BLM to rewrite guidelines for review provision

Sep 9, 2011

Denver, CO (2011-09-09)

ASSOCIATED PRESS (wpr) - Western Energy Alliance says it's pleased to hear the Bureau of Land Management plans to draw up new guidelines for using a provision meant to speed up environmental reviews of oil and gas development on public land, rather than fight a judge's order that it stop using its existing guidance.

BLM Deputy Director Mike Pool on Friday told a House subcommittee hearing the public will have a chance to comment as the agency writes new rules for using so-called "categorical exclusions," which allow some areas to be categorically excluded from an environmental review.

Last year, as part of a settlement with environmental groups, the BLM issued a memo requiring its field offices to screen whether a further environmental review was needed on any land being considered for exclusion.

That prompted a lawsuit by the Western Energy Alliance, and last month, a federal judge ordered the agency to stop using the 2010 guidance because the public hadn't had a chance to comment on it.