The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an Environmental Assessment of the Portion of the proposed TransPecos Pipeline that crosses the Rio Grande River concluding, “We have determined that if constructed in accordance with its application and supplements, approval of this proposal would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.
Please see the conclusions and recommendations from FERC below.
Based on the analysis in this EA, the mitigation measures proposed by Trans-Pecos, and the implementation of our recommendations below, we have determined that if constructed in accordance with its application and supplements, approval of this proposal would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.
We recommend that the Commission Order contain a finding of no significant impact. If the Commission approves the Project, we recommend that the Commission Order contain the following conditions:
- Trans-Pecos shall follow the construction procedures and mitigation measures described in its application and supplements, including responses to staff data requests, and as identified in the EA, unless modified by the Order. Trans-Pecos must:
- request any modification to these procedures, measures, or conditions in a filing with the Secretary;
- justify each modification relative to site-specific conditions;
- explain how that modification provides an equal or greater level of environmental protection than the original measure; and
- receive approval in writing from the Director of OEP before using that modification.
- The Director of OEP has delegated authority to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the protection of all environmental resources during activities associated with the construction and operation of the Project. This authority shall allow:
- the modification of conditions of the Order; and
- the design and implementation of any additional measures deemed necessary (including stop-work authority) to assure continued compliance with the intent of the environmental conditions as well as the avoidance or mitigation of adverse environmental impact resulting from Project construction and operation.
- Prior to any construction of facilities, Trans-Pecos shall file an affirmative statement with the Secretary, certified by a senior company official, that all company personnel, EIs, and contractor personnel will be informed of the EI’s authority and have been or will be trained on the implementation of the environmental mitigation measures appropriate to their jobs before becoming involved with construction and restoration activities.
- The authorized facility locations shall be as shown in the EA. As soon as they are available, and before the start of construction, Trans-Pecos shall file with the Secretary any revised construction workspace configuration drawings at a scale not smaller than 1:6,000 with station positions for all activities approved by the Order. All requests for modifications of environmental conditions of the Order or site-specific clearances must be written and must reference locations designated on these alignment maps/sheets.
- Trans-Pecos shall file with the Secretary detailed alignment maps/sheets and aerial photographs at a scale not smaller than 1:6,000 identifying all route realignments or facility relocations, and staging areas, pipe storage yards, new access roads, and other areas that would be used or disturbed and have not been previously identified in filings with the Secretary. Approval for each of these areas must be explicitly requested in writing. For each area, the request must include a description of the existing land use/cover type, documentation of landowner approval, whether any cultural resources or federally listed threatened or endangered species would be affected, and whether any other environmentally sensitive areas are within or abutting the area. All areas shall be clearly identified on the maps/sheets/aerial photographs. Each area must be approved in writing by the Director of OEP before construction in or near that area.
This requirement does not apply to extra workspace allowed by the FERC Plan and/or minor field realignments per landowner needs and requirements which do not affect other landowners or sensitive environmental areas such as wetlands.
Examples of alterations requiring approval include all route realignments and facility location changes resulting from:
- implementation of cultural resources mitigation measures;
- implementation of endangered, threatened, or special concern species mitigation measures;
- recommendations by state regulatory authorities; and
- agreements with individual landowners that affect other landowners or could affect sensitive environmental areas.
- Within 60 days of the acceptance of the authorization and before construction begins, Trans-Pecos shall file an Implementation Plan with the Secretary for review and written approval by the Director of OEP. Trans-Pecos must file revisions to the plan as schedules change. The plan shall identify:
- how Trans-Pecos would implement construction procedures and mitigation measures described in its application and supplements (including responses to staff data requests), identified in the EA, and required by the Order;
- how Trans-Pecos would incorporate these requirements into the contract bid documents, construction contracts (especially penalty clauses and specifications), and construction drawings so that the mitigation required at each site is clear to onsite construction and inspection personnel;
- the number of EIs assigned, and how the company would ensure that sufficient personnel are available to implement the environmental mitigation;
- company personnel, including EIs and contractors, who would receive copies of the appropriate material;
- the location and dates of the environmental compliance training and instructions Trans-Pecos would give to all personnel involved with construction activities and restoration (initial and refresher training as the Project progresses and personnel change);
- the company personnel (if known) and specific portion of Trans-Pecos’s organization having responsibility for compliance;
- the procedures (including use of contract penalties) Trans-Pecos will follow if noncompliance occurs; and
- for each discrete facility, a Gantt or PERT chart (or similar project scheduling diagram), and dates for:
(1) the completion of all required surveys and reports;
(2) the environmental compliance training of onsite personnel;
(3) the start of construction; and
(4) the start and completion of restoration.
- Beginning with the filing of its Implementation Plan, Trans-Pecos shall file updated status reports with the Secretary on a biweekly basis until all construction and restoration activities are complete. On request, these status reports will also be provided to other federal and state agencies with permitting responsibilities. Status reports shall include:
- an update on Trans-Pecos’s efforts to obtain the necessary federal authorizations;
- the construction status of the Project, work planned for the following reporting period, and any schedule changes for stream crossings or work in other environmentally sensitive areas;
- a listing of all problems encountered and each instance of noncompliance observed by the EI during the reporting period (both for the conditions imposed by the Commission and any environmental conditions/permit requirements imposed by other federal, state, or local agencies);
- a description of corrective actions implemented in response to all instances of noncompliance, and their cost;
- the effectiveness of all corrective actions implemented;
- a description of any landowner/resident complaints which may relate to compliance with the requirements of the Order, and the measures taken to satisfy their concerns; and
- copies of any correspondence received by Trans-Pecos from other federal, state or local permitting agencies concerning instances of noncompliance, and Trans-Pecos’s response.
- Trans-Pecos shall employ at least one EI. The EI shall be:
- responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with all mitigation measures required by the Order and other grants, permits, certificates, or other authorizing documents;
- responsible for evaluating the construction contractor’s implementation of the environmental mitigation measures required in the contract (see condition 6 above) and any other authorizing document;
- empowered to order correction of acts that violate the environmental conditions of the Order, and any other authorizing document;
- responsible for documenting compliance with the environmental conditions of the Order, as well as any environmental conditions/permit requirements imposed by other federal, state, or local agencies; and
- responsible for maintaining status reports.
- Prior to receiving written authorization from the Director of OEP to commence construction of any Project facilities, Trans-Pecos shall file with the Secretary documentation that it has received all applicable authorizations required under federal law (or evidence of waiver thereof).
- Trans-Pecos must receive written authorization from the Director of OEP before placing the Project into service. Such authorization will only be granted following a determination that rehabilitation and restoration of all areas affected by the Project are proceeding satisfactorily.
- Within 30 days of placing the authorized facilities in service, Trans-Pecos shall file an affirmative statement with the Secretary, certified by a senior company official:
- that the facilities have been constructed in compliance with all applicable conditions, and that continuing activities will be consistent with all applicable conditions; or
- identifying which of the Authorization conditions Trans-Pecos has complied with or will comply with. This statement shall also identify any areas affected by the Project where compliance measures were not properly implemented, if not previously identified in filed status reports, and the reason for noncompliance.
- Prior to construction, Trans-Pecos shall file with the Secretary a revised Directional Drilling Contingency Plan for review and written approval by the Director of OEP that includes:
- measures to be implemented for collection and disposal of an inadvertent release of drilling mud into the Rio Grande River; and
- procedures to notify the IBWC of any release of drilling mud into the river.