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

 November 20, 2007

In Reply To:
1610 (923) P
 
 
EMAIL TRANSMISSION – 11/21/07
Instruction Memorandum No. MT-2008-018
Expires: 9/30/09
 
To:             Field Managers
                  Attn: Planning and Environmental Coordinators
 
From:          State Director
 
Subject:       Request for Compilation of Data for 2007 Annual NEPA Documentation Report
DD: 11/29/2007
 
Program Area: National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Compliance; Cooperating Agency (CA) Procedures, Land Use Planning
 
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) is to:
 
  1. Inform Field Managers and those specialists with oversight responsibilities for BLM Planning and NEPA documents of the transmission of WO IM 2008-026, Request for Compilation of Data for 2007 Annual NEPA Documentation Report.
 
  1. Request that the requested data be submitted electronically to the Montana State Office by November 29, 2007.
 
Policy/Action: This IM re-issues a data call that has been conducted annually since fiscal year 2002. Information collected through this data call will ultimately be provided to the Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ) and used by Washington Office (WO) for environmental compliance reporting. Please refer to the attached WO IM for a description of the information being requested. 
 
It is worth emphasizing that, while the focus of the data call relates to cooperating agencies on environmental assessments (EAs) and environmental impact statements (EISs) (see Attachment 1 of WO IM-2008-026), the WO is also asking for general summary information (numbers) of the different NEPA or administrative documents we completed (including documents supplemented/adopted, and total numbers of emergency actions, categorical exclusions (CXs), EAs, Determinations of NEPA Adequacy (DNAs) completed). This also marks the first year Washington has asked for us to separate out and report our use of the DOI fire/fuels CXs and Energy CXs. It is also worth highlighting that the reporting requirements are slightly different for EISs, where they want the number begun (with status updates on those ongoing), whereas they are requesting the number completed during the reporting format for all other NEPA documents.
 
The required information should be entered into Attachments 1 and 2 included in WO IM 2008-026. We are asking you to place a priority on completion of Attachment 1 and submit it as soon as it is complete (even if Attachment 2 is still in progress).  Completed attachments should be submitted via email to Katie A Stevens at Katie_A_Stevens@blm.gov.
 
Time Frame: Effective upon issuance. The due date is November 29, 2007. 
 
Background: The CEQ issued updated guidance on CA status in implementing NEPA in December 2004. The procedures, requirements, and reporting format are based on recommendations from Federal agencies to more accurately measure their progress in assuring CA status to Federal and non-Federal governmental bodies that qualify for such status. As part of that guidance and to measure “progress in addressing the issue of CA status,” the CEQ initiated annual data calls to Federal agencies covering both EISs and EAs during the reporting period (currently October 1 – September 30).
 
A CA is any Federal, state, or local governmental agency or Tribe that has either jurisdiction by law or special expertise regarding environmental impacts of a proposal or reasonable alternative for a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment (see 40 CFR 1501.6 and 1508.5). Although this definition would appear to limit CA procedures to EIS-level actions, in its memorandum the CEQ extended the procedures for occasional use in the preparation of EAs. The CA status under the NEPA is not equivalent to other requirements calling for an agency to engage another governmental entity in a consultation or coordination process (e.g., Endangered Species Act-Section 7, National Historic Preservation Act-Section 106).
 
The attached document “Frequently Asked Questions and Answers” (Attachment 3 of WO IM 2008-026) provides information and clarification regarding the CEQ guidance and procedures.
 
The WO is also requesting general NEPA compliance information via this same data call.
 
Note: For future reports, we hope that data relevant to this data call can be pulled directly from planning and NEPA registers; however, due to inconsistencies in how offices are using the planning and NEPA registers, this cannot yet be done. Instruction Memorandum MT-2007-045 was issued to remedy these inconsistencies. As a reminder, this guidance would be worth re-visiting to ensure that the online NEPA log is being used correctly (although this is not necessary prior to completion of this specific data call).
 
Budget Impact:  For some offices, this IM may result in additional workload estimated at less than 1 work day. 
 
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  None.
 
Coordination:  N/A.
 
Contact: If you have any questions concerning this memorandum, and to relay responses, please contact Katie Stevens, Planning and Environmental Coordinator, (406) 896-5246 or kasteven@blm.gov.
 
Signed by: Gene R. Terland
 
Authenticated by:   Janie Fox (MT920)
 
1 Attachment
      1-WO IM 2008-026 (7 pp in its entirety)
 
Distribution
Assistant Field Manager, Havre -1
Assistant Field Manager, Glasgow – 1
SOMT