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United States Department of the Interior
Montana State Office
5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, Montana 59101-4669

 January 25, 2008

In Reply To:
3160 (922.JA) P                                            
2880, 2800
Instruction Memorandum No. MT-2008-027
Expires: 9/30/09 
To:          State Management Team
              Attention: Field Manager, Miles City Field Office
From:      State Director
Subject:   Interim Policy Procedures for Processing Coal Bed Natural Gas      (CBNG) Applications
Program Area: Oil and Gas Operations; Lands and Realty (energy-related Rights-of-Way)  
Purpose: These instructions are being issued to provide interim procedures consistent with the United States District Court for the District of Montana Billings Division, April 5, 2005 Order.
Policy/Action: Follow existing regulations, primarily at 43 CFR 3162.3 and 43 CFR 3162.5., Onshore Oil and Gas Order Number 1 and this IM. Interim procedures are described in Attachment 1.
Timeframe: Implement immediately.
Budget Impact: None
Background: The Court Order allowing the BLM to continue processing a limited number of coal bed natural gas (CBNG) permits with conditions was issued on April 5, 2005. This Order and other matters were subsequently appealed. On May 31, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an injunction forbidding the BLM from approving any CBNG production projects in the Powder River Basin of Montana. This injunction was issued pending disposition of the appeal, or until further order of the court.  The 2005 injunction pending appeal was lifted by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on October 29, 2007. This IM is being prepared to implement the April 5, 2005 Order.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: None
Coordination: Coordination occurred with the Miles City Field Office and the Office of Solicitor, Billings, Montana.
Contact: Please direct any questions related to this guidance or the content of the interim procedures to Jim Albano at (406) 896-5111.  
Signed by: Howard A. Lemm
Authenticated by: Kathy Ray (MT 922)
1 Attachment