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Oil & Gas MOU focuses on Air Quality

Oil pumping station on federal land
Oil pumping station on federal land in the western US

In an effort to expand domestic oil and gas production safely and responsibly, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency on June 24, 2011 released an interagency approach to address air quality issues associated with onshore oil and gas development on public lands. A new memorandum of understanding (MOU) establishes a common process for the agencies to follow in analyzing the potential air quality impacts of proposed oil and gas activities on federally managed public lands. The MOU's collaborative approach is designed to increase efficiency, certainty and transparency in the process – benefitting industry, federal agencies, states, and tribes. The full press release and links to information about the MOU are available through a Department of the Interior press release.

An implementation strategy that will outline the MOU's process in detail is being developed, as are training materials on how various planning and leasing scenarios would apply. When the implementation strategy is complete, for example, an NPS unit will need to follow implementation strategy procedures when preparing a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document. In addition, NPS units may be asked to participate in technical work groups when oil and gas activities are proposed on nearby federal public land managed outside the Service.

The National Park Service Air Resources Division is responsible for safeguarding air quality on Service lands, including 48 Class I national parks and wilderness areas. For more information and assistance in implementing the MOU, contact John Bunyak (303-969-2818).

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Last Updated: January 03, 2017