Archive for June, 2012

Last Week in Environmental Impact Statements: Golden Hand No. 1 and No. 2

Photo by Ashley Dace. Some rights reserved.

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.

The EPA is still looking for agencies willing to participate in a new pilot program for electronic submission of EIS filings. To participate in the pilot, agencies should register at: http://cdx.epa.gov

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EIS No. 20120197, Draft EIS, USFS, ID, Golden Hand No. 1 and No. 2 Lode Mining Claims Project, Krassel Ranger District, Payette National Forest, Valley and Idaho Counties, ID, Comment Period Ends: 08/13/2012, Contact: Jeff Hunteman 208–634–0434. Website.

EIS No. 20120198, Draft EIS (Volume 1, Volume 2), FHWA, TX, Grand Parkway (State Highway 99) Segment B, Construction, from SH–288 to IH–45, USACE Section 404 Permit, Brazoria and Galveston Counties, TX, Comment Period Ends: 09/26/2012, Contact: Gregory Punske 512–536–5960. Website.

EIS No. 20120199, Final EIS, RUS, MS, ADOPTION—Kemper County Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle Project, To Provide Financial Assistance, Kemper County, MS, Review Period Ends: 07/30/2012, Contact: Emily Orler 202–720–1414. Website.

EIS No. 20120200, Final EIS, USFS, MT, Stillwater Mining Reused Water Management Plans and Boe Ranch LAD, USACE Section 404 Permit, Beartooth Ranger District, Stillwater County, MT, Review Period Ends: 07/30/2012, Contact: Pat Pierson 406–255–1441. Website.

EIS No. 20120201, Draft Supplement, USACE, IN, Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction, Modifications to Project Features and Realignment of the South Warfleigh Section, Marion County, IN, Comment Period Ends: 08/13/2012, Contact: Michael Turner 502–315–6900. Website.

EIS No. 20120202, Final EIS, FAA, NM, Taos Regional Airport Layout Plan, Improvements, Construction and Operation of Various Improvements, Town of Taos, Taos County, NM, Review Period Ends: 07/30/2012, Contact: Dean McMath 817–222–5617.

EIS No. 20120203, Final EIS (see “Volume 1”), BLM, WY, Visual Resource Management (VRM) Plan, Amendment, Class Designation, Carbon County, WY, Review Period Ends: 07/30/2012, Contact: Pamela Murdock 307–775–6259. Website.

EIS No. 20120204, Final EIS, BLM, WY, Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, Development of a Wind Farm, Carbon County, WY, Review Period Ends: 07/30/2012, Contact: Pamela Murdock 307–775–6259. Website.

EIS No. 20120205, Draft EIS, BLM, CA, Alta East Wind Project, Development of a 318-megawatt Wind Energy Facility, Kern County, CA, Comment Period Ends: 09/26/2012, Contact: Jeffery Childers 951–697–5308. Website.

EIS No. 20120206, Final EIS, NPS, AK, Denali Park Road Final Vehicle Management Plan, Implementation, Denali National Park and Preserve, AK, Review Period Ends: 07/30/2012, Contact: Miriam Valentine 907–733–9102. Website.

EIS No. 20120207, Final EIS, USACE, LA, Mississippi River Gulf Outlet Ecosystem Restoration, To Develop a Comprehensive Ecosystem Restoration Plan to Restore the Lake Borgne Ecosystems, LA and MS, Review Period Ends: 07/30/2012, Contact: Tammy Gilmore 504–862–1002. Website. Note from the website: Please disregard the Notice of Availability of the MRGO Ecosystem Restoration Final EIS and Feasibility Report in today’s EPA Federal Register. The Corps of Engineers has decided to delay the release of the report to allow for additional coordination within our agency in order to release the best possible report for this important ecosystem restoration project. The final report will be available for review in the near future.

EIS No. 20120208, Final EIS, USFS, MT, Troy Mine Revised Reclamation Plan, Approval of a Reclamation Plan and Permits, Kootenai National Forest, Lincoln County, MT, Review Period Ends: 07/30/2012, Contact: Bobbie Lacklen 406–283–7681. Website.

EIS No. 20120209, Draft EIS, USN, FL, Naval Air Station Key West Airfield Operations, To Support and Conduct Aircraft Training Operations, Florida Keys, Monroe County, FL, Comment Period Ends: 08/13/2012, Contact: John Conway 904–542–6870. Website.

EIS No. 20120210, Final EIS, BIA, WI, Menominee Casino-Hotel 223-Acre Fee-to-Trust Transfer and Casino Project, Implementation, NPDES Permit, Kenosha County, WI, Review Period Ends: 07/30/2012, Contact: Scott Doig 612–725–4514. Website.

EIS No. 20120211, Draft EIS (Volume 1, Volume 2), USFWS, OH, Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan and Incidental Take Permit for the Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) for the Buckeye Wind Power Project, Application, Champaign County, OH, Comment Period Ends: 09/27/2012, Contact: Megan Seymour 614–416–8993, ext. 16. Website.

Amended Notices

EIS No. 20120150, Draft EIS, FHWA, CA, Interchange 5/State Route 56 Interchange Project, Connection between southbound I–5 to eastbound SR–56 and northbound SR 56 to northbound I–5, San Diego County, CA, Comment Period Ends: 07/17/2012, Contact: Manuel E. Sanchez 619–699–7336. Revision to FR Notice Published 05/18/2012, Extending Comment Period from 07/02/2012 to 07/17/2012. Website.

EIS No. 20120152, Draft EIS, FHWA, CA, San Diego Freeway (I–405) Improvement Project, between State Route 73 and Interstate 605, USACE Section 404 Permit, Orange and Los Angeles Counties, CA, Comment Period Ends: 07/17/2012, Contact: Tay Dam 213–605–2013. Revision to FR Notice Published 5/15/2012; Comment Period Extended from 07/02/2012 to 07/17/2012. Website.

EIS No. 20120192, Final EIS (Volume 1, Volume 2), NMFS, CA, Authorization for Incidental Take and Implementation of Fruit Growers Supply Multispecies Habitat Conservation Plan, Siskiyou County, CA, Review Period Ends: 08/06/2012, Contact: Lisa Roberts, 707–825–5178 NMFS, Yreka Office 530–842–5763 ext. 109 USFWS. Revision to FR Notice Published 6/22/2012; Change Review Period from 7/23/2012 to 8/6/2012. Website and website.

FERC Helps Renewables’ Transmission to Electrical Grid

Photo by Peter Craine. Some rights reserved.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently finalized a rule helping integrate Variable Energy Resources (VERs) into the US electric system. VERs are electricity generators that produce output that is not constant and controllable over time, sources like wind and solar. The existing electrical grid was designed with steady electricity generation sources in mind, and FERC’s Order No. 764 is an attempt to efficiently incorporate renewable resources into grid operations in the US by making power transmission from generator to grid more flexible.

Though renewables with variable generation are claiming a greater portion of electricity generation, the new rules could improve transmission scheduling flexibility for both VERs and traditional sources. The grid’s current setup challenges both renewable generators who struggle to work within grid rules designed for constant sources and for grid operators trying to incorporate hard-to-predict electricity sources.

The problems for VERs in the electrical grid are many. We have written about the Bonneville Power Administration struggling to cope with simultaneous surges in wind and hydroelectric power during storms, forcing it to give away or dump excess electricity. FERC’s new rule aims to help transmission from renewables to the grid in recognition of one of these problems. Under current rules, VERs incur high charges for supplying electricity in an amount above or below that committed to for each hour-long interval. With FERC’s change to scheduling transmissions in 15-minute intervals, VERs will be better able to match their committed transmission to actual output and avoid the imbalance penalties.

You can read Davis Wright Tremaine’s full advisory to learn about FERC’s Meteorological and Outage data changes, and a post of ours with background information about the new rules from November.

Brobdingnag Revisited

Jonathan Swift showed us in Gulliver’s Travels that an ordinary man in the land of giants must be mindful of where those around him step and sit.  This week, while the giants of the energy industry shake the earth with their steps, stories abound of smaller suppliers and asset holders are trying to keep themselves from being caught underfoot.

-The New York Times details Mongolia’s struggle to achieve a balance between maintaining vital relationships with its two massive neighbors, China and Russia, and its own interest in making a profit from its expansive coal and mineral deposits.

-USA Today documents the development process of shale gas wells and the effects they can have on individual landowners.

 -The Chicago Tribune reports on a Michigan landowner whose legal case includes allegations of larger antitrust concerns involving two major energy companies and their negotiations in land purchases.

-And Tropical Storm Debby is causing flooding in Florida and keeping the lights off simply by standing (nearly) still.

US Appeals Court Protects EPA’s Jurisdiction Over Greenhouse Gases

Yesterday, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled unanimously in favor of the EPA, confirming that the agency does indeed have authority under the Clear Air Act to regulate air pollution by setting strict limits on carbon emissions from main offenders like power plants and oil refineries. Specifically, the decision gave the EPA jurisdiction over regulation six greenhouse gases by implementing a carbon credit system. But the case, The Coalition for Responsible Regulation Inc. v. Environmental Protection Agency, has a bit of a history so first, a quick primer.

The US Supreme Court first ruled in favor of EPA carbon and methane regulation in Massachusetts v. EPA on April 2, 2007, giving the agency free reign to declare when emissions became dangerous. In 2009, such a declaration was made in the form of an endangerment finding, which led to tightening of regulations in large-scale industries. Last year, the Supreme Court unanimously reaffirmed its Massachusetts ruling in American Electic Power v. Connecticut, a case which we covered in June 2011.

So it may come as little surprise, then, that the most recent challenge to the EPA from the Coalition for Responsible Regulation, a group made up of representatives from coal, oil, and steel industries, organizations opposed to climate science, and tea-party politicians (including former Presidential candidates Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann), was also unanimously shut down. The court opinion affirms the endangerment finding, as well as the clean car standards approved by Obama in 2009 which limit carbon pollution for vehicles and the timing and tailoring rules for new power plants with large industrial emitters. The coalition emerged from a three-part consolidation effort of anti-EPA lawsuits in February of this year. These challengers argue that the EPA carbon rules are unlawful and immensely damaging to U.S. industry and thus the economy. House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich) said of the ruling:

We cannot afford the EPA’s continued expansion of red tape that is slowing economic growth and threatening to entangle millions of small businesses.”

However, proponents of climate science are singing a different tune. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said here agency was merely taking “reasonable actions to address the very real threat of climate change,” while former-EPA administrator Carol Brown stated:

The Court’s decision should put an end, once and for all, to any questions about the EPA’s legal authority to protect us from industrial carbon pollution through the Clean Air Act. The decision is a devastating blow to those who challenge the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change and deny its impact on public health and welfare.”

Check out further insight from the JECE Energy blog, and related Law Firm memos from Morrison Foerster and Stoel Rives.

U.S. Court Upholds EPA’s GHG Rules

On Tuesday, June 26, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit released an opinion in Coalition for Responsible Regulation Inc. v. Environmental Protection Agency, upholding the agency’s rules regulating greenhouse gases.

From the opinion:

Following the Supreme Court’s decision in
Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007)—which clarified
that greenhouse gases are an “air pollutant” subject to regulation
under the Clean Air Act (CAA)—the Environmental Protection
Agency promulgated a series of greenhouse gas-related rules.
First, EPA issued an Endangerment Finding, in which it
determined that greenhouse gases may “reasonably be
anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” See 42 U.S.C.
§ 7521(a)(1). Next, it issued the Tailpipe Rule, which set
emission standards for cars and light trucks. Finally, EPA
determined that the CAA requires major stationary sources of
greenhouse gases to obtain construction and operating permits.
But because immediate regulation of all such sources would
result in overwhelming permitting burdens on permitting
authorities and sources, EPA issued the Timing and Tailoring
Rules, in which it determined that only the largest stationary
sources would initially be subject to permitting requirements.
Petitioners, various states and industry groups, challenge all
these rules, arguing that they are based on improper
constructions of the CAA and are otherwise arbitrary and
capricious. But for the reasons set forth below, we conclude: 1)
the Endangerment Finding and Tailpipe Rule are neither
arbitrary nor capricious; 2) EPA’s interpretation of the
governing CAA provisions is unambiguously correct; and 3) no
petitioner has standing to challenge the Timing and Tailoring
Rules. We thus dismiss for lack of jurisdiction all petitions for
review of the Timing and Tailoring Rules, and deny the
remainder of the petitions.

Read more from Reuters.

North Carolina the Next to Dig In?

Photo by Michael Trolove. Some rights reserved.

Law firm McGuireWoods today sent out an alert on recent NC legislation that would allow for “the exploration and development of natural gas resources from shale rock formations through the process of hydraulic fracturing.” While the bill (S.B. 820), which has gone to the governor for signing, removes existing statutory prohibitions on horizontal drilling, it supposedly also includes strict safeguards for landowner and environmental protections. Fracking in the Deep River Basin in North Carolina is expected to unleash up to 1,660 billion cubic feet of gas and 83 million barrels of natural gas liquids.

On the federal side of things, The Hill points out that Department of the Interior regulations to “toughen” fracking oversight could be in place by the end of the year, despite a recent two-month extension on the public comment period.

Last Week in Environmental Impact Statements: Fruit Growers and Fagatele Bay

Photo by carolune. Some rights reserved.

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.

The EPA is still looking for agencies willing to participate in a new pilot program for electronic submission of EIS filings. To participate in the pilot, agencies should register at: http://cdx.epa.gov

* * *

EIS No. 20120192, Final EIS (Volume 1, Volume 2), NMFS, USFWS, CA, Authorization for Incidental Take and Implementation of Fruit Growers Supply Multispecies Habitat Conservation Plan, Siskiyou County, CA, Review Period Ends: 07/23/2012, Contact: Lisa Roberts, 707-825-5178 NMFS, Yreka Office 530-842-5763 ext. 109 USFWS The National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are joint lead agencies for the this project. Website and website.

EIS No. 20120193, Draft EIS, NPS, AK, Brooks River Visitor Access, To Improve Visitor Access and Relocate the Barge Landing Site, Brook River Area of Katmai National Park Reserve, AK, Comment Period Ends: 08/20/2012, Contact: Glen Yankus 907-644-3535. Website.

EIS No. 20120194, Final EIS, NOAA, AS, Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary Management Plan, Implementation, Tutuila Island, American Samoa, Review Period Ends: 07/23/2012, Contact: Gene Brighouse 684-633-5155 ext. 264. Website.

EIS No. 20120195, Draft EIS, NPS, FL, Fort Matanzas National Monument General Management Plan, Implementation, St. John’s County, FL, Comment Period Ends: 08/20/2012, Contact: David Libman 404-507-5701. Website.

EIS No. 20120196, Draft EIS, NPS, OH, Cuyahoga Valley National Park Comprehensive Trail Management Plan, Cuyahoga and Summit Counties, OH, Comment Period Ends: 08/06/2012, Contact: Stan Austin 330-657-2752. Website.

AMENDED NOTICES

EIS No. 20120182, Final EIS (Volume 1, Volume 2), BLM, NM, Alamogordo Regional Water Supply Project, Construction and Operation Groundwater Wells and Conveyance System, Right-of-Way Application, Otero County, NM, Review Period Ends: 07/16/2012, Contact: Douglas Haywood 575-525-4498 Revision to FR Notice Published 06/15/2012; Correction to Contact Phone Number 575-525-4498. Website.

EIS No. 20120187, Final EIS, USFS, CA, Pettijohn Late-Successional Reserve Habitat Improvement and Fuels Reduction Project, Trinity River Management Unit of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Trinity Unit of the Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area, Trinity County, CA, Review Period Ends: 07/16/2012, Contact: Keli McElroy 530-226-2354 Revision to FR Notice Published 06/15/2012; Review Period Ends: 07/16/2012; for information on U.S. Forest Service’s objection process related to this project, please visit http://a123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc123/forestservic.download.akamai.com/11558/www/nepa/21305_FSPLT2_127307.pdf. Website.

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