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Notice

Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for the Proposed North Lansing NSS Project and Request for Comments on Environmental Issues

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Start Preamble September 16, 2005.

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 Lansing NSS Project involving construction and operation of facilities by Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America (Natural) in Harrison County, Texas.[1] The proposed facilities include new storage wells, field pipelines and appurtenances, storage well recompletions, a new 30-inch-diameter loop pipeline, 13,000 horsepower (hp) of compression and related 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.

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 Start Printed Page 56680the Commission, that approval conveys with it the right of eminent domain. Therefore, 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 Natural 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 Web site (http://www.ferc.gov).

Summary of the Proposed Project

Natural is proposing to provide additional cycled working gas capacity at its North Lansing Storage Field in Harrison County, Texas by increasing the withdrawal rate during late season conditions. Natural's proposed construction would allow 10 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of cushion gas to be converted into cycled working gas, for a total working gas capacity of 95.2 Bcf in the North Lansing Storage Field. In addition, Natural seeks authority to increase the field's certificated peak day withdrawal level from 1100 million cubic feet (MMcf) to 1240 MMcf. There would be no change in the maximum inventory level of the field. Natural seeks authority to:

  • Drill twelve new injection/withdrawal storage wells from seven well pads;
  • Recomplete sixteen existing injection/withdrawal storage wells (non jurisdictional);
  • Install new pigging facilities and modify existing pipeline and compressor station appurtenances (non jurisdictional);
  • Install about 1.8 miles of 12-inch-diameter field pipelines and appurtenances;
  • Upgrade existing field pipelines, meters, and appurtenances;
  • Construct 8.7 miles of 30-inch-diameter loop pipeline;
  • Add a 30-inch-diameter tap to the Gulf Coast #3 mainline; and
  • Add 13,000 hp of compression, gas cooling, separation, metering, a transformer, and related equipment at the existing Compressor Station 388.

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

Land Requirements for Construction

Construction of all project facilities, including pipelines, well pads, access roads, a pipe storage yard and extra workspaces would impact approximately 209 acres. Construction disturbance includes a 100-foot-wide construction right-of-way for the new 30-inch-diameter pipeline, an 80-foot-wide construction right-of-way for the new field pipelines, one new well pad and the expansion of six existing well pads. The alignment of all new pipelines would be adjacent to existing maintained pipeline right-of-way. Modifications to the compressor station would be performed completely within Natural's property at the station site, with the exception of a 4-inch-diameter water line that would run outside of the station fencing. The sixteen well recompletions and meter upgrades would be performed on existing well pads and would result in no new disturbance areas.

Following construction, about 88 acres would be maintained as new aboveground facility sites, access roads, or 50-foot-wide permanent pipeline right-of-way. The remaining 121 acres 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 staff requests public comments on the scope of the issues to 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.

In the EA we [3] 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 and wetlands
  • Fisheries, vegetation, and wildlife
  • Endangered and threatened species
  • Land use, recreation, and visual resources
  • Socioeconomics
  • Cultural resources
  • Air quality and noise
  • Reliability and safety

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.

  • There are thirteen existing and planned residences and out buildings within 50 feet of the construction work areas.
  • The project would permanently impact approximately 12 acres of soils that are potentially prime farmland soils.
  • There are three private wells located within 150 feet of the project construction boundary.
  • Five perennial streams, fourteen intermittent streams, and ten wetlands would be crossed by the proposed project.
  • Clearing of 83 acres of upland forest would be necessary for well pad and pipeline construction.
  • Suitable habitat is present for the federally listed threatened Louisiana black bear, and Texas State listed Start Printed Page 56681threatened species including the northern scarlet snake, timber/canebrake rattlesnake, and Rafinesque's big-eared bat.
  • Three noise sensitive areas (i.e. residences) are located approximately 875 feet north, 1,210 feet northeast, and 837 feet northwest from the compressor station.

Also, we have made a preliminary decision to not address the impacts of the nonjurisdictional facilities that do not require clearing, grading or excavation. We will briefly describe their location and status in the EA. Nonjurisdictional facilities that require disturbance will be included in the project analysis.

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 effects of the proposal, alternatives to the proposal (including alternative locations/routes), 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. CP05-405-000.
  • Mail your comments so that they will be received in Washington, DC on or before October 17, 2005.

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 protests 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 on-line.

We may mail the EA for comment. If you are interested in receiving it, please return the Information Request (Appendix 3). 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 may want to become an official party to the proceeding, or “intervenor”. 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). Intervenors have the right to seek rehearing of the Commission's decision. Motions to Intervene should be electronically submitted using the Commission's eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons without Internet access should send an original and 14 copies of their motion to the Secretary of the Commission at the address indicated previously. Persons filing Motions to Intervene on or before the comment deadline indicated above must send a copy of the motion to the Applicant. All filings, including late interventions, submitted after the comment deadline must be served on the Applicant and all other intervenors identified on the Commission's service list for this proceeding. Persons on the service list with e-mail addresses may be served electronically; others must be served a hard copy of the filing.

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

An effort is being made to send this notice to all individuals, organizations, and government entities interested in and/or potentially affected by the proposed project. This includes all landowners who are potential right-of-way grantors, whose property may be used temporarily for project purposes, or who own homes within distances defined in the Commission's regulations of certain aboveground facilities. By this notice we are also asking governmental agencies, especially those in Appendix 2, to express their interest in becoming cooperating agencies for the preparation of the EA.

Additional Information

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 eLibrary link. Click on the eLibrary link, click on “General Search” and 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, please contact FERC Online Support at FercOnlineSupport@ferc.gov or toll free at 1-866-208-3676, or for TTY, contact (202) 502-8659. The eLibrary link 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 to 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.

Finally, public meetings or site visits will be posted on the Commission's calendar located at http://www.ferc.gov/​EventCalendar/​EventsList.aspx along with other related information.

Start Signature

Magalie R. Salas,

Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

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.

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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 “eLibrary” 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 eLibrary 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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[FR Doc. E5-5204 Filed 9-27-05; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6717-01-P