Archive for March, 2012

Last Week in Environmental Impact Statements: Explosives Handling

While Federal agencies are required to prepare Environmental Impact Statements in accordance with 40 CFR Part 1502, and to file the EISs with the EPA as specified in 40 CFR 1506.9, the EPA doesn’t yet provide a central repository for filing and viewing EISs electronically. Instead, each week they prepare a digest of the preceding week’s filed EISs, which is published every Friday in the Federal Register under the title, “Notice of Availability” (NOA).

We’ve done the dirty work for you. Below, we’ve located and linked to the EISs referenced in last week’s NOA. Please note that some of these documents can be very large, and may take a while to load.

You can read any available EPA comments on these EISs here.

* * *

EIS No. 20120080, Revised Final EIS, USACE, FL, Central and Southern Florida Project, Broward County Water Preserve Areas, Updates Resulting from Policy Changes that occurred since 2007 Civil Works Board Approval, South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, (CERP), Broward County, FL, Review Period Ends: 04/30/2012, Contact: Angela E. Dunn 904–232–2108.

EIS No. 20120081, Draft EIS, USFWS, AK, Izembek National Wildlife Refuge Land Exchange/Road Corridor, Proposed Land Exchange for the Purpose of Construction of a Road between Communities of King Cove and Cold Bay, USACE Section 10 and 404 Permits, AK, Comment Period Ends: 05/18/2012, Contact: Stephanie Brady 907–786–3357.

EIS No. 20120082, Final EIS, USFS, OR, Snow Basin Vegetation Management Project, Proposal to Implementing Commercial Harvest of Timber, Post Harvest Non-commercial Thinning, Whitman Ranger District, Wallowa-Whitman Forest, Baker County, OR, Review Period Ends: 04/30/2012, Contact: Dea Nelson 541–523–6391.

EIS No. 20120083, Final Supplement (Volume 1, Volume 2), BLM, NV, Upper Las Vegas Wash Conservation Transfer Area (CTA), Propose to Establish a Final Boundary, Implementation, Clark County, NV, Review Period Ends: 04/30/2012, Contact: Gayle Marrs-Smith 702–515–5156.

EIS No. 20120084, Final EIS, USFS, FL, City of Tallahassee Southwestern Transmission Line Project, Proposes to Construct, Operate and Maintain a New Overhead 230-kilovolt (kV), Electric Transmission Line, Special-Use-Permit (SUP), Apalachicola National Forest (ANF), Leon County, FL, Review Period Ends: 04/30/2012, Contact: Harold Shenk 850–926–3561.

EIS No. 20120085, Final EIS, USN, WA, Trident Support Facilities Explosives Handling Wharf (EHW–2), New Information, Construction and Operating, Naval Base Kitsap Bangor, Silverdale, WA, Review Period Ends: 04/30/2012, Contact: Christine Stevenson 360–396–0080.

EIS No. 20120086, Draft EIS, DOE, CO, Granby Pumping Plant Switchyard—Windy Gap Substation Transmission Line Rebuild, To Replace Existing Transmission Line with Double Circuit Transmission, Grand County, CO, Comment Period Ends: 05/29/2012, Contact: Jim Hartman 720–962–7255.

EIS No. 20120087, Draft EIS, USFS, OR, Eden Ridge Timber Sales, Implementation, Powers Ranger District, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Coos County, OR, Comment Period Ends: 05/14/2012, Contact: Wesley Crum 541–439–6200.

EIS No. 20120088, Second Draft EIS (Tiering), FHWA, IL, TIER 2—Elgin O’Hare—West Bypass, Extending the Planning Period from 2030 to 2040, Federal Approvals and Funding, Cook and DuPage Counties, IL, Comment Period Ends: 05/14/2012, Contact: Norman Stoner 217–492–4600. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration are Joint Lead agencies for this project.

EIS No. 20120089, Final EIS, USFS, CA, Greys Mountain Ecological Restoration Project, Proposed Forest Management Treatments to Reduce Fire Hazard and Restore Forest Health, Sierra National Forest, Bass Lake Ranger District, Madera and Mariposa Counties, CA, Review Period Ends: 04/30/2012, Contact: Burt Stalter 559–887–2218 ext. 3208.

EIS No. 20120090, Draft EIS (Volume I, Volume II), USAF, AK, Modernization and Enhancement of Ranges, Airspace, and Training Areas in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, AK, Comment Period Ends: 06/07/2012, Contact: Mark Peterson 808–449–1078. The U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force are Joint Lead agencies for this project.

EIS No. 20120091, Second Draft Supplement, BLM, AK, National Petroleum Reserve -Alaska (NPR–A) Integrated Activity Plan, To Determine Appropriate Management for BLM–Administrated Lands in the NPR–A, North Slope Borough, AK, Comment Period Ends: 05/29/2012, Contact: Jim Ducker 907–271–3130.

EIS No. 20120092, Final EIS, USACE, LA, Louisiana Coastal Area Barataria Basin Barrier Shoreline Restoration, To Restore the Barrier Shoreline Ecosystem and Significantly Reduce the Loss of Estuarine and Freshwater Wetlands, Caminada Headland in Lafourche and Jefferson Parishes and Shell Islands in Plaquemines Parish, LA, Review Period Ends: 04/30/2012, Contact: Dr. William P. Klein, Jr. 504–862–2540.

 

Amended Notices

EIS No. 20110440, Revised Draft EIS, USFS, ID, Idaho Panhandle National Forests, Land Management Plan, Revises the 1987 Forest Plan, Implementation, Boundary, Bonner, Kootenai, Benewah, and Shoshone Counties, ID and Pend Oreille County, WA, Comment Period Ends: 05/07/2012, Contact: Mary Farnsworth 208–765–7223. Revision to FR Notice Published 01/13/2012; Extending Comment Period from 04/4/2012 to 05/07/2012.

EIS No. 20110441, Revised Draft EIS, USFS, MT, Kootenai National Forest Land Management Plan, Revises the 1987 Forest Plan, Implementation, Lincoln, Sanders, Flathead Counties, MT and Bonner and Boundary Counties, ID, Comment Period Ends: 04/04/2012, Contact: Paul Bradford 406–293–6211. Revision to FR Notice Published 01/06/2012; Extending Comment Period from 04/04/2012 to 05/07/2012.

EIS No. 20120028, Draft EIS, USACE, CA, Clearwater Program, To Meet the Wastewater Management Needs of the Joint Outfall System (JOS) Through the Year 2050, Near San Pedro, Section 404 Permit, Los Angeles County, CA, Comment Period Ends: 04/10/2012, Contact: Dr. Aaron O. Allen 805–585–2148. Revision to FR Notice Published 2/10/2012; Comment Period Ends 04/10/2012.

Shell a Step Closer to Arctic Drilling

Beaufort Sea ice and Brooks Mountain Range. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, some rights reserved.

On Wednesday, the Department of the Interior announced approval of Shell’s oil spill response plan for its Arctic drilling plans, another milestone in the oil giant’s years-long efforts to drill in the Arctic.

For now, Shell has its eyes on two sites for Arctic drilling. Off the north coast of Alaska lie the shallow waters of the Beaufort Sea, and sitting atop the Bering Strait is the Chukchi Sea, separating northwest Alaska from Russia and its East Siberian Sea.

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has approved Shell’s oil spill response plans for the two drilling sites, following the EPA’s announcement in September that it had granted air pollution permits to Shell’s drill ships, supporting icebreakers, and oil-spill response vessels for both sites.

For its part, the DOI has increased safety standards and scrutiny of drilling plans in the wake of last year’s BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BSEE director James Watson stresses that they have “conducted an exhaustive review of Shell’s response plan,” and that the Bureau will follow up with exercises, reviews, and inspections, according to the Hill’s post on the approval.

In May, the Obama administration created an inter-agency team to streamline the Alaskan permitting process as part of an effort to speed up domestic development, responding to political pressure over high gasoline prices as well as what Republicans have decried as undue bureaucratic permitting delays. The past year has seen a string of approvals fall into place for Shell.

Still, a long list of federal approvals await before wells can be drilled. Each well must receive an individual permit from the DOI, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service must sign off on the plans.

Shell hopes to begin drilling in both regions this summer.

All of the Above? NRDC Wants None of It

Photo by NOAA's National Ocean Service. Some rights reserved.

Quick on the heels of an upbeat Department of the Interior Press Release came an equal-and-opposite reaction from the National Resources Defense Council.

The commentary focused on a recently released Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement from DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management that evaluates potential significant environmental effects of multiple geological and geophysical “G&G” activities in support of oil and gas exploration and development, renewable energy, and marine minerals in the Mid- and South Atlantic. All part of Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, according to the DOI, which called these steps “critical,” and the PEIS “a milestone […] consistent with the Proposed OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017.”

But the NRDC sees it differently. The same G&G processes that might be used to “understand the extent, properties and geography of hydrocarbon resources, as well as the potential to site renewable energy structures and locate marine mineral resources like sand and gravel” – such as seismic air guns – are apparently “equivalent to blasting dynamite in a neighborhood every 10-12 seconds for weeks or months on end,” according to the NRDC, and “can cause hearing damage and death to marine mammals like endangered North Atlantic right whales that calve off the coasts of Georgia and Florida.”

Feel strongly one way or the other? The public may submit written comments by email to ggeis@boem.gov.

Research Team Maps Biomass in Tropical Forests

Photo by UWEC. Some rights reserved.

Ever find yourself daydreaming about the distribution of carbon in our planet’s tropical forests? Researchers at the Woods Hole Research Center, led by Alessandro Baccini, collected data on the structural particulars of tropical forests using LIDAR (light detection and radar) technology over the course of two years. The result is a satisfyingly detailed, interactive map of the band of earth found between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, that uses a color scale to represent a given area’s above-ground biomass, the density and complexity of the entire vertical range of these tropical forests. This data in turn indicates where in these regions carbon is best stored, and in what quantities. Their map is the most precise report developed of its kind, beating out a similar map created last year by NASA.

Aside from being a fun thing to peruse and guess at, the biomass map has a very good shot at influencing international policy regarding the preservation and cultivation of these forests and the carbon that they contain. The New York Times highlights the implications this new data has for the United Nations’ REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degredation in Developing Countries) program, in that it would allow us to hone in on the areas of forest that most require our attention (or inattention, as the case may be). The Indonesian government has already expressed interest in using the maps to better protect their forests from the negative effects of the palm oil industry, for example.

And while we’re on the subject of tropical forests, a quick aside that might be worth perusing on your lunch break: Google Street View has now officially conquered the Amazon!

Compelling Disclosure of Fracking Chemicals

Photo by Horia Varlan. Some rights reserved.

Yesterday, The Hill’s E2 Wire reported on one of the latest attempts to extract information from drilling companies on the chemical make-up of liquids used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

This time, in Wyoming, a group of public health and environmental organizations are petitioning the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC, whose website gives this one a run for its money) in attempt to make public documents submitted to WOGCC by manufacturers of products and chemicals used in the industrial process of hydraulic fracturing. The petitioners claim that WOGCC’s earlier denial of a request for such documents was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and not in accordance with the law.”

According to the petition, Wyoming requires an owner or operator of an oil or gas well that will be hydraulically fractured “to provide to WOGCC ‘detailed information’ about the products and chemicals used, including the identities of all chemical additives and compounds,” and that “under Wyoming’s Public Records Act, the information supplied to WOGCC by oil and gas well operators are public records that must be made available for public inspection except in certain narrowly defined circumstances.”

Earthjustice, one of the petitioners, announced last week’s action in a press release. The petition was filed late Friday in Wyoming’s Seventh District Court.

Despite what appears to be pandering to industry interests, WOGCC doesn’t seem all that popular if you browse the SEC filings on Knowledge Mosaic. A search for Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission brings up mention of the Commission in quite a few public company risk factors, most in the vein of “Recently, for example, the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission passed a rule requiring disclosure of hydraulic fracturing fluid content. At this time, it is not possible to estimate the potential impact on our business of additional federal or state regulatory actions affecting hydraulic fracturing.”

Last Week in Environmental Impact Statements: To Remediate Seismic, Seepage, and Hydrologic Deficiencies

While Federal agencies are required to prepare Environmental Impact Statements in accordance with 40 CFR Part 1502, and to file the EISs with the EPA as specified in 40 CFR 1506.9, the EPA doesn’t yet provide a central repository for filing and viewing EISs electronically. Instead, each week they prepare a digest of the preceding week’s filed EISs, which is published every Friday in the Federal Register under the title, “Notice of Availability” (NOA).

We’ve done the dirty work for you. Below, we’ve located and linked to the EISs referenced in last week’s NOA. Please note that some of these documents can be very large, and may take a while to load.

You can read any available EPA comments on these EISs here.

* * *

EIS No. 20120069, Final Supplement, USFS, ID, Lakeview-Reeder Fuels Reduction Project, Proposed Fuels Reduction and Road Treatment Activities, Updated and New Information, Idaho Panhandle National Forests, Priest Lake Ranger District, Bonner County, ID, Review Period Ends: 04/23/2012, Contact: A.J. Helgenberg 208–265–6643.

EIS No. 20120070, Draft EIS (scroll down to bottom of page), FHWA, ME, I–395/Route 9 Transportation System, To Improve Transportation System Linkage, Safety, and Mobility, USACE 404 Permit Application, Penobscot and Hancock Counties, ME, Comment Period Ends: 05/15/2012, Contact: Mark Hasselmann 207–622–8350.

EIS No. 20120071, Final EIS, NPS, MD, Hampton National Historic Site, General Management Plan, Implementation, Baltimore County, MD, Review Period Ends: 04/23/2012, Contact: Tina Orcutt 410–962–4290.

EIS No. 20120072, Final EIS (scroll halfway down page), FTA, CA, Westside Subway Extension Transit Corridor Project, Extension of the Existing Metro Purple Line and Metro Red Line Heavy Rail Subway, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles County, CA, Review Period Ends: 04/23/2012, Contact: Ray Tellis 213–202–3956.

EIS No. 20120073, Draft EIS, USACE, CA, Isabella Lake Dam Safety Modification Project, To Remediate Seismic, Seepage, and Hydrologic Deficiencies in the Main Dam, Spillway and Auxiliary Dam, Kern County, CA, Comment Period Ends: 05/07/2012, Contact: Tyler M. Stalker 916–557–5107.

EIS No. 20120074, Draft EIS, BLM, CA, Calnev Pipeline Expansion Project, Construction, Operation, and Maintenance of a 233-mile Pipeline from North Colton Terminal to Bracken Junction, USACE Section 404 Permit, San Bernardino County, CA, Comment Period Ends: 06/21/2012, Contact: Rich Rotte 760–252–6026.

EIS No. 20120075, Draft EIS, FHWA, IA, Eastern Hills Drive and Connecting Roadways Construction Project, To Improve Transportation Network East of Council Bluff, Funding, USACE Section 404 Permit, Pottawattamie County, IA, Comment Period Ends: 05/07/2012, Contact: Lubin Quinones 515–233–7300.

EIS No. 20120076, Draft EIS, USFS, WI, Park Falls Hardwoods Vegetation and Transportation Management Activities, Implementation, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Medford-Park Falls Ranger District, Price County, WI, Comment Period Ends: 05/07/2012, Contact: Jane Darnell 715–748–4875 ext. 38.

EIS No. 20120077, Final EIS, FERC, 00, New Jersey-New York Expansion Project, Propose to Modify and Expand Existing Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline Systems in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, Review Period Ends: 04/23/2012, Contact: Roberta Coulter 202–502–8584.

EIS No. 20120078, Second Draft Supplement (I believe this is the “Limited Scope Supplemental”), FHWA, TX, Trinity Parkway Project, Construction of a Six-Lane Controlled Access Toll Facility from IH–35 E/TX–183 to US–175/TX–310, Additional Information on the Compatibility with Levee Remediation Plans for the Dallas Floodway and New Information on Historic Resources, US Army COE Section 10 and 404 Permits, Dallas County, TX, Comment Period Ends: 05/07/2012, Contact: Salvador Deocampo 512–536–5950.

EIS No. 20120079, Final Supplement, USFS, MI, Huron-Manistee National Forests, Land and Resource Management Plan, Supplements the 2006 FEIS Analysis and to Correct the Deficiencies that the Meister Panel Identified, Implementation, Several Counties, MI, Review Period Ends: 04/23/2012, Contact: Kenneth Arbogast 231–775–2421.

Supreme Court Decision in Sackett v. EPA

Yesterday, 3/21/2012, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in Sackett v. EPA, No. 10-1062, concluding that

“[…] the compliance order in this case is final agency action for which there is no adequate remedy other than APA review, and that the Clean Water Act does not preclude that review. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

We first covered this story in June of last year. We’ve assembled a new Spotlight on the decision, compiling relevant news, opinions, blog posts, and law firm memos.

%d bloggers like this: