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e-CFR data is current as of October 27, 2020

Title 36Chapter IIPart 228Subpart E → Subject Group


Title 36: Parks, Forests, and Public Property
PART 228—MINERALS
Subpart E—Oil and Gas Resources


Administration of Operations

§228.111   Temporary cessation of operations.

(a) General. As soon as it becomes apparent that there will be a temporary cessation of operations for a period of 45 days or more, the operator must verbally notify and subsequently file a statement with the authorized Forest officer verifying the operator's intent to maintain structures, facilities, improvements, and equipment that will remain on the area of operation during the cessation of operations, and specifying the expected date by which operations will be resumed.

(b) Seasonal shutdowns. The operator need not file the statement required by paragraph (a) of this section if the cessation of operations results from seasonally adverse weather conditions and the operator will resume operations promptly upon the conclusion of those adverse weather conditions.

(c) Interim measures. The authorized Forest officer may require the operator to take reasonable interim reclamation or erosion control measures to protect surface resources during temporary cessations of operations, including during cessations of operations resulting from seasonally adverse weather conditions.

§228.112   Compliance and inspection.

(a) General. Operations must be conducted in accordance with the lease, including stipulations made part of the lease at the direction of the Forest Service, an approved surface use plan of operations, the applicable Onshore Oil and Gas Order (§228.105(a)), an applicable Notice to lessees, transferees, and operators (§228.105(b)), and regulations of this subpart.

(b) Completion of reclamation. The authorized Forest officer shall give prompt written notice to an operator whenever reclamation of a portion of the area affected by surface operations has been satisfactorily completed in accordance with the approved surface use plan of operations and §228.108 of this subpart. The notice shall describe the portion of the area on which the reclamation has been satisfactorily completed.

(c) Compliance with other statutes and regulations. Nothing in this subpart shall be construed to relieve an operator from complying with applicable Federal and State laws or regulations, including, but not limited to:

(1) Federal and State air quality standards, including the requirements of the Clean Air Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 1857 et seq.);

(2) Federal and State water quality standards, including the requirements of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended (33 U.S.C. 1151 et seq.);

(3) Federal and State standards for the use or generation of solid wastes, toxic substances and hazardous substances, including the requirements of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq., and its implementing regulations, 40 CFR chapter I, subchapter J, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq., and its implementing regulations, 40 CFR chapter I, subchapter I;

(4) The Endangered Species Act of 1973, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., and its implementing regulations, 50 CFR chapter IV;

(5) The Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, as amended (16 U.S.C. 470aa et seq.) and its implementing regulations 36 CFR part 296;

(6) The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, 30 U.S.C. 1981 et seq., the Mineral Leasing Act of Acquired Lands of 1947, 30 U.S.C. 351 et seq., the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act of 1982, 30 U.S.C. 1701 et seq., and their implementing regulations, 43 CFR chapter II, group 3100; and

(7) Applicable Onshore Oil and Gas Orders and Notices to Lessees and Operators (NTL's) issued by the United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management pursuant to 43 CFR chapter II, part 3160, subpart 3164.

(d) Penalties. If surface disturbing operations are being conducted that are not authorized by an approved surface use plan of operations or that violate a term or operating condition of an approved surface use plan of operations, the person conducting those operations is subject to the prohibitions and attendant penalties of 36 CFR part 261.

(e) Inspection. Forest Service officers shall periodically inspect the area of operations to determine and document whether operations are being conducted in compliance with the regulations in this subpart, the stipulations included in the lease at the direction of the Forest Service, the approved surface use plan of operations, the applicable Onshore Oil and Gas Order, and applicable Notices to Lessees, Transferees, and Operators.

§228.113   Notice of noncompliance.

(a) Issuance. When an authorized Forest officer finds that the operator is not in compliance with a reclamation or other standard, a stipulation included in a lease at the direction of the Forest Service, an approved surface use plan of operation, the regulations in this subpart, the applicable onshore oil and gas order, or an applicable notice to lessees, transferees, and operators, the authorized Forest officer shall issue a notice of noncompliance.

(1) Content. The notice of noncompliance shall include the following:

(i) Identification of the reclamation requirements or other standard(s) with which the operator is not in compliance;

(ii) Description of the measures which are required to correct the noncompliance;

(iii) Specification of a reasonable period of time within which the noncompliance must be corrected;

(iv) If the noncompliance appears to be material, identification of the possible consequences of continued noncompliance of the requirement(s) or standard(s) as described in 30 U.S.C. 226(g);

(v) If the noncompliance appears to be in violation of the prohibitions set forth in 36 CFR part 261, identification of the possible consequences of continued noncompliance of the requirement(s) or standard(s) as described in 36 CFR 261.1b; and

(vi) Notification that the authorized Forest officer remains willing and desirous of working cooperatively with the operator to resolve or remedy the noncompliance.

(2) Extension of deadlines. The operator may request an extension of a deadline specified in a notice of noncompliance if the operator is unable to come into compliance with the applicable requirement(s) or standard(s) identified in the notice of noncompliance by the deadline because of conditions beyond the operator's control. The authorized Forest officer shall not extend a deadline specified in a notice of noncompliance unless the operator requested an extension and the authorized Forest officer finds that there was a condition beyond the operator's control, that such condition prevented the operator from complying with the notice of noncompliance by the specified deadline, and that the extension will not adversely affect the interests of the United States. Conditions which may be beyond the operator's control include, but are not limited to, closure of an area in accordance with 36 CFR part 261, subparts B or C, or inaccessibility of an area of operations due to such conditions as fire, flooding, or snowpack.

(3) Manner of service. The authorized Forest officer shall serve a notice of noncompliance or a decision on a request for extension of a deadline specified in a notice upon the operator in person, by certified mail or by telephone. However, if notice is initially provided in person or by telephone, the authorized Forest officer shall send the operator written confirmation of the notice or decision by certified mail.

(b) Failure to come into compliance. If the operator fails to come into compliance with the applicable requirement(s) or standard(s) identified in a notice of noncompliance by the deadline specified in the notice, or an approved extension, the authorized Forest officer shall decide whether: The noncompliance appears to be material given the reclamation requirements and other standards applicable to the lease established by 30 U.S.C. 226(g), the regulations in this subpart, the stipulations included in a lease at the direction of the Forest Service, an approved surface use plan of operations, the applicable Onshore Oil and Gas Order, or an applicable Notice to lessees, transferees, and operators; the noncompliance is likely to result in danger to public health or safety or irreparable resource damage; and the noncompliance is resulting in an emergency.

(1) Referral to compliance officer. When the operations appear to be in material noncompliance, the authorized Forest officer shall promptly refer the matter to the compliance officer. The referral shall be accompanied by a complete statement of the facts supported by appropriate exhibits. Apparent material noncompliance includes, but is not limited to, operating without an approved surface use plan of operations, conducting operations that have been suspended, failure to timely complete reclamation in accordance with an approved surface use plan of operations, failure to maintain an additional bond in the amount required by the authorized Forest officer during the period of operation, failure to timely reimburse the Forest Service for the cost of abating an emergency, and failing to comply with any term included in a lease, stipulation, or approved surface use plan of operations, the applicable onshore oil and gas order, or an applicable Notice to lessees, transferees, and operators, relating to the protection of a threatened or endangered species.

(2) Suspension of operations. When the noncompliance is likely to result in danger to public health or safety or in irreparable resource damage, the authorized Forest officer shall suspend the operations, in whole or in part.

(i) A suspension of operations shall remain in effect until the authorized Forest officer determines that the operations are in compliance with the applicable requirement(s) or standard(s) identified in the notice of noncompliance.

(ii) The authorized Forest officer shall serve decisions suspending operations upon the operator in person, by certified mail, or by telephone. If notice is initially provided in person or by telephone, the authorized Forest officer shall send the operator written confirmation of the decision by certified mail.

(iii) The authorized Forest officer shall immediately notify the appropriate Bureau of Land Management office when an operator has been given notice to suspend operations.

(3) Abatement of emergencies. When the noncompliance is resulting in an emergency, the authorized Forest officer may take action as necessary to abate the emergency. The total cost to the Forest Service of taking actions to abate an emergency becomes an obligation of the operator.

(i) Emergency situations include, but are not limited to, imminent dangers to public health or safety or irreparable resource damage.

(ii) The authorized Forest officer shall promptly serve a bill for such costs upon the operator by certified mail.

§228.114   Material noncompliance proceedings.

(a) Evaluation of referral. The compliance officer shall promptly evaluate a referral made by the authorized Forest officer pursuant to §228.113(b)(1) of this subpart.

(b) Dismissal of referral. The compliance officer shall dismiss the referral if the compliance officer determines that there is not adequate evidence to support a reasonable belief that:

(1) The operator was not in compliance with the applicable requirement(s) or standard(s) identified in a notice of noncompliance by the deadline specified in the notice, or an extension approved by the authorized Forest officer; or

(2) The noncompliance with the applicable requirement(s) or standard(s) identified in the notice of noncompliance may be material.

(c) Initiation of proceedings. The compliance officer shall initiate a material noncompliance proceeding if the compliance officer agrees that there is adequate evidence to support a reasonable belief that an operator has failed to come into compliance with the applicable requirement(s) or standard(s) identified in a notice of noncompliance by the deadline specified in the notice, or extension approved by the authorized Forest officer, and that the noncompliance may be material.

(1) Notice of proceedings. The compliance officer shall inform the lessee and operator of the material noncompliance proceedings by certified mail, return receipt requested.

(2) Content of notice. The notice of the material noncompliance proceeding shall include the following:

(i) The specific reclamation requirement(s) or other standard(s) of which the operator may be in material noncompliance;

(ii) A description of the measures that are required to correct the violation;

(iii) A statement that if the compliance officer finds that the operator is in material noncompliance with a reclamation requirement or other standard applicable to the lease, the Secretary of the Interior will not be able to issue new leases or approve new transfers of leases to the operator, any subsidiary or affiliate of the operator, or any person controlled by or under common control with the operator until the compliance officer finds that the operator has come into compliance with such requirement or standard; and

(iv) A recitation of the specific procedures governing the material noncompliance proceeding set forth in paragraphs (d) through (g) of this section.

(d) Answer. Within 30 calendar days after receiving the notice of the proceeding, the operator may submit, in person, in writing, or through a representative, an answer containing information and argument in opposition to the proposed material noncompliance finding, including information that raises a genuine dispute over the material facts. In that submission, the operator also may:

(1) Request an informal hearing with the compliance officer; and

(2) Identify pending administrative or judicial appeal(s) which are relevant to the proposed material noncompliance finding and provide information which shows the relevance of such appeal(s).

(e) Informal hearing. If the operator requests an informal hearing, it shall be held within 20 calendar days from the date that the compliance officer receives the operator's request.

(1) The compliance officer may postpone the date of the informal hearing if the operator requests a postponement in writing.

(2) At the hearing, the operator, appearing personally or through an attorney or another authorized representative, may informally present and explain evidence and argument in opposition to the proposed material noncompliance finding.

(3) A transcript of the informal hearing shall not be required.

(f) Additional procedures as to disputed facts. If the compliance officer finds that the answer raises a genuine dispute over facts essential to the proposed material noncompliance finding, the compliance officer shall so inform the operator by certified mail, return receipt requested. Within 10 days of receiving this notice, the operator may request a fact-finding conference on those disputed facts.

(1) The fact-finding conference shall be scheduled within 20 calendar days from the date the compliance officer receives the operator's request, unless the operator and compliance officer agree otherwise.

(2) At the fact-finding conference, the operator shall have the opportunity to appear with counsel, submit documentary evidence, present witnesses, and confront the person(s) the Forest Service presents.

(3) A transcribed record of the fact-finding conference shall be made, unless the operator and the compliance officer by mutual agreement waive the requirement for a transcript. The transcript will be made available to the operator at cost upon request.

(4) The compliance officer may preside over the fact-finding conference or designate another authorized Forest officer to preside over the fact-finding conference.

(5) Following the fact-finding conference, the authorized Forest officer who presided over the conference shall promptly prepare written findings of fact based upon the preponderance of the evidence. The compliance officer may reject findings of fact prepared by another authorized Forest officer, in whole or in part, if the compliance officer specifically determines that such findings are arbitrary and capricious or clearly erroneous.

(g) Dismissal of proceedings. The compliance officer shall dismiss the material noncompliance proceeding if, before the compliance officer renders a decision pursuant to paragraph (h) of this section, the authorized Forest officer who made the referral finds that the operator has come into compliance with the applicable requirements or standards identified in the notice of proceeding.

(h) Compliance officer's decision. The compliance officer shall base the decision on the entire record, which shall consist of the authorized Forest officer's referral and its accompanying statement of facts and exhibits, information and argument that the operator provided in an answer, any information and argument that the operator provided in an informal hearing if one was held, and the findings of fact if a fact-finding conference was held.

(1) Content. The compliance officer's decision shall state whether the operator has violated the requirement(s) or standard(s) identified in the notice of proceeding and, if so, whether that noncompliance is material given the requirements of 30 U.S.C. 226(g), the stipulations included in the lease at the direction of the Forest Service, the regulations in this subpart or an approved surface use plan of operations, the applicable onshore oil and gas order, or an applicable notice to lessees, transferees, and operators. If the compliance officer finds that the operator is in material noncompliance, the decision also shall:

(i) Describe the measures that are required to correct the violation;

(ii) Apprise the operator that the Secretary of the Interior is being notified that the operator has been found to be in material noncompliance with a reclamation requirement or other standard applicable to the lease; and

(iii) State that the decision is the final administrative determination of the Department of Agriculture.

(2) Service. The compliance officer shall serve the decision upon the operator by certified mail, return receipt requested. If the operator is found to be in material noncompliance, the compliance officer also shall immediately send a copy of the decision to the appropriate Bureau of Land Management office and to the Secretary of the Interior.

(i) Petition for withdrawal of finding. If an operator who has been found to be in material noncompliance under the provisions of this section believes that the operations have subsequently come into compliance with the applicable requirement(s) or standard(s) identified in the compliance officer's decision, the operator may submit a written petition requesting that the material noncompliance finding be withdrawn. The petition shall be submitted to the authorized Forest officer who issued the operator the notice of noncompliance under §228.113(a) of this subpart and shall include information or exhibits which shows that the operator has come into compliance with the requirement(s) or standard(s) identified in the compliance officer's decision.

(1) Response to petition. Within 30 calendar days after receiving the operator's petition for withdrawal, the authorized Forest officer shall submit a written statement to the compliance officer as to whether the authorized Forest officer agrees that the operator has come into compliance with the requirement(s) or standard(s) identified in the compliance officer's decision. If the authorized Forest officer disagrees with the operator, the written statement shall be accompanied by a complete statement of the facts supported by appropriate exhibits.

(2) Additional procedures as to disputed material facts. If the compliance officer finds that the authorized Forest officer's response raises a genuine dispute over facts material to the decision as to whether the operator has come into compliance with the requirement(s) or standard(s) identified in the compliance officer's decision, the compliance officer shall so notify the operator and authorized Forest officer by certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice shall also advise the operator that the fact finding procedures specified in paragraph (f) of this section apply to the compliance officer's decision on the petition for withdrawal.

(3) Compliance officer's decision. The compliance officer shall base the decision on the petition on the entire record, which shall consist of the operator's petition for withdrawal and its accompanying exhibits, the authorized Forest officer's response to the petition and, if applicable, its accompanying statement of facts and exhibits, and if a fact-finding conference was held, the findings of fact. The compliance officer shall serve the decision on the operator by certified mail.

(i) If the compliance officer finds that the operator remains in violation of requirement(s) or standard(s) identified in the decision finding that the operator was in material noncompliance, the decision on the petition for withdrawal shall identify such requirement(s) or standard(s) and describe the measures that are required to correct the violation(s).

(ii) If the compliance officer finds that the operator has subsequently come into compliance with the requirement(s) or standard(s) identified in the compliance officer's decision finding that the operator was in material noncompliance, the compliance officer also shall immediately send a copy of the decision on the petition for withdrawal to the appropriate Bureau of Land Management office and notify the Secretary of the Interior that the operator has come into compliance.

(j) List of operators found to be in material noncompliance. The Deputy Chief, National Forest System, shall compile and maintain a list of operators who have been found to be in material noncompliance with reclamation requirements and other standards as provided in 30 U.S.C. 226(g), the regulations in this subpart, a stipulation included in a lease at the direction of the Forest Service, or an approved surface use plan of operations, the applicable onshore oil and gas order, or an applicable notice to lessees, transferees, and operators, for a lease on National Forest System lands to which such standards apply. This list shall be made available to Regional Foresters, Forest Supervisors, and upon request, members of the public.

§228.115   Additional notice of decisions.

(a) The authorized Forest officer shall promptly post notices provided by the Bureau of Land Management of:

(1) Competitive lease sales which the Bureau plans to conduct that include National Forest System lands;

(2) Substantial modifications in the terms of a lease which the Bureau proposes to make for leases on National Forest System lands; and

(3) Applications for permits to drill which the Bureau has received for leaseholds located on National Forest System lands.

(b) The notice shall be posted at the offices of the affected Forest Supervisor and District Ranger in a prominent location readily accessible to the public.

(c) The authorized Forest officer shall keep a record of the date(s) the notice was posted in the offices of the affected Forest Supervisor and District Ranger.

(d) The posting of notices required by this section are in addition to the requirements for public notice of decisions provided in §228.104(d) (Notice of decision) and §228.107(c) (Notice of decision) of this subpart.

§228.116   Information collection requirements.

(a) Sections containing information requirements. The following sections of this subpart contain information requirements as defined in 5 CFR part 1320 and have been approved for use by the Office of Management and Budget:

(1) Section 228.104(a) Requests to Modify, Waive, or Grant Exceptions to Leasing Stipulations;

(2) Section 228.106 (a), (c), and (d) Submission of Surface Use Plan of Operations;

(3) Section 228.109(c) Request for Reduction in Reclamation Liability after Reclamation;

(4) Section 228.111(a) Notice of Temporary Cessation of Operations;

(5) Section 228.113(a)(2) Extension of Deadline in Notice of Noncompliance; and

(6) Section 228.114 (c) through (i) Material Noncompliance Proceedings.

(b) OMB control number. The information requirements listed in paragraph (a) of this section have been assigned OMB Control No. 0596-0101.

(c) Average estimated burden hours. (1) The average burden hours per response are estimated to be:

(i) 5 minutes for the information requirements in §228.104(a) of this subpart;

(ii) No additional burden hours required to meet the information requirements in §228.106 (a), (c), and (d) of this subpart;

(iii) 10 minutes for the information requirements in §228.109(c) of this subpart;

(iv) 10 minutes for the information requirements in §228.111(a) of this subpart;

(v) 5 minutes for the information requirements in §228.113(a)(2) of this subpart; and

(vi) 2 hours for the information requirements in §228.114 (c) through (i) of this subpart.

(2) Send comments regarding the burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Chief (2800), Forest Service, USDA, P.O. Box 96090, Washington, DC 20090-6090 and to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Washington, DC 20503.

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