DOI-BLM-OR-P040-0021-EA

From Open Energy Information


NEPA Document Collection for: DOI-BLM-OR-P040-0021-EA
EA at Glass Buttes Geothermal Area for Geothermal/Exploration

EA for Exploratory Wells at Midnight Point and Mahogany Geothermal Exploration Projects, Glass Buttes, Oregon for Geothermal/Exploration

Proposed Action

The proposed Projects are located approximately 70 miles southeast of Bend, Oregon, and 50 miles northwest of Burns, Oregon, north and south of U.S. Highway 20 (Figure 1-1). Each exploratory well would be drilled within a well pad ranging in size from approximately 2.07 to 4.13 acres, depending on well type. Each well pad would accommodate a drill rig and other structures and facilities related to the drilling operation. Access to each well pad would be provided by existing or new aggregate access roads with an all-weather surface accessible from U.S. Highway 20.

The activities described in the Geothermal Drilling Permit Applications for both the Mahogany and Midnight Point projects are described and analyzed in this EA. Up to three “slim” wells would be drilled on lands managed by the BLM Prineville District (Mahogany project) and up to ten production-sized wells would be drilled on lands managed by the BLM Burns District (Midnight Point project).3 To support drilling operations, the improvements to existing access roads and the installation of some new access roads would be required. Aggregate for access road work would be extracted and transported from an off-site quarry(s) (i.e. the Community Pit, G.I. Ranch Pit, and/or Harney Rock Pit). Cumulatively, the Mahogany and Midnight Point projects would disturb 47.52 acres for well pad development, 4.09 acres for new access roads, 1.32 acres for access road pullouts and truck turnarounds, 0.57 acres for widening of existing roads, and 5 acres of disturbance for aggregate extraction. An additional proposed activity, the drilling of three non-potable water wells to provide water supply for drilling operations, would be drilled within the proposed geothermal well pad sites, resulting in no new surface area disturbance associated with these wells.

In addition to the Public Lands projects, the Applicant proposes to conduct the drilling, testing, and monitoring of up to three wells on private land located adjacent to the federal geothermal leases west of Glass Butte (Private Lands project). The Applicant also proposes to develop a quarry (G.I. Ranch Pit) within the Private Lands project area that would supply aggregate to both the Private Lands project and the Mahogany project. The approximate surface disturbance for the Private Lands project would be 6.21 acres for well pad development, 1.11 acres for new access roads, 1.04 acres for widening of existing roads, and 5 acres for mineral materials extraction.

If the required permits and approvals are obtained, the Applicant proposes to initiate geothermal exploration activities as soon as possible and conduct exploration 24-hours per day and 7-days per week from August 16th to February 28th. The proposed Projects would be implemented over a period of one to three years. The well pads and access roads would be left in place and subject to quarterly or monthly inspection and maintenance by the Applicant, until such time as the well is deemed to be commercially unviable or the geothermal lease is relinquished to BLM. Final reclamation activities for those sites would then be engaged.

Conditions of Approval

Reclamation of the disturbed areas, as described earlier in this document, would be completed in order to return these areas to the condition required in the drilling permit Conditions of Approval.

Data Completion Notes

If add RMPs, add Brothers/LaPine RMP (BLM 1989), Three Rivers RMP (BLM 1992

Data entry complete 8/13

Documents

FONSI: Decision:


 

<metadesc> : NEPA document related to geothermal resource areas </metadesc>

Resource Analysis

Resource Not
Present
Present,
Not
Affected
Present,
Potentially
Affected
Not
Indicated
Comment Applicant
Proposed
Mitigation
Agency
Imposed
Mitigation
Fire Resources
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

 
Close● The BLM District Office would be notified immediately of any wildland fire, even if the available personnel can handle the situation or the fire poses no threat to the surrounding area.

● A roster of emergency phone numbers would be available at the project site so that the appropriate firefighting agency could be contacted in case of a fire.

● All vehicles would carry at a minimum, a shovel, five gallons of water (preferably in a backpack pump), and a conventional fire extinguisher.

● Adequate fire-fighting equipment (a shovel, a pulaski, standard fire extinguisher(s), and an ample water supply) would be kept readily available at each active drill site. Water that would be used for construction and dust control would also be available for fire suppression.

● Vehicle catalytic converters (on vehicles that would enter and leave the drill site) would be inspected daily and cleaned of all flammable debris.

● All cutting/welding torch use, electric-arc welding, and grinding operations would be conducted in an area free, or mostly free, from vegetation. An ample water supply would be available onsite from the proposed 10,000 gallon water tank (see Ancillary Facilities above) and shovel would be on hand to extinguish any fires created from sparks. At least one person in addition to the cutter/welder/grinder would be at the work site to promptly detect fires created by sparks.

● The Applicant would be responsible for being aware of and complying with the requirements of any fire restrictions or closures issued by the BLM District, as publicized in the local media or pasted at various sites throughout the field office district. The Applicant would be responsible for notifying personnel of these restrictions or closures.

● Personnel would be allowed to smoke only in designated areas and would be required to follow applicable BLM regulations regarding smoking.
Soils
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

 
Close● Topsoil would be salvaged, stockpiled, and reused; however, stumps, brush, and other organic material would be hauled off-site after site clearing.

● Temporarily disturbed areas would be reseeded where previously vegetated using a grass and sagebrush seed mix that is in compliance with BLM and Oregon seed policies. The seed would meet the requirements of the Federal Seed Act (P.L. 76-354; 1939) and the Oregon Certified Seed Handbook (2012). Only seed certified as “noxious weed free” would be used. In addition, the seed would be appropriate to the geographic and elevation characteristics of the area to be seeded (4,000 to 6,500 feet above mean sea level).

● Erosion control measures, including but not limited to silt fencing, diversion ditches, water bars, temporary mulching and seeding, and application of aggregate and rip rap, would be installed within well pads and access roads where evidence of erosion exists.

● Access roads would follow existing contours to the maximum extent possible. In areas where new access roads would need to be constructed across slopes, erosion control measures such as silt fence, surface roughening, and slope stabilization would be provided as necessary.

● Up to 6 inches of aggregate would be used as road surface where appropriate because roads would be used during all seasons.

● Aggregate would be laid down when ground conditions are wet enough to cause rutting or other noticeable surface deformation and severe compaction. As a general rule, if vehicles or other project equipment create ruts in excess of 4 inches deep when traveling cross-country over wet soils, an aggregate surface would be added prior to additional vehicle use.

● In areas of very soft soils, up to 3 feet of aggregate would be used during construction.
Wildlife Resources
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

Construction of the Public Lands project would result in surface disturbance to mule deer and/or elk winter range habitat.

 
Close● Trash and other waste products would be properly collected and disposed of, with the objective of eliminating any litter. The Applicant would use air-tight containers for any garbage that could attract wildlife. All trash would be removed from the project area and disposed of at an authorized landfill.

● Speeds would be reduced from 25 mph to 15 mph when workers/drivers observe terrestrial wildlife (i.e. deer, sage-grouse) near project activities, especially near/on access roads and posted with signage.

● Employees and contractors would be prohibited from carrying firearms on the job site.

● Reclamation of the disturbed areas, as described earlier in this document, would be completed in order to return these areas to the condition required in the drilling permit Conditions of Approval.

● Fencing reserve pits would include fencing all four sides of the pit as well as applying netting over the top of the pit. A ramp would be placed in the reserve pit as a safeguard in the event that the fencing/netting fails and an animal or human falls in

● Reserve pit slopes would be built steep to reduce shallow water (>24 in) and aquatic vegetation around the perimeter of reserve pit impoundments.
Invasive, Nonnative Species
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

The Applicant would be required to submit and obtain BLM approval for a weed plan prior to implementation of any ground disturbance on site.

 
Close● Areas that become infested with invasive species/noxious weeds during construction would be mapped, reported to BLM, physically (i.e. disking, mowing) and/or chemically (i.e. herbicide) treated, and then seeded with certified weed-free seed and mulching materials.

● Existing weed infestations would be avoided or treated before disturbance.

● All weed prevention and control practices performed on BLM lands would be done so in accordance with all applicable BLM regulations and procedures.

● The applicant would submit a Weed Management Plan to the BLM, and the BLM would approve this plan, prior the Notice to Proceed would be issued. The Weed Management Plan would address the following:  Mineral material aggregate applied to federal lands would be from a pit certified by Harney County to be free of weeds.  Plan of operations (who, what, when, where, and how) for monitoring and treating any noxious weeds infestations in the work area, especially in areas of activities of disturbance.  Spraying products used would only be those allowed with the Prineville and Burns District.  Consultation with the BLM District that the weed treatment would take place in prior to performing the weed treatment.

 For three years following final reclamation, reclaimed sites would be monitored by the applicant, and if weeds are found, the applicant would treat the weeds.
Special Status Species
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

Effects from the Project to greater sage-grouse would be limited to disturbance of habitat outside of lekking and nesting season.

 
Close● There would be no surface operations during sage-grouse lekking and nesting season (March

1 to August 15).

● All surface operations (including drilling) and surface construction activities (drill rigs, wellheads, and power plants) would not be visible from leks.

● All surface operations (i.e. well drilling and resource testing) would be less than 40 decibels (db) or less than 10 db above ambient sound at surrounding leks.

● Surveys for burrowing owls would be performed during breeding/nesting season (April 15- August 1) before any proposed ground disturbing activities (i.e. well pad construction, drilling, road construction/improvements, rock quarries) later in the year. If burrowing owls are discovered within 0.25 miles of a proposed disturbance area, the Applicant would monitor burrows for collapse during drilling operations or other disturbance. Should the burrows collapse, then artificial burrows would be constructed by the Applicant greater than 0.25 miles away as an alternate site for owls to nest the following year based on recommendations from Green (2006).

● Well pad sites and rock quarries would be surveyed for Threatened and Endangered and Special Status plant species in May prior to project implementation. Threatened and Endangered and Special Status plant sites would be avoided if found.

● Reserve pits would be overbuilt to accommodate a greater volume of water than is discharged. This would result in un-vegetated and muddy shorelines that breeding mosquitos (Cx. tarsalis), which may carry West Nile virus, avoid. Steep shorelines would be used in combination with this technique.
Vegetation
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

 
Close● Where sagebrush is present to begin with, sagebrush would be used in the re-vegetation seed

mixes applied during reclamation, or sagebrush plants would be planted to ensure sagebrush returns to the site.

● Reserve pit slopes would be built steep to reduce shallow water (>24 in) and aquatic vegetation around the perimeter of reserve pit impoundments.

● The water level of the reserve pits would be maintained below that of rooted vegetation for a muddy reserve pit that is unfavorable habitat for mosquito larvae. Rooted vegetation includes both aquatic and upland vegetative types. Terrestrial vegetation would not be flooded in flat terrain or low lying areas.

● The channel where discharge water flows into the reserve pit would be lined with crushed rock, or a horizontal pipe would be used to discharge inflow directly into existing open water, thus precluding shallow surface inflow and accumulation of sediment that promotes aquatic vegetation.

● The overflow spillway would be lined with crushed rock, and the spillway would be constructed with steep sides to preclude the accumulation of shallow water and vegetation.
Threatened and Endangered Species
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

 
Close● Well pad sites and rock quarries would be surveyed for Threatened and Endangered and Special Status plant species in May prior to project implementation. Threatened and Endangered and Special Status plant sites would be avoided if found.
Air Quality
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

 
Close● All access roads would be surfaced with aggregate materials, as needed.

● Dust abatement techniques, such as watering on unpaved, unvegetated surfaces would be used to minimize airborne dust, as needed.

● Dust abatement techniques (such as watering, requiring loader buckets to be emptied slowly, and minimizing drop heights) would be applied to earthmoving, excavating, trenching, grading, and aggregate crushing and processing activities.

● A speed limit of 25 mph would be observed on all access roads by project vehicles to minimize potential collisions with recreationists/visitors, other project vehicles/workers, and wildlife. Signage would be used to control vehicle speed and provide an enforceable limit (i.e. 25 mph).

● Equipment and vehicle idling times during construction activities would be kept to the necessary minimum.

● Access roads, project area roads and other traffic areas would be maintained on a regular

basis to minimize dust and provide for safe travel conditions
Noise
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

Close● Noise suppression devices would be utilized on all compressors.
 
Visual Resources
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

The Brothers/LaPine RMP and Three Rivers RMP have classified the majority of the Public Lands project area as high value, or Class II.

 
Close● Periodic application of water would be used on soil surfaces during construction and grading

to control dust.

● Cut-and-fill areas would be minimized by proper placement of roads and well pads.

● Equipment placed at the well pads would be removed after drilling and testing so that only the wellhead extends above the well pad.

● Drill rig and well test facility lights would be limited to those required to safely conduct the operations, and would be shielded and/or directed in a manner that focuses direct light to the immediate work area.

● If aggregate is applied to roads or well pads it would be earth-toned (i.e. brown, tan, green) in color at any location that is visible from Highway 20.

● Aggregate applied to the portion of access road R2B that is visible from KOP 11 would be earth-toned in color.

● No artificial light source used at well 16-9 would face directly at Highway 20.

●Disturbances would be reclaimed to preconstruction conditions or equivalent and all rehabilitation work on proposed improved access roads, temporary access roads, and well

pads would be performed in such a way that when completed, the color, contours, and planted or seeded vegetation would match the visual characteristics of the surrounding area.
Cultural Resources
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

From July 6 to August 19, 2010, and July 25-28, 2012, Cardno ENTRIX conducted cultural resources investigations for the Projects within and adjacent to the proposed locations of the project features for the Public Lands and Private Lands Projects.

 
Close● Known eligible and potentially eligible cultural resource sites would be avoided.

● A 100-foot buffer zone would be established around eligible and potentially eligible cultural resource sites to help provide protection to the sites. Project facilities and disturbance would not encroach into the established 100-foot buffer zone.

● The Applicant would limit vehicle and equipment travel to existing and proposed roads, well pads, construction areas, and aggregate source areas.

● All construction equipment and vehicles used for the proposed Projects would be kept off access roads when not in use.

● Any unplanned discovery of cultural resources, items of cultural patrimony, sacred objects or

funerary items would cause all activity in the vicinity of the find to cease, and the BLM would be notified immediately by phone with written confirmation to follow. The location of the find would not be publicly disclosed, and any human remains would be secured and preserved in place until a Notice to Proceed is issued by the authorized officer.
Wastes Hazardous or Solid
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

 
Close● A project hazardous material spill and disposal contingency plan would be prepared that would describe the methods for cleanup and abatement of any petroleum hydrocarbon or other hazardous material spill. The hazardous material spill and disposal contingency plan would be submitted to and approved by the BLM and made readily available onsite before operations begin.

● Secondary containment structures would be provided for all chemical and petroleum/oil storage areas during drilling operations. Additionally, absorbent pads or sheets would be placed under potential spill sources and spill kits would be maintained onsite during construction and drilling activities to provide prompt response to accidental leaks or spills of chemicals and petroleum products.

● Handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials, hazardous wastes, and solid wastes would be conducted in conformance with federal and state regulations to prevent soil, groundwater, or surface water contamination and associated adverse effects on the environment or worker health and safety.

● Portable chemical sanitary facilities would be available and used by all personnel during periods of well drilling and/or flow testing. These facilities would be maintained by a local contractor
Geology and Minerals
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

 
Close Design criteria found in Appendix B would be applied to both the Private and Public Lands

proposed quarries/pits.

 In order to receive a mineral material permit for the Potato Hills Quarry, a right-of-way application and permit would be required (not that this permit may include conditions from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) for access onto Highway 20).
Recreation
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

Public access to the well pads would be restricted to authorized project personnel for site safety. This precaution would result in a temporary disruption (i.e. six and a half months per year) to rock-hounding at the proposed well pad locations.

   
Range Resources
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

Livestock may access unintended pastures as a result of project activities.

CloseUnder Alternative C, the potential for livestock accessing an inadvertent pasture would be minimized through the installation of cattle guards.
 
Migratory Birds
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

Raptors could potentially be affected by increased noise levels associated with construction of the Projects. However, operational noise levels from the Projects would not be loud enough to disrupt raptors, so no effects from exploration operations (i.e. drilling) are anticipated.

   
Wilderness
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Public Health and Safety
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

The project area is located in a remote and rural area of south central Oregon. There are no residential population centers with schools, hospitals, parks, and other meeting places within the project area.

 
Close● All environmental soil and ground water sampling would be consistent with industry standards, The Gold Book (i.e. publication for ‘Surface Operating Standards and Guidelines for Oil and Gas Exploration and Development’), and in coordination with BLM.
Wetlands and Riparian Zones
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

According to the NWI, there are 57.01 acres wetlands in the project area; NHD data shows 9.44 acres of wetlands in the project area. There are 6.1 acres of wetlands that both databases characterize as wetlands for a total of 60.36 acres of potential wetlands in the project area

 
CloseThese wetlands are located in areas that would not experience disturbance due to project activities
Water Quantity
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

 
CloseSurface Water

● Where proposed, new access roads would need to cross ephemeral washes, rolling dips would be installed. The rolling dips would be designed to accommodate flows from at least a 25-year storm event. Culverts would be used wherever rolling dips are not feasible.

● Silt fences and/or straw bales would be used in areas requiring sediment control.

● Roads and well pads not required for further geothermal development purposes would be recontoured to preconstruction conditions and seeded to prevent erosion.

● Access roads would follow existing contours to the maximum extent possible. In areas where new access roads would need to be constructed across slopes, erosion control measures such as silt fence, surface roughening of slopes, and slope stabilization would be provided as necessary.

Groundwater ● Excavation into native soil during construction of well pad reserve pits would be minimized to the maximum extent possible.

● Drill pad reserve pits would be compacted during construction and settled bentonite clay from drilling mud would accumulate on the bottom of the drill pad reserve pits to act as an unconsolidated clay liner, reducing the potential for drilling fluid to percolate to groundwater.

● A BLM-approved cementing and casing program for the drilling of observation wells would be implemented to prevent water quality effects on groundwater during or after completion of the wells.

● Borehole geophysics analyses (cement bond logs) would be conducted to document that well casing cementing activities provide an effective seal isolating the geothermal aquifer from shallow alluvial aquifers, therefore minimizing potential impacts on surface springs or streams.

● The use of "blow-out" prevention equipment during drilling and the installation of well casing cemented into the ground would ensure that any geothermal fluid encountered during the drilling would not flow uncontrolled to the surface.

● Any well on the leased land that is not in use or demonstrated to be potentially useful would be promptly plugged and abandoned in accordance with lease stipulations. No well would be abandoned until it has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the BLM that it is no longer capable of producing in commercial quantities, and would not serve any other useful purpose such as for injection of geothermal fluids or monitoring of the geothermal reservoir or groundwater.

● No water wells would be installed within a 5,000 foot radius of existing water wells on BLM

lands