On January 6, 2017, the federal Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) issued a notice of Draft Resource Management Plan Amendment (“DRMP Amendment”) and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (“DEIS”) for oil and gas leasing and development on federal lands administered by the BLM, Central Coast Field Office (“Planning Area”). 82 Fed. Reg. 1754 (Jan. 6, 2017). The DRMP Amendment and DEIS describe and analyze alternatives for the planning and management of leasing and development in the Planning Area, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. The BLM administers approximately 284,000 acres of surface estate and 793,000 acres of federal mineral estate within the Planning Area.
The DRMP Amendment will revise the 2007 Resource Management Plan for the Southern Diablo Mountain Range and Central Coast of California. The scoping process began in 2014 and identified 15 planning issues to be analyzed, including: water resources, climate change, and geology and seismicity. The draft RMP Amendment lists five alternative actions, including Alternative C, the preferred alternative, that provides that areas would be open for leasing within “high oil and gas potential areas or within the boundaries of oil and gas fields plus a 0.5-mile buffer currently identified by DOGGR” with the exception of what is described as a core population area for the kangaroo rat. The DRMP Amendment and DEIS were prompted by “[n]ew circumstances and information regarding oil and gas exploration and development, including unconventional reservoirs and well stimulation techniques,” including fracking.
The DRMP Amendment and DEIS are posted online as a joint document, and are available in the Central Coast Field Office in Marina, California. The public comment period began on January 6, 2016 and lasts 90 days, until April 6, 2017. The BLM is accepting public comment via email, fax and mail. Further, the BLM will announce future meetings or hearings at least 15 days in advance through additional public notices.