August 14, 2007
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Contacts: Matt Spangler, 202-452-5130
Peg Sorensen, 202-452-0364

BLM Announces New Procedures That Will Improve Efficiency of Environmental Reviews

WASHINGTON – To enhance efficiency in implementing the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Bureau of Land Management published today in the Federal Register a set of revisions to the Department of the Interior’s Departmental Manual, which guides the BLM’s implementation of NEPA.
The Interior Department’s Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance in January 2006 directed each Interior bureau to update its respective chapter in the manual to determine what level of NEPA compliance is appropriate for various types of actions. The framework the BLM uses for implementing NEPA (Chapter 11 of Part 516 of the manual) was last updated in May 1992. 
In January 2006, the BLM released a draft of proposed revisions to Chapter 11. Changes made on the draft were largely technical in nature. 
The updated NEPA implementation procedures in the revised Chapter 11 add certain routine BLM actions to the list of categories of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant impact on the environment. Such actions are called “categorical exclusions,” and do not warrant preparation of an environmental assessment (EA) or an environmental impact statement (EIS). 
The updated procedures modify four existing categorical exclusions and include eight additional categories of actions for which an exclusion may be used. Certain routine actions in the BLM’s forestry, grazing, oil and gas, and recreation programs are now among those that do not require an EA or EIS.  Procedural requirements under all federal laws relating to environmental protection – including the Endangered Species Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Clean Water Act and others – still apply to these activities.
The BLM manages more land – 258 million surface acres – than any other Federal agency. Most of this public land is located in 12 Western States, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1.8 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, and cultural resources on the public lands.
- BLM -

Last updated: 10-20-2009