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Mountaineer XPress and Gulf Xpress pipelines receive final EIS

Published by
World Pipelines,

The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has prepared a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Mountaineer XPress project and Gulf XPress project.

The Mountaineer XPress project, proposed by Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC (Columbia Gas), would include in the following facilities in West Virginia:

  • About 164.5 miles of new 36 in. dia. natural gas pipeline from Marshall County to Cabell County (MXP-100).
  • About 6.0 miles of new 24 in. dia. natural gas pipeline in Doddridge County (MXP-200).
  • Three new compressor stations in Doddridge, Calhoun, and Jackson Counties (one that also includes a regulator station).
  • Two new regulating stations in Jackson and Cabell Counties.
  • About 296 feet of new, 10 in. dia. natural gas pipeline at the Ripley Regulator Station to tie Columbia Gas’ existing X59M1 pipeline into the MXP-100 pipeline in Jackson County.
  • An approximately 0.4 mile long replacement segment of 30 in. dia. natural gas pipeline in Cabell County.
  • Upgrades to one existing compressor station (Wayne County) and two compressor stations (Marshall and Kanawha Counties) that are approved or pending, respectively, under separate FERC proceedings.
  • Related facilities in various West Virginia counties.

The Gulf XPress project proposed by Columbia Gulf Transmission, LLC (Columbia Gulf) would include the following natural gas facilities:

  • Seven new compressor stations in Kentucky (Rowan, Garrard and Metcalfe Counties), Tennessee (Davidson and Wayne Counties) and Mississippi (Union and Granada Counties).
  • Upgrades to one approved compressor station in Carter County, Kentucky.
  • Upgrades at one existing meter station in Boyd County, Kentucky.

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 (title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, sections 1500–1508 [40 CFR 1500-1508]), and the 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 Environmental Protection Agency, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection as cooperating agencies was considered during the development of our conclusions and recommendations. However, these agencies would develop their own conclusions and recommendations and adopt the EIS per 40 CFR 1506.3 (where applicable) if, after an independent review of the document, they conclude that their permitting requirements have been satisfied.

The FERC staff concludes that construction and operation of the projects would result in some adverse and significant environmental impacts. However, if the projects are constructed and operated in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, the mitigation measures discussed in the EIS, and staff’s recommendations, these impacts would be reduced to acceptable levels. This determination is based on a review of the information provided by Columbia Gas and Columbia Gulf and further developed from data requests; field investigations; public and agency scoping; literature research; alternatives analyses; and contacts with federal, state, and local agencies, Native American tribes and other stakeholders. Although many factors were considered in this determination, the principal reasons are:

  • Columbia Gas and Columbia Gulf would minimise impacts on natural and cultural resources during construction and operation of their projects by implementing their project-specific environmental construction standards (which incorporates FERC’s upland erosion control, revegetation, and maintenance plan and wetland and waterbody construction and mitigation procedures); spill prevention, control and countermeasure plan; horizontal directional drill inadvertent return contingency plan; unexpected contamination discovery plan; unanticipated discovery plan (for the treatment of cultural resources and human remains); blasting plan; and karst mitigation plan (for Columbia Gas only).
  • The FERC staff would complete endangered species act consultations with the US Fish and Wildlife Service prior to allowing any construction to begin.
  • The FERC staff 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.
  • Columbia Gas and Columbia Gulf would be required to obtain applicable permits and provide mitigation for unavoidable impacts on waterbodies and wetlands through co-ordination with the US Army Corps of Engineers and applicable state agencies.
  • FERCs recommendation that Columbia Gas develop a landslide mitigation plan.
  • FERCs recommendation that Columbia Gas consult with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to identify any specific construction, restoration, replacement, and/or operation mitigation measures that would be implemented to promote compatibility with the restoration and management of upland forested areas.
  • FERCs recommendation that Columbia Gas develop a noxious and invasive weed management plan.
  • FERCs recommendation that Columbia Gas develop a migratory bird plan and identify special measures, if any, that Columbia Gas would implement to reduce impacts on cerulean warbler habitat.
  • Implementation of an environmental inspection and mitigation monitoring program that would ensure compliance with all mitigation measures that become conditions of the FERC authorisations and other approvals.

In addition, FERC developed and recommended other site-specific mitigation measures that Columbia Gas and Columbia Gulf should implement to further reduce the environmental impacts that would otherwise result from construction and operation of the projects.

The FERC commissioners will take into consideration staff’s recommendations when they make a decision on the projects.

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