Skip to Content

Notice

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

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 Start Printed Page 59618

The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) that will discuss the environmental impacts of the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) Project involving construction and operation of facilities by Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC (Transco) in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; Somerset and Middlesex Counties, New Jersey; and in State of New Jersey and State of New York marine waters in Raritan Bay and Lower New York Bay. The Commission will use this EIS 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. 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. Your input will help the Commission staff determine what issues they need to evaluate in the EIS. To ensure that your comments are timely and properly recorded, please send your comments so that the Commission receives them in Washington, DC on or before September 23, 2016.

If you sent comments on this project to the Commission before the opening of this docket on May 18, 2016, you will need to file those comments in Docket No. PF16-5-000 to ensure they are considered as part of this proceeding.

This notice is being sent to the Commission's current environmental mailing list for this project. State and local government representatives should 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, a pipeline company representative may contact you 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 Commission approves the project, 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 Web site (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.

Public Participation

For your convenience, there are four methods you can use to submit your comments to the Commission. The Commission will provide equal consideration to all comments received, whether filed in written form or provided verbally. The Commission encourages electronic filing of comments and has expert staff available to assist you at (202) 502-8258 or efiling@ferc.gov. Please carefully follow these instructions so that your comments are properly recorded.

(1) You can file your comments electronically using the eComment feature on the Commission's Web site (www.ferc.gov) under the link to Documents and Filings. This is an easy method for submitting brief, text-only comments on a project;

(2) You can file your comments electronically by using the eFiling feature on the Commission's Web site (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.” If you are filing a comment on a particular project, please select “Comment on a Filing” as the filing type; or

(3) You can file a paper copy of your comments by mailing them to the following address. Be sure to reference the project docket number (PF16-5-000) with your submission: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426.

(4) In lieu of sending written or electronic comments, the Commission invites you to attend one of the public scoping sessions its staff will conduct in the project area, scheduled as follows:

Date and timeLocation
Wednesday, September 7, 2016, 5:00-9:00 p.m.George Bush Senior Center, 1 Old Bridge Plaza, Old Bridge, NJ 08857.
Thursday, September 8, 2016, 5:00-9:00 p.m.Aviator Sports and Events Center at Floyd Bennett Field, 3159 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11234.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016, 5:00-9:00 p.m.Solanco High School, 585 Solanco Road, Quarryville, PA 17566.
Thursday, September 15, 2016, 5:00-9:00 p.m.Franklin Township Community Center, 505 Demott Lane, Somerset, NJ 08873.

The primary goal of these scoping sessions is to have you identify the specific environmental issues and concerns that should be considered in the EIS to be prepared for the project. Individual verbal comments will be taken on a one-on-one basis with one of two stenographers. Because we anticipate a large amount of interest from affected landowners and other concerned citizens, this format is designed to receive the maximum amount of verbal comments, in a convenient way during the timeframe allotted.

Each scoping session is scheduled from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time Zone. You may arrive at any time after 5:00 p.m. There will not be a formal presentation by Commission staff when the session opens. If you wish to speak, the Commission staff will hand out numbers in the order of your arrival, and will discontinue handing them out at 8:00 p.m. Comments will be taken until 9:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m., if no additional numbers have been handed out, whichever comes first. Your verbal scoping comments will be recorded by the stenographer (with FERC staff or representative present) and become part of the public record for this proceeding. Transcripts will be publicly available on Start Printed Page 59619FERC's eLibrary system (see below for instructions on using eLibrary). If a significant number of people are interested in providing verbal comments in the one-on-one settings, a time limit of 3 to 5 minutes may be implemented for each commenter. It is important to note that verbal comments hold the same weight as written or electronically submitted comments. Although there will not be a formal presentation, Commission staff will be available throughout the scoping session to answer your questions about the environmental review process.

Please note this is not your only public input opportunity; please refer to the review process flow chart in appendix 1.[1]

Summary of the Planned Project

Transco plans to expand its existing interstate natural gas transmission system in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. The NESE Project would provide about 400 million standard cubic feet of natural gas per day to National Grid for service to National Grid's domestic and commercial customers. According to Transco, its project would ensure adequate natural gas supply to support demand growth, provide natural gas supply diversification and reliability, and improve air quality as a result of conversion from heating oil systems to natural gas.

The NESE Project would consist of the following facilities:

  • A 10.1-mile-long, 42-inch-diameter pipeline loop [2] of Transco's Mainline in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Quarryville Loop);
  • a 3.4-mile-long, 26-inch-diameter pipeline loop of the Lower New York Bay Lateral in Middlesex County, New Jersey (Madison Loop);
  • a 23.4-mile-long, 26-inch-diameter pipeline loop of the Lower New York Bay Lateral beginning at the coast of Middlesex County, New Jersey and crossing New Jersey and New York State marine waters to the existing Rockaway Transfer Point (Raritan Bay Loop);
  • an additional 21,000 horsepower of compression at Compressor Station 200 in Chester County, Pennsylvania;
  • a new 32,000 horsepower compressor station in Somerset County, New Jersey (Compressor Station 206); and
  • appurtenant underground and aboveground facilities.

The general location of the facilities is shown in appendix 2.

Transco is currently considering two locations for Compressor Station 206 in Somerset County, New Jersey, referred to as Alternative 2 and Alternative 3. Because Transco is in the planning stages of the project, we are requesting comments on both Alternative 2 and Alternative 3 for Compressor Station 206.

Land Requirements for Construction

The planned pipelines would generally parallel Transco's existing system. Transco is evaluating onshore and offshore land requirements for pipeline construction and will provide this information when it is available. Compressor Station 206 Alternative 2 consists of a 36 acre parcel and Alternative 3 consists of a 52 acre parcel. Modification of existing Compressor Station 200 in Chester County, Pennsylvania, would occur within the boundary of the facility.

The EIS 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 [3] 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 EIS on the important environmental issues. By this notice, the Commission requests public comments on the scope of the issues to address in the EIS. We will consider all filed comments during the preparation of the EIS.

In the EIS 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;
  • socioeconomics;
  • vegetation and wildlife;
  • air quality and noise;
  • endangered and threatened species;
  • public safety; and
  • cumulative impacts.

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 the FERC receives an application. 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 EIS.

The EIS will present our independent analysis of the issues. We will publish and distribute the draft EIS for public comment. After the comment period, we will consider all timely comments and revise the document, as necessary, before issuing a final EIS. To ensure we have the opportunity to consider and address your comments, please carefully follow the instructions in the Public Participation section, beginning onpage 2.

With this notice, we are asking agencies with jurisdiction by law and/or special expertise with respect to the environmental issues related to this project to formally cooperate with us in the preparation of the EIS.[4] 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. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has expressed its intention to participate as a cooperating agency in the preparation of the EIS 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 the applicable State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs), and to solicit their views and those of other government agencies, interested Indian tribes, and the public on the project's potential Start Printed Page 59620effects on historic properties.[5] We will define the project-specific Area of Potential Effects (APE) in consultation with the SHPOs 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 EIS for this project will document our findings on the impacts on historic properties and summarize the status of consultations under section 106.

Currently Identified Environmental Issues

We have already identified several issues that we think deserve attention based on a preliminary review of the planned facilities, the environmental information provided by Transco, comments received at Transco's open houses, and those comments filed to-date. This preliminary list of issues may change based on your additional comments and our analysis:

  • Potential impact of planned Compressor Station 206 on property values, air quality, health, noise, traffic, soil, groundwater, and public safety;
  • potential impact on Compressor Station 206 from blasting activity at the Trap Rock Industries, Inc. quarry;
  • alternative compressor station locations;
  • the potential for the horizontal directional drill method to impact drinking water wells; and
  • potential impacts on aquatic resources in Raritan Bay and Lower New York Bay.

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.

Copies of the completed draft EIS 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. Motions to intervene are more fully described at http://www.ferc.gov/​resources/​guides/​how-to/​intervene.asp. Instructions for becoming an intervenor are in the “Document-less Intervention 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 the Commission receives a formal application for the project.

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 (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., PF16-5). 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 www.ferc.gov/​docs-filing/​esubscription.asp.

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

Start Signature

Dated: August 24, 2016.

Kimberly D. Bose,

Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

1.  The appendices referenced in this notice will not appear in the Federal Register. Copies of the appendices were sent to all those receiving this notice in the mail and are available at 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 pipeline loop is a segment of pipe constructed parallel to an existing pipeline to increase capacity.

Back to Citation

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

Back to Citation

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

Back to Citation

5.  The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation 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.

Back to Citation

[FR Doc. 2016-20755 Filed 8-29-16; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6717-01-P