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1 | US DOE Geothermal Programeere.energy.gov Public Service of Colorado Ponnequin Wind Farm Geothermal Technologies Program Categorical Exclusions Doug.

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Presentation on theme: "1 | US DOE Geothermal Programeere.energy.gov Public Service of Colorado Ponnequin Wind Farm Geothermal Technologies Program Categorical Exclusions Doug."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 | US DOE Geothermal Programeere.energy.gov Public Service of Colorado Ponnequin Wind Farm Geothermal Technologies Program Categorical Exclusions Doug Hollett Geothermal Technologies Program Manager Aaron Levine NREL October 1, 2013

2 2 | US DOE Geothermal Programeere.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.

3 3 | US DOE Geothermal Programeere.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 § ). 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.

4 4 | US DOE Geothermal Programeere.energy.gov Categorical Exclusions-General Types of CXs Statutory Statutory o Created by Congress through legislative process o Example: EPAct § 390 oil and gas CXs o Not subject to CEQ NEPA regulations o May not be subject to extraordinary circumstances review Administrative 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

5 5 | US DOE Geothermal Programeere.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

6 6 | US DOE Geothermal Programeere.energy.gov Categorical Exclusions-Establishing CXs How to Establish a CX Statutory Statutory o Legislative Process Administrative 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 agencys 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

7 7 | US DOE Geothermal Programeere.energy.gov Categorical Exclusions-BLM History History of BLM Geothermal CXs – DOI/BLM and portions of Mineral Management Services onshore operations merged. o Created combined list of 41 CXs application to oil, gas, and geothermal – 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.

8 8 | US DOE Geothermal Programeere.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 – EPAct 2005 § 390 created 5 new CXs for oil and gas. o 2003 proposed BLM CXs lost momentum

9 9 | US DOE Geothermal Programeere.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 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

10 10 | US DOE Geothermal Programeere.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 agencys CX Can use another agencys 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 agencys categorical exclusion.

11 11 | US DOE Geothermal Programeere.energy.gov Categorical Exclusions-Across Resources and Agencies 1 DOI Department Manual (6) 2 EPAct 2005, Title III-Oil and Gas, Sec. 390-& BLM IM CFR 220.6(e)(8) BLMUSFSDOEUSGS Activity O&GGeothermalO&GGeothermal --- Agency Activities Land Use PlanningEIS --- LeasingEA/DNA --- Geophysical Exploration (including TGWs) No new roadsCX 1 CX 3 CX 4 CX 6 Less than 1 mile of new roadsEA/DNA 1 CX 3 EA/DNA Drilling Permits (into the reservoir) Exploration wellsCX 2 (limitations) EA/DNACX 2 (limitations) EA/DNAEA--- Development wellsCX 2 (limitations) EA/DNACX 2 (limitations) EA/DNANA--- Infill wellsCX 2 (limitations) EA/DNACX 2 (limitations) EA/DNACX Other Activities Off-lease PipelineCX 2 (limitations) EA/DNACX 2 (limitations) EA/EIS--- Utilization/OperationEA/EIS CX 7 EA/EISCX 4,5 --- Minor MaintenanceCX 2 (limitations) EA/EISCX 2 (limitations) EA/EIS CFR 1021 (b) 5 Small facilities only 6 DOI Department Manual CFR 220.6(e)(17) – Surface Use Plan of Operations w/ limitations


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