[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 18 (Monday, January 28, 2013)]
[Pages 5794-5797]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-01608]



Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

[Docket No. PF13-2-000]

Northern Natural Gas Company; Notice of Intent To Prepare an 
Environmental Assessment for the Planned West Leg 2014 Expansion 
Project, Request for Comments on Environmental Issues, and Notice of 
Onsite Environmental Review

    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 planned West Leg 2014 
Expansion Project (Project) involving construction and operation of 
facilities by Northern Natural Gas Company (Northern) in Dakota and 
Dodge Counties, Nebraska and Woodbury County, Iowa. The Commission will 
use this EA in its decision-making process to determine 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.

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Your input will help the Commission staff determine what issues they 
need to evaluate in the EA. Please note that the scoping period will 
close on February 28, 2013. Further details on how to submit written 
comments are in the Public Participation section of this notice.
    Environmental staff from the Commission's Office of Energy Projects 
will be in the Project area to attend Northern's open houses for the 
Project (February 4-6, 2013) and to conduct an onsite environmental 
review on February 6, 2013. FERC staff, accompanied by Northern 
representatives, will view the planned pipeline route from public 
access points (primarily road crossings), visit locations for 
aboveground facilities, and gather data for its environmental analysis 
of the planned project. Interested parties may attend and should plan 
to provide their own transportation. Those attending should meet 
Commission staff at the following location and time: Wednesday, 
February 6, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. CST, American Legion Hall, 901 Topaz 
Drive, Sergeant Bluff, Iowa 51054.
    The site review will begin with project facilities in Iowa, and 
continue west into Nebraska. FERC staff expects the site review will 
take approximately two hours to complete.
    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, 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.

Summary of the Planned Project

    Northern plans to construct the following facilities to meet 
customer requests for 90,430 dekatherms per day of natural gas:
     Approximately 6 miles of 20-inch-diameter pipeline, 
referred to as ``New Greenfield Branch Line'' from Dakota County, 
Nebraska to Woodbury County, Iowa;
     Two compressor stations, the Homer Compressor Station in 
Dakota County, Nebraska and the Fremont Compressor Station in Dodge 
County, Nebraska;
     A new metering station in Woodbury County, Iowa;
     A 0.4-mile tie-over between two pipelines and a valve site 
in Woodbury County, Iowa; and
     Minor modifications to existing facilities in Ellsworth, 
Ottawa and Otoe Counties, Kansas and Woodbury and Cherokee Counties, 
    The general location of the Project facilities is shown in Appendix 

    \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.

Land Requirements for Construction

    Construction of the planned facilities would temporarily disturb 
about 215 acres of land for construction of the aboveground facilities 
and the pipeline. Following construction, Northern would maintain about 
49 acres for permanent operation of the Project facilities. The 
remaining 166 acres disturbed by construction would be restored and 
revert to former uses.

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 
\2\ to discover and address concerns the public may have about 
proposals. This 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.

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

    In the EA we will discuss impacts that could occur as a result of 
the construction and operation of the planned project under these 
general headings:
     Geology and soils;
     Land use;
     Water resources, fisheries, and wetlands;
     Cultural resources;
     Vegetation and wildlife;
     Air quality and noise;
     Endangered and threatened species;
     Public safety; and
     Cumulative impacts.
    We will also evaluate possible 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. Depending on 
the comments received during the scoping process, we may also publish 
and distribute the EA to the public for an allotted comment period. We 
will consider all comments on the EA before we make 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 beginning on Page 5.
    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 \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 following agencies have expressed their

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intention to participate as a cooperating agency in the preparation of 
the EA:

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

     Nebraska Game and Parks Commission;
     Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship;
     U.S. Army Corp of Engineers--Omaha District; and
     Natural Resource Conservation Service.

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 applicable State Historic Preservation Office(s), 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.\4\ We will define the project-specific Area of Potential 
Effects (APE) in consultation with the SHPO(s) 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.

    \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 of Historic 

Public Participation

    You can make a difference by providing us 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. The more specific 
your comments, the more useful they will be. 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 
February 28, 2013.
    For your convenience, there are three methods you can use to submit 
your comments to the Commission. In all instances, please reference the 
project docket number (PF13-2-000) with your submission. The Commission 
encourages electronic filing of comments and has expert staff available 
to assist you at (202) 502-8258 or efiling@ferc.gov.
    (1) You can file your comments electronically using the eComment 
feature located on the Commission's Web site (www.ferc.gov) under the 
link to Documents and Filings. This is an easy method for interested 
persons to submit brief, text-only comments on a project;
    (2) You can file your comments electronically using the eFiling 
feature located 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.'' 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 20426.

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.
    If 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 2).

Becoming an Intervenor

    Once Northern 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 
located under the ``For Citizens'' link on the Commission's homepage, 
by clicking on ``Get Involved''. 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 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., PF13-
2). Be sure you have selected an appropriate date range. For 
assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at 
FercOnlineSupport@ferc.gov 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. Information about the onsite environmental 
review is posted on the Commission's calendar located at www.ferc.gov/EventCalendar/EventsList.aspx along with other related information.
    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.
    Finally, Northern has posted additional information about the 
Project on a dedicated Web site at www.northernnaturalgas.com/expansionprojects. From the drop-down menu, select ``West Leg 2014''. 
Northern may be contacted directly at 1-888-367-6671 or by email at 

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    Dated: January 18, 2013.
Kimberly D. Bose,
[FR Doc. 2013-01608 Filed 1-25-13; 8:45 am]