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Notice

El Paso Natural Gas Company; Supplemental Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Willcox Lateral 2013 Expansion Project and Request for Comments on Environmental Issues

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As previously noticed on December 2, 2011, and supplemented 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 Willcox Lateral 2013 Expansion Project (Project) proposed by El Paso Natural Gas Company (EPNG). The Project involves modification, construction, and operation of certain meter, compressor, and lateral facilities in Cochise County, Arizona to accommodate a proposed increase in the maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) of the Willcox Lateral. The Commission will use the EA in its decision-making process to determine whether the Project is in the public convenience and necessity.

Since issuance of the Commission's initial notice of intent (NOI) for the Project, EPNG has determined that additional modifications are necessary to operate the Willcox Lateral at the proposed increase in MAOP and has identified 21 public road crossings where replacement with thicker-walled pipe would be required. In addition, EPNG would install Over Pressure Protection (OPP) at the Line 2163/2164 Bifurcation Facility and limit the downstream facilities to an MAOP of 1219 pounds per square inch gauge. EPNG states the replacements are required to comply with the Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration design factor requirements for public road crossings as codified in 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 192.111(b)(1) and (2).

This Supplemental NOI addresses these changes and announces the opening of a scoping period 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 May 30, 2012.

Further details on how to submit written comments are in the Public Participation section of this notice.

This notice is being sent to the Commission's current environmental mailing list for the entire Project. The mailing list includes the affected 28 landowners of the 21 public roads crossings where replacement with thicker-walled pipe would be required. EPNG has notified these landowners affected by the road crossing replacements. State and local government representatives should notify their constituents of this proposed Project and encourage them to comment on their areas of concern.

EPNG provided landowners with a fact sheet prepared by the FERC entitled “An Interstate Natural Gas Facility on My Land? What Do I Need To Know?” 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 (www.ferc.gov).

Summary of the Proposed Project

The Project involves the modification of EPNG's existing pipeline system and installation of new facilities in Cochise County, Arizona including:

  • A new 400-foot-long, 16-inch-diameter lateral pipeline to connect the Douglas Meter Station to EPNG's existing Line No. 2164;
  • Replacement of compressor modules and station yard piping at the existing Willcox Compressor Station;
  • Expansion of the existing Douglas Meter Station by installing updated flow control and pressure regulation equipment;
  • Replacement of the existing two 8-inch orifice meters with two 8-inch ultrasonic meters to increase the capacity at the El Fresnal Meter Station; and
  • Replacement of existing pipeline at 21 existing public road crossings along the Project route with thicker-walled pipe and installation of OPP at the Bifurcation Facility.

Land Requirements for Construction

Total ground disturbance activities associated with pipeline replacement at the 21 public road crossings would affect approximately 24.51 acres of land located on private property and lands administered by the Arizona State Land Department and the Bureau of Land Management. EPNG proposes to use the existing line Nos. 2163 and 2164 50-foot permanent right-of-way and additional temporary workspace at each of the identified road crossing locations. Pipeline replacement segments would vary in length from 75 to 175 feet, and would be installed using traditional open cut or non-intrusive methods, such as a bore or pull. All ground disturbances related to the proposed construction activities would be temporary in nature. No new access roads or expansion of existing roads would be required for replacement activities. Figure 1 identifies the proposed activity locations for all road crossing sites.

EPNG proposes to utilize the existing Bifurcation Facility located at milepost 61.4 for staging of construction equipment, pipe fabrication storage, and construction work space for the installation of the OPP equipment. Approximately 1.1 acres of temporary workspace/staging is proposed at the existing location.

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. The NEPA also requires us [1] 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 important environmental issues. By this notice, the Commission requests public comments on the scope of the issues to address in the EA. We will consider all filed comments 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 proposed Project under these general headings:

  • Geology and soils;
  • Land use and recreation;
  • Water resources, fisheries, and wetlands;
  • Cultural resources;
  • Vegetation and wildlife;
  • Air quality and noise; 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.

The EA will present our independent analysis of the issues. The EA will be available in the public record through eLibrary (FERC's records information system, see the Additional Information section of this Notice). To ensure we have the opportunity to consider and address your comments, please carefully follow the instructions in the Public Participation section. Depending on the comments received during the scoping process, we may also publish and distribute the EA to the public for an allotted comment period. Comments on the EA will be considered before we make our recommendations to the Commission.

With this notice, we are asking agencies with jurisdiction by law and/or special expertise with respect the environmental issues of this project to formally cooperate with us in the preparation of the EA.[2] 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 Arizona 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 develops. 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.

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 May 31, 2012.

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 (CP12-6-000) with your submission. The Commission encourages electronic filing of comments and has expert 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 (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 (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 must select the type of filing you are making. If you are filing a comment on a particular project, please select “Comment on a Filing”; or

(3) You may file a paper copy of your comments by mailing them to 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; Indian 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 we publish and distribute the EA, 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 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 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., CP12-6). 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 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 www.ferc.gov/esubscribenow.htm.

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

Dated: April 30, 2012.

Kimberly D. Bose,

Secretary.

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 Council on Environmental Quality regulations addressing cooperating agency responsibilities are at Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1501.6.

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

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[FR Doc. 2012-10783 Filed 5-3-12; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6717-01-P