[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 91 (Monday, May 12, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 26956-26960]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-10847]


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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY


Record of Decision for the Uranium Leasing Program Programmatic 
Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Office of Legacy Management, Department of Energy.

ACTION: Record of Decision.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces its decision to 
continue management of the Uranium Leasing Program (ULP) for 31 lease 
tracts for the next 10 years, consistent with DOE's preferred 
alternative identified in the Final Uranium Leasing Program 
Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Final ULP PEIS) (DOE/EIS-
0472). DOE prepared the Final ULP PEIS to evaluate the reasonably 
foreseeable environmental impacts, including the site-specific impacts, 
of the range of reasonable alternatives for the management of the ULP. 
Under the ULP, DOE administers 31 tracts of land covering an aggregate 
of approximately 25,000 acres (10,000 ha) in Mesa, Montrose, and San 
Miguel Counties in western Colorado for exploration, mine development 
and operations, and reclamation of uranium mines. There are currently 
29 tracts that have been leased; the two other tracts have not been 
leased. Analyses in the Final ULP PEIS were based on site-specific 
information available on the 31 lease tracts (including current lessee 
information and status, size of each lease tract, previous mining 
operations that occurred, location of existing permitted mines and 
associated structures, and other environmental information) and 
additional information on uranium mining from other references and 
cooperating agency input. As plans for exploration, mine development 
and operation, or reclamation are submitted by the lessees to DOE for 
approval, further National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analyses 
will be prepared for each plan and will be tiered from the analyses 
contained in the Final ULP PEIS.
    ``The 31 leases currently in existence'' under the ULP are stayed 
by an Order issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of 
Colorado (Colorado Environmental Coalition v. DOE, 819 F. Supp. 2d 
1193, 1224 (D. Colo. 2011)). The Court also enjoined DOE from issuing 
any new leases and from approving any activities on lands governed by 
the ULP. The Court also ordered that after DOE conducts an 
environmental analysis that complies with NEPA, the Endangered Species 
Act (ESA), all other governing statutes and regulations, and the 
Court's Order, DOE could then request a dissolution of the injunction.
    The Court later amended its injunction to allow DOE, other Federal, 
state, or local governmental agencies, and/or the ULP lessees to 
conduct only those activities on ULP lands that are absolutely 
necessary. DOE will implement this ROD only after the U.S. District 
Court for the District of Colorado has dissolved the injunction that it 
issued on October 18, 2011.
    DOE has complied with Executive Order (E.O.) 13175, Section 7 of 
the ESA, and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act 
(NHPA) by completing its consultations with tribal governments, with 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and with tribes, government 
agencies, and local historical groups.

ADDRESSES: The Final ULP PEIS and this ROD are available on DOE's NEPA 
Web site at http://energy.gov/nepa/nepa-documents; on the DOE Legacy 
Management (LM) Web site at http://energy.gov/lm/office-legacy-management; and on the ULP PEIS Web site at http://ulpeis.anl.gov. 
Requests for copies of these documents may be submitted through the ULP 
PEIS Web site at http://ulpeis.anl.gov; or by contacting Dr. David 
Shafer by electronic mail: [email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To obtain additional information about 
the ULP, the PEIS, or the ROD, contact Dr. David Shafer, LM Asset 
Management Team Lead, as indicated under ADDRESSES above. For general 
information about the DOE NEPA process, contact Ms. Carol Borgstrom, 
Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance (GC-54), U.S. Department 
of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585; 
telephone: 202-586-4600; email: [email protected]; fax: 202-586-7031; 
or leave a toll-free message at 1-800-472-2756.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: DOE prepared the ULP PEIS and this ROD 
pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 United 
States Code [U.S.C.] Sec. Sec.  4321, et seq.), and in compliance with 
the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) implementing regulations for 
NEPA (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Parts 1500 through 1508), 
and DOE's implementing procedures for NEPA (10 C.F.R. Part 1021). This 
ROD is based on DOE's Final ULP PEIS.

Background

    Congress authorized DOE's predecessor agency, the U.S. Atomic 
Energy Commission (AEC), to develop a supply of domestic uranium. The 
aggregated acreage managed by AEC totaled approximately 25,000 acres 
(10,000 ha) in Mesa, Montrose, and San Miguel Counties in western 
Colorado. Beginning in 1949, the AEC and its successor agencies, the 
U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration and DOE, 
administered three separate and distinct leasing programs during the 
ensuing 60 years. In July 2007, DOE issued a programmatic environmental 
assessment (PEA) for the ULP, in which it examined three alternatives 
for the management of the ULP for the next 10 years. In that same 
month, DOE issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), in which 
DOE announced its decision to proceed with the Expanded Program 
Alternative, and also determined that preparation of an environmental 
impact statement (EIS) was not required. Under the Expanded Program 
Alternative, DOE would extend the 13 existing leases for a 10-year 
period and would also expand the ULP to include the competitive 
offering of up to 25 additional lease tracts to the domestic uranium 
industry. In 2008, DOE implemented the Expanded Program Alternative and 
executed new lease agreements with the existing

[[Page 26957]]

lessees for their 13 respective lease tracts, effective April 30, 2008. 
In addition, DOE offered the remaining, inactive lease tracts to 
industry for lease through a competitive solicitation process for 19 
leases (some leases combined a number of the lease tracts). That 
process culminated in the execution of 18 new lease agreements for the 
inactive lease tracts, effective June 27, 2008. Since that time, two 
lease tracts were combined into one and another lease was relinquished 
back to DOE. Accordingly, there are 29 lease tracts that are actively 
held under lease, and 2 lease tracts that are currently inactive.
    On June 21, 2011, DOE published the Notice of Intent (NOI) to 
prepare the ULP PEIS (see Volume 76, page 36097 of the Federal Register 
[76 FR 36097]). In the NOI, DOE stated that it had determined, in light 
of the site-specific information that DOE had gathered as a result of 
the site-specific agency actions proposed and approved pursuant to the 
July 2007 PEA, that it was appropriate for DOE to prepare a PEIS in 
order to analyze the reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts, 
including potential site-specific impacts, of the range of reasonable 
alternatives for the management of the ULP for the remainder of the 10-
year period that was covered by the July 2007 PEA. After DOE published 
the NOI, it notified the ULP lessees that until the PEIS process was 
completed, DOE would not approve any new exploration and mining plans 
and would not require any lessees to pay royalties.
    Colorado Environmental Coalition and three other plaintiffs filed a 
complaint against DOE in the U.S. District Court for the District of 
Colorado on July 31, 2008, alleging, among other things, that DOE's 
July 2007 PEA and FONSI violated NEPA by failing to consider adequately 
the environmental impacts of expansion of the ULP, and violated the ESA 
by jeopardizing endangered species. On October 18, 2011, the Court 
issued an Order in which it held, among other things, that DOE had 
violated NEPA by issuing its July 2007 PEA and FONSI instead of 
preparing an EIS, and that DOE had failed to consult with the USFWS as 
required by the ESA. Colorado Environmental Coalition v. DOE, 819 F. 
Supp. 2d 1193, 1208-14, 1220-23 (D. Colo. 2011). In that Order, the 
Court invalidated the July 2007 PEA and FONSI; stayed ``the 31 leases 
currently in existence'' under the ULP; enjoined DOE from issuing any 
new leases on lands governed by the ULP; enjoined DOE from approving 
any activities on lands governed by the ULP; and ordered that after DOE 
conducts an environmental analysis that complies with NEPA, the ESA, 
all other governing statutes and regulations, and the Court's Order, 
DOE could then move the Court to dissolve its injunction. Id. at 1224-
25.
    The Court later granted in part DOE's motion for reconsideration of 
that Order and amended its injunction to allow DOE, other Federal, 
state, or local governmental agencies, and/or the ULP lessees to 
conduct only those activities on ULP lands that are absolutely 
necessary: (1) To conduct DOE's environmental analysis regarding the 
ULP; (2) to comply with orders from Federal, state, or local government 
regulatory agencies; (3) to remediate certain dangers to public health, 
safety, and the environment on ULP lands; or (4) to conduct certain 
activities to maintain the ULP lease tracts and their existing 
facilities. Colorado Environmental Coalition v. DOE, No. 08-cv-1624, 
2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24126, at ** 10-15 (D. Colo. Feb. 27, 2012).

Purpose and Need for Agency Action

    The underlying purpose and need for agency action is to support the 
implementation of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (AEA), 
which authorized and directed DOE to develop a supply of domestic 
uranium (42 U.S.C. 2096), and ``to issue leases or permits for 
prospecting for, exploration for, mining of, or removal of deposits of 
source material in lands belonging to the United States'' to the extent 
that DOE deems it necessary to effectuate the provisions of the AEA (42 
U.S.C. 2097). Congress further recognized the importance of developing 
a supply of domestic uranium and other source material when it stated 
in the AEA, in its Congressional findings, that the processing of 
source material must be regulated ``in order to provide for the common 
defense and security'' (42 U.S.C. 2012(d)). In addition, the Energy 
Policy Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-58) (EPAct) expressed a continued 
commitment to ``decreasing the dependence of the United States on 
foreign energy supplies'' (42 U.S.C. 16181(a) (3)); and to 
``[e]nhancing nuclear power's viability as part of the United States 
energy portfolio'' (42 U.S.C. 16271(a)(1)). The ULP contributes to the 
development of a supply of domestic uranium consistent with the 
provisions of the AEA and EPAct. In support of these statutes, DOE 
needs to determine the future course of the ULP, including whether to 
continue leasing some or all of the withdrawn lands and other claims 
for the exploration and production of uranium and vanadium ores.

Proposed Action

    DOE's proposed action in the ULP PEIS was to decide whether to 
continue the ULP and, if it decided to continue the ULP, to determine 
which alternative to adopt in order to manage the ULP.

Alternatives

    DOE evaluated five alternatives that represent the range of 
reasonable alternatives for the future course of the ULP. DOE developed 
these alternatives by carefully considering the need to develop a 
supply of domestic uranium (consistent with the AEA and the EPAct), and 
comments received during the public scoping and public comment periods. 
The five alternatives are:
    1. Alternative 1: DOE would terminate all leases, and all 
operations would be reclaimed by lessees. DOE would continue to manage 
the withdrawn lands, without uranium leasing, in accordance with 
applicable requirements.
    2. Alternative 2: Same as Alternative 1, except once reclamation 
was completed by lessees, DOE would relinquish the lands in accordance 
with 43 CFR Part 2370. If the Department of the Interior/Bureau of Land 
Management (DOI/BLM) determines, in accordance with that same Part of 
the CFR, the lands were suitable to be managed as public domain lands, 
they would be managed by BLM under its multiple use policies. DOE's 
uranium leasing program would end.
    3. Alternative 3: DOE would continue the ULP as it existed before 
July 2007, with the 13 active leases, for the next 10-year period or 
for another reasonable period, and DOE would terminate the remaining 
leases.
    4. Alternative 4 (DOE's preferred alternative identified in the 
Final ULP PEIS): DOE would continue the ULP with the 31 lease tracts 
for the next 10-year period or for another reasonable period.
    5. Alternative 5: This is the No Action Alternative, under which 
DOE would continue the ULP with the 31 lease tracts for the remainder 
of the 10-year period, and the leases would continue exactly as they 
were issued in 2008.

Environmentally Preferred Alternative

    The analyses in the Final ULP PEIS show that potential 
environmental impacts on the resource areas analyzed for the five 
alternatives range from ``negligible to moderate.'' Further, the 
potential environmental impacts would be mitigated as discussed in this 
ROD. However, there are some differences

[[Page 26958]]

among the alternatives. For example, Alternative 5 would result in the 
greatest potential for impacts of all the alternatives because the 
assumptions used as the basis for analysis would potentially result in 
the most activities, the largest area of disturbance, the most ore 
tonnage excavated and transported, and the most water used. DOE 
considered two alternatives, Alternatives 1 and 2, which would require 
immediate reclamation of areas where it is needed and subsequent 
termination of the leasing. Alternative 1 would result in the least 
potential environmental impacts of the five alternatives analyzed in 
detail in the PEIS, and DOE therefore regards it as the environmentally 
preferred alternative. The potential impacts from Alternative 2 would 
be identical to Alternative 1 in the short term; however, there could 
be additional potential impacts under Alternative 2 in the future if 
the lease tracts would ultimately be transferred to BLM depending on 
future activities that might be conducted.
    DOE did not select Alternative 1 because that alternative would not 
meet DOE's purpose and need. In contrast, the alternative selected in 
this ROD will meet DOE's purpose and need, while resulting in potential 
environmental impacts that were determined to be ``negligible to 
moderate.'' Additionally, mitigation measures will reduce the 
likelihood of these potential environmental impacts occurring.

EIS Process

    The NOI published on June 21, 2011, began a 78-day public scoping 
period that ended on September 9, 2011. All scoping comments received 
were considered in the preparation of the Draft PEIS. A Notice of 
Availability (NOA) for the Draft ULP PEIS was published in the Federal 
Register on March 15, 2013 (78 FR 16483), and this began a 109-day 
public comment period that ended July 1, 2013. All comments received on 
the Draft ULP PEIS were considered in the preparation of the Final ULP 
PEIS.
    DOE distributed copies of the Draft ULP PEIS to those organizations 
and government officials known to have an interest in the PEIS and to 
those organizations and individuals who requested a copy. The Draft ULP 
PEIS was reviewed by other Federal agencies, states, American Indian 
tribal governments, local governments, and the public. Copies were also 
made available on the ULP Web site (http://www.ulpeis.anl.gov/), the 
DOE NEPA Web site (http://energy.gov/nepa/), and in regional DOE public 
document reading rooms and public libraries. Announcements indicating 
the availability of the Draft ULP PEIS and the dates and times of the 
public hearings were published in local newspapers. Four public 
hearings were held in four locations in Colorado. The transcripts for 
the four hearings are posted on the project Web site.
    Federal, state, and county agencies and tribal nations participated 
either as a cooperating agency or commenting agency in the development 
and preparation of the ULP PEIS. Since January 2012, monthly, as 
appropriate, telephone conferences have been held among DOE and the 
cooperating agencies to develop the ULP PEIS. These cooperating 
agencies participated by reviewing and commenting on ULP PEIS analyses 
and documentation, as well as providing supporting information. The 
following government agencies and tribal groups have participated as 
cooperating agencies by providing their expertise and knowledge about 
various areas required during the preparation of the ULP PEIS: (1) BLM, 
(2) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), (3) Colorado Department 
of Transportation, (4) Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and 
Safety (CDRMS), (5) Colorado Parks and Wildlife, (6) Mesa County 
Commission, (7) Montrose County Commissioners, (8) San Juan County 
Commission, (9) San Miguel County Board of Commissioners, (10) Navajo 
Nation, (11) Pueblo of Acoma, (12) Pueblo de Cochiti, (13) Pueblo de 
Isleta, and (14) Southern Ute Indian Tribe. The following agencies and 
tribal groups chose to participate as commenting agencies, and they 
were included in the project distribution list and received the Draft 
ULP PEIS for review and comment: (1) USFWS, (2) U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission, (3) Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 
(4) Utah Department of Transportation, (5) Hopi Nation, (6) Ute Indian 
Tribe, (7) Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and (8) White Mesa Ute Community.
    DOE has complied with E.O. 13175, Consultation and Coordination 
with Indian Tribal Governments, by conducting government-to-government 
consultations with tribal governments. The government-to-government 
relationship with Indian tribes was formally recognized by the Federal 
Government with E.O. 13175 on November 6, 2000, and DOE is coordinating 
and consulting with Indian tribal governments, Indian tribal 
communities, and tribal individuals whose interests might be directly 
and substantially affected by activities on the ULP lands. As part of 
this consultation, DOE has contacted 25 Indian tribal governments to 
communicate the opportunities for government-to-government 
consultations by participating in the planning and resource management 
decision-making throughout the ULP PEIS process. Five are participating 
as cooperating agencies, and four are participating as commenting 
agencies.
    In compliance with Section 7 of the ESA, DOE considered the effect 
of its management of the ULP on species listed under the ESA, and 
consulted with the USFWS to ensure that the actions that DOE funds, 
authorizes, or permits are not likely to jeopardize the continued 
existence of any listed species or result in the destruction or adverse 
modification of the critical habitat of such species. DOE and the USFWS 
completed their consultation, which included DOE submitting its final 
biological assessment to the USFWS on May 14, 2013. The USFWS issued 
its biological opinion on August 19, 2013.
    DOE has completed programmatic consultation, in compliance with 
Section 106 of the NHPA, concerning DOE's management of the ULP, and 
has signed a Programmatic Agreement (PA) to govern the ULP activities. 
A PA was deemed appropriate as DOE expects the historic properties to 
be similar and repetitive or regional in scope, and the effects cannot 
be fully determined at this time prior to submittal of site-specific 
plans.
    The NOA for the Final ULP PEIS was published in the Federal 
Register on March 21, 2014 (79 FR 15741).

Comments Received on the Final PEIS

    DOE received three letters regarding the Final ULP PEIS, which were 
considered in developing this ROD. The letters were from the Hopi 
Tribe, the Western Colorado Congress (WCC), and the EPA. These letters 
did not present significant new circumstances or information that would 
warrant a supplemental EIS pursuant to CEQ and DOE NEPA implementing 
regulations [40 CFR 1502.9(c) and 10 CFR 1021.314(a)].
    The Hopi Tribe stated its longstanding concerns about adverse 
impacts of past uranium mining on the land, water, and people, and that 
past contamination from uranium mining should be cleaned up before any 
additional mining is approved. The Hopi Tribe also expressed strong 
opposition to Alternatives 3, 4, and 5, and stated that, if DOE selects 
Alternative 4, the Tribe expects continuing consultation regarding 
cultural resource survey reports and treatment plans for the mitigation 
of adverse effects to National

[[Page 26959]]

Register eligible prehistoric areas and Hopi Traditional Cultural 
Properties that may exist in areas that cannot be avoided by ground 
disturbing activities.
    Consistent with the PA, DOE will consult with the Hopi Tribe in 
identifying properties of traditional religious and cultural importance 
listed in or eligible for listing in areas of potential effects, 
assessing the effects on those properties, and developing appropriate 
mitigation strategies for individual undertakings.
    WCC indicated in their letter that they continued to have concerns 
related to the prospect of increased uranium mining in western 
Colorado, expressed their disappointment that DOE continued to support 
Alternative 4, and stated that WCC could not support any new mining 
endeavors until all abandoned uranium mines are cleaned up. WCC also 
expressed concerns with ``booms and busts'' in the uranium industry and 
indicated that Alternative 4 would continue to tie up the lands in the 
area to an unstable uranium market and impact other forms of 
development. Further, WCC indicated they understood the rationale that 
the analysis of uranium markets, long-term economics, transportation 
corridors, and public health did not fit within DOE's ``Purpose and 
Need,'' but they disagreed with this approach. WCC expressed their 
appreciation that DOE included more site specific data in the Final 
PEIS but stated that the changes did not address the full breadth of 
their comments and concerns with Alternative 4. In addition, WCC noted 
that DOE did not preclude development of alternative energy projects on 
ULP lands and expressed hope that the ULP PEIS can be a step forward to 
creating a transparent process that leads to a uniform and modern 
standard for all abandoned uranium mines in Colorado.
    DOE understands and agrees with WCC's concern with the need to 
reclaim all the abandoned uranium mines in the Colorado Plateau and 
appreciates WCC recognition that DOE has reclaimed all legacy mines 
within the ULP program areas. While DOE did not evaluate the economics 
of the uranium market, DOE did evaluate the potential impacts of the 
alternatives on transportation, socioeconomics, and human health, and 
the potential cumulative impacts of the ULP. These impacts were 
determined to be ``negligible to moderate,'' and DOE will require 
mitigation measures to avoid or minimize the environmental impacts from 
specific future ULP activities. DOE appreciates WCC's vision that the 
ULP PEIS can be a step forward to a transparent process for a uniform 
and modern standard of reclamation for abandoned mines. DOE believes 
the ULP program can also be a step forward for modern and 
environmentally sensitive uranium mine exploration and development in 
addition to reclamation.
    The EPA Region 8, in its letter, indicated that DOE worked 
diligently to address EPA concerns on the Draft PEIS by providing 
additional information in the Final PEIS. EPA expressed their 
appreciation for the revisions made in the Final PEIS and as a result 
had no comments on the Final PEIS.
    DOE appreciates EPA's diligence in working with DOE to assure that 
the PEIS provided a thorough analysis of potential impacts and clearly 
communicated the results. EPA also helped DOE to clarify and identify 
mitigation measures to reduce the potential impacts.

Decision

    DOE has decided to continue the ULP with the 31 lease tracts for 
the next 10-year period beginning with the publication of this ROD in 
the Federal Register. Alternative 4, the alternative selected in this 
ROD, will result in ``negligible to moderate'' potential environmental 
impacts and will provide access to a domestic source of uranium 
consistent with the purpose and need stated in the Final PEIS. To be 
more transparent, DOE decided to set a specific timeframe of 10 years 
in this decision, even though Alternative 4 in the PEIS allowed the 
program to continue ``for the next 10-year period or for another 
reasonable period.''
    DOE will implement this ROD only after the U.S. District Court for 
the District of Colorado has dissolved the injunction that it issued on 
October 18, 2011. In the continuation of the ULP, DOE will evaluate the 
31 lease tracts by considering individual tract management issues, such 
as whether to lease the tracts that are presently not leased, and 
whether potential future requests for lease transfers will be approved. 
In implementing this decision, leases will be modified, as needed, to 
include mitigation measures described in the ULP PEIS. DOE will prepare 
a Mitigation Action Plan (MAP) as described below under Mitigation. As 
plans for exploration, mine development and operation, or reclamation 
are submitted by the lessees to DOE for approval, further NEPA analyses 
for these actions will be prepared and tiered from the Final ULP PEIS. 
The level of follow-on NEPA analyses will depend on the action being 
proposed by the lessees. For mining plans to be submitted for approval, 
DOE will prepare, at a minimum, an environmental assessment with 
appropriate public involvement to further evaluate potential site 
impacts. These NEPA analyses will be prepared to inform DOE's decisions 
on approval of the plans, including the conditions DOE will require to 
mitigate potential environmental impacts. DOE will conduct further 
consultations regarding cultural and endangered species, as 
appropriate, depending on the specific action.

Program Implementation

    As described in Alternative 4 in the Final PEIS, all 31 lease 
tracts will be available for potential exploration and mining of 
uranium ores. Leases on the ULP lease tracts will be continued for the 
next 10 years. Two of the 31 lease tracts (Lease Tract 8A and Lease 
Tract 14) are currently not leased. Lease Tract 8A is a small tract 
that is isolated and may be located entirely below or outside the 
uranium-bearing formation, which could indicate a lack of ore. Lease 
Tract 14 is composed of three parcels (14-1, 14-2, and 14-3). There was 
some interest in Parcels 14-1 and 14-2 by potential lessees in the 
past; however, the third parcel (14-3, which lies east of 14-1) is 
located almost entirely within the Dolores River corridor and has never 
been leased. The leases stipulate that no new mining activity could be 
conducted within 0.25 mi (0.4 km) of the Dolores River.
    Eight of the lease tracts (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, and 18) contain 
one or more existing mines that operated in the past under DOE's 
approval and are currently permitted by CDRMS. Three lease tracts (13A, 
21, and 25) have existing mine sites that have been fully reclaimed in 
accordance with existing environmental requirements and DOE lease 
stipulations; however, these mine sites currently remain permitted by 
CDRMS.
    The lessees have submitted no new project-specific plans to DOE 
with regard to where and how many mines might be developed and operated 
in the near future. For the purposes of analysis in the ULP PEIS, DOE 
conservatively assumed, based on past practices, that there would be a 
total of 19 mines operating at various production rates during a peak 
year of operations. That is, the 19 mines would comprise 6 small, 10 
medium, 2 large, and 1 very large (open-pit JD-7 mine). It was further 
assumed that there would be a smaller number of mines in operation in 
years other than the peak year, and that the peak year could occur more 
than once (i.e., there could be multiple years with the same number of 
mines operating at similar ore production rates). It was expected that 
the potential

[[Page 26960]]

environmental impacts for years other than the peak year(s) would fall 
within the range of impacts discussed for a peak year in the ULP PEIS. 
Therefore, the potential environmental impacts for the entire 10-year 
lease period would be expected to be no more than 10 times those for 
the peak year.
    For the exploration phase of a mine, it is assumed that a total of 
0.33 acre (0.13 ha), 1.1 acre (0.44 ha), and 0.33 acre (0.13 ha) of 
surface would be disturbed for the new 6 small, 10 medium, and 2 large 
mines respectively. For the very large mine, 210 acres (92 ha) have 
already been disturbed at the JD-7 surface open-pit mine. A total of 20 
workers would be required to conduct the exploration phase for the 
mines assumed for the peak year (not including the very large open-pit 
mine at JD-7, for which exploration was assumed to have been 
completed).
    The total area disturbed for Alternative 4 will be approximately 
460 acres (190 ha). Total tonnage of ore generated for the peak year of 
operation will be about 480,000 tons. The number of workers needed for 
mine development and operations will depend on the size of the mine and 
could vary from 7 to 51 workers. It is assumed that 7, 11, 17, and 51 
workers will be needed for each small, medium, large, and very large 
mine, respectively. These workers will consist mostly of mine workers. 
A peak year of operation for 19 mines will involve about 237 workers.
    Equipment needed for mine development and operations will include 
both underground and surface equipment. Water will also be needed and 
will be trucked to the location of the activities. The annual amount of 
water needed for the 19 mines during the peak year assumed for this 
action is estimated to be about 6,300,000 gal (19 ac-ft.). Retention 
ponds will be required to capture surface water and prevent sediment 
from entering nearby streams and drainages. Reclamation of the mine 
operations will involve about 39 workers over the course of a peak 
year. It is assumed that there will be a waiting period of up to 2 
years to account for verification of adequate revegetation and 
obtaining the necessary release and approval.
    Based on historical and existing mine development, it is expected, 
and the analysis assumes, that the mines will be underground, with the 
exception of the JD-7 mine on Lease Tract 7, which is a surface open-
pit mine.

Mitigation

    During lease implementation, DOE will require specific measures to 
be identified to ensure that potential environmental impacts from 
specific future ULP activities are avoided or minimized consistent with 
the mitigation measures in the Final ULP PEIS. DOE's decision 
incorporates all practicable means to avoid or minimize adverse 
environmental impacts during exploration, mining operations, and 
reclamation associated with the ULP. All activities associated with the 
ULP will be conducted to ensure that conditions are protective of the 
environment and human health. DOE will ensure implementation of the 
mitigation measures identified in the Final ULP PEIS (section 4.6), as 
appropriate. Mitigation measures will ensure that risks from potential 
exposures under foreseeable end-state scenarios analyzed in the ULP 
PEIS (i.e., a recreational visitor scenario at the mine site footprint 
and within the lease tracts, and a resident scenario for outside the 
lease tracts) will be very small. These measures are identified in 
current leases or will be added to the leases.
    These and other mitigation measures address potential impacts to 
human health, transportation, and the various environmental resources 
as follows: (1) Reduce dust emissions, (2) identify and protect 
paleontological resources, (3) protect soil from erosion, (4) minimize 
the extent and amount of ground disturbance, (5) restore original grade 
and reclaim soil and vegetation, (6) protect wildlife and wildlife 
habitats, (7) minimize lighting to off-site areas, (8) protect human 
health by minimizing radiological exposure, and (9) assure safe and 
proper transport of generated ore.
    Mitigation measures identified in the Final ULP PEIS and in the 
leases will be addressed in a MAP. DOE will prepare the MAP, consistent 
with 10 CFR 1021.331, to establish how the mitigation measures will be 
planned, implemented, and monitored. Compliance measures identified in 
the Final ULP PEIS will not be included in the MAP because they are 
legal requirements irrespective of the MAP. Lease stipulations will be 
in place to reinforce these legal requirements. DOE will ensure that 
the lessees fulfill the mitigation measures specified in this ROD and 
in the MAP, which is under development. DOE will make the MAP available 
to the public via the Web sites listed under ADDRESSES above.

Basis for Decision

    In making this decision, DOE has carefully considered all public 
comments, the results of the Final ULP PEIS evaluation, the biological 
opinion issued by the USFWS based on the ESA consultation, and the 
establishment of the PA consistent with Section 106 of the NHPA. DOE 
believes that uranium mining activities at the ULP lease tracts can 
continue to be conducted in a manner that is protective of the 
environment and public health. This decision supports the AEA 
provisions that authorize and direct DOE to develop a supply of 
domestic uranium, and to issue leases or permits for prospecting, 
exploration, mining, or removal of deposits of uranium ore in lands 
belonging to the United States. An active ULP program will be more 
successful in meeting these needs than would an inactive program. 
Although Alternatives 3 and 5 considered in the PEIS also provided an 
active ULP program, this decision provides access to a greater supply 
of domestic uranium from the lease tracts compared to Alternative 3, 
could create about 229 direct jobs and 152 indirect jobs, generates 
about $14.8 million in income, provides royalties from the leases to 
the Federal Government, and results in negligible to moderate potential 
environmental impacts that would be less than those under Alternative 
5.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on this 6th of May 2014.
David W. Geiser,
Director, DOE Office of Legacy Management.
[FR Doc. 2014-10847 Filed 5-9-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6450-01-P