BLM NEPA Document Clearance Process

PIM 2018-016
Permanent Instruction Memorandum

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240
http://www.blm.gov

June 27, 2018

In Reply Refer To:

1541 (100) P

Permanent Instruction Memorandum No. 2018-016

To:                   Washington Office and Field Office Officials

From:              Acting Deputy Director, Operations

Subject:           BLM NEPA Document Clearance Process

Purpose:  The purpose of this Instruction Memorandum (IM) is to establish a new review and approval process for all Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) and their associated Federal Register notices (FRNs).  This new process ensures that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) follows the memoranda issued by the Deputy Secretary on April 27, 2018.

Policy/Action:  Consistent with the Deputy Secretary’s memorandum “NEPA Document Clearance Process” (Attachment 1), any proposed action that requires an EIS review must obtain proper approval and adhere to quality control procedures.  This memo outlines six main steps for engaging the Departmental Review Team [1]  in the EIS process (Attachment 2) and also provides guidance on how to submit EIS waiver requests. This memo also clarifies that for all EISs, the originating State Office is no longer required to prepare or submit a Deputy Secretary Concurrence Memo, as originally directed in IM 2017-086. Furthermore, based on the new EIS review process outlined below, only the attachments and documents referenced in each section are required; the originating office is no longer required to prepare and submit older versions of DOI or BLM briefing papers for EISs and their associated FRNs. However, previously issued guidance and requirements still apply for all other FRNs.

The first BLM Senior Executive Service (SES) member with line authority over the proposed action (responsible SES member) is ultimately responsible for the EIS process. This SES member is responsible for ensuring the quality of the EIS and for ensuring the Director’s Office is aware of any politically sensitive or controversial issues related to an EIS, at any stage in the process. The SES member should use his/her discretion when determining whether to engage the Director’s Office more frequently than outlined in this IM. If an SES position is not filled on a permanent basis, the individual serving in an acting role for that position bears ultimate responsibility for the EIS process. In the event the responsible SES member (or the individual acting in that role) is unavailable, the delegated Associate State Director or Deputy Assistant Director assumes the responsibility for the project.

Prior to submission for Washington Office (WO) and Departmental review, all EISs and associated Federal Register notice packages must be surnamed by: 1) a BLM State Director (or the individual acting in that role); and 2) an attorney in the Solicitor’s Office who is assigned to the EIS Project Team [2]  (either in the region or in Washington, D.C.). All documents must adhere to the “Quality Checklist for Washington Office Review,” IB 2018-017 and be consistent in messaging and information.

The BLM will continue to use the Data Tracking System (DTS) to track and document approval of EIS documents, waivers, and associated FRN packages. Please note that the primary means of sharing materials with the Departmental Review Team will be via the NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov email address. Given the number of EISs the BLM produces, using DTS to track which projects are submitted to DOI for review is critical to ensure accountability and allow for necessary reporting and analysis. Note that BLM State Offices are also expected to use ePlanning for all NEPA projects to post necessary documents, comments, and other information, and to assist in tracking progress consistent with applicable guidance, IM 2014-106.

For each of the six steps outlined below, BLM State Offices are required to provide advance notice through a short write-up (2-4 sentences) in the weekly BLM/DOI communications “Week Ahead and 30-60 Day Look Ahead” report. In addition, States should coordinate with WO-210 to ensure information about the EIS is entered, and regularly updated throughout every stage in the EIS process, in the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance (OEPC) database ( https://ecl.doi.gov/nepadocs.cfm?pageNum=1) per the April 27, 2018, memorandum “Additional Direction for Implementing Secretary’s Order 3355” (Attachment 3). The milestone dates in the OEPC database should be used as the primary guides for when a State Office should submit or update entries in the weekly communications report.

DOI EIS Review Process

  1. Initial Action Notice – prior to Notice of Intent (NOI):

    When a State plans to move forward with an EIS, the following documents must be prepared and submitted to the Review Team via email to NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov with a cc to NEPA.director@blm.gov. [3] In the email subject line include the action, short project name (1-2 words), and the State (example: Initial Action Notice, Gemini Solar, NV).

    Once materials are sent to the NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov email address, a representative from the Office of the Deputy Secretary will forward these materials to the members of the Review Team, and will also cc the email addresses included on the incoming email. It is incumbent upon the State Office to follow-up with the Office of the Deputy Secretary to ensure that all relevant materials are properly distributed.

    1. A 1-2 page notice containing the following information (Attachment 4):
      1. Description of the proposed action
      2. Preliminary purpose and need
      3. Challenges to project completion
      4. Elected and appointed official perspectives, if available
      5. Tribal perspectives, if available
      6. Applicability to the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act or the One Federal Decision criteria
      7. Estimated date to publish the NOI
    2. Table showing timeline with key milestones associated with developing the EIS between NOI and ROD

    The Review Team has 2 business days to further inquire about the project and/or to request a single oral briefing for all interested members of the Review Team. The day that the Review Team receives the materials from the Office of the Deputy Secretary does not count as part of the review period.  Once the 2 day review period ends, on the next business day the EIS Project Team may proceed with developing the NOI (Attachment 2).  The EIS Project Team may only proceed if they did not receive any questions, objections, or briefing requests within the allotted review time. If feedback was provided, the responsible SES member must ensure that all suggestions are fully addressed, and all objections are fully resolved, before proceeding. No additional coordination with the Review Team is required to demonstrate or confirm that requested changes have been made.

    EIS Project Teams should ensure that between the Initial Action Notice and the NOI, the team is adhering to the list of BLM Pre-NOI Best Practices (Attachment 5).

  2. Notice of Intent – Publishing the NOI starts the 12-month NEPA goal clock:

    The State Office will submit the documents listed below via email to NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov with a cc to NEPA.director@blm.gov. In the email subject line include the action, short project name (1-2 words), and the State (example: Notice of Intent, Gemini Solar, NV).

    Once materials are sent to the NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov email address, a representative from the Office of the Deputy Secretary will forward these materials to the members of the Review Team, and will also cc the email addresses included on the incoming email. It is incumbent upon the State Office to follow-up with the Office of the Deputy Secretary to ensure that all relevant materials are properly distributed. The Review Team has 3 business days to provide comments on the NOI or object to its publication.

    The following documents must be included as part of the package:

    1. Proposed NOI Federal Register notice
    2. PowerPoint presentation (Attachment 6)
    3. Maps
    4. 1-2 page project description (Attachment 7)
    5. Draft Congressional notification letter (Attachment 8)
    6. Communications plan
    7. Press release
    8. Table showing timeline with key milestones associated with developing the EIS between NOI and ROD

    The day that the Review Team receives the materials from the Office of the Deputy Secretary does not count as part of the review period.  Once the 3 day review period ends, on the next business day the responsible SES member may sign and approve the NOI (Attachment 2).  The responsible SES member may only sign the NOI if the EIS Project Team did not receive any questions, objections, or briefing requests within the allotted review time. If feedback was provided, the responsible SES member must ensure that all suggestions are fully addressed, and all objections are fully resolved, before proceeding. No additional coordination with the Review Team is required to demonstrate or confirm that requested changes have been made.

    Once the State Office sends the documents to the Review Team, they must coordinate with WO-630 to upload the documents to DTS. WO-630 will review the FRN for compliance with Federal Register style requirements and for general readability. If any corrections are needed, WO-630 should work with the State Office to ensure all corrections are made and uploaded to DTS by the end of the 3 business day review period allotted to the Review Team.

    As soon as WO-630 receives a DTS record for an NOI, WO-630 should route the DTS record to WO-600 and to WO-100 for awareness. WO-100 will then ensure the DTS record is updated to reflect that the project has been submitted to the Review Team. WO-600 will initiate any necessary coordination with the DOI Communications Team. WO-600 is responsible for securing approval of the press release by the end of the 3 business day review period allotted to the Review Team, and for uploading any revised versions of the press release or communications plan to the DTS record. Once the allotted review time is over, WO-100 will route the DTS record back to the originating State Office.

    The State Office will coordinate with WO-630 to upload the finalized version of the FRN and send 3 original ink-signed signature pages of the notice by FedEx to WO-630. Within 1 business day, WO-630 will forward the DTS package to the Office of the Executive Secretariat (OES) for the Department’s final review to ensure the NOI meets the requirements for publication in the Federal Register. The OES will notify the Bureau when the notice has cleared, and WO-630 will deliver it to the Office of the Federal Register for publication.

  3. Draft EIS Development Briefing:

    Once the scoping comment period ends, the State Office (in coordination with the EIS Project Team) will schedule a single oral briefing with the Review Team by submitting a scheduling request (Attachment 9) via email to NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov, and Office of the Deputy Secretary Executive Assistants ( gareth_rees@ios.doi.gov and catherine_gulac@ios.doi.gov), with a cc to NEPA.director@blm.gov.  The request should include a complete list of individuals who should be invited, as detailed on the scheduling request template. In the email subject line include the action, short project name (1-2 words), and the State (example: Draft EIS Development scheduling request, Gemini Solar, NV).

    The State Office will submit all briefing materials for the Review Team via email to NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov at least 1 calendar week prior to the briefing date. The State must cc the NEPA.director@blm.gov email address when submitting materials to the Review Team. In the email subject line include the action, short project name (1-2 words), and the State (example: Draft EIS Development briefing, Gemini Solar, NV).

    Once materials are sent to the NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov email address, a representative from the Office of the Deputy Secretary will forward these materials to the members of the review team, and will also cc the email addresses included on the incoming email. Representatives from the Office of the Deputy Secretary will also upload materials to the calendar invite associated with the briefing. It is incumbent upon the State Office to follow-up with the Office of the Deputy Secretary to ensure that all relevant materials are properly distributed and attached to the calendar invite.

    Required briefing materials include:

    1. Summary of comments received during scoping
    2. Table showing timeline with key milestones associated with developing the EIS between NOI and ROD

    During the 1 week between when materials are submitted and the Review Team is briefed and the following 5 days following the briefing, the responsible SES member and the lead project manager from the EIS Project Team (or their designees) must be available to answer questions or provide briefings to the Director’s Office. During this time, these representatives from the EIS Project Team should keep their schedules flexible and be prepared to conduct multiple briefings or travel to the Washington Office upon request.

    Unless approved immediately at the briefing, the Review Team has 5 business days after the briefing to provide feedback to the EIS Project Team. The day of the Review Team oral briefing does not count as part of the review period. Once the 5-day review period ends, on the next business day the responsible SES member may direct the EIS Project Team to continue development of the Draft EIS (Attachment 2). If feedback was provided, the responsible SES member must ensure that all suggestions are fully addressed, and all objections are fully resolved, before proceeding. No additional coordination with the Review Team is required to demonstrate or confirm that requested changes have been made.

  4. Draft EIS and Notice of Availability (NOA) Clearance:

    For all draft EISs and associated NOAs (if applicable), the State Office (in coordination with the EIS Project Teams) must schedule a single oral briefing with the Review Team by submitting a scheduling request (Attachment 9) via email to NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov, and Office of the Deputy Secretary Executive Assistants ( gareth_rees@ios.doi.gov and catherine_gulac@ios.doi.gov), with a cc to NEPA.director@blm.gov. In the email subject line include the action, short project name (1-2 words), and the State (example: Draft EIS and NOA scheduling request, Gemini Solar, NV).  Draft RMPs and RMP amendments include additional approvals [4] prior to scheduling an oral briefing with the Review Team.

    As part of the scheduling request email, the EIS Project Team must include a link to an electronic copy of the administrative Draft EIS. The request should include a complete list of individuals who should be invited, as detailed on the scheduling request template.

    In addition to the link for the electronic copy of the Draft EIS, the State Office (in coordination with the EIS Project Team) must submit briefing materials to the Review Team 1 calendar week prior to the briefing via email to NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov with a cc to NEPA.director@blm.gov. In the email subject line include the action, short project name (1-2 words), and the State (example: Draft EIS and NOA briefing, Gemini Solar, NV). 

    Once materials are sent to the NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov email address, a representative from the Office of the Deputy Secretary will forward these materials to the members of the Review Team, and will also cc the email addresses included on the incoming email. Representatives from the Office of the Deputy Secretary will also upload materials to the calendar invite associated with the briefing. It is incumbent upon the State Office to follow-up with the Office of the Deputy Secretary to ensure that all relevant materials are properly distributed and attached to the calendar invite. 

    Briefing materials must include:

    1. Briefing paper with the following information (Attachment 10):
      1. Link to Draft EIS
      2. Summary of the proposed action
      3. Purpose and need
      4. Description of Alternatives
      5. Salient environmental impacts and resource conflicts (include any land-use restrictions, transportation or access limitations, and proposed resolution of resource conflicts)
      6. Significant opportunities and hurdles to completing the project
      7. How the project addresses the Secretary’s Priorities  
      8. Elected official views
    2. Powerpoint presentation (Attachment 6)
    3. Draft NOA Federal Register notice, if applicable
    4. Draft Congressional notification letter (Attachment 8)
    5. Communications plan
    6. Press release
    7. Table showing timeline with key milestones associated with developing the EIS between NOI and ROD

    These documents should also be uploaded to DTS and routed to WO-630 for a technical review of the FRN documents to occur concurrently with the Review Team. WO-630 must complete the technical review and coordinate any necessary corrections with the State by the date of the Review Team briefing. Once the package is routed to WO-630 in DTS, WO-630 should route it to WO-600 and to WO-100 for awareness. WO-100 will then ensure the DTS record is updated to reflect that the project has been submitted to the Review Team.

    During the 1 week between when materials are submitted and the Review Team is briefed, WO-600 will initiate any necessary coordination with the DOI Communications Team. WO-600 is responsible for securing approval from DOI Communications by the date of the Review Team briefing, and for uploading any revised versions of the press release or communications plan to the DTS record. If DOI Communications makes substantive changes to the communications materials, WO-600 should coordinate with WO-100 in advance of the briefing so that WO-100 can alert members of the Review Team during the briefing, as appropriate.

    Also, during the 1 week between when materials are submitted and the Review Team is briefed and the 1 days following the briefing, the responsible BLM SES member and the lead project manager from the EIS Project Team (or their designees) must be available to answer questions or provide briefings to the Director’s Office. During this time, these representatives from the EIS Project Team should keep their schedules flexible and be prepared to conduct multiple briefings or travel to the Washington Office upon request.

    Unless approved immediately at the briefing, the Review Team has 10 business days after the briefing to provide feedback to the EIS Project Team. The day of the Review Team oral briefing does not count as part of the review period.  Once the 10-day review period ends, on the next business day WO-100 will route the DTS record back to the originating State Office. If no objections are made, and the EIS Project Team confirms that the assigned SOL attorney concurs, then the responsible SES member will sign the NOA and approve the Draft EIS for publication (Attachment 2). If feedback was provided, the responsible SES member must ensure that all suggestions are fully addressed, and all objections are fully resolved, before proceeding. No additional coordination with the Review Team is required to demonstrate or confirm that requested changes have been made.

    The State Office will then route the NOA DTS package back to WO-630 with the final version of the FRN attached. The State Office will provide the final NOA and FedEx 3 original ink-signed signature pages of the notice to WO-630. Within 1 business day, WO-630 will forward the DTS package to the Office of the Executive Secretariat (OES) for the Department’s final review to ensure the NOA meets the requirements for publication in the Federal Register. The OES will notify the Bureau when the Department has cleared the notice. WO-630 will work with the State Public Affairs Office to schedule the notice’s publication date after the State has uploaded a copy of the Draft EIS to the EPA’s website. WO-630 will then deliver the notice to the Office of the Federal Register.

  5. Final EIS and NOA Clearance:

    Following the Draft EIS public and inter-agency comment period, the State Office (in coordination with the EIS Project Team) will send a scheduling request (Attachment 9) via email to NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov, and Office of the Deputy Secretary Executive Assistants ( gareth_rees@ios.doi.gov and catherine_gulac@ios.doi.gov), with a cc to NEPA.director@blm.gov. In the email subject line include the action, short project name (1-2 words), and the State (example: Final EIS and NOA scheduling request, Gemini Solar, NV). The briefing request should include a link to an electronic copy of the administrative Final EIS. The request should also include a complete list of individuals who should be invited, as detailed on the scheduling request template.

    One calendar week prior to the briefing date, the State Office (in coordination with the EIS review Team) will email the following briefing materials for the Review Team to NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov with a cc to NEPA.director@blm.gov. In the email subject line include the action, short project name (1-2 words), and the State (example: Final EIS and NOA briefing, Gemini Solar, NV).

    Once materials are sent to the NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov email address, a representative from the Office of the Deputy Secretary will forward these materials to the members of the Review Team, and will also cc the email addresses included on the incoming email. Representatives from the Office of the Deputy Secretary will upload materials to the calendar invite associated with the briefing. It is incumbent upon the State Office to follow-up with the Office of the Deputy Secretary to ensure that all relevant materials are properly distributed and attached to the calendar invite. 

    1. Briefing paper (Attachment 11) including:
      1. Link to a Final EIS
      2. Summary of the preferred alternative
      3. Discussion of changes between draft and final
      4. Salient environmental impacts and resource conflicts (include any land-use restrictions, transportation or access limitations, and proposed resolution of resource conflicts)
      5. How the project addresses the Secretary’s Priorities  
      6. Elected official views
    2. Powerpoint presentation (Attachment 6)
    3. Draft Record of Decision (ROD)
    4. NOA Federal Register notice for the Final EIS (and a separate NOA for the ROD, if applicable)
    5. Draft Congressional notification letter (Attachment 8)
    6. Communications plan
    7. Press release
    8. Table showing timeline with key milestones associated with developing the EIS between NOI and ROD.

    These documents should also be uploaded to DTS and routed to WO-630 for a technical review of the FRN documents to occur concurrently with the Review Team. WO-630 must complete the technical review and coordinate any necessary corrections with the State by the date of the Review Team briefing. Once the package is routed to WO-630 in DTS, WO-630 should route it to WO-600 and to WO-100 for awareness. WO-100 will then ensure the DTS record is updated to reflect that the project has been submitted to the Review Team.

    During the 1 week between when materials are submitted and the Review Team is briefed, WO-600 will initiate any necessary coordination with the DOI Communications Team. WO-600 is responsible for securing approval from DOI Communications by the date of the Review Team briefing, and for uploading any revised versions of the press release or communications plan to the DTS record. If DOI Communications makes substantive changes to the communications materials, WO-600 should coordinate with WO-100 in advance of the briefing so that WO-100 can alert members of the Review Team during the briefing, as appropriate.

    During the 1 week between when materials are submitted and the Review Team is briefed and the 5 days following the briefing, the responsible SES member and the lead project manager from the EIS Project Team (or their designees) must be available to answer questions or provide briefings to the Director’s Office. During this time, these representatives from the EIS Project Team should keep their schedules flexible and be prepared to conduct multiple briefings or travel to the Washington Office upon request.

    Unless approved immediately at the briefing, the Review Team has 5 business days after the briefing to provide feedback to the EIS Project Team. The day of the Review Team oral briefing does not count as part of the review period.  Once the 5-day review period ends, on the next business day WO-100 will route the DTS record back to the originating State Office. If no objections are made, and the EIS Project Team confirms that the assigned SOL attorney concurs, then the responsible SES member will sign the NOA and approve the Final EIS for publication (Attachment 2). If feedback was provided, the responsible SES member must ensure that all suggestions are fully addressed, and all objections are fully resolved, before proceeding. No additional coordination with the Review Team is required to demonstrate or confirm that requested changes have been made.

    The State Office will send the final version of the FRN and FedEx 3 original ink-signed signature pages of the notice to WO-630. Within 1 business day, WO-630 will forward the DTS package to the Office of the Executive Secretariat (OES) for the Department’s final review to ensure the NOA meets the requirements for publication in the Federal Register. The OES will notify the Bureau that the Department has cleared the notice. WO-630 will work with the State Public Affairs Office to schedule the notice’s publication date after the State has uploaded a copy of the Final EIS to the EPA’s website. WO-630 will deliver the NOA to the Office of the Federal Register for publication.

  6. ROD and NOA Clearance – ROD signature ends the 12-month NEPA goal clock:

    At the end of any required waiting period, and following the Governor’s consistency review and protest resolution for RMP EISs, the State Office (in coordination with the EIS Project team) will send a notice to the Review Team seeking objections to final ROD approval. The notice should be submitted via email to NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov with a cc to NEPA.director@blm.gov.  In the email subject line include the action, short project name (1-2 words), and the State (example: ROD and NOA, Gemini Solar, NV).

    Once materials are sent to the NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov email address, a representative from the Office of the Deputy Secretary will forward these materials to the members of the Review Team, and will also cc the email addresses included on the incoming email. It is incumbent upon the State Office to follow-up with the Office of the Deputy Secretary to ensure that all relevant materials are properly distributed.

    The following materials must be included:

    1. A notice for final ROD approval (Attachment 12)
    2. Final ROD text
    3. Federal Register NOA text, if applicable
    4. Communications Plan
    5. Press Release

    The Review Team has 3 business days to request any additional information or schedule a briefing for interested members of the Review Team. The day that the Review Team receives the materials from the Office of the Deputy Secretary does not count as part of the review period.  Once the 3 day review period ends, and no objection is raised, on the next business day the responsible SES member (or authorized officer) may sign and approve the ROD (Attachment 2). If feedback was provided, the responsible SES member must ensure that all suggestions are fully addressed, and all objections are fully resolved, before proceeding. No additional coordination with the Review Team is required to demonstrate or confirm that requested changes have been made.

    Once the State Office sends the documents to the Review Team, they must coordinate with WO-630 to upload the documents to DTS. WO-630 will review the FRN for compliance with Federal Register style requirements and for general readability. If any corrections are needed, WO-630 should work with the State Office to ensure all corrections are made and uploaded to DTS by the end of the review period allotted to the Review Team. Once the package is routed to WO-630 in DTS, WO-630 should route it to WO-600 for awareness.

    During the 3 day review time, WO-600 will initiate any necessary coordination with the DOI Communications Team. WO-600 is responsible for securing approval from DOI Communications by the date of the Review Team briefing, and for uploading any revised versions of the press release or communications plan to the DTS record. If DOI Communications makes substantive changes to the communications materials, WO-600 should alert WO-100 for awareness.

    The State Office will send the final version of the FRN and FedEx 3 original ink-signed signature pages of the notice to WO-630. Within 1 business day, WO-630 will forward the DTS package to the Office of the Executive Secretariat (OES) for the Department’s final review to ensure the NOA meets the requirements for publication in the Federal Register. The OES will notify the Bureau that the Department has cleared the notice. WO-630 will work with the State Public Affairs Office to schedule the notice’s publication date after the State has uploaded a copy of the Final EIS to the EPA’s website. WO-630 will deliver the NOA to the Office of the Federal Register for publication.

DOI EIS Waiver Submission Process

Secretary’s Order 3355 (the Order) issued on August 31, 2017 instructs each Bureau and Office serving as a NEPA lead agency to strive to prepare EISs that are no longer than 150 pages (300 pages for unusually complex projects) and to complete each Final EIS within 365 calendar days of publishing the associated NOI, unless otherwise approved by the Department.

Per the April 27, 2018 memo from the Deputy Secretary, “Additional Direction for Implementing Secretary’s Order 3355,” projects with an NOI published on or before August 31, 2017 must have a signed ROD by April 27, 2019. Projects with a published Draft EIS in progress prior to September 1, 2017 are exempt from the page count requirement in the Order and do not require a waiver. However, these projects are still subject to the timeline expectations in the Order and as clarified in the April 27, 2018 memo from the Deputy Secretary. Projects in the drafting phase for a Draft EIS, but that did not publish a Draft EIS prior to September 1, 2017 are subject to both the page count and timeline expectations in the Order and the Deputy Secretary’s April 27, 2018 memo. For these projects, a waiver may be considered if the Draft EIS has already been widely circulated or communicated to cooperating agencies and stakeholders in its current and noncompliant length.

  1. To obtain a waiver, State Offices must submit the waiver request (Attachment 13) to the Deputy Secretary through the NEPA.depsec@ios.doi.gov email address with a cc to NEPA.director@blm.gov for awareness. Waivers should be submitted separately from any other DOI EIS Process materials, and it should not be presumed that a waiver will be granted.  In the email subject line include the action, short project name (1-2 words), and the State (example: Waiver Request, Gemini Solar, NV).
    1. Note: Waiver requests do not require review or approval by the BLM Director’s Office or the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. However, the responsible SES member (or individual acting in that role) must ensure the Director’s Office is aware of any politically sensitive or controversial issues related to a waiver request. The SES member should use his/her discretion when determining whether to engage the Director’s Office prior to submitting a waiver request to the Deputy Secretary.
  2. Once the State Office receives a decision from the Deputy Secretary, the State must notify the BLM Director’s Office by emailing the signed waiver to NEPA.director@blm.gov.

Budget Impact:  This policy may result in increased costs at the State level for required regional solicitor review, but by speeding up the review process and enhancing the legal review, overall costs should be reduced in the future.

Background:  In August 2017, the Deputy Secretary issued Secretary’s Order 3355 (Order) to improve the Department’s NEPA process. The intent of Washington Office and Departmental review is to provide leadership with valuable situational awareness and improve the quality of documents. The April 27, 2018 memoranda from the Deputy Secretary provide a new procedure and additional guidance aimed at streamlining the approval process for EISs.  

Timeframe:  This policy is effective immediately.

Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  Washington Office IM No. 2014-146.

Coordination:  This IM was coordinated with the WO Division of Planning and NEPA, the WO Division of Regulatory Affairs, and the DOI Office of the Solicitor.

Contacts:  If you have questions, or need additional information, please contact Stephanie Miller, Advisor, at smiller@blm.gov or 202-208-4019.

 

 

Signed By:                                                      Authenticated by:

Richard Cardinale                                           Ambyr Fowler

Deputy Director, Acting                                  Division of IT Policy and Planning, WO- 870

Operations

 

13 Attachments:

  1. Deputy Secretary Memo “NEPA Document Clearance Process” (6p)
  2. Process Table and Review Team Review Flowchart (1 pp)
  3. Deputy Secretary Memo “Additional Direction for Implementing Secretary’s Order 3355” (11 p)
  4. Initial Action Notice - Template for EIS Review Team Briefing Paper (1 pp)
  5. Pre-NOI Best Practices (3 p)
  6. Powerpoint presentation template (8 p)
  7. Notice of Intent - Template for EIS Review Team Briefing Paper (1 pp)
  8. Congressional Notification Letter Template (1 pp)
  9. Scheduling Request Template for Briefing with EIS Review Team (4 p)
  10. Draft EIS and NOA Clearance - Template for EIS Review Team Briefing Paper (2 p)
  11. Final EIS and NOA Clearance - Template for EIS Review Team Briefing Paper (2 p)
  12. ROD and NOA Clearance - Template for EIS Review Team Briefing Paper (1 pp)
  13. EIS Waiver Request Template (1 pp)
 

[1] Review Team members include the BLM State Director(s), BLM Director, Assistant Secretary, OEPC Director, appropriate Deputy Solicitor, Office of the Deputy Secretary, and the Secretary’s Chief of Staff (or their designee).

[2] EIS project teams include, but are not limited to: Departmental NEPA staff, SES service members, subject matter experts (state and/or national level), contractors, planners, an attorney from the Office of the Solicitor, and others who work on EISs (or RMP and RMP amendments) at the field level (EIS Project Team)

[3] Both the NEPA.director@blm.gov and blm_nepa_director@blm.gov email addresses direct mail to the same inbox. This inbox is regularly checked and managed by advisors in the BLM Director’s Office. If you have questions or concerns about materials sent to this address please reach out to the BLM Chief of Staff.

[4] All Resource Management Plans (RMP) or RMP amendments require a concurrent, 2 week, WO-200 and Solicitor (SOL) administrative review prior to submitting the draft to the Review Team.  The Draft EIS and NOA must first be routed to WO-200 through DTS, and shall also be routed to WO-100 with task code “15-For Your Information” and to WO-630 for a technical review of the FRN documents. The first week will be set-aside for WO-200 and SOL to review the Draft EIS and provide comments to the originating State Office. WO-630 will complete its review of the NOA within one business day from receipt.  The second week will be set-aside for the State Office to resolve any comments received from WO-200 or SOL. No additional briefing is required for WO-100 at this stage. All comments from WO-200 or SOL must be fully addressed before the State Office coordinates with the Review Team.