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Notice

Turtle Bayou Gas Storage Company, LLC; Amended Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for the Planned Turtle Bayou Natural Gas Storage Project and Request for Comments on Environmental Issues

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Start Preamble February 23, 2010.

As previously noticed on November 20, 2009, and amended herein, 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 Turtle Bayou Natural Gas Storage Project involving construction and operation of facilities by Turtle Bayou Gas Storage Company, LLC (Turtle Bayou) in Liberty County, Texas. 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 a second scoping period (due to pipeline route changes in the project design) the Commission will use to gather input from the public and interested agencies on the project. Your input will help the Commission staff determine what issues need to be evaluated in the EA. Please note that the scoping period will close on March 25, 2010.

This notice is being sent to the Commission's current environmental mailing list for this project, which includes newly identified affected landowners along the revised pipeline route; landowners who would no longer be affected by Turtle Bayou's previous pipeline route; 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 pipeline company representative about the acquisition of an easement to construct, operate, and maintain the planned 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 Start Printed Page 9405eminent 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?” 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.

Summary of the Planned Project

Since issuance of our [1] November 20, 2009 notice, Turtle Bayou has changed the preferred location of about 7.6 miles of its planned pipeline (from milepost 4.8 to 12.4). Turtle Bayou's current configuration of the planned facilities was changed to avoid an identified superfund site.

Turtle Bayou plans to construct and operate a new natural gas storage facility in a solution-mined salt dome in Liberty County, Texas. The Turtle Bayou Natural Gas Storage Project would provide about 12.0 billion cubic feet of working gas storage and would be integrated into the regional gas transmission system through interconnects with existing and planned interstate pipelines. According to Turtle Bayou, its project would store natural gas from Gulf Coast producers, liquefied natural gas import terminals, and new gas pipeline projects through interconnects with Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America (NGPA) and Texas Eastern Transmission Company (Texas Eastern). The planned storage facility would provide needed deliverability to end users in the eastern United States. Additionally, Turtle Bayou's planned project would provide its customers with flexibility to contract for varying levels of deliverability by interconnecting with other pipeline systems throughout the region.

The Turtle Bayou Natural Gas Storage Project would consist of the following facilities:

  • Two salt storage caverns, wells, and well pads;
  • A 17,000-horsepower compressor station;
  • Two meter stations and tie-in facilities (one for NGPA and one for Texas Eastern);
  • Two sections of 24-inch-diameter natural gas pipeline totaling about 12.4 miles (7.6 and 4.8 miles); and
  • Three sections of 18-inch-diameter water and brine pipeline totaling about 1.8 miles (1.6, 0.1, and 0.1 miles).

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

Land Requirements for Construction

Construction of the planned facilities would disturb about 333 acres of land for the aboveground facilities and the pipeline. Following construction, about 170 acres would be maintained for permanent operation of the project's facilities (111 acres for storage facilities [including electrical easements] and 59 acres for pipeline facilities); the remaining acreage would be restored and allowed to revert to former uses. The planned pipeline route generally parallels existing pipeline, utility, or road rights-of-way.

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, the Commission requests public comments on the scope of the issues to address in the EA. All comments received will be considered during the preparation of the EA.

In the EA we will discuss impacts that could occur as a result of the construction and operation of the planned 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; and
  • Public safety.

We will also evaluate possible alternatives to the planned project or portions of the project, and make recommendations on how to lessen or avoid impacts on the various resource areas.

Although no formal application has been filed, we have already initiated our NEPA review under the Commission's pre-filing process. The purpose of the pre-filing process is to encourage early involvement of interested stakeholders and to identify and resolve issues before an application is filed with the FERC. As part of our pre-filing review, we have begun to contact some federal and state agencies to discuss their involvement in the scoping process and the preparation of the EA.

Our independent analysis of the issues will be presented in the EA. The EA will be placed in the public record and, depending on the comments received during the scoping process, may be published and distributed to the public. A comment period will be allotted if the EA is published for review. 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 notice, we are asking 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. Agencies that would like to request cooperating agency status should follow the instructions for filing comments provided under the Public Participation section of this notice. Currently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has expressed its intention to participate as a cooperating agency in the preparation of the EA to satisfy its NEPA responsibilities related to this project.

Public Participation

You can make a difference by providing us with your specific comments or concerns about the 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 your comments so that they will be received in Washington, DC on or before March 25, 2010.

For your convenience, there are three methods you can use to submit your comments to the Commission. The Commission encourages electronic filing Start Printed Page 9406of comments and has expert eFiling 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 at http://www.ferc.gov under the link called “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 that is listed under the “Documents and Filings” link. 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 to your submission. New eFiling users must first create an account by clicking on the links called “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 a paper copy of your comments at the following address: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE., Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426.

Environmental Mailing List

The environmental mailing list includes federal, state, and local government representatives and agencies; elected officials; environmental and public interest groups; Native American Tribes; and local libraries and newspapers. This list also includes all affected landowners (as defined in the Commission's regulations) who are potential right-of-way grantors, whose property may be used temporarily for project purposes, or who own homes within certain distances of aboveground facilities, and anyone who submits comments on the project. We will update the environmental mailing list as the analysis proceeds to ensure that we send the information related to this environmental review to all individuals, organizations, and government entities interested in and/or potentially affected by the planned project. If the EA is published for distribution, copies will be sent to the environmental mailing list for public review and comment.

Becoming an Intervenor

Once Turtle Bayou files its application with the Commission, you may want to become an “intervenor,” which is an official party to the Commission's 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 the 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 website. Please note that you may not request intervenor status at this time. You must wait until a formal application for the project is filed with the Commission.

Additional Information

Additional information about the project is available from the Commission's Office of External Affairs, at (866) 208-FERC, or on the FERC 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 (i.e., PF09-14). Be sure you have selected an appropriate date range. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at FercOnlineSupport@ferc.gov or toll free at (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 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.

Further, 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.

Finally, Turtle Bayou has established a website for its project at http://www.turtlebayougasstorage.com and a toll-free number at (877) 558-4521. The Web site includes a description of the project, frequently asked questions, and other information.

Start Signature

Kimberly D. Bose,

Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

1.  “We,” us,” and “our” refer to the environmental staff of the Commission's Office of Energy Projects.

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2.  The appendices referenced in this notice are not being printed in the Federal Register. Copies of appendices were sent to all those receiving this notice in the mail and are available at http://www.ferc.gov using the link called “eLibrary” 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.

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[FR Doc. 2010-4252 Filed 3-1-10; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6717-01-P