[Federal Register Volume 61, Number 235 (Thursday, December 5, 1996)]
[Pages 64514-64516]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 96-30929]


[Docket Nos. CP96-248-000, CP96-248-003, CP96-249-000, and CP96-249-

Portland Natural Gas Transmission System; Notice of Amended 
Facilities by Portland Natural Gas Transmission System To Be Included 
in the Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed PNGTS Project 
and Request for Comments on Environmental Issues

November 29, 1996.
    The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or 
Commission) is preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) that 
will discuss the environmental impacts of the construction and 
operation of the facilities, about 275 miles of various diameter 
pipeline, proposed in the PNGTS Project.\1\ This EIS will be used by 
the Commission in its decision-making process to determine whether to 
approve the project. The original notice was issued May 23, 1996. The 
purpose of this supplemental notice is to inform the public of amended 
facilities that will be analyzed in the EIS.

    \1\ Portland Natural Gas Transmission System's applications were 
filed with the Commission under Sections 3 and 7 of the Natural Gas 
Act and Parts 153 and 157 of the Commission's regulations.

    A number of Federal and state agencies have indicated that they 
wish to cooperate with us in the preparation of the EIS. These agencies 
are listed in appendix 1. Other Federal and state agencies may choose 
to cooperate with us once they have evaluated the proposal relative to 
their responsibilities.\2\

    \2\ Appendices 2 through 5 referenced in this notice are not 
being printed in the Federal Register. Copies are available from the 
Commission's Public Reference and Files Maintenance Branch, 888 
First Street, NE, Room 2A, Washington, DC 20426 or call (202) 208-
1371. Copies of the appendices were sent to all those receiving this 
notice in the mail.

Summary of Originally Proposed PNGTS Project

    Portland Natural Gas Transmission System (PNGTS) had proposed to 
build new natural gas pipeline facilities in Vermont, New Hampshire, 
Maine, and Massachusetts. PNGTS requested Commission authorization to 
construct and operate about 246.2 miles of various diameter pipeline, 4 
new meter stations, 15 mainline block valves, and 4 scraper launcher/

Summary of Proposed Changes

    On October 31, 1996, PNGTS amended its application to delete the 
first 90.6 miles of its originally filed route from Jay, Vermont to 
Shelburne, New Hampshire. The total project now involves about 271 
miles of pipeline, 7 meter stations, 20 block valves, and 6 pig 
    The amendment includes a revised route from the Canadian border at 
Pittsburg, New Hampshire through a portion of Vermont near Beecher 
Falls to Shelburne, New Hampshire, a distance of about 72.8 miles. The 
originally filed mainline route from Shelburne, New Hampshire to 
Haverhill, Massachusetts remains unchanged.
    In addition to the amended mainline route, PNGTS also proposes, in 
its amendment, to construct three new natural gas pipeline laterals: 
the Groveton Lateral, the Rumford-Jay Lateral, and the Westbrook 
Lateral. These three laterals total 48.4 miles of pipeline. The 
originally proposed Falmouth Lateral has been deleted, and the 
originally proposed Newington Lateral remains part of the proposed 
    The current project, as amended, would include the construction and 
operation of the following facilities:

[[Page 64515]]

     224.1 miles of 20-inch-diameter pipeline (mainline) 
extending from a connection with TransCanada Pipelines Limited (TCPL) 
at the border of the United States and Canada near Pittsburg, New 
Hampshire to the existing Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company transmission 
system in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Of the 224.1-mile-long mainline, 
about 0.6 mile would be in Vermont, 106.5 miles would be in New 
Hampshire, 116.9 miles would be in Maine, and 0.1 mile would be in 
     26.9 miles of 10-inch-diameter pipeline lateral from the 
mainline in Oxford County, Maine to Rumford, Maine (Rumford Lateral);
     16.6 miles of 8-inch-diameter pipeline lateral from the 
Rumford Lateral to Jay, Maine, (Jay Lateral);
     3.9 miles of 8-inch-diameter pipeline lateral from the 
mainline in Cumberland County, Maine to Westbrook, Maine (Westbrook 
     1.0 mile of 12-inch-diameter pipeline lateral from the 
mainline to Newington, New Hampshire (Newington Lateral);
     Seven new meter stations, one each in Groveton and 
Newington, New Hampshire; Rumford, Jay, Westbrook, and Wells, Maine; 
and Haverhill, Massachusetts;
     Acquisition and modification of an existing meter station 
in Newington, New Hampshire adjacent to the proposed meter station; and
     Associated pipeline facilities, such as about 20 mainline 
block valves and 6 scraper launcher/receivers.
    PNGTS proposes to have the facilities in service by November 1998. 
The general locations of the project facilities are shown in appendix 
2. The general locations of other natural gas projects under Commission 
review occurring in the same region and generally within the same time 
frame (Granite State Gas Transmission, Inc. [Granite State], Granite 
State LNG Project, Docket No. CP96-610-000; Maritimes & Northeast 
Pipeline, L.L.C. [M&NP], Maritimes Phase I Project, Docket No. CP96-
178-000; and M&NP, Maritimes Phase II Project, Docket No. CP96-809-000) 
are shown in appendix 3. If you are interested in obtaining detailed 
maps of a specific portion of the project, or procedural information 
contact the EIS Project Manager identified at the end of this notice.

Land Requirements for Construction

    Construction of the proposed pipelines (nominal right-of-way width 
of 75 feet) and meter stations would affect about 2,480 acres of land. 
Additional land disturbance would be needed for extra work spaces at 
road, railroad and certain waterbody, and wetland crossings, as well as 
for pipeyards and contractor yards and temporary topsoil or rock 
    Following construction, about 1,655 acres of the land affected by 
the project would be retained for operation of the pipeline and 
aboveground facilities. This total includes about 0.5 acre for each of 
the new meter stations. Permanent 50-foot-wide rights-of-way would be 
maintained for the pipelines. Existing land uses on the remainder of 
the disturbed area, as well as most land uses on the permanent rights-
of-way, would continue following construction.

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 
to discover and address concerns the public may have about proposals. 
We call this ``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 it will address in the EIS. All comments received are 
considered during the preparation of the EIS. State and local 
government representatives are encouraged to notify their constituents 
of this proposed action and encourage them to comment on their areas of 
    The EIS will discuss impacts that could occur as a result of the 
construction and operation of the proposed project. We have already 
identified a number of issues under each topic that we think deserve 
attention based on a preliminary review of the proposed facilities and 
the environmental information provided by the applicants. These issues 
are listed below. Keep in mind that this is a preliminary list. The 
list of issues may be added to, subtracted from, or changed based on 
your comments and our analysis.

 Geology and Soils
    --Seismology, soil liquefaction, and areas susceptible to 
    --Blasting in areas of near-surface bedrock.
    --Effect on exploitable mineral resources.
    --Effect on farmland.
    --Erosion control and right-of-way revegetation procedures.
 Water Resources
    --Effect on groundwater and surface water supplies.
    --Crossings of 595 waterbodies, including 10 crossings of 
waterbodies over 100 feet wide (Androscoggin [4 crossings], Presumpscot 
[2 crossings], Saco, Mousam, Squamscott, and Piscataqua Rivers).
    --Consistency with state Coastal Zone Management Programs.
 Biological Resources
    --Clearing of upland forest and permanent conversion of forest to 
open land.
    --Effect on habitat at 993 wetland crossings.
    --Effect on warmwater, coldwater, anadromous, and estuarine 
fisheries habitat.
    --Effect on wildlife habitat, including deer wintering areas and 
waterfowl and wading bird habitat.
    --Effect on federally listed or proposed threatened and endangered 
    --Effect on Kennebunk Plains, an unusual grassland community.
 Cultural Resources
    --Effect on historic and prehistoric sites.
    --Native American and tribal concerns.
 Land Use
    --Effect on residences within 50 feet of construction work areas.
    --Effect on planned residential developments.
    --Effect on public and recreation lands, including the Appalachian 
Trail, the White Mountain National Forest, hiking trails in the White 
Mountains, Baha'i Faith property, and Pease Development Authority 
    --Effect on scenic waterbodies, including the Connecticut and 
Exeter Rivers and the Great Brook.
    --Effects resulting from construction over or near known hazardous 
waste sites.
    --Effect of construction workforce on surrounding areas.
    --Effect on property values and tax revenue.
 Air Quality and Noise
    --Effect on local air quality and noise environment from 
 Reliability and Safety
    --Assessment of hazards associated with natural gas pipelines.
 Cumulative Impact
    --Assessment of the combined effect of the proposed project with 
other projects occurring in the same general area and within the 
general same time frame, including the Granite State LNG Project and 
the Maritimes Phase I and II Projects.

    We will also evaluate possible alternatives to the proposed project 

[[Page 64516]]

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 in the Draft EIS 
which will be mailed to Federal, state, and local agencies, public 
interest groups, interested individuals, affected landowners, 
newspapers, libraries, and the Commission's official service list for 
this proceeding. A 45-day comment period will be allotted for review of 
the Draft EIS. We will consider all comments on the Draft EIS and 
revise the document, as necessary, before issuing a Final EIS. The 
Final EIS will include our response to each comment received and will 
be used by the Commission in its decision-making process to determine 
whether to approve the project.

Public Participation and Scoping Meetings

    You can make a difference by sending a letter to the Secretary of 
the Commission addressing your specific comments or concerns about the 
project. You should focus on the potential environmental effects of the 
proposal, alternatives to the proposal (including alternative routes), 
and measures to avoid or minimize environmental impact. The more 
specific your comments, the more useful they will be. Please follow the 
instructions below to ensure that your comments are received and 
properly recorded:
    Address your letter to: Lois Cashell, Secretary, Federal Energy 
Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20426.
    Reference Docket Nos. CP96-249-000 and CP96-249-003;
    Also, send a copy of your letter to: Mr. Mark Jensen, EIS Project 
Manager, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE, 
Room 72-65, Washington, DC 20426; and
    Mail your comments so that they will be received in Washington, DC 
on or before January 3, 1997.
    In addition to sending written comments, you may attend public 
scoping meetings. We will conduct two public scoping meetings at the 
following times and locations:

               Date                      Time              Location     
December 11, 1996................  7:00 p.m.         Berlin Town Hall,  
                                                      Berlin, NH.       
December 12, 1996................  7:00 p.m.         Colebrook          
                                                      Elementary School,
                                                      Colebrook, NH.    

    The purpose of the scoping meetings is to obtain input from state 
and local governments and from the public. Federal agencies have formal 
channels for input into the Federal process on an interagency basis. 
Federal agencies are expected to transmit their comments directly to 
the FERC and not use the scoping meetings for this purpose.
    Interested groups and individuals are encouraged to attend the 
meetings and present oral comments on the environmental issues which 
they believe should be addressed in the Draft EIS. The more specific 
your comments, the more useful they will be. Anyone who would like to 
make an oral presentation at the meeting should contact the EIS Project 
Manager identified at the end of this notice to have his or her name 
placed on the list of speakers. Priority will be given to those persons 
representing groups. A list will be available at the meetings to allow 
non-preregistered speakers to sign up. A transcript will be made of the 
meetings and comments will be used to help determine the scope of the 
Draft EIS.

Becoming an Intervenor

    In addition to involvement in the EIS scoping process, you may want 
to become an official party to the proceeding or become an 
``intervenor.'' Among other things, intervenors have the right to 
receive copies of case-related Commission documents and filings by 
other intervenors. Likewise, each intervenor must provide copies of its 
filings to all other parties. If you want to become an intervenor you 
must file a motion to intervene according to Rule 214 of the 
Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.214) (see 
appendix 4).
    The date for filing of timely motions to intervene in this 
proceeding has passed. Therefore, parties now seeking to file late 
interventions must show good cause, as required by Section 
385.214(b)(3), why this time limitation should be waived. Environmental 
issues have been viewed as good cause for late intervention. You do not 
need intervenor status to have your scoping comments considered.

Environmental Mailing List

    This notice is being sent to individuals, organizations, and 
government entities interested in and/or potentially affected by the 
proposed project. It is also being sent to all potential right-of-way 
grantors to solicit comments regarding environmental considerations 
related to the proposed project. As details of the project become 
established, representatives of PNGTS may also separately contact 
landowners, communities, and public agencies concerning project 
matters, including acquisition of permits and rights-of-way.
    If you do not want to send comments at this time but still want to 
receive copies of the Draft and Final EISs, please return the 
Information Request (appendix 5). If you do not return the Information 
Request, you will be taken off the mailing list.
    Additional procedural information about the proposed project is 
available from Mr. Mark Jensen, EIS Project Manager, at (202) 208-0828.
Lois D. Cashell,

Appendix 1--Cooperating Agencies

    The following Federal and state agencies have indicated that they 
will be cooperating agencies for purposes of producing an EIS:

U.S. Department of the Army, Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
New Hampshire Fish and Game Department

    Any other Federal, state, or local agencies wanting to participate 
as a cooperating agency should send a letter describing the extent to 
which they want to be involved. Follow the instructions below if your 
agency wishes to participate in the EIS process or comment on the 
    Address your letter to: Lois Cashell, Secretary, Federal Energy 
Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20426;
    Reference Docket Nos. CP96-249-000 and CP96-249-001;
    Send a copy of your letter to: Mr. Mark Jensen, EIS Project 
Manager, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE, 
Room 72-65, Washington, DC 20426; and
    Mail your letter so that it will be received in Washington, DC on 
or before January 3, 1997.
    Cooperating agencies are encouraged to participate in the scoping 
process and provide us written comments. Agencies are also welcome to 
suggest format and content changes that will make it easier for them to 
adopt the EIS. However, we will decide what modifications will be 
adopted in light of our production constraints.

[FR Doc. 96-30929 Filed 12-4-96; 8:45 am]