3. Categorical Exclusions - Presentation

Report
Geothermal Technologies Program
Public Service of Colorado Ponnequin Wind Farm
Categorical Exclusions
October 1, 2013
1 | US DOE Geothermal Program
Doug Hollett
Geothermal Technologies Program
Manager
Aaron Levine
NREL
eere.energy.gov
Categorical Exclusions-General
Challenges for geothermal development under federal environmental
review process (National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA))
 May have to complete during multiple phases of geothermal
development (i.e. land use, leasing, exploration, well field, power plant)
 Environmental Assessments (EA) and Environmental Impact Statement
(EIS) are time consuming.
One approach to reduce the environmental review process timeframe
 Categorical exclusions for activities that do not have a significant impact
on the environment.
2 | US DOE Geothermal Program
eere.energy.gov
Categorical Exclusions-General
What is a categorical exclusion (CX)?
 The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations define a CX as
“a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a
significant effect on the human environment and which have been found
to have no such effect in procedures adopted by a Federal agency in
implementation of these regulations…” (40 CFR § 1507.3).
 Where a category of actions falls under a CX, federal agencies are not
required to complete the EA/EIS process, but may complete an EA
through agency procedures. Source: CEQ Memorandum for Heads of Federal
Departments and Agencies.
 A CX is not an exemption or waiver from the NEPA process, but instead
a type of NEPA review aimed at reducing paperwork, delay, and the
more resource-intensive review required for an EA or EIS. Source: CEQ
Memorandum for Heads of Federal Departments and Agencies.
3 | US DOE Geothermal Program
eere.energy.gov
Categorical Exclusions-General
Types of CXs

Statutory
o
o
Created by Congress through legislative process
Example: EPAct § 390 oil and gas CXs
o Not subject to CEQ NEPA regulations
o May not be subject to extraordinary circumstances review
 Administrative
o Created by federal agencies through rulemaking process
o Example: Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oil, gas, and
geothermal CXs in 516 DM 11.9(b)
o Subject to CEQ NEPA regulations
o Subject to extraordinary circumstances review
4 | US DOE Geothermal Program
eere.energy.gov
Categorical Exclusions-Extraordinary
Circumstances
Role of Extraordinary Circumstances
 Use varies with statutory CXs
o Does not currently apply to EPAct § 390 CXs
 Federal agency must determine whether an extraordinary circumstance
is present before applying an administrative CX.
o Through scoping (Forest Service), extraordinary circumstances
checklist (BLM)
 Each agency has a list of extraordinary circumstances to consider
o Usually requires the activity to have a significant impact on the
category rather than just some effect.
o Common examples include impacts to:
→ Cultural/historic sites
→ Threatened or endangered species
5 | US DOE Geothermal Program
eere.energy.gov
Categorical Exclusions-Establishing
CXs
How to Establish a CX
 Statutory
o Legislative Process
 Administrative
o Agency Rulemaking Process
→ Agency develops justification for new or revised CX
→ Can examine existing NEPA reviews, conduct
demonstration projects, rely on agency staff or outside
experts, and/or review another agency’s administrative
record for an established CX.
→ Agency develops administrative record of findings
→ Agency drafts CX and completes notice and comment
rulemaking process
→ Must consult with CEQ throughout this process
6 | US DOE Geothermal Program
eere.energy.gov
Categorical Exclusions-BLM History
History of BLM Geothermal CXs
 1982-1983 – DOI/BLM and portions of Mineral Management Services
onshore operations merged.
o Created combined list of 41 CXs application to oil, gas, and
geothermal.
 1992 – DOI/BLM published a new list of categorical exclusions
o List reduced from 41 to 6 CXs
o Only applicable to oil and gas
→ Geothermal exclusion later said to be an “administrative error” in
2003 internal BLM documents.
7 | US DOE Geothermal Program
eere.energy.gov
Categorical Exclusions-BLM History
History of BLM Geothermal CXs


2003 – BLM began discussions to increase the 1992 list of 6 CXs to 18
o All 18 would have been applicable to geothermal
o Three geothermal specific CXs
1. Approval of a plan for Geothermal Production when derived
from a plan of unitization which has been previously covered by
an environmental document.
2. Approval of a plan for injection of geothermal fluids meeting the
requirements of the 43 CFR 3200 (Environmental Protection
Requirements).
3. Approval of conversion of an unsuccessful geothermal well or
an exhausted producer to a water source or an observation
well.
2005 – EPAct 2005 § 390 created 5 new CXs for oil and gas.
o
2003 proposed BLM CXs lost momentum
8 | US DOE Geothermal Program
eere.energy.gov
Categorical Exclusions-Across
Resources
Categorical Exclusions Across Resources

Administrative CXs for Oil, Gas, and Geothermal are predominately the
same.
o BLM CXs are the same for oil, gas, and geothermal
→ 516 DM 11.9b
o DOE CXs are the same for oil, gas, and geothermal
→ Appendix B to Subpart D of 10 CFR 1021.410
o USFS CXs
→ Predominately the same
→ Unique oil and gas CX: Approval of Surface Use Plan of
Operations for oil and gas exploration and initial development
activities including:
→
One mile of new road construction or one mile of road reconstruction
→
Three miles of individual or co-located pipelines and/or utility disturbance
→
Four drill sites
9 | US DOE Geothermal Program
eere.energy.gov
Categorical Exclusions-Across
Agencies
Categorical Exclusions Across Agencies
 Statutory CXs apply across all federal agencies
→ EPAct § 390
 Administrative CXs cannot apply across federal agencies
→ Cannot blindly use another federal agency’s CX
→ Can use another agency’s administrative record used to develop
a categorical exclusion as justification for developing a
categorical exclusion for the same or a similar category of
activities.
→ Must demonstrate that the proposed CX action is
substantially similar to the other agency’s categorical
exclusion.
10 | US DOE Geothermal Program
eere.energy.gov
Categorical Exclusions-Across
Resources and Agencies
BLM
Activity
O&G
USFS
Geothermal
O&G
Geothermal
DOE
USGS
Geothermal
---
Agency Activities
Land Use Planning
Leasing
EIS
EIS
---
---
EA/DNA
EA/DNA
---
---
CX1
CX3
CX4
EA/DNA1
CX3
EA/DNA
CX6
EA/DNA
Geophysical Exploration (including TGWs)
No new roads
Less than 1 mile of new roads
Drilling Permits (into the reservoir)
Exploration wells
CX2 (limitations)
EA/DNA
CX2 (limitations)
EA/DNA
EA
---
Development wells
CX2 (limitations)
EA/DNA
CX2 (limitations)
EA/DNA
NA
---
Infill wells
CX2 (limitations)
EA/DNA
CX2 (limitations)
EA/DNA
CX4
---
CX2 (limitations)
EA/DNA
CX2 (limitations)
EA/EIS
---
---
Utilization/Operation
EA/EIS
EA/EIS
CX7
EA/EIS
CX4,5
---
Minor Maintenance
CX2 (limitations)
EA/EIS
CX2 (limitations)
EA/EIS
---
---
Other Activities
Off-lease Pipeline
1
4
2
5
DOI Department Manual 516 11 (6)
EPAct 2005, Title III-Oil and Gas, Sec. 390-& BLM IM
2005-247
3 36 CFR 220.6(e)(8)
11 | US DOE Geothermal Program
10 CFR 1021 (b)
Small facilities only
6 DOI Department Manual 516 6.5
7 36 CFR 220.6(e)(17) – Surface Use Plan of Operations w/ limitations
eere.energy.gov

similar documents