Published on February 14, 2014
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) has prepared this draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to fulfill requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and the Commission’s implementing regulations under Title 18 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 380 (18 CFR 380). On June 13, 2013, Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC (Constitution) and Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P. (Iroquois), filed applications with the FERC under Section 7(c) of the Natural Gas Act (NGA) and Part 157 of the Commission’s regulations to construct, install, own, operate, and maintain certain interstate natural gas pipeline facilities in Pennsylvania and New York. The FERC is the federal agency responsible for authorizing interstate natural gas transmission facilities under the NGA, and is the lead federal agency for the preparation of this EIS in compliance with the requirements of NEPA. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE), the Federal Highway Administration, and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) participated as cooperating agencies in the preparation of the EIS. A cooperating agency has jurisdiction by law or has special expertise with respect to environmental resource issues associated with a project. PROPOSED ACTION Constitution’s proposal, referred to as the Constitution Pipeline Project, would involve the construction and operation of 124.4 miles of new 30-inch-diameter natural gas pipeline and associated equipment and facilities in Pennsylvania and New York. Constitution also proposes to construct and operate 2 new metering and regulating (M&R) stations; 2 tie-ins, and 11 mainline valves (MLVs); and would install a pig 1 launcher and a pig receiver at the M&R stations. Iroquois’ Wright Interconnect Project, also referred to as the compressor transfer station, would involve the construction and operation of new compressor facilities adjacent to Iroquois’ existing Wright Compressor Station and modifications to the existing Wright Compressor Station. Iroquois’ proposed expansion would be constructed completely within the property boundaries of its existing Wright Compressor Station. According to Constitution, the proposed pipeline project was developed in response to natural gas market demands in the New York and the New England areas, and interest from natural gas shippers that require transportation capacity from Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania to the existing Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company LLC (TGP) and Iroquois systems in Schoharie County, New York. The proposed projects would deliver up to 650,000 dekatherms per day (Dth/d) of natural gas supply from Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania to the interconnect with the TGP and Iroquois systems at the existing Wright Compressor Station (to markets in New York and New England). Dependent upon Commission approval, Constitution and Iroquois (collectively Applicants) propose to begin construction in the second quarter of 2014 and third quarter of 2014, respectively, and place the projects in service by March of 2015. Constitution and Iroquois would seek approval to begin construction of their projects as soon as possible upon receiving all necessary federal authorizations. 1 A pig is an internal tool that can be used to clean and dry a pipeline and/or to inspect it for damage or corrosion. ES-1 Executive Summary
PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT On April 5, 2012, Constitution filed a request with the FERC to implement the Commission’s pre-filing process for its pipeline project. At that time, Constitution was in the preliminary design stage of its project and no formal application had been filed. The purpose of the pre-filing process is to encourage the early involvement of interested stakeholders, facilitate interagency cooperation, and identify and resolve issues before an application is filed with the FERC. On April 16, 2012, the FERC granted Constitution’s request and established a pre-filing docket number (PF12-9-000) to place information related to the pipeline project into the public record. The cooperating agencies agreed to conduct their environmental reviews of the pipeline project in conjunction with the Commission’s environmental process. On September 7, 2012, the Commission issued a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Planned Constitution Pipeline Project, Request for Comments on Environmental Issues, and Notice of Public Scoping Meetings. The notice was published in the Federal Register on September 14, 2012, and mailed to more than 2,100 interested parties, including federal, state, and local government representatives and agencies; elected officials; environmental and public interest groups; Native American Tribes; affected property owners; other interested parties; and local libraries and newspapers. We initially held three public scoping meetings in the project area to provide an opportunity for agencies, stakeholders, and the general public to learn more about the proposed pipeline project and participate in the environmental analysis by commenting on the issues to be addressed in the draft EIS. On October 9, 2012, the Commission subsequently issued a Notice of Public Scoping Meeting and Extension of Scoping Period for the Planned Constitution Pipeline Project. The notice was published in the Federal Register on October 16, 2012, and mailed to more than 3,300 interested parties on our mailing list. The notice listed the date and location of one additional public scoping meeting to be held in the pipeline project area and extended the closing date for receipt of comments from October 9, 2012 to November 9, 2012. On July 10, 2013, the Commission issued an additional Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Wright Interconnect Project and Request for Comments on Environmental Issues. The notice was published in the Federal Register on July 16, 2013, and mailed to 74 interested parties. In response to our notices and at our public meetings, we received over 2,000 comments from landowners, public officials, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies regarding the projects. These comments expressed concerns with the proposed location of the pipeline route and the effects of the projects on resources, including, but not limited to waterbodies, wetlands, wildlife, vegetation, threatened and endangered species, property values, homeowners insurance, project safety, blasting, air quality, exportation of natural gas, hydraulic fracturing, cumulative impacts, and alternatives. These comments are addressed in this draft EIS. A copy of the draft EIS was mailed to those agencies, tribal organizations, and individuals that attended meetings or submitted written comments on the projects, as well as to our environmental mailing list. The draft EIS has been filed with the EPA and a formal notice of availability will be issued in the Federal Register. The public has 45 days after the date of publication of the EPA’s notice in the Federal Register to comment on the draft EIS either in the form of written comments or at public meetings to be held along the pipeline route. All comments received on the draft EIS related to environmental issues will be addressed in the final EIS. PROJECT IMPACTS AND MITIGATION Construction and operation of the projects could result in numerous impacts on the environment. We evaluated the impacts of the projects, taking into consideration Constitution’s and Iroquois’ proposed Executive Summary ES-2
impact avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures on geology, soils, groundwater, surface water, wetlands, vegetation, wildlife, fisheries, special status species, land use, visual resources, socioeconomics, cultural resources, air quality, noise, and safety. Where necessary, we are recommending additional mitigation to minimize or avoid these impacts. Cumulative impacts of these projects with other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable actions in the projects’ area were also assessed. In section 3 of this EIS, we summarize the evaluation of nearly 400 alternatives to the projects, including the no-action alternative, system alternatives, major and minor route alternatives, and minor route variations. Based on scoping comments, agency consultations, and our independent evaluation of resource impacts, the major issues identified in our analysis are in regard to waterbodies, wetlands, vegetation including interior forests, wildlife habitat, socioeconomics, and alternatives. Our analysis of these issues is summarized below and is discussed in detail in the appropriate resource sections in sections 3 and 4 of this EIS. Sections 5.1 and 5.2 of this EIS contain our conclusions and a compilation of our recommended mitigation measures, respectively. Geology and Soils The primary effect of construction of the projects on geologic resources would be disturbances to steep topographic features found along the construction right-of-way. A well-defined landslide feature was identified in the area of milepost 30.3 of the pipeline route, for which Constitution intends to perform a formal slope stability analysis. Since the potential hazards associated with the proposed route through this area has not been quantified, we are recommending that Constitution file the results of the formal slope stability analysis at MP 30.3. Constitution performed geotechnical feasibility studies to evaluate subsurface conditions at the sites where specialized crossing methods are proposed for features including wetlands, waterbodies and roads; however, we have not received the results of all of the investigations. Therefore, we are recommending that Constitution provide geotechnical feasibility studies for all trenchless crossing locations. Flash flooding is a potential hazard in the area of the proposed projects. Constitution would design all waterbody crossings to minimize potential impacts from flash flooding, scouring, and high flow velocities during project operation. There are also several areas where karst topography may be present along the proposed pipeline route. Constitution has not yet indicated whether it would implement all of the listed potential mitigation measures discussed in its environmental reports. Therefore, we are recommending that Constitution implement the above-mentioned mitigation measures for karst terrain. The projects would traverse a variety of soil types and conditions. Construction activities associated with the projects, such as clearing, grading, trenching, and backfilling, could adversely affect soil resources by causing erosion, compaction, and introducing excess rock or fill material to the surface, which could hinder the restoration of the disturbed areas. However, the Constitution and Iroquois would implement the mitigation measures contained in their respective environmental construction plans to control erosion, enhance successful revegetation, and minimize any potential adverse impacts on soil resources. Such measures include topsoil segregation, temporary and permanent erosion controls, and post-construction restoration and revegetation of construction work areas. Additionally, Constitution and Iroquois would implement their respective spill plans during construction and operation to prevent, contain, and clean-up accidental spills. To further protect soils, we are recommending that Constitution adhere to a maximum allowable rutting depth of 4 inches in agricultural areas and that Constitution consult with the NYSDAM and Constitution’s agricultural inspector prior to conducting any agricultural restoration of New York agricultural parcels between October 1 and May 15 to determine soil workability during winter conditions. ES-3 Executive Summary
Most impacts on soil would be temporary and short-term. Permanent impacts on soils would occur at the aboveground facilities where the sites would be covered with gravel and converted to natural gas facility use. With the implementation of Constitution’s state-specific Environmental Construction Plans (ECPs), its Upland Erosion Control, Revegetation, and Maintenance Plan (Plan), Wetland and Waterbody Construction and Mitigation Procedures (Procedures), and Iroquois’ Plan as well as our additional recommendations, we concluded that impacts on geological and soil resources would be adequately minimized. Groundwater, Waterbody Crossings, Water Use, and Wetlands The proposed pipeline would cross approximately 4 miles of the Clinton Street Ballpark sole source aquifer in Broome County, New York as well as Principal Aquifers, and wellhead protection areas in New York (WHPA). The construction workspaces would be within 150 feet of 2 water monitoring wells, 4 private water wells used for drinking water, and 20 private water supply wells or springs that are not used for drinking water. Constitution has not, however, completed identifying water wells and springs within 150 feet of the proposed pipeline and contractor yards. Therefore, we are recommending that Constitution determine the location of all water wells and springs within 150 feet of the proposed pipeline and aboveground facilities in Pennsylvania (where survey access has been granted) prior to construction. Constitution has agreed to test all water wells within 150 feet of the construction workspace for water quality and quantity prior to and after construction, and provide an alternative water source or a mutually agreeable solution in the event of construction-related impacts. Construction activities would not significantly impact groundwater resources because the majority of construction would involve shallow, temporary, and localized excavation. These potential impacts would be avoided or further minimized by the use of construction techniques and mitigation described in Constitution’s ECPs and Iroquois’ Procedures. Constitution and Iroquois would prevent or adequately minimize accidental spills and leaks of hazardous materials during construction and operation by adhering to their spill prevention plans. The pipeline project would cross a total of 277 surface waterbodies, 2 of which are considered major waterbodies (greater than 100 feet wide). Constitution is proposing to use trenchless crossing methods for 42 of the crossings, including both major waterbodies and dry crossing methods for the remaining 235 waterbodies. Constitution would use construction techniques that avoid in-stream work. None of the aboveground facilities, including Iroquois’ proposed project, would impact waterbodies. Use of trenchless crossing methods to cross waterbodies and implementation of the mitigation measures outlined in Constitution’s ECPs and other project-specific plans would avoid or adequately minimize impacts on surface water resources. We reviewed Constitution’s proposed measures and determined that impacts on waterbodies not crossed by the pipeline, but affected by workspaces during construction, should be quantified on a waterbody-specific basis. Therefore, we are recommending that Constitution file a description of impacts and any proposed impact avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures for each waterbody that would be impacted by workspaces but not crossed by the pipeline. Construction of the pipeline project would impact a total of 91.8 acres of wetlands, including 32.7 acres of forested wetlands, 34.1 acres of herbaceous wetlands, and 25.0 acres of shrub-scrub wetlands. The majority of the projects’ wetland impacts would be located in temporary workspaces (75.7 acres) and these areas would eventually return to pre-construction conditions following construction. For the operation of the pipeline Constitution would maintain 16.1 acres of previously forested or scrub-shrub wetland in an herbaceous state. No wetlands would be impacted by construction of Iroquois’ proposed project. Executive Summary ES-4
Constitution also proposes to temporarily fill one wetland and permanently fill 13 wetlands (approximately 0.3 acres) for the purposes of constructing access roads. Constitution has not provided us with sufficient detail for these proposed permanent crossings of wetlands, nor have they provided us sufficient justification for the use of permanent fill. For these reasons, we are recommending that Constitution file site-specific plans for the permanent access road crossings wetlands and associated waterbodies, including site-specific justifications for the use of permanent fill. Based on the avoidance and minimization measures developed by Constitution, including the ECPs, we conclude that impacts on groundwater, surface water, and wetland resources would be effectively minimized or mitigated, and would be largely temporary in duration. Construction and operation-related impacts on wetlands would be further minimized or mitigated by Constitution’s compliance with the conditions imposed by the COE, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). Vegetation, Wildlife, Fisheries, and Federally Listed and State-Sensitive Species. The proposed projects’ impacts on vegetation would range from short-term to permanent due to the varied amount of time required to reestablish certain community types, as well as the maintenance of grassy vegetation within the permanent right-of-way and the conversion of aboveground facility locations to non-vegetated areas. The pipeline project would also affect vegetation communities of special concern, including a limestone/calcareous talus slope woodland and large tracts of interior forest. Interior forests are quality habitat for wildlife and migratory birds, and fragmentation of large blocks of interior forest has the potential to effectively disconnect forested tracts. To minimize impacts on interior forest which would account for 439.7 acres during construction and 217.9 acres during operations, Constitution would reduce the proposed construction right-of-way from 110-feet-wide to 100-feet-wide feet, where feasible, avoiding impacts on approximately 52 acres of forestlands (forested areas would be subject to 50-footwide permanent easement). To further mitigate impacts from fragmentation, we are recommending that Constitution develop an Upland Forest Mitigation Plan developed in consultation with the applicable federal and state agencies to minimize forest impacts. Although some impacts would occur on forested lands at the Iroquois site, the adjacent area is already industrially developed. The projects would affect wildlife and wildlife habitats along the pipeline route and at the compressor transfer station. These impacts would be temporary, short-term, long-term, or permanent, depending on the habitat type impacted, proposed facility type, as well as the location of that habitat within project workspaces. The proposed project would impact four high-quality wildlife areas, including an area of potential timber rattlesnake habitat, two state forests, and an Important Bird Area. Constitution has routed the pipeline to minimize impacts where possible and would implement its Plan, Procedures, and ECPs to minimize the effects of the project on wildlife and their habitats. Construction could cause direct and indirect impacts on raptors and other migratory birds. Constitution has surveyed, and would continue to survey, for bald eagles at specific locations along the proposed project and has located three nests identified by the agencies, two of which are within 0.5-mile of project areas that may require blasting. We are recommending that Constitution consult with the applicable agencies to complete required surveys, develop mitigation for nests that may be close to areas requiring blasting, and finalize a bald eagle mitigation plan. Constitution would conduct the majority of tree-clearing activities within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) recommended clearing window for the protection of migratory birds. As noted above, we are recommending that Constitution develop an Upland Forest Mitigation Plan that would specifically address impacts on migratory bird habitat (in addition to forested areas) for forest lands that would be cleared outside of the FWS-recommended clearing window. ES-5 Executive Summary
As noted above, the pipeline project would cross 277 waterbodies, most of which are classified as coldwater fisheries; 97 support trout populations. Schoharie Creek, the only warmwater fishery that would be crossed by the pipeline project, contains potential habitat for the state-listed yellow lampmussel. Constitution indicated that it would cross all fisheries of special concern, including trout fisheries and Schoharie Creek within state-designated dates for crossing windows. In addition, Constitution would use a dry crossing method for all waterbodies, which would avoid in-stream construction, and allow flow to be maintained, and minimize downstream sedimentation and turbidity. There are no aquatic habitats present at the proposed compressor transfer station site. No in-water blasting is expected to be required for any of the pipeline crossings. However, if it is later determined that in-water blasting is required, Constitution would develop a detailed in-water blasting plan that complies with state-specific regulations and permit conditions. We are recommending that Constitution provide the FERC with any site-specific blasting plans that include protocols for in-water blasting and the protection of aquatic resources and habitats. Constitution and Iroquois would use surface water and municipal sources totaling approximately 22.7 million gallons for hydrostatic testing. Constitution proposes to use five waterbodies as sources of hydrostatic test water, all of which contain sensitive fisheries: Starrucca Creek in Pennsylvania, and Oquaga, Ouleout, Kortright, and Schoharie Creeks in New York. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) approved the withdrawal of water from Starrucca Creek but requested that water not be withdrawn between March 1 and June 15, which could be outside of Constitution’s proposed water withdrawal window of December through March. Constitution has not received approval for water withdrawal from the NYSDEC, nor has Constitution verified whether water withdrawals would be subject to the in-stream work windows, where applicable. Therefore, we are recommending that Constitution commit to withdrawing water within the PFBC recommended in-stream work window or provide the results of additional coordination with the PFBC. In addition, we are recommending that Constitution file written approval from the NYSDEC allowing water withdrawals, as well as listing any timing restrictions that would be placed on withdrawals at those locations. Based on Constitution’s consultations with the FWS and our review of existing records, four federally listed threatened or endangered species are potentially present in the vicinity of the pipeline project, but no critical habitat has been designated for these species in the project area. We are requesting that the FWS consider this draft EIS as the Biological Assessment for the projects. We have determined that construction and operation of the project is not likely to adversely affect the federally listed Indiana bat, dwarf wedgemussel, and Northern monkshood. We have determined that the proposed project would have no effect on the threatened bog turtle. In addition, we are recommending that Constitution not begin construction until all remaining surveys and consultations with the applicable federal and state agencies are complete, and it has received written notification from the Director of OEP. No federally listed threatened or endangered species would be affected by Iroquois’ project. Nineteen additional species are state listed as threatened, endangered, or candidate species, or were noted by the applicable state agencies as being of special concern. We are recommending that Constitution develop appropriate mitigation for special-status bat species that were encountered during species-specific surveys. In addition, we are recommending that Constitution submit the remaining surveys for state-listed species that may be present in the pipeline project workspaces. In consideration of these recommendations, as well as those described above for the bald eagle, we concluded that impacts on state sensitive species would be avoided or adequately minimized. Land Use and Visual Resources Construction of the proposed projects would impact a total of 1,862.0 acres. Approximately 89 percent of this acreage would be utilized for the pipeline facilities, including the construction right-of-way Executive Summary ES-6
(83.6 percent) and extra workspaces (5.8 percent). The remaining acreage is associated with contractor yards (5.9 percent), access roads (3.6 percent), and aboveground facilities (1.1 percent). Following construction, lands outside of the permanent right-of-way, extra workspace areas, contractor yards, and temporary access roads would be allowed to revert to their original land use type. The primary land use types impacted during construction would be forested/woodland (55.0 percent) and agriculture (23.5 percent). Open water, open land, industrial/commercial and residential make up the remaining 21.5 percent of land types. Operation of the projects would permanently affect 748.8 of the 1,862.0 acres impacted during construction. The easement for the new permanent pipeline right-of-way would account for 707.3 acres, or 94.5 percent of the acreage. The remaining 41.5 acres (5.5 percent) are associated with aboveground facilities (including 4.5 acres for Iroquois’ project) and permanent access roads. Currently we have identified six residences and an occupied pool house that would be within 50 feet of Constitution’s proposed construction work area. Three of them would be within 25 feet of the proposed work area. To limit the distance between construction and the residences, Constitution developed site-specific construction plans for them. To reduce impacts of construction, we are recommending that Constitution more accurately classify currently unsurveyed structures, and also prepare an updated site-specific plan regarding potential impacts on a septic field located within the proposed work area. No planned developments in Pennsylvania are within 0.5 mile of the pipeline project. In New York, five planned projects were identified as being within 0.5 mile of the pipeline project. Constitution incorporated several route variations into its proposed pipeline route to minimize or avoid impacts on four of the planned developments. For the remaining development, we are recommending that Constitution coordinate with the developer and local authorities to minimize impacts. In general, impacts on recreational and special interest areas, including two New York State Forests, would be temporary (several days to several weeks in any one area). Constitution would install the pipeline at greater depths to allow trees to grow back over the pipeline. The pipeline project would cross 7 tracts of land supporting specialty crops as well as 33.4 miles within agricultural districts. Constitution has committed to continuing coordination with landowners to avoid and minimize impacts on specialty crops, including the use of minor route re-alignments to avoid sensitive areas. Where impacts on specialty crops cannot be avoided, Constitution would implement special construction procedures in accordance with its ECPs. In addition, we are recommending that Constitution revise their Organic Farm Protection Plan to require the use of organic straw/hay for mulch on certified organic agricultural lands. Visual resources along the proposed pipeline route are a function of geology, climate, and historical processes, and include topographic relief, vegetation, water, wildlife, land use, and human uses and development. A portion of the pipeline (about 9.0 percent) would be installed within or parallel to existing pipeline and/or utility rights-of-way. As a result, the visual resources along this portion of the project have been previously affected by other similar activities. Impacts in other areas would be greatest where a conversion from forested land to a grassy, maintained right-of-way would occur, particularly at viewing locations such as roadways. We conclude that these visual impacts, however, would not be considered significant overall. Due to the location of the proposed compressor transfer station in an existing industrial setting surrounded by in part by forest land, it is anticipated that visual impacts on nearby visual receptors during operation would be permanent but negligible. ES-7 Executive Summary
Socioeconomics The primary socioeconomic impacts of the pipeline project include population effects associated with the influx of construction workers and the impact of these workers on public services and temporary housing during construction. Secondary socioeconomic effects include increased sales and property tax revenue, job opportunities, income associated with local construction employment, increased vehicle traffic, and impacts on roads. We received comments regarding the effect of the project on property values and insurance policies. The real potential for these impacts is unclear and would likely be highly variable. To address this issue we are recommending that Constitution document any property insurance issues and describe efforts to coordinate with the affected landowners to mitigate impacts. Construction of the projects would result in minor positive impacts due to increases in construction jobs, payroll taxes, purchases made by the workforce, and expenses associated with the acquisition of material goods and equipment. Operation of the projects would have a minor to moderate positive effect on the local governments’ tax revenues due to the increase in property taxes that would be collected. Cultural Resources Constitution conducted archival research and walkover surveys of the area of the proposed project to identify historic aboveground resources and locations for additional subsurface testing in areas with potential for prehistoric and historic archaeological sites. Constitution identified 138 historic aboveground resources within the area of direct impact for the proposed pipeline route. Of those, we have determined that 15 of these historic aboveground resources are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Two of the 15 NRHP-eligible resources would be adversely affected by the proposed pipeline. Constitution would implement measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any anticipated adverse effects on eligible historic aboveground resources as part of the ongoing process to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Twenty-six archaeological sites and 17 stone pile sites would be located within the proposed pipeline construction right-of-way, one archaeological site would be located in the area of potential impact at a proposed contractor yard, and one cemetery would be within a proposed access road corridor. Constitution has recommended 17 archaeological sites that would be impacted by its project as potentially eligible for listing in the NRHP. Constitution would either modify the project to avoid impacts, or provide suitable mitigation. Iroquois identified a single archaeological site during its Phase I survey. The site is not eligible for listing in the NRHP, and the New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation agreed. We consulted with federally recognized Native American tribes (15 associated with Constitution’s project and 10 associated with Iroquois’ project) and three tribes that are not federally recognized to provide them an opportunity to comment on the proposed projects. Several tribes and organizations requested additional consultation or information, but none have provided comments on the projects. To ensure that our responsibilities under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act are met, we are recommending that the Applicants not begin construction until any additional required surveys are completed, survey reports and treatment plans (if necessary) have been reviewed by the appropriate parties, and we provide written notification to proceed. Executive Summary ES-8
Air Quality and Noise Air quality impacts associated with construction of the projects would include emissions from fossil-fueled construction equipment and fugitive dust. Such air quality impacts would generally be temporary and localized, and are not expected to cause or contribute to a violation of applicable air quality standards. Emissions generated during operation of Constitution’s project would be minimal, limited to emissions from maintenance vehicles and equipment and fugitive emissions. Operation of the new turbines at the compressor transfer station would result in the existing Wright Compressor Station becoming a “major source” of greenhouse gas emissions requiring a Title V application and permit at start-up of the new compressors. Because Title V is only required for greenhouse gas emissions, the proposed turbines would still be permitted and regulated as “minor sources” and “minor modifications” with regard to emission controls and other requirements. Most of the project area is in attainment for criteria pollutants. Extensions of the construction schedule past the estimated 9 months may result in increases in construction emissions that would exceed the general conformity applicability threshold. Therefore, we are recommending that if such modifications occur within Schoharie County, then the Applicants would have to provide additional emissions data to assist in our preparation of a General Conformity assessment. Noise would be generated during construction of the pipeline and aboveground facilities for both projects. Construction activities in any one area would typically last from several days to several weeks on an intermittent basis. Construction equipment would be operated on an as-needed basis during this period, and would not be expected to exceed the FERC’s noise standard of 55 decibels on a A-weighted scale – day/night average (dBA-Ldn) at the nearest noise sensitive areas (NSAs). However, we are recommending that Constitution develop a site-specific noise mitigation plan for a NSA near one of Constitution’s HDDs. Some noise would be generated by the operation of Constitution’s M&R Stations and Iroquois’ facility. An acoustical analysis was completed to identify the estimated combined noise impacts on the nearest NSAs from both the Westfall Road M&R station and Iroquois’ compressor station. The results of the acoustical analysis demonstrate compliance with the FERC’s noise standard of 55 dBA (Ldn). However, to ensure that the actual noise levels produced by the compressor station facilities, we are recommending that Iroquois submit noise surveys and add noise mitigation until noise levels are below our acceptable thresholds. Implementation of Constitution’s and Iroquois’ proposed measures such as acoustical enclosures and absorptive noise barriers as well as our additional recommendations would adequately minimize air and noise-related impacts associated with the projects. Reliability and Safety The pipeline and aboveground facilities associated with the proposed projects would be designed, constructed, operated, and maintained to meet the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Minimum Federal Safety Standards in 49 CFR 192 and other applicable federal and state regulations. These regulations include specifications for material selection and qualification; minimum design requirements; and protection of the pipeline from internal, external, and atmospheric corrosion. The Applicants would also perform integrity risk assessments of the facilities, which would be instrumental in early detection of leaks and would reduce the likelihood for pipeline failure. The ES-9 Executive Summary
Applicants’ representatives would meet with the emergency services departments of the municipalities and counties along the proposed pipeline facilities on an ongoing basis as part of their liaison programs. The Applicants would provide these departments with emergency contact information and verbal, written, and mapping descriptions of the pipeline systems. This liaison program would identify the appropriate fire, police, and public officials and the responsibilities of each organization that may respond to a gas pipeline emergency, and coordinate mutual assistance in responding to emergencies. We conclude that the Applicants’ implementation of the above measures would protect public safety and the integrity of the proposed facilities. Cumulative Impacts Three types of projects (past, present, and reasonably foreseeable projects) could potentially contribute to a cumulative impact when considered with the proposed projects. These projects include Marcellus Shale development (wells and gathering systems); natural gas facilities that are not under the Commission’s jurisdiction; other FERC jurisdictional natural gas pipelines; and unrelated actions such as residential or industrial developments, transportation projects, wind farms, and utility lines. The region of influence for cumulative impacts varied depending on the resource being discussed. Specifically, we included minor projects located within 0.25 mile of the proposed area for both Constitution and Iroquois’ projects; major projects located within 10 miles of the proposed area for both projects; major projects located within watersheds crossed by the proposed projects; and projects with potential to result in longer term impacts on air quality located within an air quality control region crossed by the proposed projects. We received numerous comments about the cumulative impacts associated with development of natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale and hydraulic fracturing. In Pennsylvania, the permitting of upstream facilities associated with the development of the Marcellus Shale is under the jurisdiction of the PADEP Bureau of Oil and Gas Management. The PADEP has developed Best Management Practices (BMPs) for the construction and operation of upstream oil and gas production facilities. Further, the PADEP and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission have recently enacted regulations to specifically protect surface and groundwater resources from potential impacts associated with the unconventional development of the Marcellus Shale. Development of the Marcellus Shale is expected to continue in proximity to and during construction and operation of portions of the pipeline project in Pennsylvania (hydraulic fracturing is currently prohibited in New York). Impacts associated with the proposed projects in combination with other projects such as residential developments, wind farms, utility lines, and transportation projects, would be relatively minor overall. We have included recommendations in the EIS to further reduce the environmental impacts associated with Constitution’s and Iroquois’ projects, as summarized in section 5.2. Additionally, Constitution selected a route that collocates with existing rights-of-way where feasible. Therefore, we conclude that the cumulative impacts associated with the Constitution and Iroquois projects, when combined with other known or reasonably foreseeable projects, would be effectively limited. ALTERNATIVES CONSIDERED The no-action alternative was considered for the projects. While the no-action alternative would eliminate the environmental impacts identified in this draft EIS, the user markets would be denied the projects’ objective of delivering 650,000 Dth/d of natural gas from existing supplies in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania to markets in New York and New England. This might result in greater reliance on alternative fossil fuels, such as coal or fuel oil, or both. We also considered energy conservation and efficiency, and other energy source alternatives (including renewable energy sources). Other fossil fuels are not as clean as natural gas, and renewable sources such as solar and wind power are not always Executive Summary ES-10
reliable or available in sufficient quantities to support market requirements. We concluded that the no action alternative, energy efficiency, and other sources of energy were not viable alternatives to the proposed projects in the required timeframe. Any system alternative for the projects would need to be able to transport similar volumes of natural gas to the vicinity of the existing Wright compressor station or to the ultimate market destinations of New York and New England. We did not identify any existing pipeline systems that could meet the purpose and need of the projects without expansion. Based on our knowledge of other systems, construction and operational impacts associated with system alternatives would be similar to or greater than those of the proposed projects due to the amount of looping and new construction required to connect the systems to the projects’ origin and terminus. Consequently, no system alternatives were identified that are environmentally preferable to the proposed projects. We evaluated two major route alternatives to the proposed pipeline’s route. Neither of these major route alternatives offered a significant environmental advantage over the proposed route. Therefore, we eliminated them from further consideration. We also evaluated 20 minor route alternatives relative to Constitution’s proposed route. Although they can extend for several miles, minor route alternatives typically deviate from the proposed route less substantially than major route alternatives. Minor route alternatives are often designed to avoid larger environmental resources or engineering constraints, and typically remain within the same general area as the proposed route. Based on consultations with landowners, resource agencies, municipal governments, field review, and impact assessment, Constitution fully incorporated nine minor route alternatives and partially incorporated two additional minor route alternatives into its proposed route as a result of input during both the pre-filing and certificate application review of its project. These changes were adopted primarily to increase collocation with existing utilities, avoid or minimize impacts on natural resources, reduce or eliminate safety and constructability concerns, and/or avoid or minimize conflicts with existing or proposed residential land uses. Constitution indicated that it had assessed numerous minor route variations over the course of project development and that over 50 percent of its proposed route had changed due to incorporation of alternatives or variations since the project was introduced during the pre-filing process in May 2012. We also reviewed numerous minor route variations and found that 13 of these variations could reduce or eliminate impacts on site-specific resources. Therefore, we are recommending that Constitution provide us with additional information on these alternatives. We also evaluated the locations of the proposed pipeline’s aboveground facilities to determine whether environmental impacts would be reduced or mitigated by the use of alternative facility sites. We did not identify any alternative sites that would offer a significant environmental advantage to the proposed sites for these facilities. Alternative locations for the proposed compressor transfer station included six parcels in the vicinity of the existing Wright Compressor Station along Westfall Road or Barton Hill Road. While these parcels were potentially viable alternative sites, locating the proposed compressor transfer station within the existing parcel owned by Iroquois and already containing a compressor facility would have numerous environmental advantages. For these reasons, we concluded that construction of the compressor transfer station on the existing Iroquois parcel was preferable to construction on a previously non-developed site. MAJOR CONCLUSIONS We determined that construction and operation of the projects would result in limited adverse environmental impacts. This determination is based on a review of the information provided by ES-11 Executive Summary
Constitution and Iroquois and further developed from environmental information requests; field reconnaissance; scoping; literature research; alternatives analyses; and contacts with federal, state, and local agencies, and other stakeholders. We conclude that the approval of the projects would have some adverse environmental impacts, but these impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels. Although many factors were considered in this determination, the principal reasons are: • Constitution would minimize impacts on natural and cultural resources during construction and operation of its project by implementing its Plan and Procedures; Soil Protection and Subsoil Decompaction Mitigation Plan; HDD Contingency Plan; Special Crop Productivity Monitoring Procedures; Unanticipated Cultural and Paleontological Resources and Human Remains Discovery Plan; Seeding, Fertilizing, and Lime Recommendations for Gas Pipeline Right-of-Way Restoration in Farmlands; Unanticipated Discovery of Contamination Plan; Spill Plan for Oil and Hazardous Materials; Blasting Plan; Invasive Species Management Plan; Winter Construction Plan; Organic Farm Protection Plan; and Karst Mitigation Plan. • Iroquois would minimize impacts on natural and cultural resources during construction and operation of its project by implementing its Plan and Procedures, Spill Prevention, Containment, and Countermeasure Plan, and Unanticipated Cultural Resource Discovery Plan. • We would complete Endangered Species Act consultations with the FWS prior to allowing any construction to begin. • 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. • Constitution would use trenchless crossing methods for several waterbodies and wetlands, would cross other waterbodies using dry crossing methods, and would be required to obtain applicable permits and provide mitigation for unavoidable impacts on waterbodies and wetlands through coordination with the COE, the PADEP, and the NYSDEC. • We are recommending that Constitution develop a forest (and migratory bird) impact mitigation plan. • We are recommending that Constitution develop a property owner insurance tracking and mitigation plan. • Our oversight of an environmental inspection and mitigation monitoring program that would ensure compliance with all mitigation measures that become conditions of the FERC authorizations and other approvals. In addition, we developed site-specific mitigation measures that Constitution should implement to further reduce the environmental impacts that would otherwise result from construction of its project. We determined that these measures are necessary to reduce adverse impacts associated with the project, and in part, are basing our conclusions on implementation of these measures. Therefore, we are recommending that these mitigation measures be attached as conditions to any authorization issued by the Commission. These recommended mitigation measures are presented in section 5.2 of the draft EIS. Executive Summary ES-12
Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) DEIS on Constitution Pipeline Project and Wright Interconnect Project (Docket Nos. CP13-499-000 and CP13-502-000)
FERC released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement. In it, FERC staff outlined additional mitigation measures Constitution would need to ...
... Environmental Impact Statement . Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Constitution Pipeline and Wright Interconnect ... impact statement (EIS ...
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