Notice of Availability of the Record of Decision for the Previously Issued Oil and Gas Leases in the White River National Forest, CO, 86338-86340 [2016-28807]

Download as PDF 86338 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 230 / Wednesday, November 30, 2016 / Notices Introduction DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR In accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Consent Decree, and the Final Programmatic Damage Assessment Restoration Plan and Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, the Federal and State natural resource trustee agencies for the Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group (Trustees) have prepared a Draft Restoration Plan 1: Restoration of Wetlands, Coastal, and Nearshore Habitats; Habitat Projects on Federally Managed Lands; and Birds (Draft Restoration Plan 1). Draft Restoration Plan 1 describes and proposes engineering and design activities for restoration projects intended to continue the process of restoring natural resources and services injured or lost as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which occurred on or about April 20, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico. Bureau of Land Management Background For additional background information, see our original Federal Register notice, which opened the comment period (November 1, 2016; 81 FR 75840). Invitation To Comment The Trustees seek public review and comment on the proposed projects and supporting analysis included in the Draft Restoration Plan 1. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment, including your personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. Authority The authority of this action is the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.) and the implementing Natural Resource Damage Assessment regulations found at 15 CFR 990. Kevin D. Reynolds, Department of the Interior Deepwater Horizon Case Manager. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES [FR Doc. 2016–28675 Filed 11–29–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:51 Nov 29, 2016 Jkt 241001 [LLCON04000 L16100000.DP0000–16X] Notice of Availability of the Record of Decision Adopting U.S. Forest Service’s Final Environmental Impact Statement for Oil and Gas Leasing on Lands Administered by the White River National Forest, CO Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announces the availability of the Record of Decision (ROD) adopting the Final United States Forest Service’s (USFS) ‘‘White River National Forest Oil and Gas Leasing Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS),’’ which identifies the lands available for oil and gas leasing in the White River National Forest, including stipulations to protect surface resources. ADDRESSES: Copies of the ROD are available for public inspection at the BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office, 2300 River Frontage Road, Silt, CO 81652. Interested persons may also review the ROD on the project Web site at https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-frontoffice/eplanning/nepa/nepa_register.do. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Greg Larson, Project Manager, at the address above, by telephone at 970–876–9000, or by email at glarson@blm.gov. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1–800–877–8339 to contact the above individual during normal business hours. The FRS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to leave a message or question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The BLM’s ROD formally adopts the USFS, December 2014, White River National Forest Oil and Gas Leasing Final EIS. The Department of the Interior (DOI) and the BLM concur with the selection of a combination of Alternatives B and C as described in the USFS ROD (December 3, 2015). As identified in 40 CFR 1506.3(a), ‘‘[a]n agency may adopt a Federal draft or final . . . [EIS] or portion thereof provided that the statement or portion thereof meets the standards for an adequate statement under these [the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)] regulations.’’ The BLM affirms that this SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Final EIS meets all requirements of the CEQ, DOI and BLM for preparation of an EIS. Oil and gas leasing on National Forest System Lands is a collaborative process between the USFS and the BLM. The USFS is responsible for making land availability decisions, while the BLM is responsible for issuing and managing oil and gas leases, as described in the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act. The BLM was a Cooperating Agency in the preparation of the USFS’s Final EIS. Per 40 CFR 1506.3(c), the BLM adopts the Final EIS without recirculating, as the BLM has concluded that its comments and suggestions were incorporated during the NEPA process. This decision is approved by the Deputy Secretary of DOI; therefore, it is not subject to administrative appeal (43 CFR 4.410(a)(3)). Authority: 40 CFR 1506.6, 40 CFR 1506.10. Ruth Welch, BLM Colorado State Director. [FR Doc. 2016–28806 Filed 11–29–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–JB–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [LLCON04000 L16100000.DP0000–16X] Notice of Availability of the Record of Decision for the Previously Issued Oil and Gas Leases in the White River National Forest, CO Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has prepared a Record of Decision (ROD) based on the analysis in the ‘‘Previously Issued Oil and Gas Leases in the White River National Forest Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).’’ That EIS addressed the treatment of 65 previously issued oil and gas leases on lands within the White River National Forest (WRNF). By this notice the BLM is announcing the availability of the ROD. On November 17, 2016, the BLM Colorado State Director signed and the Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior approved the ROD. ADDRESSES: Copies of the ROD are available for public inspection at the BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office, 2300 River Frontage Road, Silt, CO 81652. Interested persons may also review the ROD on the project Web site SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\30NON1.SGM 30NON1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 230 / Wednesday, November 30, 2016 / Notices at https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-frontoffice/eplanning/nepa/nepa_register.do. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Greg Larson, Project Manager, at the address above, by telephone at (970) 876–9000, or by email at glarson@blm.gov. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1–800–877–8339 to contact the above individual during normal business hours. The FRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The BLM has developed the Previously Issued Oil and Gas Leases in the White River National Forest EIS (Previously Issued Leases in the WRNF EIS) to address a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) deficiency identified by the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) related to the issuance of oil and gas leases on WRNF lands between the years of 1995 to 2004. In 2007, the IBLA ruled that before including WRNF parcels in an oil and gas lease sale, the BLM must either formally adopt the NEPA analysis completed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) or conduct its own NEPA analysis (Board of Commissioners of Pitkin County, 173 IBLA 173 (2007)). The BLM canceled the three leases at issue in that case and identified 65 additional leases with effective dates ranging from 1995 to 2012 that the BLM had leased without either adopting applicable USFS NEPA, or preparing its own NEPA analysis. For these 65 existing leases, the most recent USFS decision to make these lands available for oil and gas leasing was analyzed and put forth in the USFS’s 1993 Oil and Gas Leasing EIS and ROD. The USFS then adopted its 1993 Oil and Gas Leasing EIS in its 2002 White River National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan. While the BLM obtained USFS consent before offering and subsequently issuing the 65 leases at issue, it did not adopt the USFS’ NEPA analysis or prepare its own analysis. As a result, the BLM determined that the issuance of the leases in question was not in compliance with applicable NEPA requirements, rendering the leases voidable. The BLM therefore determined that additional actions were necessary to reaffirm, modify, or cancel those leases. As part of that determination, the BLM determined that the available USFS NEPA analysis relevant to the 65 leases was no longer adequate due to changes in laws, regulations, policies and conditions since that analysis was finalized in VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:51 Nov 29, 2016 Jkt 241001 1993. As a result, the BLM prepared the Previously Issued Leases in the WRNF EIS to determine whether these 65 leases should be cancelled, reaffirmed, or modified with additional or different terms. The ROD announced by this Notice is based on that EIS analysis. Distinct from this effort, the USFS recently updated its 1993 Oil and Gas Leasing EIS to address future oil and gas leasing availability on WRNF lands and issued a new EIS, the White River National Forest Oil and Gas Leasing Final Environmental Impact Statement (USFS WRNF Oil and Gas Leasing EIS), in December 2014. The USFS signed their Final ROD for this new EIS in December 2015. The recently issued USFS EIS and ROD are forward-looking and do not affect the 65 previously issued leases that the BLM is reexamining; however, the information generated as part of that process was relevant to the BLM’s analysis. Therefore, as part of its process, the BLM has incorporated the new USFS analysis into its analysis of the previously issued leases, to the extent practicable. The BLM considered six alternatives in the Previously Issued Leases in the WRNF EIS, including a No Action Alternative. The No Action Alternative would reaffirm the lease stipulations on the 65 leases as they were issued. Under this alternative, the BLM would take no action by continuing to administer the leases with their current stipulations. Alternative 2 would address inconsistencies in some of the existing leases by adding stipulations identified in the USFS 1993 Oil and Gas Leasing EIS that were not attached to eight leases when they were issued. Alternative 3 would modify the 65 leases to match the stipulations identified for future leasing in the 2014 USFS WRNF Oil and Gas Leasing Final EIS Proposed Action. Alternative 4 (BLM’s Proposed Action) would modify or cancel the 65 leases to match the stipulations and availability decision in the USFS ROD. In areas the USFS identified as open to future leasing, stipulations would be modified to track those found in the most recent USFS decision and all or part of 25 existing leases in areas identified as closed would be cancelled. Alternative 5 would cancel all 65 leases. For purposes of the BLM’s Previously Issued Oil and Gas Leases in the WRNF Final EIS, the BLM identified a combination of Alternatives 2 and 4 as its Preferred Alternative. Under this Preferred Alternative, the BLM would cancel in their entirety 25 leases that are not producing or committed to a unit or communitization agreement, and which overlap with the PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 86339 area identified as closed to future leasing by the USFS Final ROD. The BLM would apply Alternative 4 stipulations (i.e., those that were identified in the 2015 USFS ROD) to 12 undeveloped (as of Final EIS publication) leases that are within parts of the WRNF identified as open to future leasing, including one expired lease under appeal. It would apply Alternative 2 stipulations to 27 leases that were producing or committed to a unit agreement or communitization agreement as of Final EIS publication, including four expired leases currently under appeal that had previously been part of the Willow Creek Unit. In addition, one expired lease not subject to appeal would receive no decision. As with Alternative 4, the lessee would have to either accept the new stipulations or have the lease cancelled. Cancellation would be accomplished through an administrative process and would require reimbursement of bonus bids and rental payments. The BLM released the Draft Previously Issued Leases in the WRNF EIS on November 20, 2015 (80 FR 72733), for a 49-day public comment period. During that period, the BLM held three public meetings in communities near the project area: Glenwood Springs, DeBeque and Carbondale, Colorado. The BLM received 60,515 comments during the formal comment period. The BLM worked with cooperating agencies (including the Environmental Protection Agency; USFS; the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, including Colorado Parks and Wildlife; Garfield, Mesa, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties; the Cities of Glenwood Springs and Rifle; and the Towns of Carbondale, New Castle, Parachute and Silt) to prepare the Previously Issued Leases in the WRNF EIS. The BLM also consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) informally and through a Biological Assessment. In response, the Service issued a consultation memorandum on May 19, 2016, concurring with the BLM effects determinations of ‘‘may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect’’ for the following species: Ute ladies’-tresses orchid, Colorado hookless cactus and its critical habitat, Western yellow-billed cuckoo, Green-lineage cutthroat trout, Colorado pikeminnow and its critical habitat, Razorback sucker and its critical habitat, Humpback chub and its critical habitat, Bonytail and its critical habitat, and Canada lynx. In addition, the BLM notified the Colorado State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) via an informational letter that, pursuant to the E:\FR\FM\30NON1.SGM 30NON1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 86340 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 230 / Wednesday, November 30, 2016 / Notices 2014 Protocol agreement between the BLM Colorado and the SHPO, this undertaking does not exceed any of the review thresholds requiring SHPO concurrence, and that there will be no adverse effect to historic properties. Finally, the BLM began tribal consultation for the project in April 2014 when the field manager sent a scoping letter via certified mail to the Ute Indian Tribe (Uintah and Ouray Reservation), Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Southern Ute Indian Tribe. Consultation and outreach continued through April 22, 2016, when the BLM sent the tribes a letter that identified the Preferred Alternative and summarized cultural resource records within the area of potential effect (including potential Traditional Cultural Properties). The letter also offered the opportunity for comments or clarifications. The BLM will continue to offer opportunities for tribes that may be affected by potential future development of these leases as stipulated under E.O. 13175, November 6, 2000. The BLM published the Notice of Availability of the Final Previously Issued Leases in the WRNF EIS in the Federal Register on August 5, 2016 (81 FR 51936). Publication of the Notice of Availability initiated a 30-day availability period. Even though there was no comment period on the Final EIS, the BLM received a number of comments, all of which were addressed in the ROD as appropriate. The BLM’s ROD for the Previously Issued Leases in the WRNF EIS implements a slightly modified version of the Preferred Alternative, which combines portions of Alternatives 2 and 4. The decision applies stipulations described under Alternative 2 (including minor updates to reflect the 1993 USFS ROD stipulations) to all leases within the analysis area that are producing or committed to a unit or agreement. For those leases within the analysis area that are not producing or committed to a unit, Alternative 4 applies (canceling or modifying leases to match the 2015 USFS Final ROD) with one exception: The decision cancels in their entirety all undeveloped leases that overlap the area identified as closed to future leasing by the USFS’s 2015 Final ROD. The difference between lease cancellations under Alternative 4 in the BLM’s Previously Issued Leases in the WRNF EIS and this ROD is that seven leases having acres retained under Alternative 4 are cancelled in full under the ROD. There are no partial lease cancellations. On August 15, 2016, the Middleton Creek Unit was automatically contracted, retroactively effective August 20, 2015, according to Section VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:51 Nov 29, 2016 Jkt 241001 2(e) of the unit agreement and as per BLM regulation at 43 CFR 3186.1. As a result of the contraction, three leases (COC67147, COC70013, and COC70361) considered producing in the Final EIS are now considered undeveloped, and thus will be offered modified lease terms consistent with Alternative 4 of the Final EIS. Under the BLM’s Previously Issued Oil and Gas Lease ROD, 25 undeveloped leases are administratively cancelled in full, 12 undeveloped leases remain open with new stipulations applied under Alternative 4 (with lessee consent), 20 producing or committed leases are reaffirmed or modified as described under Alternative 2, four expired leases currently under appeal that had previously been part of the Willow Creek Unit (held by production) would have Alternative 2 applied if the appeal is successful, and one expired lease subject to appeal would have Alternative 4 stipulations applied if it were reauthorized. No decision is made for three leases that have expired or terminated and are not subject to appeal. The BLM’s Previously Issued Oil and Gas Lease ROD takes agency and public comments into account and best meets the BLM’s mandate to protect important resources while allowing oil and gas development. For reaffirmed or modified leases, upon receiving an application to approve an action on the ground, the BLM will conduct sitespecific analysis of impacts through the subsequent NEPA reviews and analyses that will be necessary before the BLM issues any permit or approval for oil and gas development. This decision is approved by the Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of the Interior; therefore it is not subject to administrative appeal (43 CFR 4.410(a)(3)). Authority: 40 CFR 1506.6, 40 CFR 1506.10. Gregory P. Shoop, BLM Colorado Associate State Director. [FR Doc. 2016–28807 Filed 11–29–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–JB–P JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES Meeting of the Judicial Conference Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure Judicial Conference of the United States, Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure. ACTION: Notice of open meeting. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure will hold a meeting on January 3, 2017. The meeting will be open to public observation but not participation. An agenda and supporting materials will be posted at least 7 days in advance of the meeting at: http://www.uscourts.gov/ rules-policies/records-and-archivesrules-committees/agenda-books. DATES: January 3, 2017. TIME: 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. ADDRESSES: Special Proceedings Courtroom, U.S. District Court, 401 Washington Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85003. SUMMARY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rebecca A. Womeldorf, Rules Committee Secretary, Rules Committee Support Office, Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Washington, DC 20544, telephone (202) 502–1820. Dated: November 23, 2016. Rebecca A. Womeldorf, Rules Committee Secretary. [FR Doc. 2016–28761 Filed 11–29–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 2210–55–P DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Foreign Claims Settlement Commission [F.C.S.C. Meeting and Hearing Notice No. 10–16] Sunshine Act Meeting The Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, pursuant to its regulations (45 CFR part 503.25) and the Government in the Sunshine Act (5 U.S.C. 552b), hereby gives notice in regard to the scheduling of open meetings as follows: Wednesday, December 14, 2016: 10:00 a.m.—Consolidated oral hearing on Objection to Commission’s Proposed Decisions in Claim Nos. LIB–III–036, LIB–III–037, LIB–III–038, LIB–III–039, LIB–III–040, LIB–III–041, LIB–III–042, LIB–III–043, LIB–III–044, LIB–III–045, LIB–III–046, LIB–III–047, LIB–III–048, LIB–III–049, LIB–III–050, LIB–III–051, LIB–III–052, LIB–III–053, LIB–III–054, LIB–III–055, LIB–III–056, LIB–III–057, LIB–III–058, LIB–III–059, LIB–III–060, LIB–III–061, LIB–III–062, LIB–III–063, LIB–III–064, LIB–III–065, LIB–III–066, LIB–III–068, LIB–III–069, LIB–III–070, LIB–III–071, LIB–III–072, LIB–III–073, LIB–III–074, LIB–III–075, LIB–III–076, LIB–III–077, LIB–III–078, LIB–III–079, LIB–III–080, LIB–III–081, LIB–III–082, LIB–III–083, LIB–III–084, LIB–III–086 and LIB–III–087. Status: Open. E:\FR\FM\30NON1.SGM 30NON1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 230 (Wednesday, November 30, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 86338-86340]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-28807]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[LLCON04000 L16100000.DP0000-16X]


Notice of Availability of the Record of Decision for the 
Previously Issued Oil and Gas Leases in the White River National 
Forest, CO

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.

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

SUMMARY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has prepared a Record of 
Decision (ROD) based on the analysis in the ``Previously Issued Oil and 
Gas Leases in the White River National Forest Final Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS).'' That EIS addressed the treatment of 65 
previously issued oil and gas leases on lands within the White River 
National Forest (WRNF). By this notice the BLM is announcing the 
availability of the ROD. On November 17, 2016, the BLM Colorado State 
Director signed and the Deputy Secretary of the Department of the 
Interior approved the ROD.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the ROD are available for public inspection at the 
BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office, 2300 River Frontage Road, Silt, 
CO 81652. Interested persons may also review the ROD on the project Web 
site

[[Page 86339]]

at https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/nepa/nepa_register.do.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Greg Larson, Project Manager, at the 
address above, by telephone at (970) 876-9000, or by email at 
glarson@blm.gov. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the 
deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339 
to contact the above individual during normal business hours. The FRS 
is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or 
question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during 
normal business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The BLM has developed the Previously Issued 
Oil and Gas Leases in the White River National Forest EIS (Previously 
Issued Leases in the WRNF EIS) to address a National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) deficiency identified by the Interior Board of Land 
Appeals (IBLA) related to the issuance of oil and gas leases on WRNF 
lands between the years of 1995 to 2004. In 2007, the IBLA ruled that 
before including WRNF parcels in an oil and gas lease sale, the BLM 
must either formally adopt the NEPA analysis completed by the U.S. 
Forest Service (USFS) or conduct its own NEPA analysis (Board of 
Commissioners of Pitkin County, 173 IBLA 173 (2007)). The BLM canceled 
the three leases at issue in that case and identified 65 additional 
leases with effective dates ranging from 1995 to 2012 that the BLM had 
leased without either adopting applicable USFS NEPA, or preparing its 
own NEPA analysis. For these 65 existing leases, the most recent USFS 
decision to make these lands available for oil and gas leasing was 
analyzed and put forth in the USFS's 1993 Oil and Gas Leasing EIS and 
ROD. The USFS then adopted its 1993 Oil and Gas Leasing EIS in its 2002 
White River National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan.
    While the BLM obtained USFS consent before offering and 
subsequently issuing the 65 leases at issue, it did not adopt the USFS' 
NEPA analysis or prepare its own analysis. As a result, the BLM 
determined that the issuance of the leases in question was not in 
compliance with applicable NEPA requirements, rendering the leases 
voidable. The BLM therefore determined that additional actions were 
necessary to reaffirm, modify, or cancel those leases. As part of that 
determination, the BLM determined that the available USFS NEPA analysis 
relevant to the 65 leases was no longer adequate due to changes in 
laws, regulations, policies and conditions since that analysis was 
finalized in 1993. As a result, the BLM prepared the Previously Issued 
Leases in the WRNF EIS to determine whether these 65 leases should be 
cancelled, reaffirmed, or modified with additional or different terms. 
The ROD announced by this Notice is based on that EIS analysis.
    Distinct from this effort, the USFS recently updated its 1993 Oil 
and Gas Leasing EIS to address future oil and gas leasing availability 
on WRNF lands and issued a new EIS, the White River National Forest Oil 
and Gas Leasing Final Environmental Impact Statement (USFS WRNF Oil and 
Gas Leasing EIS), in December 2014. The USFS signed their Final ROD for 
this new EIS in December 2015. The recently issued USFS EIS and ROD are 
forward-looking and do not affect the 65 previously issued leases that 
the BLM is reexamining; however, the information generated as part of 
that process was relevant to the BLM's analysis. Therefore, as part of 
its process, the BLM has incorporated the new USFS analysis into its 
analysis of the previously issued leases, to the extent practicable.
    The BLM considered six alternatives in the Previously Issued Leases 
in the WRNF EIS, including a No Action Alternative. The No Action 
Alternative would reaffirm the lease stipulations on the 65 leases as 
they were issued. Under this alternative, the BLM would take no action 
by continuing to administer the leases with their current stipulations. 
Alternative 2 would address inconsistencies in some of the existing 
leases by adding stipulations identified in the USFS 1993 Oil and Gas 
Leasing EIS that were not attached to eight leases when they were 
issued. Alternative 3 would modify the 65 leases to match the 
stipulations identified for future leasing in the 2014 USFS WRNF Oil 
and Gas Leasing Final EIS Proposed Action. Alternative 4 (BLM's 
Proposed Action) would modify or cancel the 65 leases to match the 
stipulations and availability decision in the USFS ROD. In areas the 
USFS identified as open to future leasing, stipulations would be 
modified to track those found in the most recent USFS decision and all 
or part of 25 existing leases in areas identified as closed would be 
cancelled. Alternative 5 would cancel all 65 leases. For purposes of 
the BLM's Previously Issued Oil and Gas Leases in the WRNF Final EIS, 
the BLM identified a combination of Alternatives 2 and 4 as its 
Preferred Alternative. Under this Preferred Alternative, the BLM would 
cancel in their entirety 25 leases that are not producing or committed 
to a unit or communitization agreement, and which overlap with the area 
identified as closed to future leasing by the USFS Final ROD. The BLM 
would apply Alternative 4 stipulations (i.e., those that were 
identified in the 2015 USFS ROD) to 12 undeveloped (as of Final EIS 
publication) leases that are within parts of the WRNF identified as 
open to future leasing, including one expired lease under appeal. It 
would apply Alternative 2 stipulations to 27 leases that were producing 
or committed to a unit agreement or communitization agreement as of 
Final EIS publication, including four expired leases currently under 
appeal that had previously been part of the Willow Creek Unit. In 
addition, one expired lease not subject to appeal would receive no 
decision. As with Alternative 4, the lessee would have to either accept 
the new stipulations or have the lease cancelled. Cancellation would be 
accomplished through an administrative process and would require 
reimbursement of bonus bids and rental payments.
    The BLM released the Draft Previously Issued Leases in the WRNF EIS 
on November 20, 2015 (80 FR 72733), for a 49-day public comment period. 
During that period, the BLM held three public meetings in communities 
near the project area: Glenwood Springs, DeBeque and Carbondale, 
Colorado. The BLM received 60,515 comments during the formal comment 
period. The BLM worked with cooperating agencies (including the 
Environmental Protection Agency; USFS; the Colorado Department of 
Natural Resources, including Colorado Parks and Wildlife; Garfield, 
Mesa, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties; the Cities of Glenwood Springs 
and Rifle; and the Towns of Carbondale, New Castle, Parachute and Silt) 
to prepare the Previously Issued Leases in the WRNF EIS. The BLM also 
consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) informally 
and through a Biological Assessment. In response, the Service issued a 
consultation memorandum on May 19, 2016, concurring with the BLM 
effects determinations of ``may affect, but is not likely to adversely 
affect'' for the following species: Ute ladies'-tresses orchid, 
Colorado hookless cactus and its critical habitat, Western yellow-
billed cuckoo, Green-lineage cutthroat trout, Colorado pikeminnow and 
its critical habitat, Razorback sucker and its critical habitat, 
Humpback chub and its critical habitat, Bonytail and its critical 
habitat, and Canada lynx. In addition, the BLM notified the Colorado 
State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) via an informational letter 
that, pursuant to the

[[Page 86340]]

2014 Protocol agreement between the BLM Colorado and the SHPO, this 
undertaking does not exceed any of the review thresholds requiring SHPO 
concurrence, and that there will be no adverse effect to historic 
properties. Finally, the BLM began tribal consultation for the project 
in April 2014 when the field manager sent a scoping letter via 
certified mail to the Ute Indian Tribe (Uintah and Ouray Reservation), 
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Southern Ute Indian Tribe. Consultation and 
outreach continued through April 22, 2016, when the BLM sent the tribes 
a letter that identified the Preferred Alternative and summarized 
cultural resource records within the area of potential effect 
(including potential Traditional Cultural Properties). The letter also 
offered the opportunity for comments or clarifications. The BLM will 
continue to offer opportunities for tribes that may be affected by 
potential future development of these leases as stipulated under E.O. 
13175, November 6, 2000.
    The BLM published the Notice of Availability of the Final 
Previously Issued Leases in the WRNF EIS in the Federal Register on 
August 5, 2016 (81 FR 51936). Publication of the Notice of Availability 
initiated a 30-day availability period. Even though there was no 
comment period on the Final EIS, the BLM received a number of comments, 
all of which were addressed in the ROD as appropriate.
    The BLM's ROD for the Previously Issued Leases in the WRNF EIS 
implements a slightly modified version of the Preferred Alternative, 
which combines portions of Alternatives 2 and 4. The decision applies 
stipulations described under Alternative 2 (including minor updates to 
reflect the 1993 USFS ROD stipulations) to all leases within the 
analysis area that are producing or committed to a unit or agreement. 
For those leases within the analysis area that are not producing or 
committed to a unit, Alternative 4 applies (canceling or modifying 
leases to match the 2015 USFS Final ROD) with one exception: The 
decision cancels in their entirety all undeveloped leases that overlap 
the area identified as closed to future leasing by the USFS's 2015 
Final ROD. The difference between lease cancellations under Alternative 
4 in the BLM's Previously Issued Leases in the WRNF EIS and this ROD is 
that seven leases having acres retained under Alternative 4 are 
cancelled in full under the ROD. There are no partial lease 
cancellations. On August 15, 2016, the Middleton Creek Unit was 
automatically contracted, retroactively effective August 20, 2015, 
according to Section 2(e) of the unit agreement and as per BLM 
regulation at 43 CFR 3186.1. As a result of the contraction, three 
leases (COC67147, COC70013, and COC70361) considered producing in the 
Final EIS are now considered undeveloped, and thus will be offered 
modified lease terms consistent with Alternative 4 of the Final EIS.
    Under the BLM's Previously Issued Oil and Gas Lease ROD, 25 
undeveloped leases are administratively cancelled in full, 12 
undeveloped leases remain open with new stipulations applied under 
Alternative 4 (with lessee consent), 20 producing or committed leases 
are reaffirmed or modified as described under Alternative 2, four 
expired leases currently under appeal that had previously been part of 
the Willow Creek Unit (held by production) would have Alternative 2 
applied if the appeal is successful, and one expired lease subject to 
appeal would have Alternative 4 stipulations applied if it were 
reauthorized. No decision is made for three leases that have expired or 
terminated and are not subject to appeal.
    The BLM's Previously Issued Oil and Gas Lease ROD takes agency and 
public comments into account and best meets the BLM's mandate to 
protect important resources while allowing oil and gas development. For 
reaffirmed or modified leases, upon receiving an application to approve 
an action on the ground, the BLM will conduct site-specific analysis of 
impacts through the subsequent NEPA reviews and analyses that will be 
necessary before the BLM issues any permit or approval for oil and gas 
development.
    This decision is approved by the Deputy Secretary for the U.S. 
Department of the Interior; therefore it is not subject to 
administrative appeal (43 CFR 4.410(a)(3)).

    Authority:  40 CFR 1506.6, 40 CFR 1506.10.

Gregory P. Shoop,
BLM Colorado Associate State Director.
[FR Doc. 2016-28807 Filed 11-29-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4310-JB-P