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Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, Inc.; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Piqua Natural Gas Storage Field Expansion and Well Abandonment Project and Request for Comments on Environmental Issues

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Start Preamble Start Printed Page 71159 December 1, 2006.

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 Piqua Natural Gas Storage Field Expansion and Well Abandonment Project proposed by Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, Inc. (Southern Star) in Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas.[1] Southern Star proposes to increase the storage boundary and buffer zone of the Piqua Storage Field by approximately 480 acres, and to permanently abandon 13 injection/withdrawal wells within the Piqua Storage Field. 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.

This notice announces the opening of the public comment period that will be used to gather environmental input from the public and interested agencies on the project. Comments are requested by January 6, 2007.

With this notice, the FERC staff is asking other federal, state, local and tribal agencies with jurisdiction and/or special expertise with respect to environmental issues to cooperate with us in the preparation of the EA. These agencies may choose to participate once they have evaluated Southern Star's proposal relative to their responsibilities. Agencies that would like to request cooperating status should follow the instructions for filing comments described in Appendix 1.

If you are a landowner receiving this notice, you may be contacted by a company representative about the acquisition of an easement related to the storage field expansion and/or well abandonment activities, as proposed in this project. The 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. Therefore, if easement negotiations fail to produce an agreement, the company could initiate condemnation proceedings in accordance with state law.

A brochure prepared by the FERC entitled “An Interstate Natural Gas Facility On My Land? What Do I Need To Know?” is available for viewing on the FERC Web site at 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.

Summary of the Proposed Project

Southern Star seeks authority to increase the certificated storage boundary and buffer zone of the Piqua Storage Field. In addition, they propose to redefine the cap rock for the gas storage formation as the interval from the base of the Fort Scott Limestone to the top of the Pawnee Limestone. The proposed geographic expansion and cap rock redefinition of the gas storage field would protect the integrity of the field and the current geologic confining layer by preventing future gas migration issues that may result from outside shallow oil operators drilling near the field.

Southern Star also requests abandonment authority to permanently plug and abandon 13 injection/withdrawal wells located within the storage field. These wells have been identified to exhibit poor deliverability and/or mechanical risk. Therefore, the permanent plugging and abandonment of these wells would allow Piqua Storage Field to operate more efficiently.

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

Land Requirements

As discussed above, approximately 480 acres would be acquired by Southern Star to increase the certificated storage boundary and to redefine the cap rock of the Piqua Storage Field. The acquisition is located at the eastern edge of the current storage field boundary in Allen County, Kansas.

A total of approximately 15.5 acres of land would be temporarily affected by the abandonment activities of the proposed project and includes a construction area of 200 feet by 200 feet for each well. About 11.7 acres of this land would be required as temporary workspace in completing well abandonment activities. Access to each well would be obtained by use of existing, unimproved field roads.

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. 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.

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.

Currently Identified Environmental Issues

In the EA, we will discuss impacts that could occur as a result of the construction and abandonment activities of the proposed project. We will also evaluate reasonable alternatives to the proposed project or portions of the project.

One environmental issue we have already identified that we think deserves attention based on a preliminary review of the proposed facilities and the environmental information provided by Southern Star is the Conservation Reserve Program Start Printed Page 71160(CRP) land located within the project area. Approximately 3.6 acres of the total land affected by the project is designated as CRP land and would be temporarily impacted by the project's well abandonment activities. Additional issues may be identified based on your comments and our 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), and measures to avoid or lessen environmental impact. The more specific your comments, the more useful they will be in completing our environmental analysis. Please carefully follow the instructions below 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. CP07-017-000.
  • Mail your comments so that they will be received in Washington, DC on or before January 6, 2007.

The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing of comments. Please refer to 18 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 385.2001(a)(1)(iii) and the instructions on the Commission's Web site at under the “e-Filing” link and the link to the User's Guide. Prepare your submission in the same manner as you would if filing on paper and save it to a file on your hard drive. Before you can file comments, you will need to create an account by clicking on “Login to File” and then “New User Account.” You will be asked to select the type of filing you are making. This filing is considered a “Comment on Filing.”

The determination of whether to distribute the EA for public comment will be based on the response to this notice. If you are interested in receiving a copy of the EA, please return the Information Request form (Appendix 3). An effort is being made to send this notice to all individuals affected by the proposed project. This includes all landowners whose property may be used temporarily for project purposes, or is in the area of new storage fields or proposed expansions of storage fields including any applicable buffer zone.

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 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

If you wish to remain on our environmental mailing list, please return the Information Request form included in Appendix 3. If you do not return this form, you will be removed from our mailing list.

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 ( 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 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​esubscribenow.htm.

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

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Magalie R. Salas,


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1.  Southern Star'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 2 (map), 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. E6-20826 Filed 12-7-06; 8:45 am]