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Notice

Southern Natural Gas Company; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for the Proposed North System Expansion II Project and Request for Comments on Environmental Issues

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Start Preamble May 21, 2001.

The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) will prepare an environmental assessment (EA) that will discuss the environmental impacts of the North System Expansion II Project involving construction and operation of facilities by Southern Natural Gas Company (Southern) in Pickens, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega, and Calhoun Counties in Alabama, and Noxubee and Lowndes Counties in Mississippi.[1] These facilities would consist of about 4.6 miles of new pipeline loop on Southern's 24-inch diameter 2nd North Main Line, replacement of about 11 miles of various diameter pipeline segments in Alabama, and requalifying pipeline segments by hydrostatic testing, and/or adding, removing, abandoning, replacing, requalifying and/or modifying appurtenant facilities within the project area. In addition, Southern proposes to add about 6,000 horsepower (hp) of compression at the existing Pell City Compressor Station in St. Clair County, Alabama. This EA will be used by the Commission in its decision-making process to determine whether the project is in the public convenience and necessity.

If you are a landowner receiving this notice, you may be contacted by a pipeline company representative about the acquisition of an easement to construct, operate, and maintain the proposed facilities. The pipeline company would seek to negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement. However, if the project is approved by the Commission, that approval conveys with it the right of eminent domain. Start Printed Page 28900Therefore, if easement negotiations fail to produce an agreement, the pipeline company could initiate condemnation proceedings in accordance with state law.

A fact sheet prepared by the FERC entitled “An Interstate Natural Gas Facility On My Land? What Do I Need To Know?” was attached to the project notice Southern provided to landowners. This fact sheet addresses a number of typically asked questions, including the use of eminent domain and how to participate in the Commission's proceedings. It is available for viewing on the FERC Internet website (www.ferc.fed.us).

Summary of the Proposed Project

Southern wants to uprate its North Main System by adding and replacing pipeline segments, requalifying pipeline segments by hydrostatic testing, and/or adding, removing, abandoning, replacing, requalifying and/or modifying appurtenant facilities within the project area. Specifically, Southern seeks authorization to:

(a) Construct, own, and operate a total of about 4.6 miles of new pipeline loop on its 24-inch-diameter 2nd North Main Line extending from milepost (MP) 123.746 to MP 128.339 in Pickens County, Alabama (see table 1);

(b) Replace about 11 miles of various segments of the North Main Line and the Bessemer-Calera Line and Loop in Pickens, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega, and Calhoun Counties, Alabama (see table 1). In conjunction with the replacement of segments of these pipelines certain segments would be tested hydrostatically in order to increase their maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) (see table 1);

(c) Abandon in place three 12-inch-diameter pipeline crossings of the Tombigbee River. These river crossings would be replaced by an existing 20-inch-diameter pipeline connected to both the North Main Line and North Main Loop Line. These pipelines constitute the river crossing for the North Main Line (see table 2);

(d) Install one electric-motor-driven 6,000 hp reciprocating compressor at the existing Pell City Compressor Station in St. Clair County, Alabama;

(e) Construct an interconnecting facility, the Calhoun Power Tap, at MP 370.0 on the North Main Line and North Main Loop Line, consisting of dual 18-inch taps and 1.0 mile of replacement pipeline in Calhoun County, Alabama, to provide service to Calhoun Power; and

Table 1.—Pipeline Facilities for the North System Expansion II Project

FacilityTypeLength (miles)MilepostsCounty/State
Jurisdictional—Pipeline Construction:
North Main Line (Replacement, A)22″ Replacement1.844227.381-229.225Pickens, AL.
North Main Line (Replacement B)22″ Replacement1.073240.978-242.051Pickens, AL.
2nd North Main LineNew 24″ Loop Pipeline4.613123.726-128.339Pickens, AL.
Bessemer Calera 12″ Line12″ Replacement0.01710.479-10.496Jefferson, AL.
Bessemer-Calera 8″ Loop Line12″ Replacement2.40012.900-15.300Jefferson, AL.
Bessemer-Calera 8″ Loop Line (Cahaba River)12″ Replacement0.220.900-21.100Shelby, AL.
North Main Line (Replacement C)20″ Replacement0.496354.303-354.799St. Clair, AL.
North Main Line (Replacement D)20″ Replacement0.169355.556-355.725St. Clair, AL.
North Main Line (Replacement E)20″ Replacement3.140356.360-359.500Talladega, AL.
North Main Line (Replacement F)20″ Replacement1.717367.150-368.867Talladega/Calhoun, AL.
North Main Line (Replacement G)20″ Replacement1.050369.650-370.700Calhoun, AL.
Pipeline Requalification:
Bassemer-Calera 12″ LineHydrostatic Test2.6747.972-10.646Jefferson, AL.
Bessemer-Calera 8″ Loop LineHydrostatic Test2.31921.013-23.332Shelby, AL.
North Main Line (Requalification 1)Hydrostatic Test0.757354.799-355.556St. Clair, AL.
North Main Line (Requalification 2)Hydrostatic Test0.635355.725-356.360Talladega, AL.
North Main Line (Requalification 3)Hydrostatic Test1.093368.710-369.803Calhoun, AL.
Non-Jurisdictional—Pipeline Construction:
Calhoun Power Pipeline 16″New Pipeline1.000Calhoun, AL.

Table 2.—Aboveground Facilities for the North System Expansion II Project

FacilityNew/modifiedType of workMilepostsCounty/state
Jurisdictional:
Brooksville JunctionModifiedNew Feed Line208.478Noxubee, MS.
M.V.G. Farm Tap 121ModifiedRemove Farm Tap209.767Noxubee, MS.
Pugh TapModifiedNew Check Valve217.500Noxubee, MS.
Start Printed Page 28901
Togo GateModifiedCrossovers220.927Lowndes, MS.
M.V.G. Farm Tap 123ModifiedOver-pressure Protection223.100Lowndes, MS.
Tombigbee River Crossing (Auxiliary River Crossing Line)ModifiedDisconnect and abandon line; replace Valves and Fittings224.189-224.350 224.550-224.606Lowndes, MS.
Reform TapModifiedOver-pressure Protection241.887Pickens, AL.
Reform Compressor StationModifiedTap, Pigging Facilities, Valves, Regulators, Over-Pressure Protection242.223Pickens, AL.
Crossover and Pigging FacilityNewAdd New Crossover and Pigging Facilities123.746Pickens, AL.
Pleasant Grove Tap, Gate Setting and Meter StationModifiedTap and Tap Line7.972Jefferson, AL.
Dr. Cales Farm Tap (Abandoned pursuant to blanket certificate authorization)ModifiedRemove Taps8.955Jefferson, AL.
Bessemer Lateral TapModifiedCheck Valve and Blind Flange10.429Jefferson, AL.
Bessemer Gate and CrossoverModifiedReplace and Remove Valves10.646Jefferson, AL.
NATCO TapModifiedRemove Obsolete Tap14.655Jefferson, AL.
Bessemer No. 2 Tap and Meter StationModifiedReplace Tap and Install New Tap Line14.740Jefferson, AL.
Hopewell Block GateModifiedTest Crossovers15.537Jefferson, AL.
Genery Gap Tap and Meter StationModifiedTest or Remove Taps19.498Shelby, AL.
Cahaba Field TapModifiedInstall Blind Flange22.200Shelby, AL.
Calera Line Regulatory StationModifiedValve and Tap Settings23.332Shelby, AL.
Helena-Alagasco Meter Station and TapModifiedRelocate Taps23.332Shelby, AL.
Gas Cooler at Tarrant Compressor Station (2nd North Mail LineModifiedInstall Electric Motor Fin Fan Cooler321.947Jefferson, AL.
Compressor at Pell City Compressor Station (North Main Line/2nd North Main Line)ModifiedInstall 6000 HP Electric Driven Compressor352.478St. Clair, AL.
Pell City Compressor Station Power SubstationModifiedConstruct 115kV/4160V Capacity Electrical Substation( 1)St. Clair, AL.
Vincent Tap and Meter Station (North Main Line)ModifiedMonitor, Regulator and Tap Valve352.700St. Clair, AL.
Lincoln No. 2 Tap and Meter StationModifiedMonitor, Regulator and Tap Valve353.834St. Clair, AL.
Childersburg No. 2 Tap and Meter StationModifiedMonitor, Regulator and Tap Valve358.000Talladega, AL.
Rowe Block Gate No. 1ModifiedGate Setting, blowoff crossovers358.510Talladega, AL.
Lincoln Tap and Meter StationModifiedMonitor, Regulator and Tap Valve360.365Talladega, AL.
Talladega TapModifiedMonitor, Regulator and Tap Valve361.014Talladega, AL.
Lincoln Block GateModifiedGate Setting, blowoff crossovers361.666Talladega, AL.
Talladega Raceway TapModifiedMonitor, Regulator and Tap Valve365.385Talladega, AL.
Eastaboga GateModifiedGate Setting369.078Calhoun, AL.
Calhoun Power Meter StationNewMeter Station370.000Calhoun, AL.
Anniston No. 3 Tap and Meter StationModifiedMonitor and Regulator371.641Calhoun, AL.
Coldwater Regulator StationNewMonitor, Regulator and Block Valves371.852Calhoun, AL.
Non-Jurisdictional:
Pell City Compressor Station 115 kV Power LineNewNew 115 kV Power Line( 1)St. Clair, AL.
1 Approximate M.P. 352.478 on Southern's North Main Line.

(f) modify several aboveground facilities in Mississippi and Alabama (see table 2).

Nonjurisdictional facilities

(a) Calhoun Power would construct certain nonjurisdictional facilities consisting of a simple cycle power generation plant, a meter station, and about 1 mile of 16-inch-diameter connecting pipeline extending from Southern's mainline to its plant. Southern would operate and maintain this connecting pipeline in Calhoun County, Alabama for Calhoun Power.

(b) Alabama Power would construct a 0.5-mile-long nonjurisdictional 115 kV transmission line to provide power to the compressor to be installed at the Pell City Compressor Station. Alabama Power would coordinate construction of this power line with the construction of the new compressor.Start Printed Page 28902

The location of the project facilities is shown in appendix 1.[2]

Land Requirements for Construction

Construction of the proposed facilities would require about 274.5 acres of land. Following construction, about 92.5 acres of land would be restored and allowed to revert to its former use. No new permanent right-of-way is proposed by Southern except for the two new meter stations (Calhoun Meter Station and Coldwater Regulator Station) which would require a total of 8.09 acres (0.46 acre permanent and 7.63 existing permanent right-of-way).

The EA Process

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the Commission to take into account the environmental impacts that could result from an action whenever it considers the issuance of a Certificate of Public convenience and Necessity. NEPA also requires us [3] to discover and address concerns the public may have about proposals. We call this “scoping”. The main goal of the scoping process is to focus the analysis in the EA on the important environmental issues. By this Notice of Intent, the Commission requests public comments on the scope of the issues it will address in the EA. All comments received are considered during the preparation of the EA. State and local government representatives are encouraged to notify their constituents of this proposed action and encourage them to comment on their areas of concern.

The EA will discuss impacts that could occur as a result of the construction and operation of the proposed project under these general headings:

  • Geology and soils
  • Water resources, fisheries, and wetlands
  • Vegetation and wildlife
  • Endangered and threatened species
  • Public safety
  • Land use
  • Cultural resources
  • Air quality and noise
  • Hazardous waste

We will also evaluate possible alternatives to the proposed project or portions of the project, and make recommendations on how to lessen or avoid impacts on the various resource areas.

Our independent analysis of the issues will be in the EA. Depending on the comments received during the scoping process, the EA may be published and mailed to Federal, state, and local agencies, public interest groups, interested individuals, affected landowners, newspapers, libraries, and the Commission's official service list for this proceeding. A comment period will be allotted for review if the EA is published. We will consider all comments on the EA before we make our recommendations to the commission.

To ensure your comments are considered, please carefully follow the instructions in the public participation section below.

Currently Identified Environmental Issues

We have already identified several issues that we think deserve attention based on a preliminary review of the proposed facilities and the environmental information provided by Southern. This preliminary list of issues may be changed based on your comments and our analysis.

  • Eight federally listed endangered or threatened species may occur in the project area (bald eagle, red cockaded woodpecker, Cahaba shiner, finelined pocketbook mussel, flattened musk turtle, goldline darter, round rocksnail, and triangular kidneyshell mussel). With the exception of the bald eagle and red cockaded woodpecker all other federally listed species occur in the Cahaba River. Southern proposes to directionally drill the Cahaba river which would avoid impact on these species.
  • The project would require three major waterbody crossings greater than 100 feet in width (Cahaba River, Coosa River, and Blue Eye Creek).
  • A total of 72 residences are located within 50 feet of the construction work area, of which 50 are within 25 feet of the construction work area.

In addition, the project would involve lands owned by the City of Bessemer and the University of Alabama, the State of Alabama along the Bessemer-Calera Lines; and the property of the Alabama Development Office on the North Main Line. All of these lands are crossed by the existing pipelines.

Also, we have made a preliminary decision to not address the impacts of the nonjurisdictional facilities. We will briefly describe their location and status in the EA.

Public Participation

You can make a difference by providing us with your specific comments or concerns about the project. By becoming a commentor, your concerns will be addressed in the EA and considered by the Commission. You should focus on the potential environmental impact. The more specific your comments, the more useful they will be. Please carefully follow these instructions to ensure that your comments are received in time and properly recorded:

Send an original and two copies of your letter to: David P. Boergers, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First St., N.E., Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426.

  • Label one copy of the comments for the attention of Gas 2.
  • Refernce Docket No. CP01-161-000.
  • Mail your comments so that they will be received in Washington, DC on or before June 21, 2001.

Comments may also be filed electronically via the Internet in lieu of paper. See 18 CFR 385.2001(a)(1)(iii) and the instructions on the Commission's web site at http://www.ferc.fed.us/​efi/​doorbell.htm under the link to the User's Guide. Before you can file comments you will need to create an account which can be created by clicking on “Login to File” and then “New User Account.”

We may mail the EA for comment. If you are interested in it, please return the information request (appendix 3).

Becoming an Intervenor

In addition to involvement in the EA scoping process, you may want to become an official party to the proceeding known as an “intervenor”. Intervenors play a more formal role in the process. Among other things, intervenors have the right to receive copies of case-related Commission documents and filings by other intervenors. Likewise, each intervenor must provide 14 copies of its filings to the Secretary of the Commission and must send a copy of its filings to all other parties on the Commission's service list for this proceeding. If you want to become an intervenor you must file a motion to intervene according to Rule 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.214) (see appendix 2).[4] Only intervenors have the right to seek rehearing of the Commission's decision.

Start Printed Page 28903

Affected landowners and parties with environmental concerns may be granted intervenor status upon showing good cause by stating that they have a clear and direct interest in this proceeding which would not be adequately represented by any other parties. You do not need intervenor status to have your environmental comments considered.

Additional information about the proposed project is available from the Commission's Office of External Affairs at (202) 208-1088 or on the FERC website (www.ferc.fed.us) using the “RIMS” link to information in this docket number. Click on the “RIMS” link, select “Docket #” from the RIMS Menu, and follow the instructions. For assistance with access to RIMS, the RIMS helpline can be reached at (202) 208-2222.

Similarly, the “CIPS” link on the FERC Internet website provides access to the texts of formal documents issued by the Commission, such as orders, notices, and rulemakings. From the FERC Internet website, click on the “CIPS” link, select “Docket #” from the CIPS menu, and follow the instructions. For assistance with access to CIPS, the CIPS helpline can be reached at (202) 208-2474.

Start Signature

David P. Boergers,

Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

1.  Southern's application was filed with the Commission under section 7 of the Natural Gas Act and Part 157 of the Commission's regulations.

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2.  The appendices referenced in this notice are not being printed in the Federal Register. Copies are available on the Commission's website at the “RIMS” link or from the Commission's Public reference and Files Maintenance Branch, 888 First Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20426, or call (202) 208-1371. For instructions on connecting to RIMS refer to the last page of this notice. Copies of the appendices were sent to all those receiving this notice in the mail.

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3.  “We”, “us”, and “our” refer to the environmental staff of the Office of Energy Projects (OEP).

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4.  Interventions may also be filed electronically via the Internet in lieu of paper. See the previous discussion on filing comments electronically.

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[FR Doc. 01-13219 Filed 5-24-01; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6717-01-M