General Information

Q1:  What is the Interior Board of Land Appeals?

A:  The Interior Board of Land Appeals (Board) decides appeals of decisions issued by bureaus and offices in the Department of the Interior, including the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, and the Departmental Cases Hearings Division. Located within the Department’s Office of Hearings and Appeals, the Board is separate and independent from the bureaus and offices whose decisions it reviews. The current composition of the Board is available on our website under IBLA Personnel, which can be accessed by clicking here.

Q2:  How does the Board resolve appeals?

A:  The Board generally sits in panels of two administrative judges who decide each appeal. Appeals are decided based on applicable law and the filings submitted by the parties. While the Board resolves many appeals based on the merits of the legal arguments made by the parties, the Board may also resolve appeals on jurisdictional grounds, including dismissing appeals that were not timely filed or where the appellants lack standing to appeal.

Q3.  What is the difference between an order and a docket notice?

A: When a party files a motion asking us to rule on a procedural matter, and another party to the appeal opposes the motion or has not indicated whether it opposes the motion, the Board rules on the motion in an order signed by an Administrative Judge. The Board also issues orders when a party files a motion that does not conform to our rules of practice—i.e., a motion must be timely filed and served, include a certificate of service, meet document formatting requirements, and otherwise address all criteria listed in any regulation that governs your appeal (i.e., 43 C.F.R. §§ 4.404 – 4.407, 4.415). The Board issues orders resolving these motions as expeditiously as possible.

The Board may issue a docket notice when a party files a motion and represents that no other party objects to the motion, and the motion otherwise conforms to our rules of practice. The Board’s Docket Attorney issues docket notices resolving these motions typically within one business day after they are filed.

Q4:  Where can I find Board decisions?

A: Board decisions can be found by using the Department’s search engine or by using a chronological index. Click here to visit the Board’s Finding IBLA Decisions page. Board decisions are also available from online legal research providers.

Q5:  Where can I find Board dispositive orders?

A: All dispositive orders issued in calendar year 2007 and later can be found on our website by clicking here or by using the Department’s search engine. The Board’s dispositive orders may also be available from online legal research providers.

Q6:  How can I access documents filed in an appeal?

A: If you are not a party to an appeal but wish to access documents filed in a pending appeal, you must file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Office of Hearings and Appeals. Documents requested by members of the public and the media must be reviewed to determine if any information in the requested documents is exempt from disclosure under FOIA and the Department’s implementing regulations at 43 C.F.R. Part 2. For more information about FOIA requests, please see 43 C.F.R. Part 2. You may also visit OHA’s FOIA website for more information on filing a FOIA request with the Board by  clicking here. You may also find guidance about public access to documents filed with OHA in our System of Records Notice by clicking here.

Filing an Appeal

Q7:  Who can file an appeal with the Board?

A: The Board requires every appellant to have standing to file its appeal. This means you must be a party to a case and have a legally cognizable interest that is substantially likely to be injured by the decision of a bureau, office, or Administrative Law Judge that you are appealing. You may submit a declaration with your notice of appeal that demonstrates your standing by describing your interests and how the decision injures those interests. For more information about filing an appeal with the Board, please see 43 C.F.R. § 4.410.

Q8:  How much does it cost to file an appeal with the Board?

A:  Unless you are appealing a decision made by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management or the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (issued under 30 C.F.R. chapter II or chapter V, sub-chapter C), there is no fee to file an appeal with the Board.

Q9: How do I file an appeal?

A: Our procedural rules for the appeals process are posted on our website, which you can access by clicking here. Generally, you must file your written notice of appeal with the bureau or office that issued the final decision you seek to appeal. Depending on the bureau or office, the notice of appeal must be filed with that office within 30 days or 60 days after you received the decision. Appeal periods are generally set forth in 30 C.F.R. §§ 290.4(link is external), 590.3, 1290.105, and 43 C.F.R. § 4.411(a)(1), (a)(2)(i). You must provide a copy of the notice of appeal to each person named in the decision and the Department’s Office of the Solicitor. 43 C.F.R. § 4.413. For more information about filing an appeal, please see 43 C.F.R. §§ 4.410-4.414.

Q10: Do I have to hire an attorney to represent me before the Board?

A: No. You may represent yourself or a family member. A list of entities and representatives that may practice before the Board is in 43 C.F.R. § 1.3. Legal assistance may be provided by an attorney, but the Board cannot refer you to an attorney.

Seeking a Stay

Q11:  If I appeal, can the Department still implement its decision?

A: In most appeals, the Department cannot implement a decision during the 30-day “appeal period” that starts the date you receive the decision. After you file an appeal, the Department may generally implement the decision, unless you file a petition for stay together with your notice of appeal. There are exceptions, however; some decisions can be implemented immediately, even during the 30-day appeal period and after an appeal is filed. Please see 43 C.F.R. § 4.21 for more information. You should also consult the regulations specific to the type of decision you are appealing to see if the decision is one that is in immediate effect.

Q12: How do I ask for a stay of the decision I am appealing?

A: You may request a stay of the effect of the decision you are appealing by filing a petition for a stay along with your notice of appeal. By regulation, the Board has 45 days from the last day of the appeal period to rule on a timely filed petition for stay. If your petition for a stay is not filed with your notice of appeal, the Board may rule on the request outside of the 45-day deadline. If the Board grants a stay, this means the Department cannot implement its decision until there is a final ruling by the Board on the appeal. For further information, please see 43 C.F.R. § 4.21.

Q13:  What happens if I filed a petition for a stay with my notice of appeal, but the Board didn’t rule within 45 days? 

A: If the Board does not rule on a stay request by the end of the 45-day period, then the stay is deemed to have been denied and the Department may take the action authorized by the decision. For further information, please see 43 C.F.R. § 4.21(a)(3).

Administrative Record

Q14:  What is the administrative record? 

A: The administrative record is the official record of all documents and materials that the deciding officer directly or indirectly considered in reaching a final decision. 

Q15:  How can I get a copy of the administrative record? 

A: Once an appeal is filed, the bureau or office that issued the decision must submit its administrative record to the Board. Although the bureau or office is not required to provide you with a copy of the administrative record, it must make it available for you to review. You may also contact the bureau or office or the Office of the Solicitor (if an attorney for the bureau or office has made an appearance in the appeal) to ask for a copy of the administrative record.

Confidential Information

Q16:  What happens if I believe documents filed with the Board should be protected from public disclosure? 

A: Any party may file a motion with the Board to protect confidential information from public disclosure. For more information, please see 43 C.F.R. § 4.31.

Filing Briefs and Motions

Q17:  Can I file documents with the Board electronically?

A: Yes. Consistent with 43 C.F.R. § 4.401(e) and the OHA Standing Order on Electronic Transmission, parties to an appeal may file all documents by email to ibla@oha.doi.gov until further notice. Documents filed by email should be in Portable Document Format (pdf) and should not exceed 20 MB per email. Any emailed filing should identify the appeal by name and docket number. If you file by email, then please do not send a duplicate filing by mail delivery service. Documents received after 5:00 pm Eastern time will be deemed filed the following day.

Q18:  Does the Board have a document format I must follow?

A: Yes. Any document filed with the Board, other than an exhibit or an attachment, must be:

  • On letter-sized paper with 11-point font print (or larger) or clearly handwritten on one side of each page. If filed electronically, the document should be formatted for letter-sized paper with 11-point or larger font.
  • Double spaced (except for long quotations and footnotes) and with 1-inch margins.
  • Paginated.

For more information about formatting documents, please see 43 C.F.R. § 4.401(d).

Q19:  Who else should get a copy of the documents I file with the Board?

A: You should provide (serve) a copy of the documents to all other parties or their legal representative. The legal representative of the Department is the Office of the Solicitor. For more information about providing copies of documents of your appeal, please see 43 C.F.R. § 4.401(c).

Q20: Once I file an appeal, what other documents must I file?

A: In addition to your notice of appeal, you must file a statement of reasons that explains why you are appealing. The bureau or office may then file an answer in response.

Q21:  What is a statement of reasons and when do I file it? 

A: A statement of reasons explains why you are appealing a decision to the Board. In your statement of reasons, you should discuss legal or factual errors you believe the bureau, office, or administrative law judge made in the decision you have appealed. You can include a statement of reasons in your notice of appeal or file it separately with the Board no later than 30 days after you filed the notice of appeal unless the Board orders otherwise. A statement of reasons is limited to 30 pages. For more information about statements of reasons, please see 43 C.F.R. § 4.412.

Q22:  When is an answer to my statement of reasons due? 

A: The bureau’s or office’s answer is typically due to the Board 30 days after it received the statement of reasons unless the Board orders otherwise. The answer is limited to 30 pages. For more information about answers, please see 43 C.F.R. § 4.414(a).

Q23:  What if the bureau or office does not file an answer in my appeal?

A: The regulations permit but do not require the bureau or office that issued the decision on appeal to file an answer. If the bureau or office does not file an answer, the Board will decide your appeal based on your statement of reasons and the administrative record. You are not entitled to a “default judgment” in your favor if the bureau or office does not file an answer. For more information about the bureau or office’s participation in your appeal, please see 43 C.F.R. §§ 4.21(b)(3), 4.414(c).

Q24:  Can I file a reply brief after the bureau or office files its answer? 

A: The Board discourages appellants from filing a reply brief to respond to a bureau’s or office’s answer. If you wish to file a reply, however, you may do so no later than 15 days after you receive the answer unless the Board orders otherwise. The reply must be limited to the issue(s) raised in the answer and cannot exceed 20 pages. For more information about replies, please see 43 C.F.R. § 4.412(d). 

Q25:  May I ask for an extension of the deadline to file a document? 

A: Yes. You may ask for an extension to file any document except your notice of appeal. You must file any request for an extension no later than the day before the due date you want to extend. Extensions are generally granted for “good cause,” so you should state your reason for needing an extension. You must also state in your motion whether the parties to your appeal oppose your request for more time. For more information about extensions, please see 43 C.F.R. § 4.405.

Q26:  Can I file a motion with the Board? 

A:  Yes. Any motion may be filed with the Board at any time. For further information on motions consult 43 C.F.R. §§ 4.401, 4.404 - 4.407, 4.415. Any recipient of a motion has 15 days from the date of receipt to respond. The Board will rule on any motion as expeditiously as possible.

Q27: What happens when I have a filing deadline that occurs during a government shutdown?

A: Documents cannot be filed with the Board during a government shutdown. Consequently, the Board’s policy is that all filing deadlines during a government shutdown are extended by the entire length of the shutdown, calculated by the number of calendar days that the shutdown lasts. For example, if the government is shut down January 1 to January 31 (31 days), then a January 15 filing deadline is automatically extended by 31 days, and the Board will consider the filing timely if it is received by February 15 (or the next business day if February 15 is a weekend or holiday). If a party requires additional time to file, it may file a request for an extension of time before the new deadline in accordance with the regulation at 43 C.F.R. § 4.405. 

Joining an Appeal

Q28:  How do I participate in an appeal that I did not file?

A: If you want to participate in an appeal because you believe its outcome may adversely affect your interests, then you may file a motion with the Board in the manner provided in 43 C.F.R. § 4.406(a)-(c). Any interested person who wishes to inform the Board’s decision in an appeal may file a motion to do so, as described in 43 C.F.R. § 4.406(d).
While Board regulations do not expressly require non-parties to serve motions on the named parties in an appeal, the Board recommends that any non-party movant serve courtesy copies of its motions on the named parties.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Q29:  Can I settle my appeal after filing it or request alternative dispute resolution to assist with settlement discussions?

A: The Board strongly encourages the parties to an appeal to attempt to settle their dispute among themselves. A resolution through mutual agreement will typically be faster, and allow for more flexibility in the outcome, than awaiting a final Departmental decision from the Board.

You need not contact the Board before engaging in settlement discussions. If a party is represented by an attorney, you should contact the attorney to begin any discussion. If the parties need time to negotiate a settlement, they should jointly move the Board to suspend consideration of the appeal, at which point the Board will toll all briefing deadlines to facilitate the parties’ negotiations.

In addition to direct negotiations among the parties, the Board encourages the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes to assist with settlement discussions if the parties decide it would be helpful. Examples of ADR include mediation and neutral evaluation. If the parties are interested in ADR, they should contact the Board by email at ibla@oha.doi.gov or telephone at 703-235-3750. For more information about the Department’s use of ADR for natural resources and environmental issues, a party may also contact the Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution. Their telephone number is 703-235-3791 and you can also access further information at this link.

If you reach a settlement, the Board must be notified so that the appeal may be dismissed. An unopposed or joint motion must be filed requesting the Board to dismiss the appeal on the grounds that the parties have reached a settlement. The Board does not approve settlement agreements or retain jurisdiction to enforce them. If a settlement cannot be reached, then the Board will place the appeal on its active docket for adjudication.

Resolving an Appeal

Q30:  After I file an appeal, how long will it take for the Board to decide it?

A:  The Board attempts to handle all appeals in an expeditious manner. Typically, appeals are prioritized by the age of the appeal once the bureau or office has submitted the administrative record and all the briefs have been filed.. Each appeal is unique, however, and delays can occur for various reasons, including when parties seek time to negotiate a possible settlement. Therefore, the time from when you file an appeal until the Board issues a decision varies. Most appeals are decided within two years.

Q31:  Where can I find information regarding the status of my pending appeal? 

A: The Board updates the status of each pending appeal monthly. Please visit our Pending Appeals page for more information by clicking here.

Q32: May I withdraw an appeal that I filed with the Board?

A: Yes. You should file a written motion asking the Board to dismiss the appeal. In the motion, you should briefly state why you want the Board to dismiss your appeal.

Q33:  May I ask the Board to reconsider its decision in my appeal?

A: Yes. If you wish to file a motion for reconsideration with the Board, then you must do so within 60 days after the date the Board issued its decision in your appeal. For more information about asking for reconsideration, please see 43 C.F.R. § 4.403. You are not required to ask for reconsideration before seeking review of the Board’s decision in Federal court.

Q34:  Can I appeal the Board’s decision?

A: Generally, the decision of the Board constitutes the final decision of the Department, but the Board’s decisions are subject to review by Federal courts. If you desire additional review of the decision, you may wish to seek advice from an attorney knowledgeable in federal administrative law to understand what options may exist for judicial or other types of review.

Contacting the Board

Q35:  How can I contact the Board?

A: Our regular business hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The easiest way to contact the Board is by email to ibla@oha.doi.gov. You may also contact the Board by mail, delivery service, facsimile, or telephone. The Board’s contact information is as follows:

Interior Board of Land Appeals
Office of Hearings and Appeals
U.S. Department of the Interior
801 N. Quincy Street, Suite 300
Arlington, VA 22203
703-235-3750 (voice)
703-235-8349 (facsimile)
ibla@oha.doi.gov (email)

Please understand that the Board’s staff cannot provide you legal advice, discuss the specifics of your appeal, or predict how the Board will rule.


Q36:  May I contact the Administrative Judges who are involved in my appeal?

A:  No

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