[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 116 (Friday, June 15, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 36032-36034]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-14803]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

[Public Notice 7924]


Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact 
Statement (SEIS) and To Conduct Scoping and To Initiate Consultation 
Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act for the 
Proposed TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline Proposed To Extend From 
Phillips, MT (the Border Crossing) to Steele City, NE

AGENCY: Department of State.

ACTION: Notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. (TransCanada) has applied 
to the United States Department of State for a Presidential Permit 
authorizing the construction, operation, and maintenance of facilities 
at the border of the United States for the importation of crude oil 
from a foreign country (Canada). Authorization is being requested in 
connection with TransCanada's proposed international pipeline project 
(the revised Keystone XL Project), which is designed to transport crude 
oil from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin and the Williston Basin 
to existing pipeline facilities near Steele City, Nebraska for onward 
transport to markets in the Texas Gulf Coast area. The Department of 
State receives and considers applications for Presidential Permits for 
such energy-related pipelines pursuant to authority delegated to it by 
the President under Executive Order 13337 of April 30, 2004 (69 FR 
25299), as amended. To issue a Permit, the Department of State must 
find that issuance would serve the national interest. In the course of 
processing such applications, the Department consults extensively with 
concerned Federal and State agencies, and invites public comment in 
arriving at its determination.
    The Department of State previously evaluated potential impacts 
resulting from construction, operation, and maintenance of a longer 
pipeline that would have terminated in the Port Arthur and east Houston 
areas of Texas. The Final Environmental Impact Statement for that 
proposed project was issued on August 26, 2011. On January 18, 2012, 
the Department announced its determination that the project--as 
presented and analyzed at that time--did not serve the national 
interest. Archived documents can be found at www.keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/archive/index.htm.
    TransCanada has submitted a new Presidential Permit application 
with a revised proposed route that extends from the Canadian border in 
Phillips County, Montana to Steele City, Nebraska and avoids the Sand 
Hills region of Nebraska. The Nebraska Department of Environmental 
Quality has identified the Sand Hills region and is currently 
evaluating the potential impacts associated with the proposed new 
route(s). The Department of State has entered into a Memorandum of 
Understanding with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to 
facilitate coordination and cooperation between the State and the 
Federal government. TransCanada has indicated to the Department of 
State that it has decided to proceed with construction of a pipeline 
from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast of Texas, which had been 
included as part of the Keystone XL project in the previous 
application, as an independent project. Thus, TransCanada did not 
include the proposed pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf Coast as part of 
the project in the revised Presidential Permit application.
    With respect to the application submitted by TransCanada, the 
Department of State has concluded, consistent with the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, that the issuance of the new 
Presidential Permit would constitute a major Federal action that may 
have a significant impact upon the environment. For this reason, 
Department of State intends to prepare a Supplement to the Final 
Environmental Impact Statement dated August 26, 2011, to address 
reasonably foreseeable impacts from the proposed

[[Page 36033]]

action and alternatives. Additionally the Department of State has 
determined that it will undertake a review of the potential issuance of 
the Presidential Permit consistent with Section 106 of the National 
Historic Preservation Act and is consequently initiating the 
appropriate consultation. Consultation will be conducted with State 
Historic Preservation Officers, Indian tribes, and the Advisory Council 
on Historic Preservation, and other consulting parties, as appropriate, 
to determine the locations (if any) of potential sites for inclusion on 
the National Register of Historic Places as well as the potential 
eligibility and findings of effect for cultural resources identified 
within the Keystone XL Area of Potential Effect. The purpose of this 
Notice of Intent (NOI) is to inform the public about the proposed 
action, announce plans for scoping opportunities, invite public 
participation in the scoping process, and solicit public comments for 
consideration in establishing the scope and content of the SEIS.

DATES: Department of State invites interested agencies, organizations, 
and members of the public to submit comments or suggestions to assist 
in identifying significant environmental issues, measures that might be 
adopted to reduce environmental impacts, and in determining the 
appropriate scope of the SEIS. The public scoping period starts with 
the publication of this Notice in the Federal Register on June 15, 2012 
and will continue until July 30, 2012. Written, electronic, and oral 
comments will be given equal weight and State will consider all 
comments received or postmarked by July 30, 2012 in defining the scope 
of the SEIS. Comments received or postmarked after that date may be 
considered to the extent practicable.
    Public scoping opportunities are designed to provide opportunities 
to offer comments on the proposed project. Interested individuals and 
groups are encouraged to present comments on the environmental issues 
they believe should be addressed in the SEIS. Again, written comments 
are considered with equal weight in the process relative to those 
received in the public scoping meeting.
    During this public scoping period, the Department of State also 
plans to use the scoping process to help identify consulting parties 
and historic preservation issues for consideration under Section 106 of 
the National Historic Preservation Act and its implementing regulations 
(36 CFR part 800).

ADDRESSES: Written comments or suggestions on the scope of the EIS 
should be addressed to: Genevieve Walker, OES/ENV Room 2657, U.S. 
Department of State, Washington, DC 20520. Comments may be submitted 
electronically to http://www.keystonepipeline-XL.state.gov. Public 
comments will be posted on the Web site identified below.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information on the proposed 
project or to receive a copy of the draft SEIS when it is issued, 
contact Genevieve Walker at the address listed in the ADDRESSES section 
of this notice by electronic or regular mail as listed above, or by 
telephone (202) 647-6849 or by fax at (202) 647-5947.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Project Description

    TransCanada proposes to construct and operate a crude oil pipeline 
and related facilities from an oil supply hub near Hardisty, Alberta, 
Canada to the northernmost point of the existing Keystone Pipeline 
Cushing Extension at Steele City, Nebraska. The pipeline is anticipated 
to be 1,179 miles long (329 miles of that are in Canada) and has an 
initial capacity of 830,000 barrels per day. To connect the Canadian 
and U.S. portions of the pipeline project, TransCanada must first 
obtain a Presidential Permit from the Department of State authorizing 
the construction, operation, and maintenance of the pipeline and 
related facilities at the international border.

The SEIS Process

    The Department of State, consistent with NEPA, will take into 
account the environmental impacts that could result from the approval 
of a Presidential Permit authorizing construction, operation, and 
maintenance of pipeline facilities for the importation of crude oil to 
be located at the international border of the United States and Canada. 
The Department of State will use the SEIS to assess the environmental 
impacts that could result if TransCanada is granted a Presidential 
permit for the revised Keystone XL Pipeline Project. The SEIS will 
supplement the August 26, 2011 FEIS, by including information and 
analysis about potential impacts associated with the new proposed 
route(s) within Nebraska, as well as about any other subjects that may 
need to be updated because there exists significant new circumstances 
or information relevant to environmental concerns bearing on the 
proposed action or its impacts. The Department of State will select a 
Third-Party Contractor to help prepare the SEIS. The SEIS will be 
prepared under the direction of the Department of State and will be 
reviewed by the cooperating agencies.
    In the SEIS, the Department of State will discuss impacts that 
could occur as a result of the construction and operation of the 
revised proposed project under these general headings:
     Geology and soils;
     Water resources;
     Fish, wildlife, and vegetation;
     Threatened and endangered species;
     Cultural resources;
     Land use, recreation and special interest areas;
     Visual resources;
     Air quality and noise;
     Socioeconomics;
     Environmental Justice; and,
     Reliability and safety.
    In the SEIS, the Department of State will also evaluate reasonable 
alternatives, including a ``no action alternative,'' to the proposed 
project or portions of the project and make recommendations on how to 
lessen or avoid impacts on affected resources.
    The Department of State's independent analysis of the issues will 
be included in a draft SEIS. The draft SEIS will be published and 
mailed to relevant Federal, State, and local government agencies, 
elected officials, environmental and public interest groups, Indian 
tribes, affected landowners, commenters, local libraries, newspapers, 
and other interested parties. You are encouraged to become involved in 
this process and provide your specific comments or concerns about the 
proposed project. By becoming a commenter, your concerns will be 
considered by the Department of State and addressed appropriately in 
the SEIS. Parties interested in being involved in Section 106 
consultation should also contact the Department of State.
    The Department of State will consider all timely comments on the 
draft SEIS and revise the document, as necessary, before issuing a 
final SEIS.
    Project details and environmental information on the Keystone XL 
Project application for a Presidential Permit, including associated 
maps are downloadable from a Web site that is being established for 
this purpose: http://www.keystonepipeline-XL.state.gov. This Web site 
is expected to be operational on or about June 15, 2012. This Web site 
will accept public comments for the record.
    Information on the Department of State Presidential Permit process 
can also be found at the above Internet address.

[[Page 36034]]

    A TransCanada hosted project Web site is also available at http://www.transcanada.com/keystone.html. The Keystone XL Project toll-free 
number is 1-866-717-7473 (United States and Canada).

    Dated: June 13, 2012.
Genevieve Walker,
NEPA Director, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and 
Scientific Affairs/Office of Environmental Policy, U.S. Department of 
State.
[FR Doc. 2012-14803 Filed 6-14-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4710-09-P