U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240
November 19, 2007
In Reply Refer To:
2880, 3100, 3200 (310) P
EMS TRANSMISSION 11/27/2007
To: All Field Officials
From: Assistant Director, Minerals, Realty and Resource Protection
Subject: Exceptions, Waivers, and Modifications of Fluid Minerals Stipulations and Conditions of Approval, and Associated Rights-of-way Terms and Conditions
Program Areas: Oil and Gas Exploration and Operations; Geothermal Operations; Land Use Planning and Environmental Coordination; Lands and Realty; Wildlife Management.
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) and attached instructions provide guidance for 1) incorporating exception, waiver, and modification criteria into a land use plan; 2) making changes to fluid minerals leasing decisions/stipulations in the land use plan; and 3) reviewing and approving lease stipulation exceptions, waivers, and modifications for oil, gas, and geothermal leases that have been issued. Guidance is also provided for adapting the exception, waiver, and modification process to permits such as Oil and Gas Applications for Permit to Drill, Geophysical Notices of Intent, and Geothermal Drilling Permit Conditions of Approval; and energy related Rights-of-Way Terms and Conditions. This policy consolidates and further refines sometimes conflicting exception, waiver, and modification guidance contained in law, regulations, handbooks, and other guidance documents.
Policy/Action: In accordance with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Land Use Planning Handbook (H-1601-1), the circumstances for granting exceptions, waivers, or modifications for lease stipulations are to be documented in the Resource Management Plan. The plan must also identify the general documentation requirements and any public notification associated with granting exceptions, waivers, or modifications.
To ensure consistency, reasonableness, and appropriateness, an interdisciplinary team process with management oversight shall be used when developing exceptions, waivers, and modifications during the Resource Management Planning process.
An exception, waiver, or modification may not be approved unless 1) the authorized officer determines that the factors leading to its inclusion in the lease have changed sufficiently to make the protection provided by the stipulation no longer justified; or 2) the proposed operations would not cause unacceptable impacts.
Exceptions, waivers, and modifications of Application for Permit to Drill (APD), Geothermal, Geophysical, and Rights-of-way permit/grant conditions of approval or terms and conditions are an option in certain circumstances and may also be approved if provided for in the permit/grant requirements or an environmental review decision.
Attachment 1 to this IM supplements the information in Handbook 1624-1 Planning for Fluid Mineral Resources and the 2007 Onshore Oil and Gas Order No. 1, by including additional guidance on incorporating exceptions, waivers, and modifications into land use plans; making changes to lease stipulations prior to issuance of the oil and gas lease; and approval of exceptions, waivers, or modifications during the APD process and during energy development operations.
Timeframe: Implement immediately.
Budget Impact: None
Background: In 2001, the BLM began a major initiative to update its land use plans. A priority was placed on updating energy-related land use plans and associated leasing decisions. To ensure new leasing decisions remain appropriate in light of continually changing circumstances, the BLM develops lease stipulation exception, waiver, and modification criteria within the land use plans. Additional policy clarification for developing and implementing these criteria has been identified as a requirement for ensuring an adaptable and efficient energy development program and for implementing findings of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act Phase II Inventory.
Exceptions, waivers, and modifications provide a viable and effective means of applying “Adaptive Management” techniques to oil and gas leases to meet changing circumstances. In most cases, exceptions, waivers, and modifications provide operators with increased operational flexibility by providing a means to reduce, eliminate, or modify obsolete restrictions while still meeting the goals, outcomes, and objectives of the land use plan. However, stipulations may also be modified prior to the lease sale to allow for increasing the level of environmental protection when changing circumstances warrant stronger measures to meet goals, objectives, and outcomes identified in the land use plan.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: This policy supplements the information contained within Handbook 1624-1 Planning for Fluid Mineral Resources, Chapter IV, C.3. Waivers, Exceptions, and Modifications and will be incorporated during the next handbook update.
Coordination: Coordination occurred among the Washington Office (WO) Division of Fluid Minerals; Division of Planning and Science Policy; Division of Lands, Realty and Cadastral Survey; Division of Fish, Wildlife and Plant Conservation; and Office of the Solicitor – Department of the Interior.
Contact: Please direct any questions to Jim Perry, WO Division of Fluid Minerals (WO-310), at 202- 452‑5063, or firstname.lastname@example.org .
1 – Instructions for Documentation of Exceptions, Waivers, and Modifications for Lease Stipulations, Terms and Conditions, and Conditions of Approval (9 pp)