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Notice

Midcontinent Express Pipeline LLC; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for the Proposed MEP Amendment and Expansion Projects and Request for Comments on Environmental Issues

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Start Preamble March 24, 2009.

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 Midcontinent Express Pipeline LLC (MEP) Amendment and Expansion Projects (MEP Amendment and Expansion) involving construction and operation of facilities by Midcontinent Express Pipeline LLC in Lamar and Cass Counties, Texas; Union Parish, Louisiana; and Hinds County, Mississippi.[1] 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 supersedes the “Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Assessment for the Proposed MEP Amendment Project and Request for Comments on Environmental Issues” issued on February 11, 2009 in Docket No. CP08-6-002 for the MEP Amendment Project. The Commission staff plans to address the environmental impacts of both the MEP Amendment Project (Docket No. CP08-6-002) and the MEP Expansion Project (Docket No. CP09-56-000) under a single EA document. This notice summarizes and describes currently identified environmental issues for both projects.

This notice announces the opening of the scoping process we [2] will use to gather input from the public and interested agencies on the 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 23, 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 MEP representative about survey permission and/or the acquisition of an easement to construct, operate, and maintain 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

MEP proposes expansion and/or equipment modifications at the Start Printed Page 14548previously certificated Lamar Compressor Station in Lamar County, Texas; Atlanta Compressor Station in Cass County, Texas; Perryville Compressor Station in Union Parish, Louisiana; and the expansion and relocation of the previously certificated Vicksburg Compressor Station to Hinds County, Mississippi. Specifically, MEP is proposing to:

  • Install one additional G12 compressor unit at the Lamar Compressor Station;
  • Substitute two G16 compressor units for the two previously certificated G12 compressor units at Atlanta Compressor Station and remove the compression-capacity cap for the station;
  • Increase the land parcel size at the Atlanta Compressor Station from 30.0 acres to 36.7 acres to encompass an adjacent block valve that was certificated under Docket CP08-6-000 for the MEP pipeline;
  • Install one additional inlet filter/separator at the Perryville Compressor Station;
  • Relocate the previously certificated Vicksburg Compressor Station approximately 3.5 miles to the east from Warren County, Mississippi to Hinds County, Mississippi. The relocation would involve acquiring a new 74.8 acre land parcel; and
  • Install one new G12 compressor unit at the new Vicksburg Compressor Station site.

The specific location of the project facilities is shown in Appendix 1.[3]

If approved, MEP proposes to commence construction of the proposed facilities in September 2009.

Land Requirements for Construction

No additional land requirements, beyond what has been previously certificated, for modifications to the Lamar or Perryville Compressor Stations will be required.

The area that would be temporarily affected by construction of the Atlanta Compressor Station would increase over the previously certificated Project by 10.0 acres to a total of approximately 22.0 acres. The area that would be permanently affected by operation of the Atlanta Compressor Station would increase by 1.4 acres to a total of approximately 13.1 acres.

Construction of the Vicksburg Compressor Station would temporarily impact approximately 31.8 acres. Permanent land requirements for the operation of the Vicksburg Compressor Station would impact approximately 20.7 acres.

MEP is proposing to locate the compressor stations adjacent to existing roadways. MEP is proposing to construct access roads between the existing roadways and each area where the compressor station construction activity would occur. MEP would retain a permanent access road for each site after construction is complete.

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 possible alternatives to the proposed project or portions of the proposed 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 MEP. This preliminary list of issues may be changed based on your comments and our analysis.

  • Disturbance caused by Project construction may contribute to water and wind erosion of soils.
  • Disturbance caused by the Project may result in the temporary and permanent alteration of wildlife habitat.
  • Potential impacts on air quality and noise emissions.

Public Participation

You can make a difference by providing us with your specific comments or concerns about the MEP Amendment and Expansion Projects. 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 23, 2009.

For your convenience, there are three methods in which you can use to submit your comments to the Commission. In all instances please reference the project docket numbers (CP08-6-002 and CP09-56-000) with your submission. The Commission encourages electronic filing of comments and has dedicated Start Printed Page 14549eFiling expert staff available to assist you at 202-502-8258 or efiling@ferc.gov.

(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 Documents 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 land 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

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, if applicable, 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,

Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

1.  On December 30, 2008, MEP filed its amended application for CP08-6-000 with the Commission under section 7 of the Natural Gas Act and Part 157 of the Commission's regulations. The Commission issued its Notice of Amendment on January 12, 2009. On January 29, 2009, MEP filed its application for CP09-56-000 with the Commission under section 7 of the Natural Gas Act and Part 157 of the Commission's regulations. The Commission issued its Notice of Application on February 11, 2009.

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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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3.  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.

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[FR Doc. E9-7080 Filed 3-30-09; 8:45 am]

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