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Gwen
LO Girl-of-the-Month



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Gwen
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LO Girl-of-the-Month
PostWed Oct 28, 2020 8:55 pm 
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I'm not good at distilling all the pertinent info into a short and sweet recap, but this is not good news and folks need to comment. It's pure opportunistic BS to continue to rape our Federal lands. Please take the time to read the documents and comment via email. Closing date for comments in too soon - Nov 2. I only found out about this today.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/news/releases/forest-service-proposes-improvements-oil-and-gas-development-regulations

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Tomorrow's not promised to anyone, so be bold, scare yourself, attempt something with no guarantee of success. You'll be amazed at what you can achieve. -Olive McGloin
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Sculpin
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PostThu Oct 29, 2020 8:39 am 
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Thanks for posting this, Gwen.  Some pretty dry reading.   redface.gif

The background on this proposal comes from Executive Order 13771, Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, issued January 30, 2017 which:

...requires agencies to review all regulations to eliminate errors and ambiguity and to write all regulations to minimize litigation.

This proposal looks to me to be primarily intended to minimize litigation contesting oil and gas leases.  There are pages and pages of fluff about wording changes and an emphasis on making the rules the same for the BLM and the Forest Service.  Reading between the lines - because I would have to dive into BLM docs to know for sure - it looks like the BLM has fewer existing regulations at this time.

The meat of the proposal is that it creates a single decision point by eliminating any post-decisional objections completely, meaning that after the USFS decides to allow a lease there is no chance of stopping it.

This is the key section IMO:

The proposed rule would remove reference to the former post-decisional appeal process (36 CFR part 217) because it has been rendered obsolete by subsequent regulations. The proposed change remedies the outdated reference and provides direction to 36 CFR part 219, subpart B, which is the codified sole process by which the public may file objections seeking predecisional administrative review for proposed projects and activities implementing land management plans and documented with a Record of Decision (ROD) or Decision Notice (DN). (78 FR 18481).  The proposed rule would streamline the approach that the Agency follows to identify lands open to leasing and stipulations to protect surface resources on lands open to leasing by establishing that the Forest Service has one decision point.

(bolding is mine)

Litigation tends to reliably produce losers but rarely produces winners, so most folks would be for less litigation in most cases.  However, it should be noted that the Forest Service is currently desperately short of personnel to thoroughly review these sorts of things, and that did not happen by accident.  There have been allegations of rubber-stamping.

I should point out that options for objecting to these leases were already extremely limited.  Unless a specific party - an individual or an entity - provided specific, science-based written objections during a public comment period prior to the awarding of the lease, no post-decisional objections could be filed under the existing rules.  All of these requirements are carried over into the new documents of course.  The point here is that the current rules do not offer much opportunity for environmental advocacy groups to kill these leases with death-by-litigation.  This change simply gets rid of what opportunity remained.

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Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir
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