The cooperating agency role derives from the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), which calls on federal, state, and local governments to cooperate with the goal of achieving “productive harmony” between humans and their environment.
The Council on Environmental Quality’s regulations implementing NEPA allow federal agencies (as lead agencies) to invite tribal, state, and local governments, as well as other federal agencies, to serve as cooperating agencies in the preparation of environmental impact statements.
In 2005 the BLM amended its land use planning regulations to ensure that staffs at all levels – state office or field office – engage their governmental partners consistently and effectively through the cooperating agency relationship whenever land use plans are prepared or revised. In 2008 the Department of the Interior broadened its regulations to require every Interior agency to offer cooperating agency status to all eligible partners for all environmental impact statements and indicated that cooperating agency procedures could be used to support environmental assessments as well.
The BLM was the first federal agency to promulgate regulations that establish a consistent, permanent role for cooperating agencies. We believe that by working closely with our state, local, tribal and federal government partners, we will improve communication and understanding, identify common goals and objectives, and enhance the quality of our management of the public lands.
In May 2012, the BLM released a Desk Guide to Cooperating Agency Relationships and Coordination with Intergovernmental Partners as a reference for managers and BLM partners in understanding the commitments, roles, and responsibilities of the BLM and cooperating agencies during land use planning and project development. The Desk Guide updates a 2005 guide by incorporating the valuable lessons learned since 2005 as the BLM has completed more than 60 resource management plans and engaged with more than 300 intergovernmental partners at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels. It also addresses the changes in the Department regulations in 2008 and the principles of coordination under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and how cooperating agency status can improve efforts to coordinate during land use planning.
On this site you will find links to the BLM’s Desk Guide to Cooperating Agency Relationships and Coordination with Intergovernmental Partners and associated documents. For further information, please contact Matthew Higdon, Division of Decision Support, Planning, & NEPA (202-912-7282), or Cynthia Moses-Nedd, Intergovernmental Affairs Group (202-912-7446), at the BLM Washington Office.