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Notice

Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, Inc.; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Alden Gas Storage Field Expansion Project and Request for Comments on Environmental Issues

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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 Alden Gas Storage Field Expansion Project, involving the expansion of the certificated boundary and buffer zone of the existing Alden Gas Storage Field by Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, Inc. (Southern Star) in Rice County, Kansas. 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 Start Printed Page 41789will 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 August 8, 2011. Further details on how to submit written comments are provided in the Public Participation section of this notice.

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 project and encourage them to comment on their areas of concern.

If you are a landowner or owner of mineral rights receiving this notice, you may be contacted by a storage company representative about the acquisition of mineral rights and an easement to convert, 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 negotiations to obtain an easement or mineral rights fail to produce an agreement, the company could initiate condemnation proceedings where compensation would be determined in accordance with state or federal law.

A fact sheet prepared by the FERC entitled “An Interstate Natural Gas Facility On My Land? What Do I Need To Know?” was attached to the project notice Southern Star provided to landowners and owners of mineral rights. 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 also available for viewing on the FERC Web site (http://www.ferc.gov).

Summary of the Proposed Project

Southern Star requests authorization to expand its existing certificated boundary and buffer zone of its existing Alden Gas Storage Field located in Rice County, Kansas to ensure the field's integrity and protection. The certified storage boundary/buffer currently encompasses 3,540 acres and operates with a maximum storage capacity of 14.7 billion cubic feet (Bcf) with a working capacity of 4.2 Bcf. Southern Star proposes to expand the storage field boundary and buffer zone by an additional 1,592 acres and convert one active oil/gas production well within the planned expansion acreage, called the Rama Wellman No. 1 Well, into a pressure observation well. Southern Star states that converting the Rama Wellman No. 1 Well is required because this well is currently producing gas from its storage formation, known as the Misener Sandstone. Southern Star would also remove existing tank battery facilities dedicated to the production well. Southern Star's proposal would not change the current operational parameters or capabilities of the storage field.

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

Land Requirements for Construction

Construction of the proposed facilities would disturb about 0.9 acre of land for the temporary workspaces to convert the production well to an observation well and to remove tank battery facilities. Following construction, about 0.3 acre would be maintained for permanent operation of the observation well; the remaining acreage would be restored and allowed to revert to former uses. A permanent access road is also needed for access to the observation well.

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 will be considered during the preparation of the EA.

In the EA, we will discuss impacts that could occur as a result of the removal, conversion, and operation of those facilities related to the proposed expansion of the storage field boundary and buffer zone 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 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 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 4.

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 the Kansas State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and to solicit its 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, Start Printed Page 41790compressor 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.

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 them so that they will be received in Washington, DC, on or before August 8, 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 (CP11-481-000) 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 or mineral rights may be used permanently or temporarily for project purposes, 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 (i.e., CP11-481). 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.

Any public meetings or additional site visits will be posted on the Commission's calendar located at http://www.ferc.gov/​EventCalendar/​EventsList.aspx along with other related information.

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Dated: July 8, 2011.

Kimberly D. Bose,

Secretary.

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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.

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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 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.

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[FR Doc. 2011-17748 Filed 7-14-11; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6717-01-P