[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 110 (Friday, June 7, 2013)]
[Pages 34374-34375]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-13516]



Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

[Docket No. AD12-2-000]

Notice of Availability of Final Revisions to the Upland Erosion 
Control, Revegetation, and Maintenance Plan and Wetland and Waterbody 
Construction and Mitigation Procedures

    The staff of the Office of Energy Projects has revised its Upland 
Erosion Control, Revegetation, and Maintenance Plan (Plan) and Wetland 
and Waterbody Construction and Mitigation Procedures (Procedures). 
Attached to this notice are full texts of the final Plan and Procedure 
revisions, identifying all changes from the January 2003 versions in 
tracked changes format \1\. Clean copies of the revised Plan and 
Procedures (May 2013 versions) are available on the Federal Energy 
Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) Web site at http://www.ferc.gov/industries/gas/enviro/guidelines.asp.

    \1\ The attachments referenced in this notice will not appear in 
the Federal Register.

    The Plan and Procedures are referred to at 18 Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) 380.12(i)(5) and 380.12(d)(2), respectively, as well 
as 18 CFR 157C.206(b)(3)(iv). The Plan and Procedures identify the 
staff's baseline mitigation measures for minimizing erosion, enhancing 
revegetation, and minimizing the extent and duration of disturbance on 
wetlands and waterbodies during the construction of FERC jurisdictional 
natural gas projects.
    In accordance with Order 603,\2\ the FERC staff solicited comments 
on the January 2003 versions of the Plan and Procedures by public 
notice issued October 31, 2011, in the above referenced docket. Draft 
revisions were issued for comment on July 31, 2012, and the Plan and 
Procedures were subsequently revised and finalized. During the comment 
periods, the FERC received input from the natural gas industry, 
federal, state and local agencies, environmental consultants, 
inspectors, construction contractors, nongovernmental organizations and 
other interested parties with special expertise with respect to 
environmental issues commonly associated with pipeline projects and 
other natural gas facility construction projects. The final revisions 
address the comments filed in response to the public notices, frequent 
inquiries for clarification or staff guidance, and common variance 
requests. Other modifications provide necessary updates to reflect 
current laws and industry best management practices.

    \2\ Revision of Existing Regulations Under Part 157 and Related 
Sections of the Commission's Regulations Under the Natural Gas Act, 
Commission Order No. 603, Docket No. RM98-9-000, issued April 29, 
1999. Noticed in the Federal Register on May 14, 1999. 64 FR 26572.

    All of the information related to the Plan and Procedures revisions 
and submitted comments can be found 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., AD12-2). Be sure you have selected an 
appropriate date range. For assistance, please contact FERC Online 
Support at [email protected] or toll free at (866) 208-3676, 
or for TTY, contact (202) 502-8659.

Information Collection Statement

    In compliance with the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act 
of 1995, 44 USC 3507(a)(1)(D), the FERC is submitting the information 
collection changes described in this notice to the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) for review.
    Any interested person may file comments regarding the information 
collection requirements directly with OMB and should address a copy of 
those comments to the Commission as explained below. The Commission 
issued a Notice in the Federal Register (77 FR 47063, 8/7/2012) 
requesting public comments. FERC received no comments directly related 
to the practical utility of the information or the accuracy of the 
burden estimates. FERC did receive comments suggesting ways to clarify 
and improve the nature of the information collected, which we took into 
consideration for the final Plan and Procedure revisions.\3\

    \3\ FERC addresses the applicable comments in its submittal to 
OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act. The public can access this 
submittal via www.reginfo.gov by searching in the ``currently under 
review'' field for FERC information collections.\\

    Comments filed with OMB, identified by the OMB Control No. 1902-
0128, should be sent via email to the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs: [email protected]. Attention: Federal Energy 
Regulatory Commission Desk Officer. The Desk Officer may also be 
reached via telephone at 202-395-4718.
    A copy of the comments should also be sent to the Federal Energy 
Regulatory Commission, identified by the Docket No. AD12-2-000, by 
either of the following methods:
     eFiling at Commission's Web site: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp. 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 in response to this notice is considered a ``Comment 
on a Filing''; or
     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 
    The information collection requirements in the Plan and Procedures 
are part of FERC-577, Natural Gas Facilities: Environmental Review and 
Compliance (OMB Control No. 1902-0128).\4\

    \4\ In the July 31, 2012 Notice of Availability, the Commission 
erroneously indicated that the Plan and Procedures were part of the 

    The final Plan and Procedure revisions identified in this notice 
are primarily modifications and clarifications to the content of 
information collections required by the current versions. For example, 
revisions to Plan sections III.I and VII.B.2 clarify staff's 
expectations for the content of winter construction plans and quarterly 
activity reports. Revisions to Plan section III.F standardize staff's 
expectations regarding wildlife and livestock protection measures and 
blasting plans. A revision to Procedure section VI.D.5 modifies the 
wetland revegetation success criteria used for monitoring and 
reporting. Such revisions do not constitute entirely new information 
collections; however, we estimate the revisions will increase reporting 
burden by adjusting the existing ways to comply with previously 
applicable instructions and requirements; training personnel to respond 
to the modified collection of information; and completing and reviewing 
these collections.
    We estimate that certain revisions will reduce reporting burden on 
jurisdictional natural gas companies by providing guidance that is 
frequently requested during report preparations; directions to provide 
information that frequently results in data requests; and improved 
flexibility to reduce variance

[[Page 34375]]

requests for construction practices the staff has determined are 
acceptable. For example, frequently requested guidance on beneficial 
reuse of construction materials is provided in revised Plan sections 
II.B.17 and III.E. Identification of baseline expectations for 
residential construction practices is provided in revised Plan section 
III.H. We expect variance requests will be reduced via revisions to 
Procedure section V.B.3.g that addresses construction through 
waterbodies that are dry or frozen, and Procedure section VI.B.2.f that 
addresses burning of woody debris in wetlands. Additionally, we expect 
revisions to Procedure section II.A to reduce reporting burden on 
jurisdictional entities, permitting detailed justifications rather than 
site-specific plans for reduced workspace setbacks at waterbodies and 
wetlands, and expanded wetland construction rights-of-way.
    We revised terminology to be inclusive of prior notice, advanced 
notice, and automatic authorization projects to address the wider net 
of project types subject to the Plan and Procedure requirements. The 
revisions clarify applicability for projects constructed under the 
Commission's blanket certificate program (18 CFR part 157, subpart F) 
and construction of facilities for transportation services under the 
Natural Gas Policy Act (NGPA) section 311 (18 CFR part 284, Subpart A). 
We expect these clarifications to improve the efficiency of the 
environmental review process, and reduce labor hours required of 
jurisdictional natural gas companies to prepare reports.
    We implement a new record retention requirement regarding drainage 
system repairs or improvements (see revised Plan section VII.B.1.e). In 
addition, we also put in place a new annual report for affected 
wetlands that do not successfully revegetate within three years after 
construction (see revised Procedure section VI.D.6). We expect this 
revision to result in a minor increase in reporting burden due to the 
low incidence of wetland revegetation failure.
    We expect that the revisions will lead to additional filings for 
blanket certificate projects, subject to our prior notice regulations 
(see revised ``Applicability'' discussions in section I of the Plan and 
Procedures). Such filings include winter construction plans noted in 
revised Plan section III.I, and the pre-construction filings noted in 
section II of the Procedures (e.g., hydrostatic testing information, 
waterbody crossing schedules, spill prevention and response procedures, 
plans for major waterbody crossings, horizontal directional drill 
crossings, and justifications for any variances). This would not 
reflect entirely new reporting burdens however, as this information is 
typically requested by staff during review of these projects to ensure 
compliance with blanket certificate standard conditions in 18 CFR 
    Overall, in consideration of the revisions to reporting 
requirements and the increased efficiency that would be realized during 
the environmental review process, we expect the net effect of the 
revised Plan and Procedures to constitute a minor increase in 
information collection burden.
    Burden Estimate: The estimate below was updated using workload 
completion data prepared by FERC's Division of Gas--Environment and 
Engineering for fiscal year 2012. The estimate previously provided in 
the July 31, 2012 Notice of Availability was based on fiscal year 2011 
workload completion data.\5\ Respondents include companies that filed 
project applications under Natural Gas Act (NGA) Section 7, blanket 
certificate prior notice filings and annual reports, and NGPA 311 
advanced notification filings and annual reports.

    \5\ We found upon further review of the previous estimate that 
we did not account for all of the filings in the fiscal year 2011 
data. We correct the previous error in this notice. The net effect 
of using the 2012 data (along with accurate accounting) is an 
increase of 509 hours from the July 31, 2012 notice.

                                                                                      Average      Total annual
                                                                      Average        change in       change in
Modification to FERC-577,  OMB Control      Average number of        number of      burden hrs.     burden hrs.
             No. 1902-0128                respondents annually      filings per     per filing       for  all
                                                                     year \6\        (rounded)     filings types
                                        ........................             (a)             (b)         (a x b)
Upland Plan...........................  81 Natural Gas Companies             218             7.6            1667
Wetland and Waterbody Procedures......  81 Natural Gas Companies             218            -4.2            -905
    Grand total.......................  ........................  ..............  ..............             762

    The total estimated annual cost burden to prepare new or modified 
information collections based on the Plan and Procedure revisions is 
$53,340 (762 hours times $70/hr \7\).

    \6\ NGA 7, Blanket Certificate, and NGPA 311 filings. Filings 
were excluded if they qualified as categorical exclusions under the 
National Environmental Policy Act or were otherwise categorized as 
``environment not involved.''
    \7\ Estimated average annual cost (wage plus benefits) per 

    We expect the estimated burden would reduce in subsequent years, as 
companies adjust to the modified information collections and have 
trained their personnel to collect information per the revised Plan and 
    Interested persons may obtain additional information on the OMB 
process and information collection statement by contacting Ellen Brown, 
Office of the Executive Director, via email at [email protected]; 
by phone (202) 502-8663, or facsimile (202) 273-0973.

    Dated: May 31, 2013.
Kimberly D. Bose,
[FR Doc. 2013-13516 Filed 6-6-13; 8:45 am]