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Notice

Northwest Pipeline, LLC; Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for the Proposed North Seattle Lateral Upgrade Project, Request for Comments on Environmental Issues, and Notice of Public Scoping Session

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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 North Seattle Lateral Upgrade Project involving construction and operation of facilities by Northwest Pipeline, LLC (Northwest) in Snohomish County, Washington. The Commission will use this EA 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 EA. 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 July 21, 2017.

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 proposed 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 proposed 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.

Northwest 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).

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 FercOnlineSupport@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; or

(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, Start Printed Page 29069please 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 (CP17-441-000) 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 the public scoping session its staff will conduct in the project area, scheduled as follows:

Date and timeLocation
Thursday, July 13, 2017, 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. PDTLynnwood Convention Center, 3711 196th Street SW., Lynnwood, WA 98036, (425) 778-7155.

The primary goal of these scoping sessions is to have you identify the specific environmental issues and concerns that should be considered in the EA to be prepared for this project. Individual verbal comments will be taken on a one-on-one basis with a court reporter. 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. PDT. 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 provide comments to the court reporter, the Commission staff will hand out numbers in the order of your arrival. Comments will be taken until 9:00 p.m. However, if no additional numbers have been handed out and all individuals who wish to provide comments have had an opportunity to do so, staff may conclude the session at 8:00 p.m. Please see appendix 1 for additional information on the session format and conduct.[1]

Your scoping comments will be recorded by the court reporter (with FERC staff present) and become part of the public record for this proceeding. Transcripts will be publicly available on FERC'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 3-5 minutes may be implemented for each commentor.

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 comment session to answer your questions about the environmental review process. Representatives from Northwest will also be present to answer project-specific questions.

Please note this is not your only public input opportunity; please refer to the review process flow chart in appendix 2.

Summary of the Proposed Project

Northwest proposes to remove approximately 6.6 miles of the 8-inch-diameter North Seattle Lateral pipeline and replace it with 20-inch-diameter pipeline, primarily in the same trench. The project is in Snohomish County, Washington. According to Northwest, the proposed facilities would increase service reliability and enable Northwest to provide an incremental 196,311 dekatherms per day of firm capacity to serve Puget Sound Energy.

The North Seattle Lateral Upgrade Project would consist of the following facilities:

  • Replace 6.6-miles of 8-inch-diameter pipeline with 20-inch-diameter pipeline,
  • rebuild the existing North Seattle/Everett meter station in order to accommodate the increased delivery capacity of the North Seattle Lateral,
  • relocate an existing 8-inch pig launcher and a 20-inch pig receiver,[2]
  • replace an existing 8-inch mainline valve with a 20-inch valve.

The general location of the project facilities is shown in appendix 3.

Land Requirements for Construction

Construction activities related to the Upgrade Project would disturb about 103 acres of land for the pipeline replacement and aboveground facilities. The new pipeline would be installed within Northwest's existing easement. Following construction, Northwest would maintain its existing 48 acres of easement area for permanent operation of the project facilities; the remaining 54 acres of construction work space would be restored and revert to former uses. The entire existing right-of-way in which the replacements would be made parallels existing pipeline, utility, or road rights-of-way.

Alternatives Under Consideration

Northwest is considering two alternate configurations to the project, as shown in appendix 4. The first option, if geotechnical and engineering studies are favorable, would be to terminate the 20-inch-diameter pipeline at milepost 8.4 and place the relocated pig launcher/receiver at this point, near Newton Road (see figure 4a), rather than at milepost 8.9, as currently proposed. This would shorten the overall length of the pipeline replacement by approximately 0.3 mile. A second alternative is to divert the pipeline off the existing Northwest easement between Yew Way and Waverly Drive as it passes through the Fritch Forest Products mill facility, in order to avoid interference with mill operations. This alternative is depicted in figure 4b.

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 [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 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. 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;
  • water resources, fisheries, and wetlands;
  • vegetation and wildlife;Start Printed Page 29070
  • endangered and threatened species;
  • cultural resources;
  • air quality and noise;
  • public safety; and
  • cumulative impacts.

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. 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. We will consider all comments on the EA before making our recommendations to the Commission. To ensure we have the opportunity to consider and address your comments, please carefully follow the instructions in the Public Participation section, beginning on page 2 of this Notice.

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

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 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.[5] 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 of consultations under section 106.

Currently Identified Environmental Issues

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

  • Effects of construction on residential properties.
  • Impacts on sensitive fish species during stream construction activities.

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 we publish and distribute the EA, copies of the EA 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 5).

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 “Document-less Intervention Guide” under the “e-filing” link on the Commission's Web site. Motions to intervene are more fully described at http://www.ferc.gov/​resources/​guides/​how-to/​intervene.asp.

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., CP17-441). 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 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.

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Dated: June 21, 2017.

Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr.,

Deputy Secretary.

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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.

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2.  A pig is a tool that the pipeline company inserts into and pushes through the pipeline for cleaning the pipeline, conducting internal inspections, or other purposes.

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

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4.  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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5.  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. 2017-13383 Filed 6-26-17; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6717-01-P