Print Page
August 14, 2009
In Reply Refer To:
7300 (210) P
Information Bulletin No. 2009-099
To:                   State Directors (CO, MT, UT, WY and NOC)
From:               Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
Subject:           Air Quality Analysis Negotiations with the Environmental Protection Agency
                                                                                                                             DD: 09/04/09 
Last summer, the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Office of Renewable Resources and Planning (AD-200), in consultation with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Federal Activities (OFA), hired a neutral facilitator/mediator to conduct a Situation Assessment (SA) to explore why the EPA’s National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Air Act section 309 reviews of proposed BLM resource management plans including energy development often result in disagreements regarding air quality and visibility impact analyses. Completed in October 2008, the SA makes three recommendations that, if followed, could lead to a meaningful resolution of these issues. We would like to ask for your input on a number of outstanding items before we re-initiate the collaborative problem-solving process with the EPA. 
The SA recommends that: (1) each agency develop its own approach to addressing the air quality issues associated with energy development projects; (2) the agencies participate in a facilitated meeting to discuss their respective approaches to air quality analysis and the merits of each approach; and (3) the agencies convene a seminar to present and discuss their respective roles and responsibilities.  The Headquarters Office of EPA and the BLM’s Washington Office have accepted these recommendations, and each has begun drafting its preferred approach to addressing air quality issues in accordance with the first SA recommendation.  In light of the significant issues at stake, we have solicited the assistance of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (Institute) to provide technical and contractual support for carrying out the second and third SA recommendations.
Most recently, OFA and AD-200 have developed a technical directive for this effort which has been submitted to the Institute for action. In addition to outlining the basic tasks necessary to implement the SA recommendations, the technical directive calls for the Institute to provide a workshop on collaborative problem-solving for all staff who will be involved. We expect that the collaborative problem-solving effort between the BLM and the EPA will be underway sometime in August, the first major task of which will be to convene this workshop. 
Given the impending initiation of the collaborative problem-solving process, we would like your input on the following issues: 
  1. At a minimum, we will invite the Forest Service and the National Park Service to participate. Additionally, given the important regulatory role the States play in air quality issues, we believe that certain States (i.e., CO, MT, UT, and WY) should be invited to participate as well. Please let us know your thoughts on this, as well as appropriate points of contact in these States.
  2. Please identify members of your staff that will be available to provide the necessary input throughout this collaborative problem solving process. 
Please provide your responses to these two items by COB Friday, September 4, 2009.
I look forward to hearing from you regarding your participation. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Michael Tupper at (202) 557-3572.
Signed by:                                                                   Authenticated by:
Edwin L. Roberson                                                      Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                                        Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning

Last updated: 10-21-2009