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Notice

Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Northampton Expansion Project and Request for Comments on Environmental Issues

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Start Preamble December 21, 2010.

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 Northampton Expansion Project (Project) involving construction and operation of facilities by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company (Tennessee) in Hampden County, Massachusetts. 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.

The Notice of Intent (NOI) announces the opening of the scoping process 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 January 20, 2011.

Comments on the project may be submitted in written form or electronically, as described in the public participation section of this notice.

This NOI is being sent to the Commission's current environmental mailing for this project, which includes affected landowners; Federal, State, and local government representatives and agencies; elected officials; environmental and public interest groups; Native American Tribes; parties to this proceeding; and local libraries and newspapers. State and local government representatives are asked to notify their constituents of this proposed 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 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 pipeline company could initiate condemnation proceedings where compensation would be determined 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 Internet Web site (http://www.ferc.gov/​for-citizens/​citizen-guides.asp). This fact sheet addresses a number of typically asked questions, including the use of eminent domain and how to participate in FERC's proceedings.

Summary of the Proposed Project

The Project involves the construction of the new Southwick Compressor Station 260A at 248 Feeding Hills Road in the Town of Southwick, Hampden County, Massachusetts. The Project has been sited on a 5.32-acre parcel adjacent to Tennessee's existing 8-inch diameter Northampton Lateral Line. The Compressor Station will consist of a 2,000-horsepower electric engine compression unit housed within a new building, and other associated facilities, including a gas cooler unit, vent silencer, a fan, a control building, on-site access driveway, and overhead electrical line. Ancillary equipment will also include an emergency generator, hot water boiler and space heater, all fueled by natural gas. In order to connect the Compressor Station to the Northampton Lateral, Tennessee will need to install a total of 380 feet of pipeline: (i) 155 feet of pipeline on the Compressor Station site; and (ii) 225 feet of pipeline within a 60-foot wide easement connecting the Compressor Station site to the Northampton Lateral.

A location map depicting the proposed facilities is attached to this NOI as Appendix 1.[1]

Land Requirements for Construction

Tennessee proposes to construct the Project on a parcel of land measuring approximately 5.32 acres which is wholly owned by Tennessee. Construction will require approximately 3.28 acres of new land disturbance of which 1.57 acres will be permanently altered by operation of the facility. Approximately 2.82 acres (over 50 percent) of the 5.32-acre parcel would be utilized as buffer and visual screening both during and post-construction and will not be affected by either construction or operation of the facility. Portions of this work are also required within a proposed 0.31-acre pipeline easement necessary to connect the compressor station to Tennessee's existing pipeline. Following construction, the ground surfaces immediately surrounding the facility and within the proposed fence line will be converted to gravel and maintained lawn to facilitate maintenance of a clear and accessible operational area.

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 [2] 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 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 results 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
  • Reliability and 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.Start Printed Page 81603

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.

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.

Consultations Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act

In accordance with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation's implementing regulations for section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, we are using this notice to initiate consultation with applicable State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and to solicit their views and those of other government agencies, interested Indian tribes, and the public on the project's potential effects on historic properties.[3] We will define the project-specific Area of Potential Effects (APE) in consultation with the SHPO as the project is further developed. On natural gas facility projects, the APE at a minimum encompasses all areas subject to ground disturbance (examples include construction right-of-way, contractor/pipe storage yards, compressor stations, and access roads). Our EA for this project will document our findings on the impacts on historic properties and summarize the status on consultations under section 106.

Currently Identified Environmental Issues

We have already identified issues that we think deserve attention based on a preliminary review of the proposed facilities and the environmental information provided by Tennessee. This preliminary list of issues, which is presented below, may be revised based on your comments and our continuing analyses specific to the Project:

  • Potential noise and vibration impacts from compressor station
  • Air quality impacts from the compressor station construction and operation

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 in your comments so that they will be received in Washington, DC, on or before January 20, 2011.

For your convenience, there are three methods which you can use to submit your comments to the Commission. In all instances please reference the project docket number (CP11-36-000) with your submission. The Commission encourages electronic filing of 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 eComment feature, which is located on the Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov under the link to Documents and Filings. An eComment is an easy method for interested persons to submit brief, 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 Web site at http://www.ferc.gov under the link to Documents and Filings. With eFiling you can provide comments in a variety of formats by attaching them as a file with your submission. New eFiling users must first create an account by clicking on “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; other interested parties; 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 proposed project.

If the EA is published for distribution, copies will be sent to the environmental mailing list for public review and comment. If you would prefer to receive a paper copy of the document instead of the CD version or would like to remove your name from the mailing list, please return the attached Information Request (Appendix 2).

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 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 Web site.

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 at 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 Start Printed Page 81604 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 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

Kimberly D. Bose,

Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

1.  The appendices referenced in this notice are not printed in the Federal Register, but they are being provided to all those who receive this notice in the mail. Copies of the NOI can be obtained from the Commission's Web site at the “eLibrary” link, Commission's Public Reference Room, or by calling (202) 502-8371. For instructions on connecting to eLibrary, refer to the end of this notice.

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

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3.  The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation's regulations are at Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 800. Historic properties are defined in those regulations as any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure, or object included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register for Historic Places.

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[FR Doc. 2010-32641 Filed 12-27-10; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6717-01-P