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Notice

Unocal Windy Hill Gas Storage, LLC; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Windy Hill Gas Storage Project and Request for Comments on Environmental Issues

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Start Preamble November 18, 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 Windy Hill Gas Storage Project involving construction and operation of facilities by Unocal Windy Hill Gas Storage, LLC (Unocal) in Morgan County, Colorado. These facilities would consist of about 14.1 miles of 16-inch-diameter pipeline, a 14,200-horsepower (hp) compressor station, four water supply wells, a solution mining facility, a brine disposal facility, six groundwater monitoring wells, four gas storage caverns, a gas dehydration facility, and electric utilities. This EA will be used by the Commission in its decisionmaking 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 Unocal representative about the acquisition of an easement to construct, operate, and maintain the proposed facilities. Unocal 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. Therefore, if easement negotiations fail to produce an agreement, Unocal 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 that Unocal 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 Start Printed Page 71126Commission's proceedings. It is available for viewing on the FERC Internet Web site (http://www.ferc.gov).

Summary of the Proposed Project

Unocal wants to provide up to 6 billion cubic feet of working gas storage capacity and transportation to customers, with a maximum injection rate of 135 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d), and a maximum withdrawal rate of 400 MMcf/d. Unocal seeks authority to construct and operate in Morgan County, Colorado:

Phase I Facilities (2006)

  • Two solution-mined gas storage salt caverns (4-17S and 5-17S);
  • Four water supply wells;
  • Four 400-horsepower (hp) pumps for the four water supply wells;
  • Two 800-hp booster pumps for injection of water for cavern development;
  • Two 3,000-gallon diesel tanks for cavern development;
  • Three 1,500-barrel (bbl) fiberglass skim tanks to separate diesel oil from brine solution;
  • One 210-bbl steel tank for holding recovered diesel oil;
  • A 125- by 30-foot mining pump building and electrical control room;
  • A 178- by 178-foot brine disposal retention pond;
  • Four brine disposal wells;
  • Two 300-hp brine disposal pumps, including two 1,000-hp pumps if needed;
  • A 1,000-bbl fiberglass feed-water suction tank for the brine disposal pumps;
  • Six shallow groundwater monitoring wells;
  • A dehydration facility consisting of three 1.5-million British thermal unit triethylene glycol dehydrators for drying out the caverns;
  • A compressor station consisting of four 3,550-hp compressors driven by natural gas-fired reciprocating engines, totaling 14,200 hp;
  • An inlet scrubber for liquid removal from in-coming gas;
  • A gas cooler to cool the gas leaving the compressor station;
  • A 1.75-mile extension from the existing Morgan County Rural Electric Association's 12.47 kilovolt power line;
  • About 4.4 miles of permanent access roads;
  • A 20-foot widening of about 0.7 mile of the existing County Road Q; and
  • Two 60-foot-wide all-weather gravel roads totaling 0.41 mile.

Phase II Facilities (2008)

  • Two additional solution-mined gas storage salt caverns (6-17S and 7-17S).

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

Land Requirements for Construction

Construction of the proposed facilities would require about 201.7 acres of land. Following construction, about 119.6 acres would be maintained as new aboveground facility sites and permanent rights-of-way. The remaining 82.1 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 [2] 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, fisheries, and wetlands;
  • Cultural resources;
  • Vegetation and wildlife;
  • Air quality and noise;
  • Endangered and threatened species;
  • Public 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 below.

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 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. CP06-20-000.
  • Mail your comments so that they will be received in Washington, DC on or before December 23, 2005.

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.Start Printed Page 71127

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

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[FR Doc. E5-6491 Filed 11-23-05; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6717-01-P