate account of and respects the interests of persons with ownership or other legally recognized interests in land or other natural resources; properly accommodates local participation in the Federal decision-making process; and provides that the programs, projects, and activities are consistent with protecting public health and safety. Paperwork Reduction Act The proposed rule does not contain information collection requirements that the Office of Management and Budget must approve under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. Author The principal author of this rule is Jeff Holdren, Realty Specialist, Division of Lands and Realty, assisted by the Division of Regulatory Affairs, Washington Office, Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior. List of Subjects 43 CFR Part 2090 Airports; Alaska; Coal; Grazing lands; Indian lands; Public lands; Public lands—classification; Public lands— mineral resources; Public lands— withdrawal; Seashores. 43 CFR Part 2800 Communications; Electric power; Highways and roads; Penalties; Pipelines; Public lands—rights-of-way; Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. For the reasons stated in the preamble and under the authorities stated below, the BLM proposes to amend 43 CFR parts 2090 and 2800 as follows: Subchapter B—Land Resource Management (2000) PART 2090—SPECIAL LAWS AND RULES 1. The authority citation for part 2090 continues to read as follows: Authority: 43 U.S.C. 1740. Subpart 2091—Segregation and Opening of Lands 2. Amend § 2091.3–1 by adding a new paragraph (e) to read as follows: § 2091.3–1 Segregation * * E:\FR\FM\26APP1.SGM * 26APP1 * * jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with PROPOSALS 23236 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 80 / Tuesday, April 26, 2011 / Proposed Rules (e)(1) The Bureau of Land Management may segregate, if it finds it to be necessary for the orderly administration of the public lands, lands included in a right-of-way application for the generation of electrical energy under 43 CFR subpart 2804 from wind or solar sources. In addition, the Bureau of Land Management may also segregate public lands that it identifies for potential rights-of-way for electricity generation from wind or solar sources. Upon segregation, such lands will not be subject to appropriation under the public lands laws, including location under the General Mining Law, but not the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 (30 U.S.C. 181 et seq.) or the Materials Act of 1947 (30 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). The Bureau of Land Management will effect such segregation by publishing a Federal Register notice that includes a description of the lands covered by the segregation. The Bureau of Land Management may impose a segregation in this way on both pending and new right-of-way applications. (2) The effective date of segregation is the date of publication of the notice in the Federal Register and the date of termination of the segregation is the date that is the earliest of the following: (i) Upon issuance of a decision by the authorized officer granting, granting with modifications, or denying the application for a right-of-way; (ii) Automatically at the end of the segregation period provided for in the Federal Register notice initiating the segregation, without further action by the authorized officer; or (iii) Upon publication of a Federal Register notice of termination of the segregation. (3) The segregation period may not exceed 2 years from the date of publication of the Federal Register notice initiating the segregation unless, on a case-by-case basis, the Bureau of Land Management State Director determines and documents in writing, prior to the expiration of the segregation period, that an extension is necessary for the orderly administration of the public lands. If an extension is determined to be necessary, the Bureau of Land Management will publish a notice in the Federal Register, prior to expiration of the initial segregation period that the segregation is being extended for up to 2 years. Only one extension may be authorized; the total segregation period therefore cannot exceed 4 years. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:08 Apr 25, 2011 Jkt 223001 PART 2800—RIGHTS-OF-WAY UNDER THE FEDERAL LAND POLICY AND MANAGEMENT ACT 3. The authority citation for part 2800 continues to read as follows: Authority: 43 U.S.C. 1733, 1740, 1763, and 1764. Subpart 2804—Applying for FLPMA Grants 4. Amend § 2804.25 by adding a new paragraph (e) to read as follows: § 2804.25 How will BLM process my application? * * * * (e)(1) The BLM may segregate, if it finds it to be necessary for the orderly administration of the public lands, lands included within a right-of-way application under 43 CFR subpart 2804 for the generation of electricity from wind or solar sources. In addition, the BLM may segregate public lands that it identifies for potential rights-of-way for electricity generation from wind or solar sources under the BLM’s right-of-way regulations. Upon segregation, such lands will not be subject to appropriation under the public land laws, including location under the General Mining Law, but not from the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 (30 U.S.C. 181 et seq.) or the Materials Act of 1947 (30 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). The BLM will effect such segregation by publishing a Federal Register notice that includes a description of the lands covered by the segregation. The Bureau of Land Management may impose a segregation in this way on both pending and new right-of-way applications. (2) The segregative effect of the Federal Register notice terminates on the date that is the earliest of the following: (i) Upon issuance of a decision by the authorized officer granting, granting with modifications, or denying the application for a right-of-way; (ii) Automatically at the end of the segregation period provided for in the Federal Register notice initiating the segregation, without further action by the authorized officer; or (iii) Upon publication of a Federal Register notice of termination of the segregation. (3) The segregation period may not exceed 2 years from the date of publication of the Federal Register notice initiating the segregation unless, on a case by case basis, the BLM State Director determines and documents in writing, prior to the expiration of the segregation period, that an extension is necessary for the orderly administration of the public lands. If an extension is determined to be necessary, the BLM will publish a notice in the Federal Register, prior to expiration of the initial segregation period that the segregation is being extended for up to 2 years. Only one extension may be authorized; the total segregation period therefore cannot exceed 4 years. Dated: April 6, 2011. Wilma A. Lewis, Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Land and Minerals Management. [FR Doc. 2011–10017 Filed 4–25–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–84–P * PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION 48 CFR Parts 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 37, 42, 52, and 53 [FAR Case 2011–001; Docket 2011–0001; Sequence 1] RIN 9000–AL82 Federal Acquisition Regulation; Organizational Conflicts of Interest Department of Defense (DoD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCIES: DoD, GSA, and NASA are proposing to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to provide revised regulatory coverage on organizational conflicts of interest (OCIs), provide additional coverage regarding contractor access to nonpublic information, and add related provisions and clauses. Section 841 of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 required a review of the FAR coverage on OCIs. This proposed rule was developed as a result of a review conducted in accordance with Section 841 by the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council (the Councils) and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), in consultation with the Office of Government Ethics (OGE). This proposed rule was preceded by an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), under FAR Case 2007–018 (73 FR 15962), to gather comments from the public with regard to whether and how to improve the FAR coverage on OCIs. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\26APP1.SGM 26APP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 80 (Tuesday, April 26, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 23230-23236]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-10017]



[[Page 23230]]

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

43 CFR Parts 2090 and 2800

[WO 300-1430-PQ]
RIN 1004-AE19


Segregation of Lands--Renewable Energy

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed Rule.

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SUMMARY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing this rule to 
amend the BLM's regulations found in 43 CFR parts 2090 and 2800 by 
adding provisions allowing the BLM to temporarily segregate from the 
operation of the public land laws, by publication of a Federal Register 
notice, public lands included in a pending or future wind or solar 
energy generation right-of-way (ROW) application, or public lands 
identified by the BLM for a potential future wind or solar energy 
generation ROW authorization under the BLM's ROW regulations, in order 
to promote the orderly administration of the public lands. If 
segregated under this rule, such lands would not be subject to 
appropriation under the public land laws, including location under the 
Mining Law of 1872 (Mining Law), but not the Mineral Leasing Act of 
1920 (Mineral Leasing Act) or the Materials Act of 1947 (Materials 
Act), subject to valid existing rights, for a period of up to 2 years. 
The BLM is also publishing in today's Federal Register an interim 
temporary final rule (Interim Rule) that is substantively similar to 
this proposed rule. The Interim Rule is effective immediately upon 
publication in the Federal Register for a period not to exceed 2 years 
after publication, or the completion of the notice and comment 
rulemaking process for this proposed rule whichever occurs first.

DATES: You should submit your comments on the proposed rule on or 
before June 27, 2011. The BLM need not consider, or include in the 
administrative record for the final rule, comments that the BLM 
receives after the close of the comment period or comments delivered to 
an address other than those listed below (see ADDRESSES).

ADDRESSES: Mail: Director (630) Bureau of Land Management, U.S. 
Department of the Interior, Mail Stop 2143LM, 1849 C St., NW., 
Washington, DC 20240, Attention: 1004-AE19. Personal or messenger 
delivery: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, 
20 M Street, SE., Room 2134LM, Attention: Regulatory Affairs, 
Washington, DC 20003. Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions at this Web site.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ray Brady at (202) 912-7312 or the 
Division of Lands, Realty, and Cadastral Survey at (202) 912-7350 for 
information relating to the BLM's renewable energy program or the 
substance of the proposed rule, or Ian Senio at (202) 912-7440 for 
information relating to the rulemaking process generally. Persons who 
use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339, 24 hours a day, 
seven days a week to contact the above individuals.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Public Comment Procedures
II. Background
III. Section-by-Section Analysis
IV. Procedural Matters

I. Public Comment Procedures

    If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments by one of 
several methods:
    You may mail comments to Director (630) Bureau of Land Management, 
U.S. Department of the Interior, Mail Stop 2143LM, 1849 C St., NW., 
Washington, DC 20240, Attention: 1004-AE19. You may deliver comments to 
U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, 20 M 
Street, SE., Room 2134LM, Attention: Regulatory Affairs, Washington, DC 
20003; or
    You may access and comment on the proposed rule at the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal by following the instructions at that site (see 
ADDRESSES).
    Written comments on the proposed rule should be specific, should be 
confined to issues pertinent to the proposed rule, and should explain 
the reason for any recommended change. Where possible, comments should 
reference the specific section or paragraph of the proposed rule that 
the comment is addressing.
    The BLM need not consider or include in the Administrative Record 
for the proposed rule comments that we receive after the close of the 
comment period (see DATES) or comments delivered to an address other 
than those listed above (see ADDRESSES). Comments, including names and 
street addresses of respondents, will be available for public review at 
the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, 20 M 
Street, SE., Room 2134LM, Washington, DC 20003 during regular hours 
(7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.) Monday through Friday, except holidays. They 
will also be available at the Federal eRulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions at this Web site.
    Before including your address, telephone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, be advised that 
your entire comment--including your personal identifying information--
may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask in your 
comment for the BLM to withhold your personal identifying information 
from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

II. Background

    Congress has directed the Department of the Interior (Department) 
to facilitate the development of renewable energy resources. Promoting 
renewable energy is one of this Administration's and this Department's 
highest priorities. In Section 211 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 
(119 Stat. 660, Aug. 8, 2005) (EPAct), Congress declared that before 
2015 the Secretary of the Interior should seek to have approved non-
hydropower renewable energy projects (solar, wind, and geothermal) on 
public lands with a generation capacity of at least 10,000 megawatts 
(MW) of electricity. Even before the EPAct was enacted by Congress, 
President Bush issued Executive Order 13212, ``Actions to Expedite 
Energy-Related Projects'' (May 18, 2001), which requires Federal 
agencies to expedite the production, transmission, or conservation of 
energy.
    After passage of the EPAct, the Secretary of the Interior issued 
several orders emphasizing the importance of renewable energy 
development on public lands. On January 16, 2009, Secretary Kempthorne 
issued Secretarial Order 3283, ``Enhancing Renewable Energy Development 
on the Public Lands,'' which states that its purpose is to 
``facilitate[ ] the Department's efforts to achieve the goal Congress 
established in Section 211 of the * * * [EPAct] to approve non-
hydropower renewable energy projects on the public lands with a 
generation capacity of at least 10,000 megawatts of electricity by 
2015.'' The order also declared that ``the development of renewable 
energy resources on the public lands will increase domestic energy 
production, provide alternatives to traditional energy resources, and 
enhance the energy security of the United States.''
    Approximately 1 year later, Secretary Salazar issued Secretarial 
Order 3285A1, ``Renewable Energy Development by the Department of the 
Interior'' (Feb. 22, 2010), which reemphasized the development of

[[Page 23231]]

renewable energy as a priority for the Department. The order states: 
``Encouraging the production, development, and delivery of renewable 
energy is one of the Department's highest priorities. Agencies and 
bureaus within the Department will work collaboratively with each 
other, and with other Federal agencies, departments, states, local 
communities, and private landowners to encourage the timely and 
responsible development of renewable energy and associated transmission 
while protecting and enhancing the Nation's water, wildlife, and other 
natural resources.'' As a result of these and other initiatives, the 
interest in renewable energy development on public lands has increased 
significantly.
    In addition to these specific directives, the BLM is charged 
generally with managing the public lands for multiple uses under the 
Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), 43 U.S.C. 1701, 
et seq., including for mining and energy development. In some 
instances, different uses may present conflicts. For example, a mining 
claim located within a proposed ROW for a utility-scale solar energy 
generation facility could impede the BLM's ability to process the ROW 
application because the Federal government's use of the surface cannot 
endanger or materially interfere with a properly located mining claim. 
In order to help avoid such conflicts while carrying out the 
Congressional and Executive mandates and direction to prioritize the 
development of renewable energy, the BLM is proposing this rule. This 
rule will help promote the orderly administration of the public lands 
by giving the BLM a tool to minimize potential resource conflicts 
between ROWs for proposed solar and wind energy generation facilities 
and other uses of the public lands. Under existing regulations, lands 
within a solar or wind energy generation ROW application or within an 
area identified by the BLM for such ROWs, unlike lands proposed for 
exchange or sale, remain open to appropriation under the public land 
laws, including location and entry under the Mining Law, while BLM is 
considering the ROW.
    Over the past 5 years, the BLM has processed 24 solar and wind 
energy development ROW applications. New mining claims were located on 
the public lands described in two of these proposed ROWs during the 
BLM's consideration of the applications. Many of the mining claims in 
the two proposed ROWs were not located until after the existence of the 
wind or solar ROW application or the identification of an area by the 
BLM for such ROWs became publicly known. In addition, over the past 2 
years, 437 new mining claims were located within wind energy ROW 
application areas in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, 
and Wyoming and 216 new mining claims were located within solar energy 
ROW application areas. In the BLM's experience, some of these claims 
are likely to be valid, but others are likely to be speculative and not 
located for true mining purposes. As such, the latter are likely filed 
for no other purpose than to provide a means for the mining claimant to 
compel some kind of payment from the ROW applicant to relinquish the 
mining claim. The potential for such a situation exists because, while 
it is relatively easy and inexpensive to file a mining claim, it can be 
difficult, time-consuming, and costly to prove that the mining claim 
was not properly filed or does not contain a valid discovery. 
Regardless of the merits of a particular claim, the location of a 
mining claim in an area covered by a ROW application (or identified for 
such an application) creates uncertainty that interferes with the 
orderly administration of the public lands. This uncertainty makes it 
difficult for the BLM, energy project developers, and institutions that 
finance such development to proceed with such projects because a 
subsequently located mining claim potentially precludes final issuance 
of the ROW and increases project costs, jeopardizing the planned energy 
development.
    For example, the location of a new mining claim during the pendency 
of the BLM's review process for a ROW application could preclude the 
applicant from providing a concrete proposal for their use and 
occupancy of the public lands. This is because under the Mining Law, a 
ROW cannot materially interfere with a previously located mining claim. 
Since all properly located claims are treated as valid until proven 
otherwise, the filing of any mining claim can substantially delay the 
processing of a ROW application. As a result, a ROW applicant could 
either wait for the BLM to determine the validity of a claim, or the 
applicant could choose to modify or relocate its proposed surface use 
to avoid conflicts with the newly located mining claim, leading to 
additional expense, which could jeopardize the renewable energy 
project.\1\ The BLM's processing time for the ROW application could be 
significantly increased if any changes necessitated by the newly 
located mining claim require the BLM to undertake any additional 
analyses, such as those required by the National Environmental Policy 
Act, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. (NEPA). Under these circumstances, the 
BLM's ability to administer the public lands in an orderly manner is 
impeded.
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    \1\ This uncertainty may also discourage banks from financing 
such projects.
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    This proposed rule is needed to provide the BLM with the necessary 
authority to ensure the orderly administration of the public lands and 
to prevent conflicts between competing uses of those lands. By allowing 
for temporary segregation, it would enable the BLM to prevent new 
resource conflicts from arising as a result of new mining claims that 
may be located within land covered by any pending or future wind or 
solar energy generation facility ROW applications, or public lands 
identified by the BLM for potential future wind or solar energy 
generation ROWs pursuant to its ROW regulations. Temporary segregation 
is generally sufficient because once a ROW has been authorized, 
subsequently located mining claims would be subject to the previously 
authorized use, and any future mining claimant would have notice of 
such use.
    The proposed rule would supplement the authority contained in 43 
CFR subpart 2091 to allow the BLM to segregate from appropriation under 
the public land laws, including location under the Mining Law, but not 
the Mineral Leasing Act or the Materials Act, public lands included in 
a pending or future wind or solar energy generation ROW application or 
public lands identified by the BLM for a wind or solar energy 
generation ROW authorization under 43 CFR subpart 2804, subject to 
valid existing rights.\2\ This proposed rule would not affect valid 
existing rights in mining claims located before any segregation made 
pursuant to the final rule. The proposed rule also would not affect ROW 
applications for uses other than wind or solar energy generation 
facilities.
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    \2\ The existing regulations define segregation as ``the removal 
for a limited period, subject to valid existing rights, of a 
specified area of the public lands from the operation of some or all 
of the public land laws, including the mineral laws, pursuant to the 
exercise by the Secretary of regulatory authority for the orderly 
administration of the public lands.'' 43 CFR 2091.0-5(b).
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    Segregations under the proposed rule would be accomplished by 
publishing a notice in the Federal Register and would be effective upon 
the date of publication. The BLM considered a rule that would allow for 
segregation through notation to the public land records, but it 
rejected this approach because it would not provide the public

[[Page 23232]]

with the same level of notice that a Federal Register notice would 
accomplish. The proposed rule would provide for segregation periods of 
up to 2 years, with the option, if deemed necessary by the appropriate 
BLM State Director, to extend the segregation of the lands for up to an 
additional 2 years. The proposed rule would not authorize the BLM to 
continue the segregation after a final decision on a ROW has been made. 
Finally, not all wind or solar ROW applications would lead to a 
segregation, as the BLM may reject some applications and others may not 
require segregation because conflicts with mining claims are not 
anticipated.
    Segregation rules, like this proposed rule, have been held to be 
``reasonably related'' to the BLM's broad authority to issue rules 
related to ``the orderly administration of the public land laws,'' \3\ 
because they allow the BLM to protect an applicant for an interest in 
such lands from ``the assertion by others of rights to the lands while 
the applicant is prevented from taking any steps to protect'' its 
interests because it has to wait for the BLM to act on its 
application.\4\ It is for this purpose that existing regulations at 43 
CFR subpart 2091 provide the BLM with the discretion to segregate lands 
that are proposed for various types of land disposals, such as land 
sales, land exchanges, and transfers of public land to local 
governments and other entities under the Recreation and Public Purposes 
Act of 1926. These regulatory provisions allowing segregations were put 
in place over the years to prevent resource conflicts, including 
conflicts arising from the location of new mining claims, which could 
create encumbrances on the title of the public lands identified for 
transfer out of Federal ownership under the applicable authorities.
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    \3\ See Bryon v. United States, 259 F. 371, 376 (9th Cir. 1919); 
Hopkins v. United States, 414 F.2d 464, 472 (9th Cir. 1969).
    \4\ See, e.g., Marian Q. Kaiser, 65 I.D. 485 (Nov. 25, 1958).
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    Such a situation occurred in Nevada, and the proposed land 
purchaser chose to pay the mining claimant to relinquish his claims in 
order to enable the sale to go forward. In fact, in the land sales 
context, the segregative period was increased from 270 days to a 
maximum term of 4 years, as it was found that the original segregative 
period was insufficient and that conflicting mining claims were being 
located before sales could be completed. This proposed rule would 
provide the BLM the same flexibility it currently has for land 
disposals by allowing the BLM to temporarily segregate lands that are 
included in pending or future applications for solar and wind facility 
ROWs or on lands identified by the BLM for such ROWs. This would allow 
for the orderly administration of the public lands by eliminating the 
potential for conflicts with mining claims located after the BLM 
publishes a Federal Register notice of such ROW applications or areas.
    As noted above, the development of renewable energy is a high 
priority for the Department of the Interior and the BLM. The location 
of mining claims, however, under certain circumstances, may impede the 
BLM's ability to administer the public lands in an orderly manner and 
to carry out its Congressional and Executive mandate to facilitate 
renewable energy development on those lands because the BLM currently 
lacks the ability to maintain the status quo on such lands while it is 
processing a ROW application for a wind or solar energy generation 
facility. This proposed rule would help the BLM maintain the status quo 
and prevent potential resource use conflicts by allowing the BLM to 
temporarily segregate lands being considered for a wind or solar energy 
generation facility.

III. Section-by-Section Analysis

    This proposed rule would revise 43 CFR sections 2091.3-1 and 
2804.25 by adding language that would allow the BLM to segregate lands, 
if the BLM determines it to be necessary for the orderly administration 
of the public lands. This authority to segregate lands would be limited 
to lands included in a pending or future wind or solar energy ROW 
application, or public lands identified by the BLM for a wind or solar 
energy generation ROW authorization under the BLM's ROW regulations. If 
segregated under this rule, such lands, during the limited segregation 
period, would not be subject to appropriation under the public land 
laws, including location under the Mining Law, but not the Mineral 
Leasing Act or the Materials Act, subject to valid existing rights.
    The new language also specifies that the segregative effect 
terminates and the lands would automatically reopen to appropriation 
under the public land laws, including the mining laws: (1) Upon the 
BLM's issuance of a decision regarding whether to issue a ROW 
authorization for the solar or wind energy generation proposal; (2) 
Upon publication of a Federal Register notice of termination of the 
segregation; or (3) Without further administrative action at the end of 
the segregation period provided for in the Federal Register notice 
initiating the segregation, whichever occurs first. The segregation 
would be effective for a period of up to 2 years; however, the rule 
provides that the segregation may be extended for an additional 2 years 
if the appropriate BLM State Director determines and documents in 
writing, prior to the expiration of the segregation, that an extension 
of the segregation is necessary for the orderly administration of the 
public lands. The BLM would publish an extension notice in the Federal 
Register, if it determines that an extension of the segregation is 
necessary. The extension of the segregation would not be for more than 
2 years. The maximum total segregation period would not exceed 4 years.

IV. Procedural Matters

Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review

    This proposed rule is not a significant regulatory action \5\ and 
is not subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under 
Executive Order 12866. The proposed rule would provide the BLM with 
regulatory authority to segregate public lands included within a 
pending or future wind or solar energy generation ROW application, or 
public lands identified by the BLM for a potential future wind or solar 
energy generation ROW authorization, from appropriation under the 
public land laws, including location under the Mining Law, but not the 
Mineral Leasing Act or the Materials Act, if the BLM determines that 
segregation is necessary for the orderly administration of the public 
lands. To assess the potential economic impacts, the BLM must first 
make some assumptions concerning when and how often this segregation 
authority may be exercised. The purpose of any segregation would be to 
allow for the orderly administration of the public lands to facilitate 
the development of renewable energy resources by avoiding conflicts 
between renewable energy development and the location of mining claims.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ ``Significant regulatory action'' means any regulatory 
action that is likely to result in a rule that may: (1) Have an 
annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely 
effect in a material way the economy * * *; (2) Create a serious 
inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned 
by another agency; (3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of 
entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs * * * or (4) Raise 
novel legal and policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the 
President's priorities, or * * * this Executive Order.'' Exec. Order 
No. 12866, 58 FR 51738 (Oct. 4, 1993).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Wind--Wind energy ROW site testing and development applications are 
widely scattered in many western states. Most of the public lands with 
pending

[[Page 23233]]

wind energy ROW applications are currently managed for multiple 
resource use, including being open to mineral entry under the mining 
laws. Over the past 2 fiscal years, 437 new mining claims were located 
within wind energy ROW application areas in Arizona, California, Idaho, 
Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. Based on the BLM's recent experience 
processing wind energy ROW applications, it is anticipated that 
approximately 25 percent of the lands with current wind energy ROW 
applications will reach the processing stage where a Notice of Intent 
(NOI) is issued. Without trying to identify specific locations of new 
mining claims located within those application areas, we assume a 
quarter of those new mining claims, or 109 new mining claims, would be 
located within wind application areas that would be segregated under 
this new regulation.
    The actual number of claimants affected will likely be less than 
this estimate since a single claimant typically files and holds 
multiple mining claims. Of the 437 new mining claims filed within the 
wind energy ROW application areas in fiscal year (FY) 2009 and 2010, 
there was an average of about eight mining claims per claimant. 
Assuming that there was nothing unique about the number of claims and 
distribution of claims per claimant for FY 2009 and 2010, we estimate 
that 14 entities would be potentially precluded from filing new mining 
claims on lands that would be segregated within the identified wind 
energy ROW application areas under this rule. For these entities, the 
economic impacts of the segregation are the delay in when they could 
locate their mining claims and a potential delay in the development of 
such claims because such development would be subject to any approved 
ROW issued during the segregative period. However, a meaningful 
estimate of the value of such delays is hard to quantify given the 
available data because it depends on the validity and commercial 
viability of any individual claim, and the fact that the location of a 
mining claim is an early step in a long process that may eventually 
result in revenue generating activity for the claimant.
    The other situation where entities might be affected by the 
segregation provision is if a new Plan of Operations or Notice is filed 
with the BLM during the 2-year segregation period. In such a situation, 
the BLM has the discretion under the Surface Management Regulations (43 
CFR subpart 3809) to require the preparation of a mineral examination 
report to determine if the mining claims were valid before the lands 
were segregated before it processes the Plan of Operations or accepts 
the filed Notice. If required, the operator is responsible to pay the 
cost of the examination and report.
    Within the past 2-year period, five Plans of Operations and two 
Notices were filed with the BLM within wind ROW application areas. 
Assuming (1) A quarter of those filings would be on lands segregated 
under this rule, (2) the number of Plan and Notice filings received in 
the past 2 years is somewhat reflective of what might occur within a 2-
year segregation period, and (3) the BLM would require mineral 
examination reports to determine claim validity on all Plans and 
Notices filed within the segregation period, we estimate two entities 
might be affected by this rule change.\6\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ With respect to any particular Plan of Operation or Notice 
that might be filed in areas segregated under the rule, the BLM 
would separately determine, on a case-by-case basis and consistent 
with the requirements of 43 CFR 3809.100(a), whether to require a 
validity determination for such Plan or Notice.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Should the BLM require the preparation of mineral examination 
reports to determine claim validity, the entity filing the Plan or 
Notice would be responsible for the cost of making that validity 
determination. Understanding that every mineral examination report is 
unique and the costs vary accordingly, we assume an average cost of 
$100,000 to conduct the examination and prepare the report. Based on 
the number of Plans and Notices filed within the wind energy right-of-
way application areas in FY 2009 and 2010, we estimate the total cost 
of this provision could be about $200,000 over the 2-year period.
    Solar--As noted above, the primary purpose of any segregation under 
this proposed rule would be to allow for the orderly administration of 
the public lands to facilitate the development of valuable renewable 
resources and to avoid conflicts between renewable energy generation 
and mining claim location. The main resource conflict of concern 
involves mining claims that are located after the first public 
announcement that the BLM is evaluating a ROW application, and prior to 
when the BLM issues a final decision on the ROW application.
    Most of the public lands with pending solar energy ROW applications 
are currently managed for multiple resource use, including mineral 
entry under the mining laws. Where the BLM segregates lands from 
mineral entry, claimants would not be allowed to locate any new mining 
claims during the 2-year segregation period. Over the past 2 years, 216 
new mining claims were located within solar energy ROW application 
areas. Based on the BLM's recent experience processing solar energy ROW 
applications, it is anticipated that approximately 25 percent of the 
lands with current solar energy ROW applications would reach the 
processing stage where a NOI is issued. Without trying to identify 
which ROWs would be granted or the specific locations of new mining 
claims within those application areas, we assume a quarter of those new 
mining claims, or 54 new mining claims, would be located within solar 
ROW application areas that would be segregated under this rule.
    The actual number of claimants affected will likely be less than 
this estimate since a single claimant typically locates and holds 
multiple mining claims. Of the 216 new mining claims located within 
solar energy ROW application areas in the past 2 years, there was an 
average of about eight mining claims per claimant. Assuming that there 
was nothing unique about the number and distribution of claims per 
claimant for the past 2 years, we estimate seven entities would 
potentially be precluded from locating new mining claims on lands 
segregated within the identified solar energy ROW application areas 
under the rule change. For these entities the economic impacts of the 
segregation would be the delay in when they can locate their mining 
claim and a potential delay in the development of such claim because 
such development would be subject to any approved ROW issued during the 
segregative period. However, a meaningful estimate of the value of such 
delays is hard to quantify given the available data because it depends 
on the validity and commercial viability of any individual claim, and 
the fact that the location of a mining claim is an early step in a long 
process that may eventually result in revenue generating activity for 
the claimant.
    The other situation where entities might be affected by the 
proposed segregation provisions is where a new Plan of Operations or 
Notice is filed with the BLM during the 2-year segregation period. In 
such a situation, the BLM has the discretion under the Surface 
Management Regulations (43 CFR subpart 3809) to require a mineral 
examination to determine if the mining claims were valid before the 
lands were segregated before it approves the Plan of Operations or 
accepts the filed Notice. If required, the operator is responsible to 
pay the cost of the examination and report.
    Within the past 2-year period, two Plans of Operations and two 
Notices were filed with the BLM within solar

[[Page 23234]]

ROW application areas. Assuming (1) a quarter of those filings would be 
on lands segregated under this rule, (2) the number of Plan and Notice 
filings received in the past 2 years is reflective of what might occur 
within a 2-year segregation period, and (3) the BLM would require 
mineral examination reports to determine claim validity on all Plans 
and Notices filed within the segregation period, we estimate one entity 
might be affected by this rule change.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ With respect to any particular Plan of Operation or Notice 
that might be filed in areas segregated under the rule, the BLM 
would separately determine, on a case-by-case basis and consistent 
with the requirements of 43 CFR 3809.100(a), whether to require a 
validity determination for such Plan or Notice.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Should the BLM require a mineral examination to determine claim 
validity, the entity filing the Plan or Notice would be responsible for 
the cost of making that validity determination. Understanding that 
every mineral examination report is unique and the costs would vary 
accordingly, we assume an average cost of $100,000 to conduct the 
examination and prepare the report. Based on the number of Plans and 
Notices filed within the solar energy ROW application areas in the past 
2 years, we estimate the total cost of this provision could be about 
$100,000 over the 2-year period.
    It is not possible to estimate the number of future rights-of-way 
for wind or solar energy developments that could be filed on areas 
identified as having potential for either of these sources of energy. 
This is because there are many variables that could have an impact on 
such filings. Such variables include: the quantity and sustainability 
of wind at any one site, the intensity and quantity of available 
sunlight, the capability of obtaining financing for either wind or 
solar energy projects, the proximity of transmission facilities that 
could be used to carry the power generated from a specific wind or 
solar energy right-of-way project, and the topography of the property 
involved. The number of mining claims would also be based on 
speculation as to the mineral potential of an area, access to markets, 
potential for profitability, and a host of other geologic factors, such 
as type of mineral, depth of the mineral beneath the surface, quantity 
and quality of the mineral, and other such considerations.
    Based on this analysis, the BLM concludes that this proposed rule 
would not have an annual effect of $100 million or more on the economy. 
It would not adversely affect in a material way the economy, 
productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or 
safety, or State, local, or Tribal governments or communities. This 
proposed rule would not create a serious inconsistency or otherwise 
interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency. This 
proposed rule would not alter the budgetary effects of entitlements, 
grants, user fees or loan programs or the rights or obligations of 
their recipients; nor would it raise novel legal or policy issues. The 
full economic analysis is available at the office listed under the 
ADDRESSES section of this preamble.

Clarity of the Regulation

    Executive Order 12866 requires each agency to write regulations 
that are simple and easy to understand. The BLM invites your comments 
on how to make this proposed rule easier to understand, including 
answers to questions such as the following:
    1. Are the requirements in the proposed rule clearly stated?
    2. Does the proposed rule contain technical language or jargon that 
interferes with its clarity?
    3. Does the format of the proposed rule (grouping and order of 
sections, use of headings, paragraphing, etc.) aid or reduce its 
clarity?
    4. Would the regulations be easier to understand if they were 
divided into more (but shorter) sections?
    5. Is the description of the proposed rule in the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this preamble helpful in understanding the 
proposed rule? How could this description be more helpful in making the 
proposed rule easier to understand?

Please send any comments you have on the clarity of the regulations to 
the address specified in the ADDRESSES section.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The BLM has determined that this proposed rule is administrative in 
nature and involves only procedural changes addressing segregation 
requirements. This proposed rule would result in no new surface 
disturbing activities and therefore would have no effect on ecological 
or cultural resources. Potential effects from associated wind and/or 
solar ROWs would be analyzed as part of the site-specific NEPA analysis 
for those activities. In promulgating this rule, the government is 
conducting routine and continuing government business of an 
administrative nature having limited context and intensity. Therefore, 
it is categorically excluded from environmental review under section 
102(2)(C) of NEPA, pursuant to 43 CFR 46.205. The proposed rule does 
not meet any of the extraordinary circumstances criteria for 
categorical exclusions listed at 43 CFR 46.215. Pursuant to Council on 
Environmental Quality regulation (40 CFR 1508.4) and the environmental 
policies and procedures of the Department, the term ``categorical 
exclusion'' means a category of actions which do not individually or 
cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment and 
which have been found to have no such effect on procedures adopted by a 
Federal agency and for which, therefore, neither an environmental 
assessment nor an environmental impact statement is required.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Congress enacted the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) of 1980, 
as amended, 5 U.S.C. 601-612, to ensure that Government regulations do 
not unnecessarily or disproportionately burden small entities. The RFA 
requires a regulatory flexibility analysis if a rule would have a 
significant economic impact, either detrimental or beneficial, on a 
substantial number of small entities. The RFA requires agencies to 
analyze the economic impact of regulations to determine the extent to 
which there is anticipated to be a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. We anticipate that the proposed 
rule could potentially affect a few entities that might otherwise have 
located new mining claims on public lands covered by a wind or solar 
energy facility ROW application currently pending or filed in the 
future. We further anticipate that most of these entities would be 
small entities as defined by the Small Business Administration; 
however, we do not expect the potential impact to be significant. 
Therefore, the BLM has determined under the RFA that this proposed rule 
would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities. A copy of the analysis that supports this determination 
is available at the office listed under the ADDRESSES section of this 
preamble.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    For the same reasons as discussed under the Executive Order 12866, 
Regulatory Planning and Review section of this preamble, this proposed 
rule is not a ``major rule'' as defined at 5 U.S.C. 804(2). That is, it 
would not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; 
it would not result in major cost or price increases for consumers, 
industries, government agencies, or regions; and it would not

[[Page 23235]]

have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, 
investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S.-based 
enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises. A copy of the 
analysis that supports this determination is available at the office 
listed under the ADDRESSES section of this preamble.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    This proposed rule would not impose an unfunded mandate on State, 
local, or Tribal governments, in the aggregate, or the private sector 
of $100 million or more per year; nor would it have a significant or 
unique effect on State, local, or Tribal governments. The rule would 
impose no requirements on any of these entities. Therefore, the BLM 
does not need to prepare a statement containing the information 
required by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

Executive Order 12630, Governmental Actions and Interference With 
Constitutionally Protected Property Rights (Takings)

    This proposed rule is not a government action that interferes with 
constitutionally protected property rights. This proposed rule would 
set out a process, by publication of a notice in the Federal Register, 
that could be used to segregate public lands included within a pending 
or future solar or wind energy generation ROW application, or public 
lands identified by the BLM for a potential future wind or solar energy 
generation ROW authorization. This segregation would remove public 
lands from the operation of the public land laws, including the 
location of new mining claims under the Mining Law, but not the Mineral 
Leasing Act or the Materials Act for a period of up to 2 years, with 
the authority to extend the segregation for up to an additional 2-year 
period, in order to promote the orderly administration of the public 
lands. Because any segregation under this proposed rule would be 
subject to valid existing rights, it does not interfere with 
constitutionally protected property rights. Therefore, the Department 
has determined that this proposed rule does not have significant 
takings implications and does not require further discussion of takings 
implications under this Executive Order.

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    The proposed rule would not have a substantial direct effect on the 
States, or the relationship between the national government and the 
States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the 
levels of government. It would not apply to States or local governments 
or State or local government entities. Therefore, in accordance with 
Executive Order 13132, the BLM has determined that this proposed rule 
does not have sufficient Federalism implications to warrant preparation 
of a Federalism Assessment.

Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform

    Under Executive Order 12988, the BLM has determined that this 
proposed rule would not unduly burden the judicial system and that it 
meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order.

Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal 
Governments

    In accordance with Executive Order 13175, the BLM has found that 
this proposed rule does not include policies that have Tribal 
implications. This rule would apply exclusively to lands administered 
by the BLM. It would not be applicable to and would have no bearing on 
trust or Indian lands or resources, or on lands for which title is held 
in fee status by Indian Tribes, or on U.S. Government-owned lands 
managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Information Quality Act

    In developing this proposed rule, the BLM did not conduct or use a 
study, experiment, or survey requiring peer review under the 
Information Quality Act (Section 515 of Pub. L. 106-554).

Executive Order 13211, Actions Concerning Regulations That 
Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use

    In accordance with Executive Order 13211, the BLM has determined 
that this proposed rule is not likely to have a significant adverse 
effect on energy supply, distribution, or use, including a shortfall in 
supply, price increase, or increased use of foreign supplies. The BLM's 
authority to segregate lands under this rule would be of a temporary 
nature for the purpose of encouraging the orderly administration of 
public lands, including the generation of electricity from wind and 
solar resources on the public lands. Any increase in energy production 
as a result of this rule from wind or solar sources is not easily 
quantified, but the proposed rule is expected to relieve obstacles and 
hindrances to energy development on public lands.

Executive Order 13352--Facilitation of Cooperative Conservation

    In accordance with Executive Order 13352, the BLM has determined 
that this proposed rule would not impede the facilitation of 
cooperative conservation. The rule takes appropriate account of and 
respects the interests of persons with ownership or other legally 
recognized interests in land or other natural resources; properly 
accommodates local participation in the Federal decision-making 
process; and provides that the programs, projects, and activities are 
consistent with protecting public health and safety.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The proposed rule does not contain information collection 
requirements that the Office of Management and Budget must approve 
under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

Author

    The principal author of this rule is Jeff Holdren, Realty 
Specialist, Division of Lands and Realty, assisted by the Division of 
Regulatory Affairs, Washington Office, Bureau of Land Management, 
Department of the Interior.

List of Subjects

43 CFR Part 2090

    Airports; Alaska; Coal; Grazing lands; Indian lands; Public lands; 
Public lands--classification; Public lands--mineral resources; Public 
lands--withdrawal; Seashores.

43 CFR Part 2800

    Communications; Electric power; Highways and roads; Penalties; 
Pipelines; Public lands--rights-of-way; Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.
    For the reasons stated in the preamble and under the authorities 
stated below, the BLM proposes to amend 43 CFR parts 2090 and 2800 as 
follows:

Subchapter B--Land Resource Management (2000)

PART 2090--SPECIAL LAWS AND RULES

    1. The authority citation for part 2090 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 43 U.S.C. 1740.

Subpart 2091--Segregation and Opening of Lands

    2. Amend Sec.  2091.3-1 by adding a new paragraph (e) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  2091.3-1  Segregation

* * * * *

[[Page 23236]]

    (e)(1) The Bureau of Land Management may segregate, if it finds it 
to be necessary for the orderly administration of the public lands, 
lands included in a right-of-way application for the generation of 
electrical energy under 43 CFR subpart 2804 from wind or solar sources. 
In addition, the Bureau of Land Management may also segregate public 
lands that it identifies for potential rights-of-way for electricity 
generation from wind or solar sources. Upon segregation, such lands 
will not be subject to appropriation under the public lands laws, 
including location under the General Mining Law, but not the Mineral 
Leasing Act of 1920 (30 U.S.C. 181 et seq.) or the Materials Act of 
1947 (30 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). The Bureau of Land Management will effect 
such segregation by publishing a Federal Register notice that includes 
a description of the lands covered by the segregation. The Bureau of 
Land Management may impose a segregation in this way on both pending 
and new right-of-way applications.
    (2) The effective date of segregation is the date of publication of 
the notice in the Federal Register and the date of termination of the 
segregation is the date that is the earliest of the following:
    (i) Upon issuance of a decision by the authorized officer granting, 
granting with modifications, or denying the application for a right-of-
way;
    (ii) Automatically at the end of the segregation period provided 
for in the Federal Register notice initiating the segregation, without 
further action by the authorized officer; or
    (iii) Upon publication of a Federal Register notice of termination 
of the segregation.
    (3) The segregation period may not exceed 2 years from the date of 
publication of the Federal Register notice initiating the segregation 
unless, on a case-by-case basis, the Bureau of Land Management State 
Director determines and documents in writing, prior to the expiration 
of the segregation period, that an extension is necessary for the 
orderly administration of the public lands. If an extension is 
determined to be necessary, the Bureau of Land Management will publish 
a notice in the Federal Register, prior to expiration of the initial 
segregation period that the segregation is being extended for up to 2 
years. Only one extension may be authorized; the total segregation 
period therefore cannot exceed 4 years.

PART 2800--RIGHTS-OF-WAY UNDER THE FEDERAL LAND POLICY AND 
MANAGEMENT ACT

    3. The authority citation for part 2800 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 43 U.S.C. 1733, 1740, 1763, and 1764.

Subpart 2804--Applying for FLPMA Grants

    4. Amend Sec.  2804.25 by adding a new paragraph (e) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  2804.25  How will BLM process my application?

* * * * *
    (e)(1) The BLM may segregate, if it finds it to be necessary for 
the orderly administration of the public lands, lands included within a 
right-of-way application under 43 CFR subpart 2804 for the generation 
of electricity from wind or solar sources. In addition, the BLM may 
segregate public lands that it identifies for potential rights-of-way 
for electricity generation from wind or solar sources under the BLM's 
right-of-way regulations. Upon segregation, such lands will not be 
subject to appropriation under the public land laws, including location 
under the General Mining Law, but not from the Mineral Leasing Act of 
1920 (30 U.S.C. 181 et seq.) or the Materials Act of 1947 (30 U.S.C. 
601 et seq.). The BLM will effect such segregation by publishing a 
Federal Register notice that includes a description of the lands 
covered by the segregation. The Bureau of Land Management may impose a 
segregation in this way on both pending and new right-of-way 
applications.
    (2) The segregative effect of the Federal Register notice 
terminates on the date that is the earliest of the following:
    (i) Upon issuance of a decision by the authorized officer granting, 
granting with modifications, or denying the application for a right-of-
way;
    (ii) Automatically at the end of the segregation period provided 
for in the Federal Register notice initiating the segregation, without 
further action by the authorized officer; or
    (iii) Upon publication of a Federal Register notice of termination 
of the segregation.
    (3) The segregation period may not exceed 2 years from the date of 
publication of the Federal Register notice initiating the segregation 
unless, on a case by case basis, the BLM State Director determines and 
documents in writing, prior to the expiration of the segregation 
period, that an extension is necessary for the orderly administration 
of the public lands. If an extension is determined to be necessary, the 
BLM will publish a notice in the Federal Register, prior to expiration 
of the initial segregation period that the segregation is being 
extended for up to 2 years. Only one extension may be authorized; the 
total segregation period therefore cannot exceed 4 years.

    Dated: April 6, 2011.
Wilma A. Lewis,
Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Land and Minerals Management.
[FR Doc. 2011-10017 Filed 4-25-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-84-P