Blm

The BLM has jurisdiction over onshore leasing, exploration, development, and production of oil and gas on federal lands in the United States.7 The magnitude and complexity of this jurisdiction with regard to CBM development are evident when the subsurface (mineral rights) and surface ownership for the Powder River Basin are examined (see Figure 3.1). A patchwork of various surface rights under federal (BLM or USFS), tribal, state, or private ownership contrasts with the extensive subsurface ownership of minerals (including oil, gas, and coal) primarily under federal (BLM) jurisdiction. When BLM issues a valid lease to extract oil and gas resources from federal lands under BLM jurisdiction, certain contractual property rights and responsibilities governing resource development are created. The BLM regulatory framework governing oil and gas operations for federal and tribal lands is contained in 43 CFR Part 3160 (Onshore Oil and Gas Operations).8

BLM is required to take into account the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) in its decision-making processes. Under NEPA all federal agencies must consider the potential environmental impacts of their proposed federal projects and activities and are required to conduct an environmental assessment (EA) and/or prepare a formal environmental impact statement (EIS). Actions requiring an EIS include those "major federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment" (EPA, 1970). Thus, under NEPA, before implementing any major action or project in which the federal government is involved, the federal agency must consider the environmental impacts of that action.9 An EIS requires addressing each of the following:

• the environmental impacts of the proposed action;

• any unavoidable adverse environmental impacts;

• alternatives, including no action;

• the relationship between short-term uses of the environment and maintenance and enhancement of long-term ecological productivity; and

• irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources.

An EA is prepared when it is unclear whether an action will have a significant effect on the human environment. If it is determined that a federal action will have a significant

7BLM is primarily responsible for the regulation and development of federal oil and gas mineral resources under the following acts: the Mining Leasing Act of 1920 (41 Stat. 437; see BLM, 2007); the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 USC 1701-1782; see BLM, 2001a); the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act of 1987 (101 Stat. 1330-256, an amendment to the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920); the National Forest Management Act (16 USC 1600-1604); and the National Materials and Minerals Policy, Research, and Development Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-479; 30 USC 1601-1605). Many of these acts are summarized in NRC (1989).

8The BLM and USFS jointly prepared a manual, The Gold. Book, which summarized surface operating standards and guidelines for oil and gas exploration and development (BLM and USFS, 2007).

9See ceq.hss.doe.gov/nepa/regs/nepa/nepaeqia.htm (accessed July 8, 2010).

COALBED METHANE PRODUCED WATER IN THE WESTERN U.S.

Federal All Minerals

Federal Coal

Federal Oil, Gas, & Coal

Federal Oil & Gas

Federal Other Minerals

No Federal Minerals

Cities/Towns

Interstates

Highways

Railroads

I I Bankhead-Jones Lands I I U.S. Bureau of Land Management ^^ U.S. Forest Service I I National Grasslands I I Other Federal Lands I I Indian Reservations

State Lands I I Private I I Water

Federal All Minerals

Federal Coal

Federal Oil, Gas, & Coal

Federal Oil & Gas

Federal Other Minerals

No Federal Minerals

Cities/Towns

Interstates

Highways

Railroads

I I Bankhead-Jones Lands I I U.S. Bureau of Land Management ^^ U.S. Forest Service I I National Grasslands I I Other Federal Lands I I Indian Reservations

State Lands I I Private I I Water

FIGURE 3.1 Comparison of subsurface (mineral rights) ownership (left) with surface ownership (right) in the Powder River Basin in 1999. Although the majority of the subsurface rights are federal (all colors except for the gray areas in the map on the left), the surface ownership is distributed among a blend of private (gray), state (blue), tribal (yellow), and federal owners. The attendant issues of split-estate ownership and responsibilities (different surface and subsurface mineral ownership) affect land and resource management. Although the committee could not find a published map of the entire Powder River Basin that displayed all current CBM well operations relative to their distribution on private, state, or federal land, the maps in this figure demonstrate the shared responsibility for CBM leasing and produced water management among the various authorities. SOURCE: Adapted from Taber and Kinney (1999). NOTE: "Federal All Minerals" indicates federal ownership of the rights to all minerals, including oil, gas, coal, and others; "Federal Coal" indicates rights to coal minerals only; "Federal Oil and Gas" indicates rights to oil and gas and may include other mineral rights; "Federal Oil, Gas, and Coal" indicates rights to oil, gas, and coal resources; "Federal Other Minerals" indicates mineral rights not listed and may include oil and gas rights; and "No Federal Minerals" indicates subsurface mineral rights are not owned by the federal government, for example, those beneath the Northern Cheyenne and Crow tribal lands in Montana.

effect on the human environment (either through an EA or based on existing knowledge) then an EIS is prepared. EISs and EAs explore feasible alternatives to a proposed action and the likely environmental consequences of those actions. Hydrological, geological, biological, and ecological issues are among the consequences considered. EISs also consider socioeconomic (including health) impacts. Depending on the nature of a given project, archeological, historical, cultural impact analyses, and financial management plans for an action may also be addressed. Before implementing the proposed action, all of these issues must be addressed and the information in the EIS made available to the public for review and comment.

To address the management of produced water, BLM promulgated Onshore Oil and Gas Order (OOGO) No. 7 (58 FR 44354, published on September 8, 1993 with a correction to the original order [58 FR 58506] published on November 2, 1993), which applies to disposal of produced water from completed wells on federal and tribal oil and gas leases, whether from conventional oil and gas production or from CBM production. This order does not apply to approval of disposal facilities on lands other than federal or tribal lands or if the disposal method has been covered under an approved enhanced recovery project.10

OOGO No. 7 includes the following requirements:

• Operators of onshore federal and tribal oil and gas leases may not dispose of produced water unless and until approval is obtained from the authorized officer.

• All produced water from federal and tribal leases must be disposed of (1) by injection into the subsurface; (2) into lined or unlined pits; or (3) by other acceptable methods approved by the authorized officer, including surface discharge under National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits (see "EPA" below for discussion of NPDES). Injection is generally the preferred method of disposal.

• Operators shall submit a formal application to request approval for disposal of produced water in injection wells and in lined or unlined pits on land on the same lease as that containing the wells from which the water was produced ("on-lease disposal"); new pits on national forest lands may also require approval of the USFS.

• When requesting approval for disposal of produced water "off-lease" (disposal in a well or pit on leased or unleased federal and tribal lands that are different from the lease for the wells from which the water was produced), operators shall submit a formal notice and application, potentially also including a request for a right-of-way authorization.

10Enhanced recovery in the petroleum industry refers to techniques applied to an operating oil or gas field that attempt to increase (or "enhance") the amount of oil or gas that can be recovered from the field once primary extraction methods have been employed.

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