[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 152 (Tuesday, August 7, 2012)]
[Pages 47063-47065]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-19279]



Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

[Docket No. AD12-2-000]

Notice of Availability of Draft Revisions; Upland Erosion 
Control, Revegetation, and Maintenance Plan; Wetland and Waterbody 
Construction and Mitigation Procedures; Request for Comments

    The staff of the Office of Energy Projects is revising its Upland 
Erosion Control, Revegetation, and Maintenance Plan (Plan) and Wetland 
and Waterbody Construction and Mitigation Procedures (Procedures), last 
updated January 17, 2003. In accordance with Order 603,\1\ the staff is 
asking for comments on the draft revisions from the natural gas 
industry, federal, state and local agencies, environmental consultants, 
inspectors, construction contractors, and other interested parties with 
special expertise with respect to environmental issues commonly 
associated with pipeline projects. Please note that this comment period 
will close on October 9, 2012.

    \1\ 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.

    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 157.206(b)(3)(iv). The Plan and Procedures identify the 
staff's baseline mitigation measures for minimizing erosion and 
enhancing revegetation in uplands and the extent and duration of 
project-related disturbance on wetlands and waterbodies. Attached to 
this notice are full texts of the draft revisions, identifying all 
proposed changes from the current versions of the Plan and Procedures 
in tracked changes format \2\. The draft revisions can also be viewed 
on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) Web 
site at http://www.ferc.gov/industries/gas/enviro/guidelines.asp.

    \2\ The attachments referenced in this notice will not appear in 
the Federal Register.

    The staff announced its intention to revise the Plan and Procedures 
by public notice issued October 31, 2011, in the above referenced 
docket. The proposed revisions address comments filed in response to 
the public notice, frequent inquiries for clarification or guidance, 
and common variance requests. Other modifications provide necessary 
updates to reflect current laws and industry best management practices.
    We will consider all timely comments on the draft revisions before 
issuing the final versions. For your convenience, there are three 
methods you can use to submit your comments to the Commission. In all 
instances, please reference the docket number (AD12-2-000) with your 
submission. The Commission encourages electronic filing of comments and 
has expert eFiling staff available to assist you at (202) 502-8258 or 
[email protected]. Please include your name and email address so we can 
include you in future notices regarding our planned revisions.
    (1) You may file your comments electronically by using the eComment 
feature, which is located on the Commission's Web site at www.ferc.gov 
under the link to Documents and Filings. An eComment is an easy method 
for interested persons to submit brief, text-only comments;
    (2) You may file your comments electronically by using the eFiling 
feature, which is located on the Commission's Web site at 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.'' 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
    (3) You may file a paper copy of your comments at the following 
    Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 
888 First Street NE., Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426.
    All of the information related to the proposed revisions to the 
Plan and Procedures 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. 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 which 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.

Information Collection Statement

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations require OMB 
approval of certain reporting, record keeping, and public disclosure 
requirements (collections of information) imposed by an agency \3\. To 
ensure compliance with OMB's regulations implementing the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 \4\, the Office of Energy Project's staff is 
providing notice of potential modifications to information collections 
from jurisdictional natural gas companies, and is requesting comments 
on information collection and reporting burden. Burden includes the 
total time, effort, or financial resources expended to generate, 
maintain, retain, disclose, or provide the information to the 
Commission and any applicable third parties.

    \3\ 5 CFR Part 1320.
    \4\ 44 U.S.C. 3507(d).

    Comments in consideration of the collection of information should 
be submitted following the guidelines described on page 2 of this 
notice, and should reference OMB Control No. 1902-0060 in addition to 
Docket No. AD12-2-000. Comments regarding information collection 
requirements should focus on whether the information will have 
practical utility; the accuracy of burden estimates (provided below); 
ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information 
collected; and any suggested methods for minimizing the respondent's 
burden, including the use of automated information techniques. 
Following the comment period, the Commission staff will submit the 
final revised Plan and Procedure documents to OMB for review of the 
information collection requirements.
    The information collection requirements described in the current 
versions of the Plan and Procedures are approved by OMB via FERC-537, 
``Gas Pipeline Certificates: Construction, Acquisition, and 
Abandonment'' (OMB Control No. 1902-0060), which is used by the 
Commission to implement the

[[Page 47064]]

statutory provisions of the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978 (NGPA), 15 
U.S.C. 3301-3432, and the Natural Gas Act (NGA) (15 U.S.C. 717-717w). 
The information collected per FERC-537 is necessary to certificate 
interstate pipelines engaged in the transportation and sale of natural 
gas, and the construction, acquisition, and operation of facilities to 
be used in those activities, to authorize the abandonment of facilities 
and services, and to authorize certain NGPA transactions.
    The draft 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.H., III.I., and VII.B.2. clarify staff's 
expectations for the content of blasting plans, winter construction 
plans, and quarterly activity reports, respectively. Draft revisions to 
Plan section III.F.3. regarding agency consultations on wildlife and 
livestock, standardize a best management practice and staff 
expectation. A draft revision to Procedure section VI.D.3. modifies the 
wetland revegetation success criteria used for monitoring and 
reporting. Such revisions do not constitute entirely new information 
collections; however, the proposed revisions could increase reporting 
burden by adjusting the existing ways to comply with any previously 
applicable instructions and requirements; training personnel to respond 
to a modified collection of information; and completing and reviewing 
such collections.
    Draft revisions would 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 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.G. Variance requests would be reduced via 
revisions to Procedures section V.B.3.g. that address construction 
through waterbodies that are dry or frozen, and VI.B.2.f. that address 
burning of woody debris in wetlands. Additionally, proposed revisions 
to Procedure sections V.B.2.b. and VI.B.1.b. would reduce reporting 
burden on jurisdictional entities, permitting detailed justifications 
for reduced setbacks at waterbodies and wetlands.
    Revised terminology is proposed in order to be inclusive of prior 
notice, advanced notice, and automatic authorization projects to 
address the wider net of project types subject to Plan and Procedure 
requirements. The revisions clarify applicability for projects 
constructed under the Commission's blanket certificate program (18 CFR 
Part157, Subpart F) and construction of facilities for transportation 
services under the NGPA section 311 (18 CFR Part 284, Subpart A). These 
clarifications would improve the efficiency of the environmental review 
process, and reduce labor hours required of jurisdictional natural gas 
companies to prepare complete reports.
    Entirely new information collection requirements are limited. A new 
record retention requirement is proposed regarding drainage system 
repairs or improvements (see draft revised Plan section VII.B.1.e.). In 
addition, a new annual report is proposed for affected wetlands that do 
not successfully revegetate within three years after construction (see 
draft revised Procedure section VI.D.4.). We expect this revision to 
result in a minor increase in reporting burden due to the low incidence 
of wetland revegetation failure; we estimate less than 10 percent of 
affected wetlands on an annual basis. In addition, our experience 
indicates that the cause of failure in many cases is anthropogenic 
activities that would negate the need for further monitoring and 
remediation by the project sponsors.
    Additional filings for blanket certificate prior notice projects 
would also be required (see revised ``Applicability'' discussions in 
sections 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 (i.e., 
hydrostatic testing information, waterbody crossing schedules, spill 
prevention and response procedures, plans for major waterbody 
crossings, horizontal directional drill crossings, and justifications 
for any alternative measures). This would not reflect an entirely new 
reporting burden 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 157.206.
    Overall, in consideration of the proposed revisions to reporting 
requirements and the increased efficiency that would realized during 
the environmental review process, we expect the net effect of the 
proposed Plan and Procedure revisions to constitute a minor increase in 
information collection burden.

Burden Estimate

    The estimate below is based on workload completion data prepared by 
FERC's Division of Gas--Environment and Engineering for fiscal year 
2011. Respondents include companies that filed project applications 
under NGA Section 7, blanket certificate prior notice filings and 
annual reports, and NGPA 311 advanced notification filings and annual 

    \5\ 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.'' These types of projects would not be 
subject to the environmental requirements of the Plan and Procedures 
and thus would not be affected by changes to information 

                                                                                  Average change   Total annual
                                                                      Average       in  burden       change in
Proposed modification to FERC-537, OMB      Average number of        number of      hours  per     burden hours
         Control No. 1902-0060            respondents annually      filings per       filing          for all
                                                                     year \5\        (rounded)     filings types
                                        ........................             (a)             (b)         (a x b)
Upland Plan...........................  81 Natural Gas Companies             113             6.1             681
Wetland and Waterbody Procedures......  81 Natural Gas Companies             113            -3.8            -428
    Grand Total.......................                            ..............  ..............             253

[[Page 47065]]

    Information Collection Costs: The Commission staff seeks comments 
on the costs to comply with the proposed revisions to the Plan and 
Procedures. The total estimated annual cost burden to prepare new or 
modified information collections based on the proposed Plan and 
Procedure revisions is $17,459.43 (253 hours/2,080 hours \6\ per year, 
times $143,540 \7\).

    \6\ Estimated number of hours an employee works each year.
    \7\ Estimated average annual cost (salary 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: July 31, 2012.
Kimberly D. Bose,
[FR Doc. 2012-19279 Filed 8-6-12; 8:45 am]