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

 February 4, 2008

In Reply To:
1790 (923) P
Instruction Memorandum No. MT-2008-029
Expires: 9/30/09
To:             State Management Team
From:         State Director
Subject:      Review of Proposed Department of the Interior (DOI) National Environmental
                  Policy Act (NEPA) Regulations WO IM No. 2008-055                   DD 2/19/08
Program Area: The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
Purpose: This instruction memorandum requests review of the above mentioned WO Instruction Memorandum No. 2008-055. The DOI through the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance (OEPC) proposes to amend the DOI regulations by adding a new part to the regulations to codify its NEPA procedures, which are currently a manual section in the Departmental Manual (DM).
Please read the above mentioned WO instruction memorandum in its entirety, refer to the proposed regulations on the following website: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20081800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E7-25484.pdf, and provide comments by close of business on Tuesday, February 19, 2008 to Jim Beaver, MSO Planning/NEPA Coordinator, and Melissa Dykes, MT923 Staff Assistant. If you have no comments, please provide a "no comment response." 
Policy/Action: These proposed regulations, as part of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), will supplement the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations and, when final, must be used in conjunction with those regulations.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), as a Bureau in the DOI, will be required to use these regulations when meeting their responsibilities under the NEPA. The proposed regulations can be found at the following website: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20081800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E7-25484.pdf 

Timeframe: This request is effective immediately and comments are due back to MT923 by close of business Tuesday, February 19, 2008.

Budget Impact:  None.

Background: The DOI proposes to amend its regulations by adding a new part to codify its NEPA procedures currently in the DM. This proposed addition to current regulations contains DOI policies and procedures for compliance with the NEPA. By converting the DOI NEPA procedures from the DM to new DOI regulations, the DOI intends to promote greater transparency in the NEPA process for the public and enhance cooperative conservation.  This proposal will allow for better support of NEPA procedures and documentation in the current DOI decision-making processes.
The CEQ regulations at 40 CFR 1507.3 require Federal agencies to adopt procedures as necessary to supplement the CEQ’s regulations implementing the NEPA and to consult with the CEQ during their development and prior to publication in the Federal Register (FR). The regulation further encourages agencies to publish agency explanatory guidance for the CEQ’s regulations and agency procedures.  The DOI’s procedures implementing the NEPA as required by the CEQ have been contained in chapter 516 of the DM.  The DOI revised these procedures and published the revisions in the Federal Register on March 8, 2004, (69 FR 10866) and June 6, 2005, (70 FR 32840). The DOI has now decided to publish the procedures as rules to be codified in the CFR. This proposed regulation meets the intent of 40 CFR 1507.3 by placing agency-implementing procedures in a regulatory framework.  The DOI believes placing agency explanatory guidance such as Environmental Statement Memoranda into the DM will facilitate quicker agency responses to new ideas and information, procedural interpretations, training needs, and editorial changes.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: The NEPA Manual (1790) and Handbook (H-1790-l) will ultimately be affected by any changes resulting from the codification of NEPA Regulations.
Coordination: WO-600, WO-200, WO-100
Contact: If you have further questions concerning this matter or we may be of assistance, please feel free to contact Jim Beaver at 406 896-5023.
Signed by: Howard A. Lemm, Acting
Authenticated by: Melissa R. Dykes (MT923)
Assistant Field Manager, Glasgow
Assistant Field Manager, Havre

Last updated: 06-28-2012