[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 91 (Tuesday, May 12, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 27162-27165]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-11409]


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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

[Docket No. PF15-12-000]


Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC; Notice of Intent To Prepare an 
Environmental Assessment for the Planned Atlantic Bridge 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 assessment (EA) that will 
discuss the environmental impacts of the Atlantic Bridge Project 
(Project), which would involve construction and operation of facilities 
by Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC (Algonquin) in New York, 
Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The Commission will use this EA in its 
decision-making process to determine

[[Page 27163]]

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 use 
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 need to be evaluated 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 June 11, 2015; 
however, this will not be the only public input opportunity for the 
Project. Please refer to the Review Process flow chart in Appendix 
1.\1\
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    \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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    If you sent comments on this project to the Commission before the 
opening of this docket on January 30, 2015, you will need to file those 
comments in Docket No. CP15-12-000 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 and the Project is approved, 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. In all instances, please reference the Project 
docket number (PF15-12-000) with your submission. The Commission 
encourages electronic filing of comments and has expert staff available 
to assist you at (202) 502-8258 or [email protected]. 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 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: 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 meetings its 
staff will conduct in the project area, scheduled as follows.

          FERC Public Scoping Meetings--Atlantic Bridge Project
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             Date and time                           Location
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Monday, May 11, 2015, 6:30 p.m. Eastern  Yorktown Community and Cultural
 Time.                                    Center, 1974 Commerce Street,
                                          Yorktown Heights, NY 10598.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 6:30 p.m.         Riverfront Community Center,
 Eastern Time.                            300 Welles Street,
                                          Glastonbury, CT 06033.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 6:30 p.m.       Abigail Adams Middle School, 89
 Eastern Time.                            Middle Street East, Weymouth,
                                          MA 02189.
Thursday, May 14, 2015, 6:30 p.m.        Hawthorne Suites by Wyndham,
 Eastern Time.                            835 Upper Union Street,
                                          Franklin, MA 02038.
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    We will begin our sign up of speakers at 5:30 p.m. The scoping 
meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a description of our 
environmental review process by Commission staff, after which speakers 
will be called. The meetings will end once all speakers have provided 
their comments or at 10 p.m., whichever comes first. Please note that 
there may be a time limit of three minutes to present comments, and 
speakers should structure their comments accordingly. If time limits 
are implemented, they will be strictly enforced to ensure that as many 
individuals as possible are given an opportunity to comment. The 
meetings will be recorded by a stenographer to ensure comments are 
accurately recorded. Transcripts will be entered into the formal record 
of the Commission proceeding. Algonquin representatives will be present 
one hour prior to the start of the scoping meetings to provide 
additional information about the project and answer questions.

Summary of the Planned Project

    Algonquin plans to construct, install, own, operate, and maintain 
the planned Atlantic Bridge Project, which (as described more fully 
below) would involve expansion of its existing pipeline and compressor 
station facilities located in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. 
Since

[[Page 27164]]

sponsoring its open house meetings and initial draft resource reports 1 
and 10, Algonquin has reduced the scope of the Project. The current 
scope of the Project would be capable of delivering up to 153,000 
dekatherms per day of natural gas along various delivery points on the 
Algonquin and Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline systems.
    The planned Atlantic Bridge Project includes approximately 18.1 
miles of pipeline comprising the following facilities:
     Replacement of approximately 7.6 miles of existing 26-
inch-diameter mainline pipeline with a 42-inch-diameter pipeline as 
follows:
    [cir] 1.3 miles in Rockland County, New York (Upstream Ramapo Lift 
and Relay (L&R) \2\);
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    \2\ Lift and relay refers to a construction method by which an 
existing pipeline is removed and replaced with a new pipeline.
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    [cir] 4.0 miles in Westchester County, New York (Stony Point 
Discharge L&R); and
    [cir] 2.3 miles in Fairfield County, Connecticut (Southeast 
Discharge L&R).
     Extension of an existing loop \3\ pipeline with 
approximately 7.0 miles of additional 36-inch-diameter pipeline along 
Algonquin's existing pipeline right-of-way in Middlesex and Hartford 
counties, Connecticut (Cromwell Discharge Loop).
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    \3\ A pipeline loop is a segment of pipe constructed parallel to 
an existing pipeline to increase capacity.
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     Installation of approximately 3.5 miles of new 30-inch-
diameter pipeline off of Algonquin's existing Q-1 System in Norfolk 
County, Massachusetts (Q-1 System Loop).
    In addition to the pipeline facilities, Algonquin plans to modify 
two existing compressor stations, construct one new compressor station, 
modify two existing metering and regulating (M&R) stations and one 
regulator station, rebuild three existing M&R stations, and construct 
one new M&R station to replace the existing station. The modifications 
to the two existing compressor stations would be located in New Haven 
and Windham Counties, Connecticut, and would add a total additional 
18,615 horsepower to Algonquin's pipeline system. The new compressor 
station would be located in Norfolk County, Massachusetts and include a 
new 7,700 horsepower gas-fired compressor unit. The modifications to 
the two existing Algonquin M&R stations and one regulator station would 
occur in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts to accept the new gas 
flows associated with the Project. The planned rebuilding of the three 
existing M&R stations would occur in Plymouth and Bristol Counties, 
Massachusetts. The new M&R station to replace an existing station would 
be constructed in New London County, Connecticut. Algonquin would also 
need to construct a number of pig \4\ launcher and receiver facilities 
and four new MLVs.
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    \4\ A ``pig'' is a tool that the pipeline company inserts into 
and pushed through the pipeline for cleaning the pipeline, 
conducting internal inspections, or other purposes.
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    The general location of the Project facilities is shown in Appendix 
2.

Land Requirements for Construction

    Construction of the planned facilities would disturb about 231 
acres of land, comprising about 190 acres for the pipeline facilities, 
36 acres for the compressor stations, and 5 acres for the M&R stations. 
Following construction, Algonquin would retain about 37 acres of new 
permanent easement outside of its current operating footprint to 
operate the new facilities. This amount includes approximately 32 acres 
of new permanent easement for the new pipeline right-of-way, 4 acres 
for the new compressor station, and a total of 1 acre for the M&R 
stations.

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 
\5\ to discover and address concerns the public may have about 
proposals. This discovery 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.
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    \5\ ``We,'' ``us,'' and ``our'' refer to the environmental staff 
of the Commission's Office of Energy Projects.
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    In the EA we will discuss impacts that could occur as a result of 
the construction and operation and maintenance of the planned Project 
under these general headings:
     Geology and soils;
     land use, including residential, commercial, and prime 
farmland uses;
     water resources, fisheries, and wetlands;
     cultural resources;
     vegetation and wildlife, including migratory birds;
     air quality and noise;
     endangered and threatened species;
     traffic and transportation;
     public safety; and
     cumulative impacts.
    We will also evaluate reasonable 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 EA.
    The EA will present our independent analysis of the issues. The EA 
will be available in the public record through eLibrary and will be 
published and distributed 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 of this notice, 
beginning on page 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 EA.\6\ 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.
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    \6\ 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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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 applicable State Historic Preservation Offices (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.\7\ We will

[[Page 27165]]

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 EA for this project will document our findings on the impacts on 
historic properties and summarize the status of consultations under 
section 106.
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    \7\ 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.
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Currently Identified Environmental Issues

    We have already identified several issues that we think deserve 
attention based on a preliminary review of the planned facilities and 
the environmental information provided by Algonquin. This preliminary 
list of issues may change based on your comments and our analysis.
     Geology--Effects as a result of blasting to remove 
existing surface and bedrock during construction.
     Biological Resources--Effects on threatened and endangered 
species and sensitive habitats.
     Water Resources--Effects on waterbodies and wetlands, 
including the crossing of the Connecticut River.
     Land Use--Effects on residential and commercial areas, 
traffic and transportation corridors, and agricultural lands from 
construction.
     Cultural Resources - Effects on archaeological sites and 
historic resources.
     Air Quality and Noise--Effects on the local air quality 
and noise environment from construction and operation.
     Reliability and Safety--The assessment of hazards 
associated with natural gas pipelines and aboveground facilities.

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.
    When we publish and distribute the EA, copies 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

    In addition to involvement in the EA scoping process, once 
Algonquin 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. Instructions for becoming an intervenor are in 
the User's 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, which is currently 
anticipated to be sometime in September 2015.

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., PF15-
12). 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: April 27, 2015.
Kimberly D. Bose,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2015-11409 Filed 5-11-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6717-01-P