[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 199 (Friday, October 14, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 71041-71042]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-24833]



[[Page 71041]]

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management


Notice of Availability of the Mountain Valley Pipeline Project 
and Equitrans Expansion Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement 
and the USFS Draft Associated Land and Resource Management Plan 
Amendments

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA; Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 (NEPA), as amended; the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 
1976, as amended; and the National Forest Management Act of 1976, as 
amended (NFMA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Forest 
Service (USFS) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have 
participated as cooperating agencies with the Federal Energy Regulatory 
Commission (FERC) in the preparation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline 
Project (MVP) and Equitrans Expansion Project (Equitrans) Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Draft EIS addresses the 
impacts of these projects, the associated draft Jefferson National 
Forest Revised Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) amendments of 
the USFS, and the application to the BLM for a right-of-way grant 
sought by Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC (Mountain Valley) for the MVP 
project. With this agency-specific Notice of Availability, the BLM and 
the USFS are announcing the opening of the FERC comment period. 
Comments need to be timely and specific, showing a direct relationship 
to the proposal and include supporting reasons.

DATES: To ensure that comments will be considered, the FERC must 
receive written comments on the MVP Project and Equitrans Project Draft 
EIS within 90 days following the date of publication of the FERC Notice 
of Availability (NOA) for the draft EIS in the Federal Register. The 
FERC's NOA also lists public meetings where interested groups and 
individuals can attend and present oral comments on the draft EIS.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments related to the MVP Project and 
Equitrans Project Draft EIS, including any comments related to the BLM 
consideration of the issuance of a right-of-way grant to cross federal 
lands, the USFS consideration of LRMP amendments, and/or the USFS 
consideration of submitting a concurrence to BLM, to the FERC by any of 
the four methods listed below. The FERC 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 FERC'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 by using the eFiling 
feature on the FERC'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. Be sure to reference the project docket number 
(CP16-10-000) with your submission: 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, you can 
submit oral comments at any of the FERC-sponsored public sessions that 
are scheduled in the FERC Notice of Availability for the draft EIS.
    Your comments must reference the FERC Docket number for the 
Mountain Valley Pipeline Project, LP, Docket No. CP16-10-000, to be 
correctly attributed to this specific project. Copies of the MVP 
Project and Equitrans Project Draft EIS are available for inspection in 
the office of the Forest Supervisor for the George Washington and 
Jefferson National Forests.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Additional information about the 
projects is available from the FERC's Office of External Affairs at 
866-208-FERC (3372), or on the FERC Web site (www.ferc.gov). On the 
FERC's Web site, go to ``Documents & Filings,'' click on the 
``eLibrary'' link, click on ``General Search'' and enter the docket 
number CP16-10. 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 issues by the FERC such as orders, notices, 
and rulemakings.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This NOA is specific to the BLM and the USFS 
and provides notice that these agencies have participated as 
cooperating agencies with FERC in the preparation of the MVP Project 
and Equitrans Project Draft EIS. The Mountain Valley Pipeline route 
would cross about 3.4 miles of lands managed by the USFS, the Jefferson 
National Forest, in Monroe County, West Virginia and Giles and 
Montgomery counties, Virginia. The Equitrans Expansion Project would 
not cross the Jefferson National Forest.
    The FERC is the NEPA Lead Federal Agency for the environmental 
analysis of the construction and operation of the proposed MVP and 
Equitrans Projects. Under the Mineral Leasing Act (30 U.S.C. 185 et 
seq.), the BLM is the federal agency responsible for issuing right-of-
way grants for natural gas pipelines across federal lands under the 
jurisdiction of two or more federal agencies. Therefore, the BLM is 
considering the issuance of a right-of-way grant to Mountain Valley for 
pipeline construction across the lands under the jurisdiction of the 
USFS and the USACE.
    Before issuing the right-of-way grant, the BLM would acquire the 
written concurrences of the USFS and USACE. Through this concurrence 
process, the USFS would submit to the BLM any specific stipulations 
applicable to lands, facilities, water bodies, and easements for 
inclusion in the right-of-way grant.
    In order for the potential actions to be consistent with the LRMP, 
the USFS would need to make several amendments to the LRMP. The 
amendments would provide for the construction and operation of the 
natural gas pipeline to occur on the Jefferson National Forest. The 
USFS would need to make these amendments before USFS could issue a 
letter of concurrence to the BLM.
    The FERC's draft EIS includes the consideration of a BLM right-of-
way grant across federal lands for the USFS and USACE and the 
associated USFS LRMP amendments. The BLM and USFS can adopt FERC's EIS 
for agency decisions if the analysis provides sufficient evidence to 
support the agencies' decisions and the agencies are satisfied that 
agency comments and suggestions have been addressed.
    The BLM's purpose and need for the proposed action in FERC's draft 
EIS is to respond to a right-of-way grant

[[Page 71042]]

application submitted by the applicant to the BLM on April 5, 2016 to 
construct, operate, maintain, and eventually decommission a new 42-
inch-diameter natural gas pipeline across approximately 3.4 miles of 
lands managed by the USFS and about 125 feet of federal lands managed 
by the USACE.
    The USFS's purpose and need for the proposed action is to evaluate 
the following amendments to the LRMP for the Jefferson National Forest 
and to consider issuing a concurrence to the BLM for the right-of-way 
grant.
    The first type of LRMP amendment would be a ``plan-level 
amendment'' that would change land allocations. This would change 
future management direction for the lands reallocated to the new 
management prescription (Rx) and is required by LRMP Standard FW-248.

Proposed Amendment 1: The LRMP would be amended to reallocate 186 acres 
to the Management Prescription 5C-Designated Utility Corridors from 
these Rxs: 4J-Urban/Suburban Interface (56 acres); 6C-Old Growth Forest 
Communities-Disturbance Associated (19 ac); and 8A1-Mix of Successional 
Habitats in Forested Landscapes (111 acres).

    Rx 5C-Designated Utility Corridors contain special uses which serve 
a public benefit by providing a reliable supply of electricity, natural 
gas, or water essential to local, regional, and national economies. The 
new Rx 5C land allocation would be 500 feet wide (250 feet wide on each 
side of the pipeline), with two exceptions: (1) The area where the 
pipeline crosses Rx 4A-Appalachian National Scenic Trail Corridor would 
remain in Rx 4A; and (2) the new 5C area would not cross into Peters 
Mountain Wilderness so the Rx 5C area would be less than 500 feet wide 
along the boundary of the Wilderness.
    The second type of amendment would be a ``project-specific 
amendment'' that would apply only to the construction and operation of 
this pipeline. The following standards would require a temporary 
``waiver'' to allow the project to proceed. These amendments would not 
change LRMP requirements for other projects or authorize any other 
actions.

Proposed Amendment 2: The LRMP would be amended to allow construction 
of the Mountain Valley Pipeline to exceed restrictions on soil 
conditions and riparian corridor conditions as described in LRMP 
standards FW-5, FW-9, FW-13, FW-14 and 11-017, provided that mitigation 
measures or project requirements agreed upon by the Forest Service are 
implemented as needed.
Proposed Amendment 3: The LRMP would be amended to allow the removal of 
old growth trees within the construction corridor of the Mountain 
Valley Pipeline. (Reference LRMP Standard FW-77)
Proposed Amendment 4: The LRMP would be amended to allow the Mountain 
Valley Pipeline to cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail on 
Peters Mountain. The Scenic Integrity Objective for the Rx 4A area and 
the Trail will be changed from High to Moderate. This amendment also 
requires the SIO of Moderate to be achieved within five to ten years 
following completion of the project to allow for vegetation growth. 
(Reference LRMP Standards 4A-021 and 4A-028)

    The decision for a right-of-way grant across federal lands would be 
documented in a Record of Decision (ROD) issued by the BLM. The BLM's 
decision to issue, condition, or deny a right of way would be subject 
to BLM administrative review procedures established in 43 CFR 2881.10 
and the procedures established in section 313(b) of the Energy Policy 
Act of 2005. The USFS concurrence to BLM to issue the right-of-way 
grant would not be a decision subject to the NEPA and therefore would 
not be subject to USFS administrative review procedures. The USFS would 
issue its own draft ROD for the LRMP amendments that would be subject 
to administrative review prior to final decision. Proposed Amendment 1 
was developed in accordance to 36 CFR part 219 (2012 version) 
regulations and would be subject to the administrative review 
procedures under 36 CFR part 219 subpart B. Proposed Amendments 2, 3 
and 4 were developed in accordance to 36 CFR part 219 (2012) 
regulations but would be subject to the administrative review 
procedures under 36 CFR part 218 regulations subparts A and B, per 36 
CFR 219.59(b). Refer to the applicable administrative review 
regulations for eligibility requirements.
    The BLM is requesting public comments on the issuance of a right-
of-way grant that would allow the MVP to be constructed on Federal 
lands managed by the USFS and USACE. The USFS is requesting public 
comments on the consideration of submitting a concurrence to BLM and 
the draft amendments of the LRMP to allow for the MVP Project on the 
Jefferson National Forest. All comments must be submitted to the FERC, 
the Lead Federal Agency within the timeframe stated in FERC's Notice of 
Availability for their draft EIS. Refer to Docket CP16-10-000 (Mountain 
Valley Pipeline) in all correspondence to ensure that your comments are 
correctly filed in the record. You may submit comments to the FERC 
using one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section above. Only 
those who submit timely and specific written comments regarding the 
proposed project during a public comment period are eligible to file an 
objection with the USFS. Before including your address, phone number, 
email address, or other personal identifying information in your 
comments, you should be aware that the entire text of your comments--
including your personal identifying information-- would be publicly 
available through the FERC eLibrary system, if you file your comments 
with the Secretary of the FERC.
    Responsible Official for USFS LRMP Amendments: The Forest 
Supervisor for the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests is 
the Responsible Official for the LRMP Amendments.

    Authority: 40 CFR 1506.6, 40 CFR 1506.10, 43 CFR 1610.2.

    Dated: September 21, 2016.
Karen Mouritsen,
State Director, Eastern States.
    Dated: September 13, 2016.
Joby P. Timm,
Forest Supervisor, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.
[FR Doc. 2016-24833 Filed 10-13-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3411-15-P