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​​National Wildlife Refuge System Oil & Gas Final Rule

Dear Tribal Leader
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 
today announced its finalized revisions to its regulations governing the management of non-Federal oil and gas development on National Wildlife Refuge System lands outside of Alaska.  The regulatory changes will improve our ability to protect refuge resources, visitors, and the general public’s health and safety from potential impacts associated with non-Federal oil and gas operations located within refuge units. Non-Federal oil and gas development refers to oil and gas activities associated with any private, state, or Tribally-owned mineral interest where the surface estate is administered by the Service as part of the Refuge System. 
The revised regulations will establish more consistent standards to ensure that operators use technologically feasible, least-damaging methods during operations to protect refuge resources and uses. The Service does  not expect these changes to have any direct impacts on your Tribe, as it is limited in scope to operations on Refuge System lands and we are unaware of any Tribally-owned mineral interests in Refuge System lands outside of Alaska. 
The revised regulations include:
  • A permitting process for new operations;
  • A permitting process for well-plugging and reclamation for all operations;Information requirements for particular types of operations;
  • Operating standards so that both the Service and the operator can readily
identify what standards apply to particular operations;
  • Fees for new access beyond that held as part of the operator’s oil and gas right;
  • Financial assurance (bonding);
  • Penalty provisions;
  • Clarification that the process for authorizing access to oil and gas properties in Alaska will continue to be controlled by 43 CFR part 36, which implements provisions of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act; and,
  • Codification of some existing agency policies and practices.
The Service is committed to creating opportunities for meaningful and respectful dialogue between your tribal leadership and Service officials.  If you have thoughts, concerns or want additional information, please contact: Ella Wagener, Policy Advisor, National Wildlife Refuge System, by telephone at 703-283-2142 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or Scott Aikin, National Native American Programs Coordinator, by phone at 360-604-2531 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
The Final Rule will publish in the Federal Register on Monday, November 14, 2016.  
If you would like to obtain general information about the rule, please check our website (http://www.fws.gov/refuges/oil-and-gas/). 

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