43 CFR 3420.3-4 - Regional tract ranking, selection, environmental analysis and scheduling.
(1) Upon completion of tract delineation and preparation of the tract profiles, the regional coal team shall rank the tracts in classes of high, medium or low desirability for coal leasing. Three major categories of consideration shall be used in tract ranking: coal economics; impacts on the natural environment; and socioeconomic impacts. The subfactors the regional coal team will consider under each category are those the regional coal team determines are appropriate for that region. The regional coal team will make its determination after publishing notice in the Federal Register that the public has 30 days to comment on the subfactors. The regional coal team will then consider any comments it receives in determining the subfactors. BLM will publish the subfactors in the regional lease sale environmental impact statement required by this section. Tracts may also be ranked for other coal management purposes, such as emergency leasing under subpart 3425 of this title or exchanges under subparts 3435 and 3436 of this title.
(2) The regional coal team may modify tract boundaries being ranked, if appropriate, to reflect additional information.
(3) In ranking tracts, the regional coal team shall solicit the recommendations of the Federal and State agencies having appropriate expertise, including the Geological Survey, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Federal surface management agency, if other than the Bureau of Land Management.
(4) Where Federal leasing decisions are likely to have impacts on lands held in trust for an Indian tribe, the regional coal team shall solicit the recommendations of the tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
(5) A statement that descriptions of the tracts to be ranked are available shall be included with the notice announcing any regional coal team meeting at which those tracts shall be ranked. BLM will publish the notice no later than 45 days before the meeting. The notice will list potential topics for discussion. An opportunity for public comment on the tract rankings shall be provided during the regional coal team meeting.
(1) Upon completion of tract ranking, the regional coal team shall select at least 1 combination of tracts that approximates the regional leasing level. One combination of tracts within the regional leasing level shall be identified as the proposed action for study in the environmental impact statement. The team shall also select tract combinations representing alternative leasing levels. The team may identify alternative combinations of tracts within a leasing level.
(2) The regional coal team may adjust the tract ranking and select tracts to reflect considerations including:
(i) The compatibility of coal quality, coal type and market needs;
(ii) Environmental and socioeconomic impacts;
(iii) The compatibility of reserve size and demand distribution for tracts;
(iv) Public opinion;
(v) Avoidance of future emergency lease situations; and
(vi) Special leasing opportunity requirements.
(c) After tract ranking and selection, a regional lease sale environmental impact statement on all tract combinations selected by the regional coal team for the various leasing levels and all other reasonable alternative leasing levels shall be prepared by the Bureau of Land Management in accordance with the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act. The statement shall consider both:
(1) The site-specific potential environmental impacts of each tract being considered for lease sale; and
(2) The intraregional cumulative environmental impacts of the proposed leasing action and alternatives, and other coal and noncoal development activities.
(d) The results of the ranking and selection process, including the tract rankings, the tract selected and the list of ranking criteria used shall be published in the regional lease sale environmental impact statement required by paragraph (c) of this section. Detailed information on each of the tracts shall be available for inspection in the Bureau of Land Management State offices that have jurisdiction over lands within the coal production region (See 43 CFR subpart 1821). BLM will publish a notice in the Federal Register of the 60-day comment period and the public hearing on the draft environmental impact statement. BLM also will publish the notice at least once per week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the sale.
(e) Public hearings shall be held in the region following the release of the draft regional lease sale environmental impact statement to announce and discuss the results of the ranking and selection process and the potential impacts, including proposed mitigation measures.
(f) When the comment period on the draft environmental impact statement closes, the regional coal team will analyze the comments and make any appropriate revisions in the tract ranking and selection. The final regional lease sale environmental impact statement will reflect such revisions and will include all comments received.
(g) When BLM completes and releases the final regional lease sale environmental impact statement, the regional coal team will meet and recommend specific tracts for lease sale and a lease sale schedule. The regional coal team will provide notice in the Federal Register of the date and location at least 45 days before its meeting. The chairperson shall submit the recommendations to the Director. Any disagreement as to the recommendation among the team shall be documented and submitted by the chairperson along with the team recommendation. The Director shall submit the final regional environmental impact statement to the Secretary for his/her decision, together with the recommendation of the team and any recommendations the Director may wish to make.
(h) The tract ranking, selection and scheduling process and the regional lease sale environmental impact statement shall be revised or repeated as needed. The Secretary may, in consultation with the Governor(s) of the affected State(s) and surface management agencies, initiate or postpone the process to respond to considerations such as major land use planning updates, new tract delineations or increases or decreases in the leasing levels.