Surface Disturbances and Ecological
Resources Associated with Oil & Gas
Development
Jana White, PhD Ecologist
Aaron Maier,...
Presentation Outline:
1. Current status and
future challenges
 Key regulations
 Case studies
2. Future industry
directio...
Ecological Resources
What do operators encounter when an area is
proposed for development?
 Vegetation
 Wetlands
 Sensi...
Regulations – The Big Ones
 Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA)
 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
 Endanger...
 Agency-specific
 Based on mineral
rights ownership
 State and private
mineral rights –
MBOGC
 Federal mineral rights ...
Sustainable Development
 Interim reclamation 
minimize impacts of
development on other
resources and uses
 Final reclam...
Pre-development
Planning
 Data for cover and
species prior to
development
 Assist in setting
reclamation goals
Vegetatio...
 Regulatory inspection processes and
considerations
 Invasive species management and control
Vegetation Management and R...
Canada Lynx, Photo USFWS, Montana Field Office
Wildlife Regulations – T&E Species
 1973 Endangered Species Act
 Affects all sites – public and private
 Initial T&E Species Evaluation Required on
Propos...
 State-listed species, species of concern
Mountain Plover, FWS
photo/Fritz Knopf
Greater Short-Horned Lizard,
MT Natural ...
 Migratory Bird Treaty Act
 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act
 Protects birds, eggs, and nests
Wildlife Regulations ...
Raptors of Conservation Concern
Common Name Spatial buffer (miles) Seasonal buffer
Golden Eagle 0.5 January 15 - July 31
F...
 What do we do if a raptor nest is present?
Raptor Case Study
Wildlife Regulations – Sage Grouse
 February 2, 2013 –
Habitat Conservation
Advisory Council
established by Executive
Ord...
Date Topic
May 21-23 Establish Need, Objectives, Background
June 11-12 Transmission, Infrastructure, Wind
June 25-26 Oil, ...
What is being proposed?
 Core area recommendations and General Habitat
Recommendations
 Core areas to delineate areas of...
Key Core Area Stipulations:
Surface Disturbance
 Limited to 3% of suitable sage-grouse habitat per section
averaged acros...
Key Core Area Stipulations:
Surface Occupancy
 Minimum No Surface Occupancy (NSO) zone around
active leks of 3.8 miles
 ...
Key Core Area Stipulations:
Seasonal Use
 Permissible period of activity outside the 3.8
mile perimeter of an active lek ...
What is being proposed?
General Habitat Recommendations – areas where sage-grouse
occur but have not been identified as co...
The Challenge: What is a wetland? Is it jurisdictional?
Wetlands & Waters of the U.S.
The Challenge: What is a wetland? Is it jurisdictional?
Intermittent & Ephemeral Wetlands and Streams
Wetlands & Waters of...
Regulatory Jurisdiction:
 Section 10 Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899
 Section 404 Clean Water Act of 1977
Wetlands & Wate...
Wetlands & Waters of the U.S.
Types of Permits:
1. Individual Permits
 wetland removal
2. General/Nationwide
Permits
 mi...
Wetland Case Study
Future Industry Direction in MT?
What is the business
case for protecting and
enhancing biodiversity
and ecosystem
services?
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Ser...
Future Industry Directions
BES Categories:
Source: www.ipieca.org
Future Industry Directions
Future development prioritization based on ecological
resource and ecosystem services assessmen...
Contact Information:
Jana White, PhD
Ecologist
jwhite@trihydro.com
307/745-7474
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Surface Disturbances and Ecological Resources Associated with Oil and Gas Development

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Presentation for 2013 MPA Annual Meeting in Billings, MT August 27, 2013.
Jana White, Ph.D., Ecologist

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  • MBOGC = Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation.MBOGC is attached to the MT DNRC.Reference for Guidance/Rules: http://www.mtrules.org/gateway/ChapterHome.asp?Chapter=36%2E22Final abandonment reclamation: RESTORATION OF SURFACE(1) The owner of any well drilled in search of oil and gas or for injection purposes or the driller of a stratigraphic test or core hole, or seismographic shot hole shall, as soon as weather or ground conditions permit, upon the final abandonment and completion of the plugging of any well or after a seismographic shot hole has been utilized, restore the surface of the location to its previous grade and productive capability, and take necessary measures to prevent adverse hydrological effects from such well or hole, unless the surface owner agrees in writing, with the approval of the board or its representative, to a different plan of restoration.
  • Note that reclamation standards are primarily applicable only to those lands administered by BLM/Forest Service.MDEQ does not have site specific reclamation standards for O&G operations, but obviously does for coal/hard rock mining (i.e. bond release standards).
  • Note that though pre-pad monitoring is not required, it is advisable if post-pad reclamation is required to estimate the effects of other factors (i.e. grazing, weather, natural disturbance, invasives, etc).
  • Mention landowner coordination with veg management (i.e. grazing).
  • See (http://ecos.fws.gov/tess_public/pub/stateListingAndOccurrenceIndividual.jsp?state=MT) for current T&E list for MT
  • MT State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) is the Comprehensive Fish and Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CFWCS), which was approved by USFWS in 2006.Outlines species on conservation concern
  • See BLM guidance for interagency + state raptor buffers that apply in MT:http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/ut/lands_and_minerals/oil_and_gas/february_20120.Par.52166.File.dat/FWSRaptorGuidelines.pdf
  • The buffers above are consistent with the BLM guidance, seasonal buffers are variable and should be based on local breeding seasonOn-site habitat assessment is recommended to evaluate active vs. inactive nests, habitat variables, and presence/absence data…
  • The Council is co-chaired by FWP Director, Jeff Hagener, and the Governor’s Natural Resources Policy Advisor, Tim Baker. Council members include representatives from agriculture and ranching, conservation and sportsmen, energy, mining and power transmission, tribal government, local government, and the legislature.
  • Calendar and timeline for gathering information to form the basis of the state-wide strategy
  • Calendar and timeline for gathering information to form the basis of the state-wide strategy
  • Mention WY prescedent
  • Mention WY prescedent
  • Calendar and timeline for gathering information to form the basis of the state-wide strategy
  • Calendar and timeline for gathering information to form the basis of the state-wide strategy
  • Mention the Rapanos Court case that changed evaluation procedures for “isolated” wetlands….
  • Note that the Corps has primary jurisdiction, but may also coordinate with EPA and the state
  • Note the use of Nationwide permits (i.e. NW 12 and 14) that are applicable to O&G activityThree Wetland Criteria:Hydric soilsHydrophytic VegetationWetland HydrologyDetermine presence of jurisdictional wetlandsProvide supporting documentation for 404 Permit
  • BETTER DEVELOP
  • Surface Disturbances and Ecological Resources Associated with Oil and Gas Development

    1. 1. Surface Disturbances and Ecological Resources Associated with Oil & Gas Development Jana White, PhD Ecologist Aaron Maier, Certified Ecologist August 27, 2013
    2. 2. Presentation Outline: 1. Current status and future challenges  Key regulations  Case studies 2. Future industry directions and potential hurdles  Using ecosystem services metrics for development prioritization
    3. 3. Ecological Resources What do operators encounter when an area is proposed for development?  Vegetation  Wetlands  Sensitive habitats  T&E Species  Raptors  Sage Grouse
    4. 4. Regulations – The Big Ones  Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA)  National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)  Endangered Species Act (1973)  Clean Water Act (1977)  State of Montana Sage-Grouse Executive Order (in development)  Migratory Bird Treaty Act (1918)  Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (1940)  MDEQ Rules and Statutes  BLM, Forest Service, State, Local Statutes
    5. 5.  Agency-specific  Based on mineral rights ownership  State and private mineral rights – MBOGC  Federal mineral rights – BLM Reclamation plan required as part of POD, APD, or master development plan Vegetation Management and Revegetation
    6. 6. Sustainable Development  Interim reclamation  minimize impacts of development on other resources and uses  Final reclamation  character and productivity of the land and water are restored BLM photo, BMP Guide Vegetation Management and Revegetation
    7. 7. Pre-development Planning  Data for cover and species prior to development  Assist in setting reclamation goals Vegetation Management and Revegetation
    8. 8.  Regulatory inspection processes and considerations  Invasive species management and control Vegetation Management and Revegetation
    9. 9. Canada Lynx, Photo USFWS, Montana Field Office Wildlife Regulations – T&E Species
    10. 10.  1973 Endangered Species Act  Affects all sites – public and private  Initial T&E Species Evaluation Required on Proposed Oil and Gas Permits Montana: 12 listed species (9 animals, 3 plants) Piping Plover, NE Game and Parks photo Ute Ladies’ Tresses, USFWS photo Wildlife Regulations
    11. 11.  State-listed species, species of concern Mountain Plover, FWS photo/Fritz Knopf Greater Short-Horned Lizard, MT Natural Heritage Program / Bryce Maxell Pygmy Rabbit, H. Ulmschneider (BLM) / R. Dixon (IDFG) Hierarchy of Evaluation Federally listed T&E SpeciesBLM Sensitive Species State-listed Wildlife Regulations
    12. 12.  Migratory Bird Treaty Act  Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act  Protects birds, eggs, and nests Wildlife Regulations – Raptors
    13. 13. Raptors of Conservation Concern Common Name Spatial buffer (miles) Seasonal buffer Golden Eagle 0.5 January 15 - July 31 Ferruginous Hawk 1 March 15 - July 31 Swainson's Hawk 0.25 April 1 - August 31 Bald Eagle Variable (0.5 to 1) Prairie Falcon 0.5 March 1 - August 15 Peregrine Falcon 0.5 March 1 - August 15 Short-eared Owl 0.25 March15- August 1 Burrowing Owl 0.25 April 1 – September 15 Northern Goshawk 0.5 April 1 - August 15 Seasonal noise limitations, buffers, and timing restrictions to reduce the impacts of construction, operations, and noise. Wildlife Regulations – Raptors (BLM)
    14. 14.  What do we do if a raptor nest is present? Raptor Case Study
    15. 15. Wildlife Regulations – Sage Grouse  February 2, 2013 – Habitat Conservation Advisory Council established by Executive Order  January 31, 2014 – Council to provide recommendations on policies and actions for state-wide strategy to preclude the need for ESA listing Sage Grouse, FWS photo
    16. 16. Date Topic May 21-23 Establish Need, Objectives, Background June 11-12 Transmission, Infrastructure, Wind June 25-26 Oil, Gas, Mining July 16-17 Surface Disturbance, Fire, Invasive Species July 30-31 Agricultural Conversion, Working Lands August 13-14 Mitigation September 4-5 Adaptive Management, Implementation, Compliance Monitoring, Reporting September 24-25 Review Draft Recommendations October 8-9 Finalize Draft Recommendations for Public Comment January 7-8, 2014 Final Recommendations Wildlife Regulations – Sage Grouse
    17. 17. What is being proposed?  Core area recommendations and General Habitat Recommendations  Core areas to delineate areas of highest conservation priority.  Goal is maintenance of both distribution and abundance for the species.  Core areas should be avoidance areas for new energy development. Key Core area stipulations:  Surface Disturbance  Surface Occupancy  Seasonal Use Wildlife Regulations – Sage Grouse
    18. 18. Key Core Area Stipulations: Surface Disturbance  Limited to 3% of suitable sage-grouse habitat per section averaged across the entire project area  Sections where previously development > 3% of sagebrush habitat, further development is precluded or on-site mitigation for disturbance impacts must be implemented  Offset multipliers may be implemented in select cases  incentives to develop within unsuitable habitat outside 3.8 mile lek buffers  acres of development in unsuitable habitat are not considered disturbance acres Sage Grouse – MT Core Area Proposal
    19. 19. Key Core Area Stipulations: Surface Occupancy  Minimum No Surface Occupancy (NSO) zone around active leks of 3.8 miles  NSO means no surface facilities or roads  Alternative to NSO is establishing master development plans  Comply with strict development stipulations (avoidance and target areas)  Phased development and maximum disturbance limitations Sage Grouse – MT Core Area Proposal
    20. 20. Key Core Area Stipulations: Seasonal Use  Permissible period of activity outside the 3.8 mile perimeter of an active lek in core areas where breeding, nesting, and early brood- rearing is present: June 16 – February 29  Production and maintenance activity is exempted  Activities may be allowed during seasonal closure periods on a case-by-case basis  Activities in unsuitable habitat also may be approved year round on a case-by-case basis Sage Grouse – MT Core Area Proposal
    21. 21. What is being proposed? General Habitat Recommendations – areas where sage-grouse occur but have not been identified as core or connectivity areas  Surface Disturbance – limited to 5% of suitable sage-grouse habitat within a sage-grouse population or sub-population  Surface Occupancy – minimum NSO zone around active leks of 1 mile, preferably 1.8 miles. NSO means no surface facilities and no roads  Seasonal Use – Minimize activity (development and production) within 3.8 miles of an active lek between March 1 and June 15 in breeding, nesting and brood-rearing habitat  Transportation – new road construction should be minimized Sage Grouse – General Habitat Recommendations
    22. 22. The Challenge: What is a wetland? Is it jurisdictional? Wetlands & Waters of the U.S.
    23. 23. The Challenge: What is a wetland? Is it jurisdictional? Intermittent & Ephemeral Wetlands and Streams Wetlands & Waters of the U.S.
    24. 24. Regulatory Jurisdiction:  Section 10 Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899  Section 404 Clean Water Act of 1977 Wetlands & Waters of the U.S.
    25. 25. Wetlands & Waters of the U.S. Types of Permits: 1. Individual Permits  wetland removal 2. General/Nationwide Permits  minor road projects, utility line installation, dam reconstruction activities
    26. 26. Wetland Case Study
    27. 27. Future Industry Direction in MT?
    28. 28. What is the business case for protecting and enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services? Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
    29. 29. Future Industry Directions BES Categories: Source: www.ipieca.org
    30. 30. Future Industry Directions Future development prioritization based on ecological resource and ecosystem services assessments Example – Pipeline Construction  Proper pipeline location can significantly reduce or eliminate impacts to cultural, scenic, biological, and other environmental factors  Right of Way should be selected by considering 4 BES categories (Regulating, Provisioning, Cultural, and Supporting)
    31. 31. Contact Information: Jana White, PhD Ecologist jwhite@trihydro.com 307/745-7474

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