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FWS Extends Comment Period for Oil & Gas Development Rules


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A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee inspects an abandoned oil well in the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Nationwide, there are over 5,000 oil and gas wells on refuge lands, 1,700 of them are active (Credit: Steve Hillebrand, FWS).

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee inspects an abandoned oil well in the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Nationwide, there are over 5,000 oil and gas wells on refuge lands, 1,700 of them are active (Credit: Steve Hillebrand, FWS).

UPDATE

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced last week that it will extend the comment period for its advance notice of proposed rule-making to clarify and expand regulations managing non-federal oil and gas development on National Wildlife Refuges (NWR). The comment period will also be extended for FWS’s notice of intent to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement which begins the scoping process, as required under the National Environmental Protection Act, to examine the national effects of the above proposed rule.

Nationwide, there are more than 1,700 actively producing oil and gas wells on refuge lands, with more planned, but FWS does not have comprehensive or consistent regulations in place to address such development on NWRs. In many instances, FWS does not own the subsurface mineral rights beneath NWR lands and waters. In fact, private or state entities have the legal right to develop these resources. Currently, 103 refuges have oil and gas operations occurring on them. Still, the agency is interested in ensuring oil and gas activities do not adversely affect the natural and cultural resources, recreational activities, or infrastructure present at refuges. It will use the comments to develop a specific approach to the problem and to determine the scope of any future rulemaking.

The FWS will accept comments through July 9, 2014. Comments may be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov under docket number FWS-HQ-NWRS-2012-0086. By hard copy, submit to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2012-0086; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203

Sources: Federal Register (June 9, 2014), The Wildlife Policy News, FWS to Develop Rules for Oil and Gas Development on Wildlife Refuges (March 5, 2014), USFWS (accessed June, 2014)



This article was automatically imported from The Wildlife Society's policy news feed.

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