Industries Environmental Documents
FERC Staff Issues the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Sunrise Project (CP15-138-000)
Issued May 5, 2016
The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission or FERC) has prepared a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for Atlantic Sunrise Project (or Project) proposed by Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC (Transco) in the above-referenced docket. Transco requests authorization to expand its existing pipeline system from the Marcellus Shale production area in northern Pennsylvania to deliver an incremental 1.7 million dekatherms per day of year-round firm transportation capacity to its existing southeastern market areas.
The draft EIS addresses the potential environmental effects of the construction and operation of about 197.7 miles of pipeline composed of the following facilities:
- 183.7 miles of new 30- and 42-inch-diameter greenfield1 natural gas pipeline in Pennsylvania;
- 11.5 miles of new 36- and 42-inch-diameter pipeline looping2 in Pennsylvania;
- 2.5 miles of 30-inch-diameter replacements in Virginia; and
- associated equipment and facilities.
The Project’s proposed aboveground facilities include:
- two new compressor stations in Pennsylvania;
- additional compression and related modifications to two existing compressor stations Pennsylvania and one in Maryland;
- two new meter stations and three new regulator stations in Pennsylvania; and
- minor modifications at existing aboveground facilities at various locations in Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina to allow for bi-directional flow and the installation of supplemental odorization, odor detection, and/or odor masking/deodorization equipment.
The EIS has been prepared in compliance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality regulations for implementing NEPA (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 1500–1508), and FERC regulations implementing NEPA (18 CFR 380).
The conclusions and recommendations presented in the EIS are those of the FERC environmental staff. Input from the cooperating agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE), was considered during the development of staff’s conclusions and recommendations. However, the COE could develop its own conclusions and recommendations and would adopt the final EIS per 40 CFR 1506.3 (where applicable) if, after an independent review of the document, the COE concludes that its permitting requirements have been satisfied.
FERC staff determined that construction and operation of the Project would result in some adverse environmental impacts, but impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels with the implementation of Transco’s proposed and FERC staff’s recommended mitigation measures. This determination is based on a review of the information provided by Transco and further developed from data requests; field investigations; scoping; literature research; alternatives analysis; and contacts with federal, state, and local agencies as well as Indian tribes and individual members of the public. Although many factors were considered in this determination, the principal reasons are:
- About 54.6 miles (28 percent) of the 197.7 miles of project pipeline facilities would be within or adjacent to existing rights-of-way, consisting of existing pipelines and/or electric transmission line rights-of-way.
- Transco would minimize impacts on natural and cultural resources during construction and operation of the Project by implementing its Environmental Construction Plan; Upland Erosion Control, Revegetation, and Maintenance Plan; Wetland and Waterbody Construction and Mitigation Procedures; and other project-specific plans (Fugitive Dust Control Plan, Horizontal Directional Drilling Contingency Plan, Unanticipated Discovery Plans for Cultural and Human Remains and Paleontological Resources, Agricultural Construction and Monitoring Plan, Karst Investigation and Mitigation Plan, Unanticipated Discovery of Contamination Plan, Spill Plan for Oil and Hazardous Materials, Blasting Plan, Noxious and Invasive Plant Management Plan, Winter Construction Plan, Traffic and Transportation Management Plan, Abandoned Mine Investigation and Mitigation Plan, and Landslide Hazard Investigation and Mitigation Plan).
- The FERC staff would complete the process of complying with section 7 of the Endangered Species Act prior to construction.
- The FERC staff would complete consultation under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and implementing regulations at 36 CFR 800.
- Transco would comply with all applicable air and noise regulatory requirements during construction and operation of the Project.
- An environmental inspection program would be implemented to ensure compliance with the mitigation measures that become conditions of the FERC authorization.
In addition, FERC staff developed project-specific mitigation measures that Transco should implement to further reduce the environmental impacts that would otherwise result from construction and operation of the Project.
Comments on the draft EIS must be received in Washington, DC on or before June 27, 2016. Once the final EIS is issued, the FERC Commissioners will take into consideration staff’s recommendations when they make a decision on the Project.
1 A “greenfield” pipeline crosses land previously untouched by natural gas infrastructure rather than using existing rights-of-way.
2 “Looping” is the practice of installing a pipeline in parallel to another pipeline to increase the capacity along an existing stretch of right-of-way, often beyond what can be achieved by one pipeline or pipeline expansion.