Federal Regulations: Bureau of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a bureau in the U.S. Department of the Interior, has jurisdiction over onshore leasing, exploration, development, and production of oil and gas on federal lands. In addition, the BLM approves and supervises most oil and gas operations on American Indian lands.
The BLM is not the only federal agency with onshore oil and gas leasing authority. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and the General Services Administration (GSA) also have such authority. USPS can lease postal service lands for oil and gas development. GSA can lease lands that have been acquired by a federal agency and later declared "excess" to the acquiring agency's needs.
Bureau of Land Management
Mailing Address: 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240
Street Address: 1620 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
(The BLM Directory home page offers individual phone and fax numbers.)
BLM State Offices
Other BLM Offices
Disposal Practices and Applicable Regulations
The BLM regulations governing onshore oil and gas operations are codified at 43 CFR Part 3160 (Onshore Oil and Gas Operations).
- General requirements for operating rights of owners and operators include compliance with applicable laws and regulations, the lease terms, Onshore Oil and Gas Orders, Notices to Lessees and Operators (NTLs), and other orders and instructions of the authorized officer. All operations must be conducted in a manner that ensures the proper handling, measurement, disposition, and site security of leasehold production, and protects other natural resources and environmental quality, as well as life and property (Section 3162.1(a)).
- Moreover, the operator shall submit to the authorized officer for approval an Application for Permit to Drill for each well. No drilling operation or surface disturbance preliminary thereto may be commenced prior to the authorized officer's approval of the permit (Section 3126.3-1(c)). The surface use plan of operations (attached to the Application for Permit to Drill) must contain information specified in applicable orders or notices, including the methods for containment and disposal of waste material and other pertinent data as the authorized officer may require (Section 3162.3-1(d)&(f)).
- Operators should coordinate with their BLM state offices. For example, a state office may in practice defer to methods approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the (authorized) state where the federal lands are located, and on this basis may not get involved any further with respect to waste management operations. Other state offices may not necessarily follow the same approach.
- The regulations specifically authorize the director to issue Onshore Oil and Gas Orders (OOGOs), when necessary to implement or supplement the operating regulations, and provide that all such orders shall be binding on the operators of federal and restricted Indian oil and gas leases that have been, or may hereafter, be issued (Section 3164.1). The regulations further authorize the authorized officer to issue NTLs when necessary to implement the OOGOs and the regulations (Section 3164.2).