[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 38 (Wednesday, February 26, 2014)]
[Pages 10793-10796]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-04046]



Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

[Docket Nos. PF14-1-000; PF14-2-000; PF14-6-000]

Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC, Florida Southeast Connection, LLC, 
Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC, Notice of Intent To 
Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Planned Southeast 
Market Pipelines Project, Request for Comments on Environmental Issues, 
and Notice of Public Scoping Meetings

    The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or 
Commission) will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) that 
discusses the environmental impacts of the planned Southeast Market 
Pipelines (SMP) Project. The SMP Project is comprised of three 
separate, but connected, natural gas transmission pipeline projects: 
Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC's (Sabal Trail's) Sabal Trail Project in 
Alabama, Georgia, and Florida; Florida Southeast Connection, LLC's 
(FSC's) Florida Southeast Connection Project (FSC Project) in Florida; 
and Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC's (Transco's) Hillabee

[[Page 10794]]

Expansion Project in Alabama. The environmental impacts of all three 
projects will be considered in one EIS, which will be used by the 
Commission in its decisionmaking process to determine whether the SMP 
Project is in the public convenience and necessity.
    This notice, which is being sent to the Commission's current 
environmental mailing list for the SMP Project, announces the opening 
of the scoping process that will be used to gather input about the SMP 
Project from the public and other interested stakeholders. State and 
local government representatives should notify their constituents about 
this process and encourage them to comment on their areas of concern. 
Scoping comments will help the Commission's staff determine what issues 
will need to be evaluated in the EIS. Please note that the scoping 
period will close on April 20, 2014.
    Comments about the SMP Project may be submitted in written form or 
verbally. The Public Participation section of this notice describes how 
to submit written comments. Verbal comments can be given at the public 
scoping meetings to be held in the SMP Project area as scheduled below.

            Date and time                           Location
Monday, March 3, 2014, 6:00 p.m......  Hilton Garden Inn Albany, 101
                                        South Front Street, Albany, GA
                                        31701, (229) 888-1590.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014, 6:00 p.m.....  Holiday Inn Valdosta Conference
                                        Center, 1805 West Hill Avenue,
                                        Valdosta, GA 31601, (229) 244-
Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 6:00 p.m...  Moultrie Technical Facility
                                        Building A, Veterans Parkway
                                        Conference Center, 800 Veterans
                                        Parkway North, Moultrie, GA
                                        31788, (229) 217-4185.
Monday, March 10, 2014, 6:00 p.m.....  Russell County High School, 4716
                                        Old Seale Highway, Seale, AL
                                        36875, (334) 855-4378.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 6:00 p.m....  Central Alabama Community
                                        College, Betty Carol Graham
                                        Technology Center, 1675 Cherokee
                                        Road, Alexander City, AL 35010,
                                        (256) 234-6346.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 6:00 p.m..  Butler Civic Center, 108 North
                                        Academy Avenue, Butler, AL
                                        36904, (205) 459-3795.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 6:00 p.m....  Lake Wales Art Center, 1099 East
                                        Florida 60, Lake Wales, FL
                                        33853, (863) 676-8426.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 6:00 p.m..  Okeechobee High School, 2800
                                        Highway 441 North, Okeechobee,
                                        FL 34972, (863) 462-5025.
Thursday, March 20, 2014, 6:00 p.m...  Kissimmee Civic Center, 201 East
                                        Dakin Avenue, Kissimmee, FL
                                        34741, (407) 935-1412.
Monday, March 24, 2014, 6:00 p.m.....  Live Oak City Hall, 101 White
                                        Avenue Southeast, Live Oak, FL
                                        32064, (386) 362-2276.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 6:00 p.m....  Bell High School, 930 South Main
                                        Street, Bell, FL 32619, (352)
Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 6:00 p.m..  Rainbow Springs Country Club,
                                        19330 Southwest 83rd Place Road,
                                        Dunnellon, FL 34432, (352) 489-
Thursday, March 27, 2014, 6:00 p.m...  Citrus Tower, 141 North Highway
                                        27, Clermont, FL 34711, (352)

    The purpose of these scoping meetings is to provide the public an 
opportunity to learn more about the Commission's environmental review 
process, and to verbally comment on the SMP Project. Representatives 
from Sabal Trail, FSC, and Transco, as applicable, will be present one 
hour prior to each scoping meeting to answer questions about their 
respective SMP Project component. Affected landowners and other 
interested parties are encouraged to attend the scoping meetings and to 
give their comments on the issues they believe should be addressed in 
the EIS. A transcript of each meeting will be added to the Commission's 
administrative record to ensure that your comments are accurately 
    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 pipeline facilities. The 
company would seek to negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement. 
However, if the Commission approves the SMP Project, that approval 
conveys with it the right of eminent domain. Therefore, if easement 
negotiations fail to produce an agreement, a condemnation proceeding 
could be initiated where compensation would be determined in accordance 
with state law.
    The ``For Citizens'' section of the FERC Web site (www.ferc.gov) 
provides more information about the FERC and the environmental review 
process. This section also includes information about getting involved 
in FERC jurisdictional projects, and a citizens' guide entitled ``An 
Interstate Natural Gas Facility On My Land? What Do I Need to Know?'' 
This guide addresses a number of frequently asked questions, including 
the use of eminent domain and how to participate in the Commission's 

Summary of the Planned Project

    Sabal Trail, FSC, and Transco plan to construct and operate over 
650 miles of interstate natural gas transmission pipeline and 
associated facilities in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. The Sabal Trail 
Project would connect with the Hillabee Expansion Project in Alabama, 
and the FSC Project in Florida. The general location of the SMP Project 
facilities is shown in Appendix 1. The facilities associated with each 
project component are described below.

Sabal Trail Project

    Sabal Trail plans to construct and operate approximately 460 miles 
of 36-inch-diameter natural gas transmission pipeline beginning in 
Tallapoosa County, Alabama and ending in Osceola County, Florida. The 
new pipeline would cross Tallapoosa, Chambers, Lee, and Russell 
Counties, Alabama; Stewart, Webster, Terrell, Lee, Dougherty, Mitchell, 
Colquitt, Brooks, and Lowndes Counties, Georgia; and Hamilton, Madison, 
Suwannee, Gilchrist, Alachua, Levy, Marion, Sumter, Lake, Polk, and 
Osceola Counties, Florida.
    Sabal Trail also plans to construct and operate approximately 14 
miles of 36-inch-diameter natural gas transmission pipeline in Osceola 
and Orange Counties, Florida (Hunters Creek Line) and approximately 24 
miles of 24-inch-diameter natural gas transmission pipeline in Marion 
and Citrus Counties, Florida (Citrus County Line).
    In addition to the planned pipelines, Sabal Trail would construct 
and operate five new compressor stations. These compressor stations 
would be located in Tallapoosa County, Alabama; Dougherty County, 
Georgia; and Suwannee, Marion, and Osceola Counties, Florida. Sabal 
Trail would also lease the capacity of Transco's Hillabee Expansion 
    Lastly, Sabal Trail plans to construct a natural gas hub in Osceola 
County, Florida. A natural gas hub provides customers with receipt/
delivery access to two or more interstate pipeline systems, provides 
transportation between these points, and offers administrative services 
that facilitate the movement and/or transfer of gas ownership.

[[Page 10795]]

    The Sabal Trail Project would have an initial capacity of 800,000 
dekatherms per day (Dth/d) with an initial in-service date of May 1, 
2017. Through a series of phased compressor station expansions, the 
capacity of the Sabal Trail Project would increase to 1.1 million Dth/d 
by 2021.

FSC Project

    FSC plans to construct and operate approximately 126 miles of up to 
36-inch-diameter natural gas transmission pipeline beginning in Osceola 
County, Florida and ending at Florida Power & Light Company's Martin 
Clean Energy Center in Martin County, Florida. The new pipeline would 
cross Polk, Osceola, Okeechobee, St. Lucie, and Martin Counties, 
    The FSC Project would have an initial capacity of at least 600,000 
Dth/d beginning on May 1, 2017.

Hillabee Expansion Project

    Transco plans to construct and operate approximately 43.6 miles of 
42- and 48-inch-diameter natural gas transmission pipeline in eight 
loop \1\ segments in Choctaw, Autauga, Chilton, Coosa, and Tallapoosa 
Counties, Alabama. The Hillabee Expansion Project would also include 
one new compressor station in Choctaw County, Alabama and additional 
compression/modifications at three existing compressor stations in 
Dallas, Chilton, and Coosa Counties, Alabama.

    \1\ A loop is a segment of pipe that is usually installed 
adjacent to an existing pipeline and connected to it at both ends. 
The loop allows more gas to be moved through the system.

    Construction of the Hillabee Expansion Project would occur in 
phases resulting in an initial capacity of approximately 800,000 Dth/d 
to be leased to Sabal Trail on May 1, 2017, increasing to approximately 
1.1 million Dth/d by 2021. The first phase of the project would involve 
compressor station modifications and the construction of pipeline in 
Autauga, Chilton, Choctaw, Coosa, Dallas, and Tallapoosa Counties, 

Land Requirements for Construction

    Construction of the planned SMP Project facilities would disturb 
about 13,670 acres of land. The typical construction right-of-way for 
pipeline facilities would vary between 100 and 110 feet wide in uplands 
and 75 feet wide in wetlands, with additional workspace needed in some 
locations due to site-specific conditions and activities. Following 
construction, approximately 4,320 acres of land would be retained for 
permanent operation of the facilities. Land affected by construction 
but not required for operation would generally be allowed to revert to 
former uses.

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 under Section 7 of the 
Natural Gas Act. NEPA also requires us \2\ to discover and address 
concerns the public may have about proposals. This discovery process is 
commonly 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 be addressed in the EIS. All 
comments received will be considered during the preparation of the EIS, 
and addressed as appropriate.

    \2\ ``We,'' ``us,'' and ``our'' refer to the environmental staff 
of the Commission's Office of Energy Projects.

    In the EIS we will discuss impacts that could occur as a result of 
the construction and operation of the planned SMP Project under these 
general headings:
     geology and soils;
     water resources, including surface waters and groundwater;
     vegetation, fisheries, and wildlife,
     threatened and endangered species;
     land use;
     cultural resources;
     air quality and noise;
     public safety and reliability; and
     cumulative impacts.
    We will also evaluate alternatives to the SMP Project, project 
components, pipeline routes, and aboveground facility locations; and 
make recommendations on how to avoid or minimize impacts on the various 
resource areas.
    Although no formal applications have 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 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 a 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 below.
    With this notice, we are asking agencies with jurisdiction by law 
and/or special expertise with respect to the environmental issues 
related to the SMP Project to formally cooperate with us in the 
preparation of the EIS.\3\ 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. Currently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) has expressed 
its intent to participate as a cooperating agency in the preparation of 
the EIS to satisfy its NEPA responsibilities related to this project. 
The COE has jurisdictional authority pursuant to Section 404 of the 
Clean Water Act, which governs the discharge of dredged or fill 
material into waters of the United States, and Section 10 of the Rivers 
and Harbors Act, which regulates any work or structures that 
potentially affect the navigability of a waterway.

    \3\ The Council on Environmental Quality regulations addressing 
cooperating agency responsibilities are at Title 40, Code of Federal 
Regulations, Part 1501.6.

Consultations Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation 

    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 Alabama, Georgia, and Florida State Historic Preservation 
Offices (SHPOs), and to solicit their views and those of other 
government agencies, interested Indian tribes, and the public on the 
SMP Project's potential effects on historic properties.\4\ We will 
define the project-specific Area of Potential Effects (APE) in 
consultation with the SHPOs as the SMP 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, meter stations, and 
access roads). Our EIS for the SMP Project will document

[[Page 10796]]

our findings on the impacts on historic properties and summarize the 
status of consultations under section 106.

    \4\ 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 for Historic 

Currently Identified Environmental Issues

    Based on our preliminary review of the project; information 
provided by Sabal Trail, FSC, and Transco; and public comments filed in 
the Commission's administrative record and submitted to staff at the 
applicant-sponsored open houses, we have identified several issues that 
we think deserve attention. This preliminary list of issues may change 
based on your comments and our ongoing environmental analysis. These 
issues are:
     purpose and need for the SMP Project;
     impacts of clearing forested areas and other vegetation;
     impacts on water resources including sensitive springs, 
groundwater, and wetlands;
     karst terrain;
     impacts on land use;
     environmental justice;
     the use of eminent domain to obtain project easements;
     impacts on property values, tourism, and recreational 
     cultural resources;
     compressor station noise;
     pipeline integrity and public safety; and
     alternatives and cumulative impacts.

Public Participation

    You can make a difference by providing us with your comments about 
the SMP Project. Your comments should focus on the potential 
environmental impacts of the project, reasonable alternatives, and 
measures to avoid or lessen these environmental impacts. The more 
specific your comments, the more useful they will be. To ensure that 
your comments are considered in a timely manner and properly recorded, 
please send your comments so that the Commission receives them in 
Washington, DC on or before April 20, 2014.
    For your convenience, there are three methods you can use to submit 
your comments to the Commission. In all instances, please refer to the 
appropriate project docket number (PF14-1-000 for the Sabal Trail 
Project; PF14-2-000 for the FSC Project; or PF14-6-000 for the Hillabee 
Expansion Project) with your submission. If your comments apply to all 
three projects, then list all three. The Commission encourages 
electronic filing of comments and has expert staff available to assist 
you at (202) 502-8258 or [email protected].
    (1) You can file your comments electronically using the eComment 
feature located on the Commission's Web site (www.ferc.gov) under the 
Documents and Filings heading. This is an easy method for interested 
persons to submit brief, text-only comments on a project;
    (2) You can also file your comments electronically using the 
eFiling feature located on the Commission's Web site (www.ferc.gov) 
under the Documents and Filings heading. 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 can 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 

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 has 
submitted comments on the SMP Project in the Commission's 
administrative record. 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 SMP Project.
    Copies of the draft EIS will be sent to the environmental mailing 
list for review and comment. If you would prefer to receive a paper 
copy of the EIS instead of the compact disc version or if you would 
like to remove your name from the mailing list, please return the 
attached Information Request (Appendix 2).

Becoming an Intervenor

    Once the SMP Project proponents file applications 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. Instructions for becoming 
an intervenor can be found under the ``Getting Involved'' heading of 
the ``For Citizens'' section on the FERC 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 SMP 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. Click on the eLibrary 
link, click on ``General Search,'' and enter the docket number, 
excluding the last three digits (PF14-1, PF14-2, or PF14-6). 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. 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 that 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: February 18, 2014.
Kimberly D. Bose,
[FR Doc. 2014-04046 Filed 2-25-14; 8:45 am]