National Forests and Grasslands in Texas; Oil and Gas Leasing Availability Analysis Environmental Impact Statement, 44843-44845 [2019-18357]

Download as PDF jspears on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 166 / Tuesday, August 27, 2019 / Notices the United States as a permanent resident and are able to meet United States citizenship requirements prior to completion of your degree. 4. Must be in good academic standing. High School College and College applicants will apply by: (1) Writing an essay describing educational and career goals; (2) Submitting a high school and/or a college transcript; (3) Submitting a resume, and; (4) Submitting two letters of recommendation. These letters of recommendation may be from high school teachers, college professors, and college officials. Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 1.3 hours per response. Respondents: High School or College Student applicants; High School Teachers and Guidance Counselors, College Professor(s), and College Officials. Estimated Number of Respondents: 170 applications will generate 510 responses. Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 3. Each application will generate three responses. Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 663 hours. Comments are invited on: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments may be sent to Lawrence A. Shorty, USDA 1994 Tribal Scholars Program. All comments received will be available for public inspection during regular business hours at the same address. All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for Office of Management and Budget approval. All comments will become a matter of public record. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:12 Aug 26, 2019 Jkt 247001 Signed on this 21st day of August, 2019. Riley W. Pagett, Chief of Staff, Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. [FR Doc. 2019–18361 Filed 8–26–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service National Forests and Grasslands in Texas; Oil and Gas Leasing Availability Analysis Environmental Impact Statement Forest Service, USDA, Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement AGENCY: ACTION: The National Forests and Grasslands in Texas (NFGT) are initiating the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS). The EIS will analyze and disclose the effects of identifying areas as available or unavailable for new oil and gas leasing. The proposed action identifies the following elements: What lands will be made available for future oil and gas leasing; what stipulations will be applied to lands available for future oil and gas leasing, and if there would be any plan amendments to the 1996 NFGT Revised Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan). DATES: Public comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by October 11, 2019. The draft EIS is expected in the winter of 2019, and the final EIS is expected in the fall of 2020. ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Oil and Gas EIS Project, National Forests and Grasslands in Texas, 2221 N. Raguet Street, Lufkin, Texas 75904. Comments may also be submitted electronically through the project website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ texas/oil-and-gas or via fax to (936) 639–8588. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Potts, Natural Resources and Planning Staff Officer, at (936) 639– 8539. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1 (800) 877–8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Purpose and Need for Action The Forest Service withdrew its consent to lease NFGT lands from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for oil and gas development in 2016. The reason for the withdrawal of consent PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 44843 was due to stakeholder concerns, including insufficient public notification, insufficient opportunity for public involvement, and insufficient environmental analysis. Environmental impacts of oil and gas leasing were last evaluated in the 1996 Final EIS for the NFGT Forest Plan. That document did not include an analysis of current issues, such as current impacts on air pollution, or of technologies, such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. There is a need to analyze the impacts of new oil and gas development technologies on surface and subsurface water and geologic resources; air resources; fish and wildlife resources; fragile and rare ecosystems; threatened and endangered species; and invasive plant management. There is the need to examine changed conditions since the Forest Plan was published, such as increases in dispersed and developed recreation, wild and scenic river eligibility and suitability, and changed socioeconomic conditions. Tribes will also need to be consulted to identify needed protections for heritage resource areas. These current issues and changed conditions need to be evaluated in determining which National Forest System (NFS) lands administered by the NFGT should be made available for future oil and gas leasing. Such an evaluation also is necessary to determine what lease stipulations should apply to those lands to protect resources. The Forest Service will prepare an EIS to support the BLM’s independent decision to include the NFGT administered NFS lands that are made available for leasing in future competitive oil and gas lease sales. Proposed Action The Forest Service proposes to identify NFGT administered lands that would be administratively available for future oil and gas leasing; to identify which stipulations would be applied to protect resources on lands available for future oil and gas leasing; and to determine if the 1996 NFGT Forest Plan should be amended. The Forest Service’s analysis will not affect current valid leasing, including the associated terms, conditions, and stipulations. The EIS also would not affect the exercising of reserved and outstanding mineral rights on NFS lands. The proposed changes would apply only to new leases for federal minerals that may be issued. Following an initial evaluation of the need to change current direction, the following actions are being proposed to address those areas and management E:\FR\FM\27AUN1.SGM 27AUN1 jspears on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 44844 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 166 / Tuesday, August 27, 2019 / Notices directions that need to be changed. Management direction and the acres provided below would apply to the decision area. The decision area includes only those NFGT lands where the Forest Service manages the surface and the underlying mineral estate is federally managed by the BLM. The total decision area is approximately 447,000 acres. • Both current management and the proposed action would maintain 38,300 acres as closed for congressionallydesignated wilderness areas. • The proposed action would convert Controlled Surface Use (CSU) stipulations to No Surface Occupancy (NSO) stipulations for natural heritage botanical areas and reservoirs on the NFGT. This would decrease the number of acres with a CSU stipulation from approximately 73,100 to 63,100 acres. • The proposed action would remove the current turkey nesting Timing Limitation (TL) stipulation. • The proposed action would add NSO stipulations to protect natural heritage botanical areas, special status species, unique prairie vegetation communities, inclusional wetlands, sensitive aquatic areas, natural springs, and steep slopes. This would increase the numbers of acres with a NSO stipulation from approximately 11,100 to 28,000 acres. • Several NSO and CSU stipulations would require site-specific surveys to identify areas where the stipulation applies. This includes red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) NSO and CSU stipulations for cavity trees, cluster sites, and foraging habitat. These RCW stipulations would apply in Management Area 2, which includes approximately 226,700 acres of the decision area. Site-specific surveys are also required to determine CSU areas for the protection of 100-year floodplains and intermittent and perennial waterways. • Existing NSO and CSU stipulations related to erodible soils, flood control structures, Research Natural Areas, developed recreation sites, scenic areas and Lake Conroe would be updated to improve implementability. • New stipulations to address invasive plants, restoration seed mixes, and soil stability associated with well pad construction would also be added. The NFGT website at http:// www.fs.usda.gov/goto/texas/oil-and-gas includes a listing of the proposed stipulation changes, a map of the existing stipulations and where they are applied, and a map of the proposed action stipulations and where they would be applied. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:12 Aug 26, 2019 Jkt 247001 Proposed Amendment to the NFGT Forest Plan The proposed action would also amend the existing NFGT Forest Plan. The 36 CFR 219 regulations pertaining to NFS land management planning (the planning rule) require that the responsible official provide notice ‘‘about which substantive requirements of §§ 219.8 through 219.11 are likely to be directly related to the amendment’’ (36 CFR 219.13(b)(2)). Whether a rule provision is directly related to an amendment is determined by any one of the following: the purpose for the amendment, a beneficial effect of the amendment, a substantial adverse effect of the amendment, or a lessening of plan protections by the amendment (36 CFR 219.13(b)(5)). Under the proposed action, the Forest Plan would be amended to include the following restrictions on the lands available for leasing: • NSO for the limestone areas on the Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) National Grassland (NG), the blackland praries on the Sam Houston NF and Caddo NG, habitat areas for the Louisiana Pine Snake, RCW cluster sites, slopes greater than 15 percent, inclusional wetlands, sensitive aquatic areas, and natural springs. • CSU for the RCW breeding season. The following 36 CFR 219 requirements will likely be ‘‘directly related’’ to this LRMP amendment: • 36 CFR 219.8(a)(2)(ii)—The plan must include plan components to maintain or restore: ‘‘Soils and soil productivity, including guidance to reduce soil erosion and sedimentation.’’ • 36 CFR 219.8(a)(2)(iv)—The plan must include plan components to maintain or restore: ‘‘Water resources in the plan area, including lakes, streams, and wetlands.’’ • 36 CFR 219.9(a)(2)(ii)—The plan must include plan components to maintain or restore: ‘‘Rare aquatic and terrestrial plant and animal communities.’’ • 36 CFR 219.9(b)(1)—The responsible official shall ‘‘provide the ecological conditions necessary to: contribute to the recovery of federally listed threatened and endangered species.’’ • 36 CFR 219.10(a)(2)—When developing plan components for integrated resource management the responsible official shall consider: ‘‘Renewable and nonrenewable energy and mineral resources.’’ Preliminary Issues A preliminary list of issues that will be reviewed during this analysis is as follows: PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 • Impacts on areas of the forest where air pollution levels have not met the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for criteria air pollutants and have been designated as nonattainment areas. • Impacts on surface and subsurface water quantity and quality, including public water supplies. • Impacts from well pad and steep slope erosion and seditment transport into streams, wetlands, or other sensitive aquatic areas. • Impacts from noxious and invasive weed spread. • Impacts on rare plants and ecosystems. • Fragmentation, removal, or disturbances on wildlife corridors, critical wildlife habitats, and other important or sensitive wildlife habitats. • Impacts on threatened and endangered species, such as the RCW and Louisiana pine snake. • Impacts on prescribed rangeland conservation burning and reforestation management. • Traffic, noise, light pollution, and visual impacts on nearby residents, visitors, and other forest users. • Impacts on royalty payments to counties associated with any changes in oil and gas leasing. • Impacts on special designations and impacts on wilderness character. • Impacts on recreationists and loss of recreation opportunities. • Impacts on geologic features on the NFGT, including salt domes, and potential for induced seismicity. Additional issues may be identified based on comments received during this public scoping period. Preliminary Alternatives In the EIS, the Forest Service will analyze the No Action Alternative (the existing oil and gas leasing alternative), the Proposed Action Alternative, and a No Leasing Alternative. Some possible additional alternatives would be ones that add NSO stipulations to: all streamside management zones, the Longleaf Pine Special Area, streams eligible for Wild and Scenic River designation, bottomland areas, all lands within RCW Habitat Management Areas, and habitat areas associated with the Neches River rose mallow. Other alternatives may also be developed and considered, in order to address issues raised during the scoping process. Nature of Decision To Be Made Based on the analysis and information contained in the EIS, the Forest Supervisor will decide which areas will be open to development, subject to standard oil and gas leasing terms and conditions; and which areas will be E:\FR\FM\27AUN1.SGM 27AUN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 166 / Tuesday, August 27, 2019 / Notices open to development, subject to NSO, CSU, or TL stipulations. The Forest Supervisor also will decide under what conditions the Forest Service will authorize the BLM to modify, waive, or grant an exception to a stipulation. In accordance with leasing analysis requirements in 36 CFR 228.102, the Forest Supervisor will consider alternatives to the proposal, including that of not allowing leasing. Whether or not to lease specific lands is not part of this decision. jspears on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Decision Will Be Subject to Objection Before a decision is made, oil and gas leasing availability will be subject to the pre-decisional administrative review process (the objection process) outlined in 36 CFR 218; however, the decision to amend the Forest Plan for the NFGT will be subject to the objection process identified in 36 CFR 219 Subpart B. These two pre-decisional objection processes will run concurrently. Under both the 36 CFR 218 and 219 administrative review processes, only those individuals and entities who have previously submitted substantive formal comments on the proposed project or the plan amendment may file an objection. Comments can be submitted by the public during scoping or any other designated opportunities for comment. Scoping Process This Notice of Intent initiates the scoping process, which guides the development of the EIS by helping to define its scope. The Forest Service requests input on the proposed action, the proposed amendment to the Forest Plan, the content of the EIS, the issues and impacts to be addressed in the EIS, and the alternatives that it should consider. During scoping, commenters should clearly describe specific issues or topics that the EIS should address. This will assist the Forest Service in identifying significant environmental, social, and economic issues related to oil and gas leasing on NFS lands administered by the NFGT. The public may also provide comments on any other 36 CFR 219 substantive requirements that are likely to be ‘‘directly related’’ to the proposed plan amendment (refer to 36 CFR 219.13(b)(2)). Four public meetings are planned. The meeting addresses, dates, and times will be provided on the project website, http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/texas/oiland-gas. It is important that reviewers provide their comments before the Forest Service begins preparing the EIS; therefore, comments should be provided VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:12 Aug 26, 2019 Jkt 247001 before the scoping period closes, and commenters should clearly articulate their concerns about the alternatives and potential impacts. Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered; however, anonymous comments will not provide the respondent with eligiblity to participate in subsequent administrative review or judicial review. Lead and Cooperating Agencies The Forest Service, NFGT, is the lead agency and the BLM, New Mexico State Office, is a cooperating agency in this analysis. Responsible Official The responsible official is William E. Taylor, Jr., Forest Supervisor, National Forests and Grasslands in Texas, 2221 N. Raguet Street, Lufkin, Texas 75904. Dated: July 25, 2019. Frank R. Beum, Acting Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System. [FR Doc. 2019–18357 Filed 8–26–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411–15–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A–520–807] Circular Welded Carbon-Quality Steel Pipe From the United Arab Emirates: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2016–2017 Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce. SUMMARY: The Department of Commerce (Commerce) determines that producers and/or exporters subject to this administrative review made sales of subject merchandise at less than normal value during the period of review (POR) June 8, 2016 through November 30, 2017. AGENCY: DATES: Applicable August 27, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Manuel Rey or Whitley Herndon, AD/ CVD Operations, Office II, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482–5518 or (202) 482–6274, respectively. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 44845 Background This review covers nine producers and exporters of the subject merchandise. Commerce selected two companies, Ajmal Steel Tubes & Pipes Ind. L.L.C. (Ajmal)/Noble Steel Industries L.L.C. (Noble Steel) (collectively, Ajmal Steel) 1 and Universal Tube and Plastic Industries, Ltd. (UTP)/THL Tube and Pipe Industries LLC (TTP)/KHK Scaffolding and Formwork LLC (collectively, Universal).2 The producers and or exporters not selected for individual examination are listed in the ‘‘Final Results of the Review’’ section of this notice. On February 21, 2019, Commerce published the Preliminary Results.3 In March 2019, Ajmal Steel and Universal submitted case briefs. On May 8, 2019, we issued a postpreliminary determination related to an alleged particular market situation in this administrative review.4 In May 2019, the petitioners 5 submitted a case brief related to the post-preliminary determination,6 and Ajmal Steel and Universal submitted rebuttal briefs on this topic.7 On May 23, 2019, we 1 On December 11, 2018, we preliminarily collapsed Ajmal and Noble Steel. See Memorandum, ‘‘Whether to Collapse Ajmal Steel Tubes and Pipes Ind. L.L.C. and Noble Steel Industries L.L.C. in the 2016–2017 Antidumping Duty Administrative Review of Circular Welded Carbon-Quality Steel Pipe from the United Arab Emirates,’’ dated December 11, 2018. Because no party commented on this decision, we continue to find it appropriate to collapse Ajmal and Noble for purposes of the final results. 2 On January 31, 2019, we preliminarily found that TTP is the successor-in-interest to UTP. See Memorandum, ‘‘Successor-In-Interest Determination in the 2016–2017 Antidumping Duty Administrative Review on Circular Welded CarbonQuality Steel Pipe from the United Arab Emirates,’’ dated January 31, 2019. Because no party commented on this decision, we continue to find TTP to be the successor-in-interest to UTP. 3 See Circular Welded Carbon-Quality Steel Pipe from the United Arab Emirates: Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2016– 2017, 84 FR 5417 (February 21, 2019) (Preliminary Results), and accompanying Preliminary Decision Memorandum (PDM). 4 See Memorandum, ‘‘Antidumping Administrative Review of Circular Welded Pipe from the United Arab Emirates: Post-Preliminary Determination Regarding Particular Market Situation Allegation,’’ dated May 8, 2019. 5 The petitioners are Bull Moose Tube Company and Wheatland Tube Company. 6 See Petitioners’ Case Brief, ‘‘Circular Welded Carbon-Quality Steel Pipe from The United Arab Emirates: Petitioners’ Brief Regarding the Particular Market Situation,’’ dated May 16, 2019. 7 See Universal’s Letter, ‘‘Circular Welded Carbon-Quality Steel Pipe from the United Arab Emirates—Rebuttal Brief Regarding Petitioners’ Particular Market Situation Allegation,’’ dated May 21, 2019; and Ajmal Steel’s Letter, ‘‘Administrative Review of the Antidumping Duty Order on Circular Welded Carbon-Quality Steel Pipe from the United Arab Emirates; Post-Preliminary Determination on Continued E:\FR\FM\27AUN1.SGM 27AUN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 166 (Tuesday, August 27, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 44843-44845]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-18357]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


National Forests and Grasslands in Texas; Oil and Gas Leasing 
Availability Analysis Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA,

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement

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

SUMMARY: The National Forests and Grasslands in Texas (NFGT) are 
initiating the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS). 
The EIS will analyze and disclose the effects of identifying areas as 
available or unavailable for new oil and gas leasing. The proposed 
action identifies the following elements: What lands will be made 
available for future oil and gas leasing; what stipulations will be 
applied to lands available for future oil and gas leasing, and if there 
would be any plan amendments to the 1996 NFGT Revised Land and Resource 
Management Plan (Forest Plan).

DATES: Public comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be 
received by October 11, 2019. The draft EIS is expected in the winter 
of 2019, and the final EIS is expected in the fall of 2020.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Oil and Gas EIS Project, National 
Forests and Grasslands in Texas, 2221 N. Raguet Street, Lufkin, Texas 
75904. Comments may also be submitted electronically through the 
project website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/texas/oil-and-gas or via 
fax to (936) 639-8588.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Potts, Natural Resources and 
Planning Staff Officer, at (936) 639-8539.
    Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) 
may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1 (800) 877-
8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Purpose and Need for Action

    The Forest Service withdrew its consent to lease NFGT lands from 
the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for oil and gas development in 
2016. The reason for the withdrawal of consent was due to stakeholder 
concerns, including insufficient public notification, insufficient 
opportunity for public involvement, and insufficient environmental 
analysis. Environmental impacts of oil and gas leasing were last 
evaluated in the 1996 Final EIS for the NFGT Forest Plan. That document 
did not include an analysis of current issues, such as current impacts 
on air pollution, or of technologies, such as horizontal drilling and 
hydraulic fracturing.
    There is a need to analyze the impacts of new oil and gas 
development technologies on surface and subsurface water and geologic 
resources; air resources; fish and wildlife resources; fragile and rare 
ecosystems; threatened and endangered species; and invasive plant 
management. There is the need to examine changed conditions since the 
Forest Plan was published, such as increases in dispersed and developed 
recreation, wild and scenic river eligibility and suitability, and 
changed socioeconomic conditions. Tribes will also need to be consulted 
to identify needed protections for heritage resource areas.
    These current issues and changed conditions need to be evaluated in 
determining which National Forest System (NFS) lands administered by 
the NFGT should be made available for future oil and gas leasing. Such 
an evaluation also is necessary to determine what lease stipulations 
should apply to those lands to protect resources.
    The Forest Service will prepare an EIS to support the BLM's 
independent decision to include the NFGT administered NFS lands that 
are made available for leasing in future competitive oil and gas lease 
sales.

Proposed Action

    The Forest Service proposes to identify NFGT administered lands 
that would be administratively available for future oil and gas 
leasing; to identify which stipulations would be applied to protect 
resources on lands available for future oil and gas leasing; and to 
determine if the 1996 NFGT Forest Plan should be amended. The Forest 
Service's analysis will not affect current valid leasing, including the 
associated terms, conditions, and stipulations. The EIS also would not 
affect the exercising of reserved and outstanding mineral rights on NFS 
lands. The proposed changes would apply only to new leases for federal 
minerals that may be issued.
    Following an initial evaluation of the need to change current 
direction, the following actions are being proposed to address those 
areas and management

[[Page 44844]]

directions that need to be changed. Management direction and the acres 
provided below would apply to the decision area. The decision area 
includes only those NFGT lands where the Forest Service manages the 
surface and the underlying mineral estate is federally managed by the 
BLM. The total decision area is approximately 447,000 acres.
     Both current management and the proposed action would 
maintain 38,300 acres as closed for congressionally-designated 
wilderness areas.
     The proposed action would convert Controlled Surface Use 
(CSU) stipulations to No Surface Occupancy (NSO) stipulations for 
natural heritage botanical areas and reservoirs on the NFGT. This would 
decrease the number of acres with a CSU stipulation from approximately 
73,100 to 63,100 acres.
     The proposed action would remove the current turkey 
nesting Timing Limitation (TL) stipulation.
     The proposed action would add NSO stipulations to protect 
natural heritage botanical areas, special status species, unique 
prairie vegetation communities, inclusional wetlands, sensitive aquatic 
areas, natural springs, and steep slopes. This would increase the 
numbers of acres with a NSO stipulation from approximately 11,100 to 
28,000 acres.
     Several NSO and CSU stipulations would require site-
specific surveys to identify areas where the stipulation applies. This 
includes red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) NSO and CSU stipulations for 
cavity trees, cluster sites, and foraging habitat. These RCW 
stipulations would apply in Management Area 2, which includes 
approximately 226,700 acres of the decision area. Site-specific surveys 
are also required to determine CSU areas for the protection of 100-year 
floodplains and intermittent and perennial waterways.
     Existing NSO and CSU stipulations related to erodible 
soils, flood control structures, Research Natural Areas, developed 
recreation sites, scenic areas and Lake Conroe would be updated to 
improve implementability.
     New stipulations to address invasive plants, restoration 
seed mixes, and soil stability associated with well pad construction 
would also be added.
    The NFGT website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/texas/oil-and-gas 
includes a listing of the proposed stipulation changes, a map of the 
existing stipulations and where they are applied, and a map of the 
proposed action stipulations and where they would be applied.

Proposed Amendment to the NFGT Forest Plan

    The proposed action would also amend the existing NFGT Forest Plan. 
The 36 CFR 219 regulations pertaining to NFS land management planning 
(the planning rule) require that the responsible official provide 
notice ``about which substantive requirements of Sec. Sec.  219.8 
through 219.11 are likely to be directly related to the amendment'' (36 
CFR 219.13(b)(2)). Whether a rule provision is directly related to an 
amendment is determined by any one of the following: the purpose for 
the amendment, a beneficial effect of the amendment, a substantial 
adverse effect of the amendment, or a lessening of plan protections by 
the amendment (36 CFR 219.13(b)(5)).
    Under the proposed action, the Forest Plan would be amended to 
include the following restrictions on the lands available for leasing:
     NSO for the limestone areas on the Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) 
National Grassland (NG), the blackland praries on the Sam Houston NF 
and Caddo NG, habitat areas for the Louisiana Pine Snake, RCW cluster 
sites, slopes greater than 15 percent, inclusional wetlands, sensitive 
aquatic areas, and natural springs.
     CSU for the RCW breeding season.
    The following 36 CFR 219 requirements will likely be ``directly 
related'' to this LRMP amendment:
     36 CFR 219.8(a)(2)(ii)--The plan must include plan 
components to maintain or restore: ``Soils and soil productivity, 
including guidance to reduce soil erosion and sedimentation.''
     36 CFR 219.8(a)(2)(iv)--The plan must include plan 
components to maintain or restore: ``Water resources in the plan area, 
including lakes, streams, and wetlands.''
     36 CFR 219.9(a)(2)(ii)--The plan must include plan 
components to maintain or restore: ``Rare aquatic and terrestrial plant 
and animal communities.''
     36 CFR 219.9(b)(1)--The responsible official shall 
``provide the ecological conditions necessary to: contribute to the 
recovery of federally listed threatened and endangered species.''
     36 CFR 219.10(a)(2)--When developing plan components for 
integrated resource management the responsible official shall consider: 
``Renewable and nonrenewable energy and mineral resources.''

Preliminary Issues

    A preliminary list of issues that will be reviewed during this 
analysis is as follows:
     Impacts on areas of the forest where air pollution levels 
have not met the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for criteria 
air pollutants and have been designated as nonattainment areas.
     Impacts on surface and subsurface water quantity and 
quality, including public water supplies.
     Impacts from well pad and steep slope erosion and 
seditment transport into streams, wetlands, or other sensitive aquatic 
areas.
     Impacts from noxious and invasive weed spread.
     Impacts on rare plants and ecosystems.
     Fragmentation, removal, or disturbances on wildlife 
corridors, critical wildlife habitats, and other important or sensitive 
wildlife habitats.
     Impacts on threatened and endangered species, such as the 
RCW and Louisiana pine snake.
     Impacts on prescribed rangeland conservation burning and 
reforestation management.
     Traffic, noise, light pollution, and visual impacts on 
nearby residents, visitors, and other forest users.
     Impacts on royalty payments to counties associated with 
any changes in oil and gas leasing.
     Impacts on special designations and impacts on wilderness 
character.
     Impacts on recreationists and loss of recreation 
opportunities.
     Impacts on geologic features on the NFGT, including salt 
domes, and potential for induced seismicity.
    Additional issues may be identified based on comments received 
during this public scoping period.

Preliminary Alternatives

    In the EIS, the Forest Service will analyze the No Action 
Alternative (the existing oil and gas leasing alternative), the 
Proposed Action Alternative, and a No Leasing Alternative. Some 
possible additional alternatives would be ones that add NSO 
stipulations to: all streamside management zones, the Longleaf Pine 
Special Area, streams eligible for Wild and Scenic River designation, 
bottomland areas, all lands within RCW Habitat Management Areas, and 
habitat areas associated with the Neches River rose mallow. Other 
alternatives may also be developed and considered, in order to address 
issues raised during the scoping process.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    Based on the analysis and information contained in the EIS, the 
Forest Supervisor will decide which areas will be open to development, 
subject to standard oil and gas leasing terms and conditions; and which 
areas will be

[[Page 44845]]

open to development, subject to NSO, CSU, or TL stipulations. The 
Forest Supervisor also will decide under what conditions the Forest 
Service will authorize the BLM to modify, waive, or grant an exception 
to a stipulation. In accordance with leasing analysis requirements in 
36 CFR 228.102, the Forest Supervisor will consider alternatives to the 
proposal, including that of not allowing leasing. Whether or not to 
lease specific lands is not part of this decision.

Decision Will Be Subject to Objection

    Before a decision is made, oil and gas leasing availability will be 
subject to the pre-decisional administrative review process (the 
objection process) outlined in 36 CFR 218; however, the decision to 
amend the Forest Plan for the NFGT will be subject to the objection 
process identified in 36 CFR 219 Subpart B. These two pre-decisional 
objection processes will run concurrently.
    Under both the 36 CFR 218 and 219 administrative review processes, 
only those individuals and entities who have previously submitted 
substantive formal comments on the proposed project or the plan 
amendment may file an objection. Comments can be submitted by the 
public during scoping or any other designated opportunities for 
comment.

Scoping Process

    This Notice of Intent initiates the scoping process, which guides 
the development of the EIS by helping to define its scope. The Forest 
Service requests input on the proposed action, the proposed amendment 
to the Forest Plan, the content of the EIS, the issues and impacts to 
be addressed in the EIS, and the alternatives that it should consider. 
During scoping, commenters should clearly describe specific issues or 
topics that the EIS should address. This will assist the Forest Service 
in identifying significant environmental, social, and economic issues 
related to oil and gas leasing on NFS lands administered by the NFGT. 
The public may also provide comments on any other 36 CFR 219 
substantive requirements that are likely to be ``directly related'' to 
the proposed plan amendment (refer to 36 CFR 219.13(b)(2)).
    Four public meetings are planned. The meeting addresses, dates, and 
times will be provided on the project website, http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/texas/oil-and-gas.
    It is important that reviewers provide their comments before the 
Forest Service begins preparing the EIS; therefore, comments should be 
provided before the scoping period closes, and commenters should 
clearly articulate their concerns about the alternatives and potential 
impacts. Comments received in response to this solicitation, including 
names and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public 
record for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be 
accepted and considered; however, anonymous comments will not provide 
the respondent with eligiblity to participate in subsequent 
administrative review or judicial review.

Lead and Cooperating Agencies

    The Forest Service, NFGT, is the lead agency and the BLM, New 
Mexico State Office, is a cooperating agency in this analysis.

Responsible Official

    The responsible official is William E. Taylor, Jr., Forest 
Supervisor, National Forests and Grasslands in Texas, 2221 N. Raguet 
Street, Lufkin, Texas 75904.

    Dated: July 25, 2019.
Frank R. Beum,
Acting Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System.
[FR Doc. 2019-18357 Filed 8-26-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3411-15-P