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 Pine Prairie Energy Center Supplemental Expansion Project (Expansion Project, or Project) involving construction and operation of facilities by Pine Prairie Energy Center, LLC (Pine Prairie) in Evangeline and Acadia Parishes, Louisiana. This EA will be used by the Commission in its decision-making process to determine whether the Expansion Project is in the public convenience and necessity.
This notice announces the opening of the scoping process we will use to gather input from the public and interested agencies on the Expansion Project. Your input will help the Commission staff determine which issues need to be evaluated in the EA. Please note that the scoping period will close on April 13, 2009.
This notice is being sent to affected landowners; Federal, State, and local government representatives and agencies; elected officials; environmental and public interest groups; Native American Tribes; other interested parties; and local libraries and newspapers. State and local government representatives are asked to notify their constituents of this planned project and encourage them to comment on their areas of concern.
If you are a landowner receiving this notice, you may be contacted by a Pine Prairie representative about survey permission and/or the acquisition of an easement to construct, operate, and Start Printed Page 11933maintain the proposed facilities. 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 natural gas 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?” is available for viewing on the FERC Web site (http://www.ferc.gov). 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
Pine Prairie proposes to expand the existing capacity at the existing Pine Prairie Energy Center. Pine Prairie proposes to:
- Construct two new natural gas salt-dome storage caverns with a capacity of 12.8 billion cubic feet (bcf);
- Increase the working gas capacity of two of the three authorized natural gas storage caverns from 8 Bcf to 10 Bcf;
- Construct one additional raw water withdrawal well and one additional saltwater disposal well;
- Construct 5.3 miles of 24-inch diameter natural gas pipeline loop;
- Install six compression units totaling 34,800 horsepower at the Gas Handling Facility, expand the Gas Handling Facility to accommodate the additional compressors;
- Install pipeline facilities related to the two additional caverns; and
- Expand the previously authorized brine disposal well injection intervals to conform to the intervals approved by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources.
The general location of the project facilities is shown in Appendix 1.
If approved, Pine Prairie proposes to commence construction of the proposed Expansion Project in September 2009.
Land Requirements for Construction
Construction of the pipeline would temporarily impact about 75.6 acres and approximately 38.2 acres of additional right-of-way would be permanently affected by the Expansion Project. Pine Prairie would use existing access roads, contractor yards, and utilize the existing Pine Prairie Energy Center to minimize land impacts.
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  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 reasonable 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.
With this NOI, we are asking Federal, State, and local agencies with jurisdiction and/or special expertise with respect to environmental issues to formally cooperate with us in the preparation of the EA. These agencies may choose to participate once they have evaluated the proposal relative to their responsibilities. Additional agencies that would like to request cooperating agency status should follow the instructions for filing comments provided under the Public Participation section of this NOI.
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 Pine Prairie. This preliminary list of issues may be changed based on your comments and our analysis.
- Potential impacts on air quality;
- Potential increase in noise emissions may occur, and
- Potential impacts to wetlands.
You can make a difference by providing us with your specific comments or concerns about the Expansion Project. Your comments should focus on the potential environmental effects, reasonable alternatives, and measures to avoid or lessen environmental impacts. The more specific your comments, the more useful they will be. To ensure that your comments are timely and properly recorded, please send in your comments so that they will be received in Washington, DC on or before April 13, 2009.
For your convenience, there are three methods that you can use to submit your comments to the Commission. In all instances please reference the project docket number CP04-379-002 with your submission. The Commission encourages electronic filing of comments and has dedicated eFiling expert staff available to assist you at 202-502-8258 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(1) You may file your comments electronically by using the Quick Comment feature, which is located on the Commission's Internet Web site at http://www.ferc.gov under the link to Start Printed Page 11934Documents and Filings. A Quick Comment is an easy method for interested persons to submit text-only comments on a project;
(2) You may file your comments electronically by using the eFiling feature, which is located on the Commission's Internet Web site at http://www.ferc.gov under the link to Documents and Filings. eFiling involves preparing your submission in the same manner as you would if filing on paper, and then saving the file on your computer's hard drive. You will attach that file as your submission. New eFiling users must first create an account by clicking on “Sign up” or “eRegister.” You will be asked to select the type of filing you are making. A comment on a particular project is considered a “Comment on a Filing;” or
(3) You may file your comments via mail to the Commission by sending an original and two copies of your letter to: Kimberly D. Bose, 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, PJ11.3.
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.
If you do not want to send comments at this time but still want to remain on our mailing list, please return the Information Request (Appendix 2). 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 “intervenor,” which is an official party to the proceeding. Intervenors play a more formal role in the process and are able to file briefs, appear at hearings, and be heard by the courts if they choose to appeal the Commission's final ruling. An intervenor formally participates in a Commission proceeding by filing a request to intervene. Instructions for becoming an intervenor are included in the User's Guide under the “e-filing” link on the Commission's Web site.
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 and enter “002” in the Sub-Docket field. Be sure you have selected an appropriate date range. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support toll free at 1-866-208-3676, for TTY contact 1-202-502-8659 or e-mail at FercOnlineSupport@ferc.gov. 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 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
Kimberly D. Bose,
1. Pine Prairie submitted an amendment application on February 6, 2009 under Section 7 of the Natural Gas Act.Back to Citation
2. The appendices referenced in this notice are not being printed in the Federal Register. Copies of all appendices 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.Back to Citation
3. “We”, “us”, and “our” refer to the environmental staff of the Office of Energy Projects (OEP).Back to Citation
[FR Doc. E9-6076 Filed 3-19-09; 8:45 am]