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 proposed North Lansing Storage Field Abandonment Project proposed by Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America (Natural) in Harrison County, Texas. The facilities to be abandoned include an inactive injection/withdrawal well, about 2,380 feet of 8-inch-diameter lateral pipeline, and the associated 6-inch meter facilities. 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.
Summary of the Proposed Project
The proposed abandonment is responsive to a Commission Order issued December 24, 2002, in FERC Docket No. CP02-391-000, involving the expansion of Natural's North Lansing storage field. An environmental condition of the Order required Natural to identify any currently unused aboveground facilities and pipelines on the property of S.J. Keasler, a landowner on the North Lansing storage field, and provide a timetable for filing an abandonment application with the Start Printed Page 34603Commission for removal of these facilities.
Natural identified an injection/withdrawal well, lateral pipeline and meter facility, all located on S.J. Keasler's property. The facilities were constructed under the FERC Docket No. CP89-2081-000 to increase withdrawal capabilities at the North Lansing storage field. Natural states that the injection/withdrawal well was plugged in 1997 after a leak was detected in the production tubing and has since been inactive. The surface wellhead equipment was subsequently removed. The associated meter facilities and lateral pipeline have been inactive since the well was plugged and are not located in an area of the storage field conducive for future connections to other possible wells. Due to the potential for corrosion from condensate and water to occur and cause future problems at the North Lansing storage field, Natural proposes to abandon the injection/withdrawal well and lateral pipeline in place and remove the meter facilities.
Natural seeks authority to:
- Abandon in place the injection/withdrawal well (ODA3-W, Emma Keasler #103);
- Cut, fill, cap, and abandon in place approximately 2,380 feet of 8-inch-diameter lateral pipeline (G-7 lateral); and
- Abandon by removal all aboveground portions of the 6-inch meter facility; and the belowground portions to three feet below grade.
The general location of the project facilities is shown in appendix 1.
Land Requirements for Construction
Abandonment of the proposed facilities would require disturbance of about 0.01 acre of land. Natural proposes that following abandonment, it would continue the existing easement agreement and retain ownership of the abandoned lateral pipeline. The 0.01 acre of land would be restored and allowed to revert to its former use.
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  to discover and address concerns the public may have about proposals. This process is referred to as “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;
- Land use;
- Water resources;
- Cultural resources;
- Vegetation and wildlife;
- Air quality and noise;
- Endangered and threatened species;
- Public safety.
We will not discuss impacts to the following resource areas since they are not present in the project area, or would not be affected by the proposed abandonment.
- Fisheries and wetlands;
- 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, beginning on page 5.
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 Natural. This preliminary list of issues may be changed based on your comments and our analysis.
- Two federally listed endangered or threatened species may occur in the proposed project area.
- In comments submitted under Docket No. CP02-391-000, S.J. Keasler, an affected landowner, expressed desires to have Natural remove all aboveground facilities and the pipeline associated with the inactive injection/withdrawal well (ODA3-W, Emma Keasler #103). However, Natural proposes to abandon the well and lateral pipeline in place.
- An unnamed intermittent tributary of the Moccasin Creek is crossed by the G-7 lateral pipeline. If the G-7 lateral pipeline were removed, the tributary would be subject to disturbance.
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 effects of the proposal, alternatives to the proposal (including alternative means of abandonment), and measures to avoid or lessen 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: Magalie R. Salas, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First St., NE., Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426.
- Label one copy of the comments for the attention of Gas Branch 3.
- Reference Docket No. CP03-131-000.
- Mail your comments so that they will be received in Washington, DC on or before July 3, 2003.
Please note that we are continuing to experience delays in mail deliveries from the U.S. Postal Service. As a result, we will include all comments that we receive within a reasonable time frame in our environmental analysis of this project. However, the Commission strongly encourages electronic filing of any comments or interventions or Start Printed Page 34604protests to this proceeding. See 18 CFR 385.2001(a)(1)(iii) and the instructions on the Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov under the “e-Filing” link and the link to the User's Guide. Before you can file comments you will need to create a free account which can be created by clicking on “Login to File” and then “New User Account.”
We might mail the EA for comment. If you are interested in receiving it, please return the Information Request (appendix 4). If you do not return the Information Request, you will be taken off the mailing list.
Becoming an Intervenor
In addition to involvement in the EA scoping process, you might 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). Only intervenors have the right to seek rehearing of the Commission's decision.
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.
Environmental Mailing List
This notice is being sent to individuals, organizations, and government entities interested in and/or potentially affected by the proposed project. It is also being sent to all identified right-of-way grantors. By this notice we are also asking governmental agencies to express their interest in becoming cooperating agencies for the preparation of the EA.
Additional information about the project is available from the Commission's Office of External Affairs, at 1-866-208-FERC or on the FERC Internet Web site (http://www.ferc.gov) using the FERRIS link. Click on the FERRIS link, enter the docket number excluding the last three digits in the Docket Number field. Be sure you have selected an appropriate date range. For assistance with FERRIS, the FERRIS helpline can be reached at 1-866-208-3676, TTY (202) 502-8659, or at FERCOnLineSupport@ferc.gov. The FERRIS link on the FERC Internet Web site also provides access to the texts of formal documents issued by the Commission, such as orders, notices, and rulemakings.
In addition, the Commission now offers a free service called eSubscription which allows you too keep track of all formal issuances and submittals in specific dockets. This can reduce the amount of time you spend researching proceedings by automatically providing you with notification of these filings, document summaries and direct links to the documents. Go to http://www.ferc.gov/esubscribenow.htm.Start Signature
Magalie R. Salas,
1. Natural's application was filed with the Commission under section 7 of the Natural Gas Act and part 157 of the Commission's regulations.Back to Citation
2. The appendices referenced in this notice are not being printed in the Federal Register. Copies of all appendices, other than appendix 1 (maps), are available on the Commission's Web site at the “FERRIS” link or from the Commission's Public Reference Room, 888 First Street, NE., Washington, DC 20426, or call (202) 502-8371. For instructions on connecting to FERRIS refer to the last page of this notice. Copies of the appendices were sent to all those receiving this notice in the mail.Back to Citation
3. ”We”, “us”, and “our” refer to the environmental staff of the Office of Energy Projects (OEP).Back to Citation
4. Interventions may also be filed electronically via the Internet in lieu of paper. See the previous discussion on filing comments electronically.Back to Citation
[FR Doc. 03-14493 Filed 6-9-03; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6717-01-P