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FERC issues environmental impact statement on pipeline projects

Published by
World Pipelines,

The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission or FERC) has prepared a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the NEXUS gas transmission project proposed by NEXUS Transmission, LLC (NEXUS) and the Texas Eastern Appalachian lease project proposed by Texas Eastern Transmission, LP (Texas Eastern). Collectively the applications are referred to as the ‘projects’.

NEXUS and Texas Eastern request authorisation to construct, own, and operate a new natural gas pipeline system in Ohio and Michigan. The projects would provide for the transportation of 1.5 million dth/d of natural gas from the Appalachian basin to consuming markets in Northern Ohio and Southeastern Michigan as well as the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada. DTE Gas Company and Vector Pipeline L.P. are also requesting approval to lease capacity on their systems to NEXUS.

The final EIS addresses the potential environmental effects of the construction and operation of over 260 miles of pipeline composed of the following facilities:

  • 255.7 miles of new 36 in. dia. greenfield natural gas pipeline in Ohio and Michigan.
  • 1.2 miles of new 30 in. dia. and 36 in. dia. interconnecting pipeline in Ohio.
  • 4.4 miles of new 36 in. dia. pipeline looping in Ohio.
  • Associated equipment and facilities.

The projects’ proposed aboveground facilities include:

  • NEXUS’ four new compressor stations, six new metering and regulating (M&R) stations, and 17 new mainline valves in Ohio and Michigan.
  • Texas Eastern’s new compressor station, modifications of an existing compressor station, two new pig launchers/receivers, and temporary pig launcher/receiver.
  • Additional new facilities and modifications, such as pig launchers/receivers, communication towers, and regulators, installed at other aboveground facility sites.

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 co-operating agencies, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, was considered during the development of staff’s conclusions and recommendations.

FERC staff determined that construction and operation of the projects would result in some adverse environmental impacts, but impacts would be reduced to less than significant levels with the implementation of NEXUS’ and Texas Eastern’s proposed mitigation measures and the FERC staff’s recommendations. This determination is based on a review of the information provided by NEXUS and Texas Eastern 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 119.2 miles (46%) of the 261.4 miles of NEXUS’s right-of-way would be co-located with (i.e., overlap or abut) existing utility rights-of-way such as overhead electric transmission lines, pipelines, and railroads. All of Texas Eastern’s proposed pipeline facilities would be co-located within or adjacent to existing utility rights-of-way.
  • NEXUS and Texas Eastern would minimise impacts on natural and cultural resources during construction and operation of the project by implementing their erosion and sediment control plans; spill prevention, control, and countermeasure plans, upland erosion control, revegetation, and maintenance plan; wetland and waterbody construction and mitigation procedures; and other project-specific plans (blasting plans, drain tile mitigation plan (NEXUS), fugitive dust control plans, winter construction plans, invasive species management plans, HDD monitoring and inadvertent return contingency plan (NEXUS), unanticipated discovery plans, residential construction plan (NEXUS), landowner complaint resolution procedures and public awareness programme, organic farm protection plan, hazardous waste management plan, and migratory bird conservation plans).
  • 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, prior to construction.
  • NEXUS and Texas Eastern would comply with all applicable air and noise regulatory requirements during construction and operation of the project.
  • An environmental compliance inspection programme would be implemented to ensure compliance with the mitigation measures that become conditions of the FERC authorisation.

In addition, FERC staff developed project-specific mitigation measures that NEXUS and Texas Eastern should implement to further reduce the environmental impacts that would otherwise result from construction and operation of the project.

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