Industries Environmental Documents
FERC Staff Issues the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (CP17-101-000)
Issued March 23, 2018
The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission or FERC) has prepared a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NESE Project or Project) proposed by Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC (Transco) in the above-referenced docket. The Project would provide about 400,000 dekatherms per day of natural gas to end use residential and commercial customers in the New York City area.
The draft EIS addresses the potential environmental effects of the construction and operation of the following Project facilities:
- 10.2 miles of 42-inch-diameter pipeline loop in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (the Quarryville Loop);
- 3.4 miles of 26-inch-diameter pipeline loop in Middlesex County, New Jersey (the Madison Loop);
- 23.5 miles of 26-inch-diameter pipeline loop in Middlesex and Monmouth Counties, New Jersey, and Queens and Richmond Counties, New York (the Raritan Bay Loop, which consists of 0.2 mile of pipe in onshore Middlesex County, New Jersey; 6.0 miles of offshore pipe in New Jersey waters; and 17.3 miles of offshore pipe in New York waters);
- modification of existing Compressor Station 200 in Chester County, Pennsylvania;
- construction of new Compressor Station 206 in Somerset County, New Jersey; and
- ancillary facilities (including cathodic protection systems, new and modified mainline valves with tie-in assemblies, new and modified launcher/receiver facilities, and facilities to connect the Raritan Bay Loop to the existing Rockaway Delivery Lateral at the Rockaway Transfer Point).
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. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the City of New York participated as cooperating agencies in the preparation of the draft EIS. Cooperating agencies have jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to resources potentially affected by the proposals and participate in the NEPA analysis. Although the cooperating agencies provide input to the conclusions and recommendations presented in the draft EIS, the agencies will each present its own conclusions and recommendations in its respective record of decision or determination for the Project.
FERC staff determined that construction and operation of the NESE Project would result in some adverse environmental impacts. Most of these impacts would be temporary and occur during construction (e.g., impacts on residences and offshore impacts related to turbidity, sedimentation, and pile driving noise). Long-term impacts on air quality and noise would result from the operation of Compressor Station 206. We also conclude that, with implementation of Transco’s impact avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures, as well as their adherence to our recommendations, all Project effects would be reduced to less-than-significant levels. Although many factors were considered during our environmental review, the principal reasons for these conclusions are as follows:
- The Quarryville and Madison Loops would be collocated with existing Transco facilities for 97 percent and 100 percent of their lengths, respectively, with a typical offset of 25 feet from existing pipelines. Some workspace needed to construct the loops would overlap with Transco’s current right-of-way, reducing construction-related impacts.
- A high level of public participation was achieved during the pre-filing and post-application review processes and helped inform our analysis.
- Compressor Station 206 would comply with operating air permit conditions, and emissions would meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards and other applicable standards that are protective of public health and welfare. Operating noise from the facility would meet our requirements at noise sensitive areas and the facility would be visually screened from surrounding viewpoints. All Project facilities, including Compressor Station 206, would be designed, constructed, operated, and maintained in accordance with U.S. Department of Transportation safety requirements that are protective of public safety.
- The proposed route and construction methods for the Raritan Bay Loop were developed in consultation with the USACE and other agencies to minimize crossing designated anchorage areas where deeper burial would be required, thereby reducing impacts on water quality and aquatic resources, and to meet USACE marine traffic safety requirements. Most of the offshore loop would be installed using a jet trencher, which would minimize turbidity and sedimentation. Project-related turbidity would be temporary, and most sedimentation would occur near to the approximately 117.2-acre area of seafloor that would be directly affected by construction. As a result, impacts on most aquatic resources would also be temporary and minor.
- We evaluated numerous alternatives to Transco’s proposal and determined that the alternatives would either not meet the stated purpose and need of the Project, would be infeasible, or would not provide a significant environmental advantage when compared to the proposed Project.
- The Project area has been substantially impacted by human activity. The Project and other actions in the area would cumulatively impact some resources, but most cumulative impacts would be temporary or short-term and minor. Project impacts on forest resources would be permanent but minor when compared to the extent of forest in the region, and operating air emissions from Compressor Station 206 would permanently contribute to other emission sources in the region but would comply with applicable regulations.
- Environmental inspection and monitoring programs would ensure compliance with all construction and mitigation measures that become conditions of the FERC authorizations and other approvals.
- We would complete the process of complying with the Endangered Species Act prior to allowing any construction to begin.
- We would complete our consultations with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service regarding the potential for the Project to impact Essential Fish Habitat species and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Trust Resources.
- We would complete the process of complying with section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and implementing the regulations at 36 CFR 800 prior to allowing any construction to begin.
- We would complete the General Conformity process, where Transco would be responsible for directly offsetting all construction emissions in the New Jersey-New York-Connecticut Air Quality Control Region, for inclusion in the final EIS.
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 May 14, 2018.
Once the final EIS is issued, the FERC Commissioners will take into consideration staff’s recommendations when they make a decision on the Project.
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