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January 22, 2008
In Reply Refer To:
1790 (210) P
Instruction Memorandum No. 2008-055
Expires: 09/30/2009
To:                   All Washington Office and Field Office Officials
From:              Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
Subject:            Review of Proposed Department of the Interior (DOT) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Regulations                               DD 02/25/2008
Program Area:  The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
Purpose:  This instruction memorandum announces the opportunity for staff to review the proposed DOI NEPA regulations. 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).
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 Web site — http://a257.g.akamaitech .net/7/257/2422/01jan2008l800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E7-25484.pdf
The BLM is encouraged to review and provide comment on these proposed NEPA regulations. Please have your appropriate field-level office review the proposed regulations and provide comments to the State Planning and Environmental Coordinators (P&EC).  State P&ECs will send a consolidated response back to Peg Sorensen, Senior Planning and Environmental Analyst, Washington Office (WO-210).
Timeframe:  This request is effective immediately and comments are due back to WO-2 10 by close of business Monday, February 25, 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 any questions regarding this request for comments or need to discuss providing comments please contact Peg Sorensen, Senior Planning and Environmental Analyst - NEPA, WO-210, Division of Planning and Science Policy at 202-452-0364.
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