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BLM seeks nominations to Resource Advisory Councils in Oregon - 11/17/17

The Bureau of Land Management continues to seek public nominations for positions on four Resource Advisory Councils in Oregon. As published in a notice in the Federal Register, the BLM is considering nominations for 30 days, until Dec. 1, 2017.

The BLM's RACs, composed of citizens chosen for their expertise in natural resource issues, help the Bureau carry out its multiple-use mission and stewardship of 245 million acres of public lands. Each RAC consists of 10 to 15 members with an interest or expertise in energy and mineral development, ranching, outdoor recreation, conservation, state and local government, tribal and cultural resources, and academia. The diverse membership of each RAC helps ensure that BLM land managers receive the varying perspectives they need to achieve their mission of managing the public lands for multiple uses.

"Restoring trust in the federal government and being a good land manager are two of my top priorities at Interior, and state and local input, particularly in communities surrounding public lands, is imperative to building trust," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. "Nobody knows the land better than the people who live and work it. Council members provide a valuable service to the Department and offer a variety of perspectives that assist in solving land and resource use issues."

Individuals may nominate themselves or others to serve on an Advisory Council. Nominees, who must be residents of the state or states where the RAC has jurisdiction, will be reviewed on the basis of their training, education, and knowledge of the council's geographic area. Nominees should also demonstrate a commitment to consensus building and collaborative decision-making. All nominations must be accompanied by letters of reference from any represented interests or organizations, a completed RAC application, and any other information that speaks to the nominee's qualifications.

The Southwest Oregon RAC, Southeast Oregon RAC, and John Day/Snake RAC have different positions open in the following categories:

Category One -- Public land ranchers and representatives of organizations associated with energy and mineral development, the timber industry, transportation or rights-of-way, off-highway vehicle use, and commercial recreation.

Category Two -- Representatives of nationally or regionally recognized environmental organizations, archaeological and historical organizations, dispersed recreation activities, and wild horse and burro organizations.

Category Three -- Representatives of State, county, or local elected office; representatives and employees of a state agency responsible for the management of natural resources; representatives of Indian tribes within or adjacent to the area for which the RAC is organized; representatives and employees of academic institutions who are involved in natural sciences; and the public-at-large.

In addition, the Steens Mountain Advisory Council has eleven positions open for public nomination:

* a person interested in fish and recreational fishing in the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area;
* two persons who are grazing permittees on Federal lands in the CMPA;
* two persons who are recognized environmental representatives, one to represent the State as a whole and one from the local area;
* a person who has no financial interest in the CMPA to represent statewide interests;
* a person who participates in mechanized or consumptive recreation in the CMPA, such as hunting, fishing, or off-road driving;
* a recreation permit holder or representative of a commercial recreation operation in the CMPA;
* a person to serve as the State government liaison to the Council;
* a private landowner within the CMPA; and
* a member of the Burns Paiute Tribe.

Questions, nominations and completed applications for RACs should be sent to the appropriate BLM offices listed below:

John Day-Snake RAC: Lisa Clark, BLM Prineville District Office, 3050 NE 3rd Street, Prineville, OR 97754, 541-416-6864.

Southeast Oregon RAC: Larisa Bogardus, BLM Lakeview District Office, 1301 South G Street, Lakeview, OR 97630, 541-947-6237.

Southwest Oregon RAC: Christina Breslin, BLM Medford District Office, 3040 Biddle Road, Medford, OR 97504, 541-618-2371.

Steens Mountain Advisory Council: Tara Thissell, BLM Burns District Office, 28910 Highway 20 West, Hines, OR 97738, 541-573-4519.

-BLM-

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America's public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $75 billion in sales of goods and services throughout the American economy in fiscal year 2016--more than any other agency in the Department of the Interior. These activities supported more than 372,000 jobs.

DOI Announces Approval of Transmission Line Project in Oregon and Idaho - 11/17/17

Boardman to Hemingway Project will create jobs and provide infrastructure to develop America's energy resources

PORTLAND, Ore. -- In a move that will improve the nation's energy infrastructure, create nearly 500 jobs and boost local economies, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced today that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has signed a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line Project (B2H Project). The B2H Project will provide additional electrical capacity between the Pacific Northwest and the Intermountain West regions.

The B2H Project, which will have a three-year development phase, will alleviate existing transmission constraints by providing sufficient electrical capacity to meet present and forecasted customer needs. The total capital expenditure for the B2H Project is approximately $1 billion to $1.2 billion.

"The Boardman to Hemingway Project is a Trump Administration priority focusing on infrastructure needs that support America's energy independence," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. "Today's decision is the result of extensive public involvement and will support the environmentally responsible development of resources to meet the needs of communities in Idaho, Oregon, and the surrounding region."

The ROD allows the BLM to grant a right-of-way to Idaho Power Company for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the B2H Project on BLM-administered land. Located in eastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho, the approved route will measure approximately 300 miles long when constructed. The overhead electrical line will be extra-high-voltage (500 kilovolts) and will include an alternating-current transmission system. Because the new line will have increased transmission capacity, it will allow greater use of intermittent sources of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, to connect to the grid.

"This project will help stabilize the power grid in the Northwest while creating jobs and carrying low-cost energy to market," said Katherine MacGregor, acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. "It is a great example of the Administration's America First Energy Plan, which addresses all forms of domestic energy production."

"It's great to finally have an administration that recognizes the importance of working with states like Idaho to get important things done," said Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter. "I'm pleased that our federal partners are moving toward making this important infrastructure upgrade a reality. Meeting the electric transmission needs of our growing economy and population will require continued collaboration, and I'm confident that the BLM and Department of the Interior under President Trump will keep providing that kind of constructive leadership."

"BLM's approval of this interstate transmission line is a long overdue decision that will bolster our regional infrastructure and ensure that energy is delivered efficiently and reliably to customers," said Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. "This type of project is the result of a collaboration between multiple stakeholders to move to meet the energy demands of the region."

"The B2H Project will create jobs, provide for Idaho's energy needs and promote the region's energy infrastructure moving forward," said Senator James Risch. "I applaud the BLM for issuing their Record of Decision which is a critical step forward for the B2H Project."

"The Boardman to Hemingway project is critically important to Idaho," said Congressman Mike Simpson. "Providing the infrastructure to deliver affordable and reliable energy will benefit Idahoans and others in the West. I applaud BLM for prioritizing this important work."

The B2H Project will add approximately 1,000 megawatts of much needed bi-directional power capacity between the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West regions. The additional capacity will help improve the regions' ability to transmit low-cost energy from a variety of generation sources to serve residences, farms, businesses, and other customers throughout the region.

The 293.4-mile approved route will run across 100.3 miles of Federal land (managed by the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Department of Defense), 190.2 miles of private land, and 2.9 miles of state lands.

The B2H Project is a national-level priority and an important component of the President's all-of the-above-energy strategy that includes encouraging projects that help to strengthen America's energy infrastructure. The transmission line connects the northern terminus, the Longhorn Substation, a substation planned by Bonneville Power Administration about four miles east of the city of Boardman in Morrow County, Oregon, to the existing Hemingway Substation, near the city of Melba in Owyhee County, Idaho. Construction of the B2H Project is targeted to start in 2021 and will take approximately two to three years once all final permits are acquired. The B2H Project includes construction of the new transmission line, access roads and gates, and communication regeneration sites. The project also includes the removal or rerouting of about eight miles of older transmission lines.

The selected route approved by the ROD is the Agency Preferred Alternative identified in the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Proposed Land-use Plan Amendments, which published in the Federal Register on November 28, 2016. The ROD represents the culmination of a comprehensive planning process, including a Community Advisory Process conducted by the Idaho Power Company that further refined the routing options. Comments received after public scoping in 2010 further refined routing and added variations.

The final documents and maps showing the Agency Preferred Alternative are available at: http://bit.ly/2hRuQfS.

BLM announces annual reclamation and sustainable mineral development award winners for 2017 - 11/06/17

WASHINGTON -- The Bureau of Land Management today recognized three hardrock mining companies and a recreational organization for advancing the use of sustainable development practices in their work. The awards were presented by BLM Acting Director Michael D. Nedd at a joint BLM -- Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement annual awards event hosted by the National Mining Association.

"The BLM works to support America's energy dominance through environmentally responsible development," said Nedd. "This year's winners exemplify these objectives, having demonstrated outstanding initiative, leadership and environmental responsibility without compromising the needs of future generations."

The BLM's 2017 awards went to companies in three different categories of achievement:

Teck American, Inc., of Spokane, Washington, won the Hardrock Mineral Environmental Award, which recognizes an operator's accomplishments in environmental stewardship, including meeting or exceeding federal, state, or local reclamation requirements.
XII Caesars Gold, LLC of Snowmass, Colorado, won the Hardrock Mineral Small Operator Award, which acknowledges environmental stewardship successes of operators with fewer than 15 employees.

Tertiary Minerals US, Inc., of Reno, Nevada, and a subsidiary of Tertiary Minerals of the United Kingdom, was also recognized with a Hardrock Mineral Small Operator Award.
Havasu 4 Wheelers of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, won the "Fix a Shaft Today!" Award, which recognizes active participation in the FAST! Campaign, a partnership initiative aimed at eliminating unsafe abandoned mine land features including open mine shafts.

Nominations for the BLM hardrock mineral awards were first screened by BLM state office officials, who forwarded applications to the agency's headquarters for referral to a panel of judges, which generally include mining experts, federal or state employees, academics, and members of the public. For more information on the awardees, see this link here: https://go.usa.gov/xnbyC.

Department of the Interior Releases Energy Burdens Report Outlines Trump Administration's bold approach to achieving American energy dominance - 10/26/17

WASHINGTON -- Today, the U.S. Department of the Interior released the "Review of the Department of the Interior Actions that Potentially Burden Domestic Energy" report which was produced in response to Executive Order 13783. The report identified agency actions that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources. Interior oversees America's oil, gas, coal, hydropower, and renewable energy resources produced on federal lands and waters, which account for almost one-fifth of the Nation's energy and generate on average $10 billion per year in annual revenue. Today, Secretary Zinke also signed Secretarial Order 3358, that will establish the Executive Committee for Expedited Permitting.

"Developing our energy resources to grow our economy and protecting the environment are not mutually exclusive. However, while conducting the review outlined in the Executive Order, we found that several costly and burdensome regulations from the past threaten that balance by hampering the production or transmission of our domestic energy," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. "Our public lands are meant to be managed for the benefit of the people. That means a multiple-use approach where appropriate and making sure that multiple-use includes energy development under reasonable regulations. Following President Trump's leadership, Interior is fostering domestic energy production by streamlining permitting and revising and repealing Obama-era job killing regulations -- all while doing so in an environmentally responsible way."

"The federal government can and must be a better business partner," Vincent DeVito, Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy, said. "Secretary Zinke's bold approach to achieving American energy dominance is making our nation freer, more secure, and more prosperous. Regulations should not unnecessarily burden energy production, but that is what occurs in many cases. The recent actions outlined in this energy report show how Interior is rolling back some of these burdensome regulations that add little or no value, while promoting responsible energy development."

The report identified a number of burdens that specifically impede the production and transportation of energy resources, including, but not limited to:

Obama-Era 5-Year Program Under the last Administration, 94% of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) was put off-limits from leasing, having an adverse effect on jobs and energy dominance, while drastically reducing access to future revenue.
Trump Administration Action: Secretarial Order 3350, America-First Offshore Energy Strategy started the process of developing a new 5-Year Program to responsibly develop the OCS and generate much-needed revenue.
Federal Coal Leasing Moratorium (Secretarial Order 3338, Discretionary Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement to Modernize the Federal Coal Program) Nearly 40% of our nation's coal comes from public lands. The 2016 coal moratorium undermines American energy security, inhibits job creation, and reduces revenues to state and local governments.
Action: Secretarial Order 3348, Concerning the Federal Coal Moratorium repealed the Obama-era moratorium on new federal coal leases.
Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands Rule The compliance costs of the existing 2015 rule on hydraulic fracturing are not justified. All 32 states with federal oil and gas leases and some tribes currently have laws or regulations that address hydraulic fracturing operations.
Action: Secretarial Order 3349: American Energy Independence put the rule under review. The BLM published a rulemaking to rescind the rule on July 25th.
Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation AKA the Venting and Flaring Rule The rule imposes a substantial burden on industry, especially for marginal well production in energy-rich states like New Mexico, particularly the requirements that are set to become effective on January 17, 2018.
Action: Secretarial Order 3349: American Energy Independence put the rules under review for subsequent action by the Department. On October 5, 2017, the BLM issued a proposed rule to temporarily suspend certain requirements of the rule. The BLM is also actively reviewing the underlying regulation for potential revision.
Unnecessarily lengthy NEPA reviews delay projects The NEPA process has added extra time and analysis to project completion, which adds to uncertainty for industry and higher costs for taxpayers. This is particularly true for Departmental actions that impact energy and infrastructure projects, such as resource management planning, permitting, and issuance of rights-of-way for pipeline projects and electricity transmission.
Actions: The Department has identified a number of rules and regulations to revise or rescind such as the Master Leasing Plans, the NEPA Compliance for Oil and Gas Lease Reinstatement Petitions, and the Sage-Grouse Resource Management Plans. In addition, the Deputy Secretary issued an August memo setting a deadline of one year and limiting EIS statements to 150 pages or 300 pages for unusually complex projects.
Holding energy producers hostage via Compensatory Mitigation (Secretarial Order 3330) Current compensatory mitigation policies have reduced predictability, created conflicts, and unnecessarily increased permitting/authorization timelines. Additionally, industry stakeholders believe the mitigation planning goal exceeds statutory authority. Currently, Interior and its bureaus lack a consistent terminology and framework for mitigation.
Action: Secretarial Order 3349: American Energy Independence reexamined the use of mitigation policies and practices in order to better balance conservation strategies and job creation. Bureaus at the Interior will review various handbooks and manuals on the use of mitigation for energy and infrastructure projects.
Systematic delays in the leasing program and permitting process The long period from when acreage is first nominated to when those acres are offered at a lease sale, as well as delays between the lease sale date and when leases are awarded reduces industry certainty and hinders states from receiving their share of lease sale revenues. These delays have rendered industry less able to plan for and execute exploration and production strategies in a timely fashion, and less able to respond effectively to changing market conditions.
Action: Secretarial Order 3354 Supporting and Improving the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program and Federal Solid Mineral Leasing Program. Secretarial Order 3358 to form a permit expediting committee. In January 2017 there were 92 vacancies in key positions related to the permitting process. Since that time this administration has filled nearly half of those positions. The BLM is also modernizing the software used to track and coordinate permitting while seeking to add regional teams that will be able to greatly streamline the permitting process. So far this year the BLM has decreased their processing time for APDs by an average of 46 days.
Endangered Species Act The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is taken into consideration for both on- and offshore energy and infrastructure projects. It has far-reaching negative impacts on energy production and transmission as well as on critical infrastructure projects. ESA abuses have led to increased costs and delays on projects.
Action: Secretarial Order 3353: Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation and Cooperation with Western States Work with the Western Governors Association and other local partners to develop recommendations to improve the application of the ESA. Launch a review of ESA regulations and policy documents regarding outdated, unnecessary, ineffective, and inconsistently aligned with Executive and Secretarial Orders.
The report also detailed extensive action taken to advance American Energy Dominance at the Department of the Interior, including, but not limited to:

Secretarial Order 3351: Strengthening the Department of the Interior's Energy Portfolio
Secretarial Order 3352: National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska
Secretarial Order 3353: Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation and Cooperation with Western States
Reestablishing the Royalty Policy Committee to ensure the public continues to receive the full value of energy produced on federal lands.
Review, repeal, and rewriting of the following rules: the BSEE Well Control and BOP Rules, the ONRR Valuation Rule, and the OSMRE Stream Protection Rule.
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