The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has prepared a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Southeast Market Pipelines Project (SMP Project). The SMP Project Final EIS is a comprehensive environmental review of three separate, but connected, natural gas transmission pipeline projects.
The project facilities
The proposed SMP Project facilities, which would be located in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, include 685.5 miles of natural gas transmission pipeline and associated facilities, six new natural gas-fired compressor stations, and modifications to existing compressor stations.
Regulations and standards
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 US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as a cooperating agency was considered during the development of our conclusions and recommendations; however, the USACE will present their own conclusions and recommendations in its respective Record of Decision, and would adopt the final EIS per 40 CFR 1506.3 if, after an independent review of the document, they conclude that their permitting requirements have been satisfied.
The FERC staff concludes that approval of the SMP Project would have some adverse environmental impacts; however, these impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels with the implementation of the applicants’ proposed mitigation and the additional measures recommended in the final EIS.
These conclusions are based on the independent review of the SMP Project and information provided by the applicants, affected landowners, and concerned citizens and our consultations with federal and state regulatory and resource agencies.
Although many factors were considered during the environmental review, the principal reasons for these conclusions are:
- Each applicant would minimise impacts on the natural and human environments during construction and operation of its facilities by implementing the numerous measures described in their respective construction and restoration plans.
- The majority of the proposed facilities would be collocated within or adjacent to existing rights-of-way.
- All of the proposed facilities would be constructed and operated in compliance with federal standards, requirements, and thresholds including US Department of Transportation materials requirements and Environmental Protection Agency air emissions standards.
- A high level of public participation was achieved during the pre-filing and post application review processes and helped inform the analysis.
- Environmental justice populations would not be disproportionately affected by the SMP Project.
- The HDD crossing method would be utilised for most major and sensitive waterbodies, the majority of other waterbodies would be crossed using dry crossing methods, and the applicants would be required to obtain applicable permits and provide mitigation for unavoidable impacts on waterbodies and wetlands through coordination with the USACE and state regulatory agencies.
- FERC would complete Endangered Species Act consultations with the US Fish and Wildlife Service prior to allowing any construction to begin.
- FERC 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.
- Environmental inspection and monitoring programmes would ensure compliance with all construction and mitigation measures that become conditions of the FERC authorisations.
The FERC Commissioners will take into consideration staff’s recommendations when they make a decision on the projects.
Edited from source by Stephanie Roker
Read the article online at: https://www.worldpipelines.com/business-news/21122015/smp-project-final-eis/