Montana/Dakotas

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United States Department of the Interior
 
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Montana State Office
5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, Montana 59101-4669
http://www.blm.gov/mt

 October 22, 2007

In Reply To:
3150 (922.JA) P                                            
 
                                                     
EMAIL TRANSMISSION – 10/22/07
Instruction Memorandum No. MT-2008-006
Expires: 9/30/09
 
To:        State Management Team
 
From:     State Director
 
Subject: Geophysical Exploration Operations Actions Eligible for a
         Categorical Exclusion (CX)  
 
Program Area: Geophysical exploration of oil, gas, or geothermal energy.
 
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) provides notice of a new CX for approval of Notices of Intent to conduct geophysical exploration and forwards a copy of a change to the existing H-3150-1 Handbook for Onshore Oil and Gas Geophysical Exploration Surface Management Requirements. 
 
Policy/ActionNotice of final action to adopt revisions to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) procedures for managing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, Chapter 11 of the Department of the Interior’s Manual Part 516, was published in the Federal Register on August 14, 2007 (Attachment 1).  Responses to comments received on the proposal to include a CX for approval of Notices of Intent to conduct geophysical exploration of oil, gas or geothermal operations are found at 72 FR 45510 to 45512. The new CX for approval of Notices of Intent to conduct geophysical exploration of oil, gas or geothermal operations under the regulations at 43 CFR 3150 and 3250 is found at 72 FR 45539, Section 11.9B(6).  
 
A CX can now be used for this type of action when no temporary or new road construction is proposed [Section 11.9B(6)]. The use of this new CX for geophysical exploration operations should be documented using the “Categorical Exclusion Documentation Format” contained in Attachment 2 of Washington Office Instruction Memorandum No. 2007-208, dated September 28, 2007 (Attachment 2). If the use of a CX for geophysical operations does not pass the “extraordinary circumstances” test as described in 516 DM 2.3A(3) and Appendix 2 (Attachment 3), the proposed action will need to be analyzed with an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement.
 
An important part of establishing the CX for authorizing geophysical exploration activities is the use of a standard set of terms and conditions. The Standard Terms and Conditions listed in H-3150-1 Handbook for Onshore Oil and Gas Geophysical Exploration Surface Management Requirements (Public), Release 3-330, dated January 9, 2007, under Illustration 16, must be included with all Notices of Intent to conduct geophysical exploration operations utilizing a CX (Attachment 4). 
 
Timeframe: Effective upon issuance.
 
Budget Impact: None.
 
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: H-3150-1 Onshore Oil and Gas Geophysical Exploration Surface Management Requirements.
 
Coordination: Coordination occurred with WO 310.
 
Contact: Please direct any questions to Jim Albano at (406) 896-5111.
 
 
Signed by: Gene R. Terland
 
Authenticated by: Kathy Ray (MT-922)
 
 
4 Attachments
 
Distribution
Assistant Field Manager, Glasgow Field Station
Assistant Field Manager, Havre Field Station
Supervisor, Great Falls Oil and Gas Field Station