Skip to Content

Notice

Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for the Planned Northeast Supply Link Project, Request for Comments on Environmental Issues, and Notice of Public Scoping Meetings

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

Start Preamble

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 Northeast Supply Link Project (Project) involving construction and operation of facilities by Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC (Transco) in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. 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 scoping process the Commission will use to gather input from the public and interested agencies on the Project. Your input during the scoping process will help the Commission staff determine what issues need to be evaluated in the EA. The Commission staff will also use the scoping process to help determine whether preparation of an environmental impact statement is more appropriate for this Project based upon the potential significance of the anticipated levels of impact. Please note that the scoping period will close on August 15, 2011. This is not your only public input opportunity; please refer to the Environmental Review Process flow chart in Appendix 1.[1]

Comments may be submitted in written form or verbally. Further details on how to submit written comments are provided in the Public Participation section of this notice. In lieu of or in addition to sending written comments, you are invited to attend the public scoping meetings listed below.

Date and timeLocation
Monday, July 18, 2011, 6 p.m. EDTHughesville Volunteer Fire Company, Social Hall, 10 South Railroad Street, Hughesville, PA 07456.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011, 6 p.m. EDTHoward Johnson Inn, Pocono Room, 63 Route 611 (Highway 80 at Exit 302), Bartonsville, PA 18321.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 6 p.m. EDTHoliday Inn Select, Regina Room, 111 West Main Street, Clinton, NJ 08809.
Thursday, July 21, 2011, 6 p.m. EDTRamada Hotel, 130 State Route 10, East Hanover, NJ 07936.

This notice is being sent to the Commission's current environmental mailing list for this Project. 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 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 Federal or 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 included on the enclosed CD-ROM and 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

Transco has announced its intention to expand its existing natural gas transmission system in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. The Project would increase natural gas transmission capacity to the northeast region of the United States by about 250,000 dekatherms per day from Transco's Leidy Line in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to existing delivery points in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York City.

The Northeast Supply Link Project would consist of the following components:

1. Installation of three pipeline loop [2] segments:

Start Printed Page 40718
  • Palmerton Loop—Installation of 3.2 miles of 42-inch-diameter pipeline loop in Monroe County, Pennsylvania.
  • Muncy Loop—Installation of 2.3 miles of 42-inch-diameter pipeline loop in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.
  • Stanton Loop—Installation of 6.8 miles of 42-inch-diameter pipeline loop in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

2. Replacement of approximately 0.4 mile of existing 36-inch-diameter pipeline in Essex County, New Jersey.

3. Uprate [3] of two existing pipeline segments:

  • Approximately 25.5 miles of 36-inch-diameter pipeline in Passaic, Essex, Hudson, and Bergen Counties, New Jersey.
  • Approximately 1.4 miles of 24-inch-diameter pipeline in Richmond County, New Jersey and Kings County, New York.

4. Compressor station construction or modifications:

  • Compressor Station 303—Installation of a new 20,000-horsepower (hp) electric-driven compressor station in Essex County, New Jersey.
  • Compressor Station 515—Addition of 16,000 hp at the existing compressor station in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
  • Compressor Station 505—Modifications of existing compressor units, yard piping, and valves at the existing compressor station in Somerset County, New Jersey.

5. Construction or modification of other aboveground facilities including eight meter and regulator stations, five mainline block valves, and other appurtenant facilities.

The general location of the Project facilities is shown in Appendix 2.

Land Requirements for Construction

Transco is still in the planning phase for the Project, and workspace requirements have not been finalized at this time. As currently planned, construction would disturb approximately 262.5 acres of land for the aboveground facilities and the pipeline. Following construction, about 25 acres would be maintained for permanent operation of the Project facilities. The remaining acreage would be restored and allowed to revert to former uses. As planned, the new pipeline loops would primarily be installed adjacent to Transco's existing pipeline system.

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 [4] 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;
  • Water resources, fisheries, and wetlands;
  • Vegetation, wildlife, and endangered and threatened species;
  • Cultural resources;
  • Land use and cumulative impacts;
  • Air quality and noise; and
  • Public safety.

We will also evaluate reasonable 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. In addition, representatives from FERC participated in the public open houses sponsored by Transco in the Project area in March and June 2011 to explain the Environmental Review Process to interested stakeholders.

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 beginning on page 6.

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.

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 Offices (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.[5] We will define the Project-specific Area of Potential Effects (APE) in consultation with the SHPOs 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 of consultations under section 106.

Start Printed Page 40719

Currently Identified Environmental Issues

We have already identified several issues that we think deserve attention based on a preliminary review of the planned facilities and the environmental information provided by Transco. This preliminary list of issues may be changed based on your comments and our analysis:

  • Construction and operational impacts on nearby residences;
  • Impacts on wetlands and waterbodies;
  • Impacts on air quality and noise;
  • Impacts on threatened and endangered species; and
  • Safety.

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 August 15, 2011.

For your convenience, there are four methods you can use to submit your comments to the Commission. In all instances, please reference the Project docket number (PF11-4-000) 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. A brochure prepared by the FERC entitled “Your Guide to Electronic Information at FERC” is included on the enclosed CD-ROM and is available for viewing on the FERC Web site (http://www.ferc.gov). This brochure provides additional details regarding the electronic information services available for the Project at the FERC.

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”;

3. You may attend and provide either oral or written comments at a public scoping meeting. A transcript of each meeting will be made so that your comments will be accurately recorded and included in the public record; or

4. 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 planned 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 3).

Becoming an Intervenor

Once Transco 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 Web site. Please note that the Commission will not accept requests for 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., PF11-4). 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 text 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.

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

Dated: July 1, 2011.

Kimberly D. Bose,

Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

1.  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.

Back to Citation

2.  A loop is a segment of pipe that is usually installed adjacent to an existing pipeline and connected to it at both ends. The loop allows more gas to be moved through the system.

Back to Citation

3.  An uprate is a process by which an existing pipeline is approved to operate at a higher pressure, thus increasing the capacity of the pipeline. To obtain an uprate, pipeline operators must determine and document that the pipeline can safely operate at the increased pressure.

Back to Citation

4.  “Us,” “we,” and “our” refer to the environmental staff of the Commission's Office of Energy Projects.

Back to Citation

5.  The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation's regulations are at Title 36 of the 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.

Back to Citation

[FR Doc. 2011-17251 Filed 7-8-11; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6717-01-P