Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Plains and Eastern Clean Line Transmission Project and Notice of Potential Floodplain and Wetland Involvement, 75623-75626 [2012-30833]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 246 / Friday, December 21, 2012 / Notices microsclerotia and can be used for aquatic plant control. Brenda S. Bowen, Army Federal Register Liaison Officer. [FR Doc. 2012–30849 Filed 12–20–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3720–58–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Plains and Eastern Clean Line Transmission Project and Notice of Potential Floodplain and Wetland Involvement Department of Energy. Notice of Intent (NOI) To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and Notice of Potential Floodplain and Wetland Involvement. AGENCY: ACTION: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line Transmission Project (DOE/EIS–0486; Plains & Eastern EIS or EIS) to assess the potential environmental impacts of participating with Clean Line Energy Partners LLC (Clean Line) in the proposed Plains & Eastern Project (the proposed project). The proposed project would include an overhead ± 600 kilovolt (kV) high voltage direct current (HVDC) electric transmission system and associated facilities with the capacity to deliver approximately 3,500 megawatts (MW) primarily from renewable energy generation facilities in the Oklahoma Panhandle region to loadserving entities in the Mid-South and Southeast via an interconnection with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The proposed project would traverse Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee, a distance of approximately 700 miles between interconnection facilities in Texas County, Oklahoma, and Shelby County, Tennessee. The proposed project would require construction of a new alternating current (AC)/direct current (DC) converter station at each end of the transmission line. Portions of the proposed project may affect floodplains and/or wetlands. This NOI, therefore, also serves as a notice of proposed floodplain or wetland action in accordance with DOE floodplain and wetland environmental review requirements (10 CFR part 1022). The Plains & Eastern EIS will include a floodplain and wetland assessment. DOE plans to coordinate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review and the Section 106 compliance process under the National Historic mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Dec 20, 2012 Jkt 229001 Preservation Act (NHPA). DOE also intends to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), as appropriate, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. DATES: DOE invites public comment on the scope of the Plains & Eastern EIS during a 90-day public scoping period beginning with publication of this notice and ending on March 21, 2013. See Public Participation in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for public scoping meeting dates and locations. DOE will consider all comments received or postmarked by the end of the scoping period and will consider comments received or postmarked after the ending date to the extent practicable. ADDRESSES: Written comments on the scope of the Plains & Eastern EIS and requests to be added to the EIS distribution list may be submitted by any of the following methods: • Electronic comments via the project Web site at http:// PlainsandEasternEIS.com. • Email to info@PlainsandEasternEIS.com. • U.S. Mail to Plains & Eastern Clean Line EIS, 1099 18th Street, Suite 580, Denver, CO 80202. For additions to the distribution list, please specify the format of the Plains & Eastern EIS that you would prefer to receive (printed copy, CD, or DVD) and a preference for either the complete EIS document or ‘‘Summary Only.’’ When completed, the EIS will be available for download at the project Web site (http://PlainsandEasternEIS.com) and at the DOE NEPA Web site (http:// energy.gov/nepa). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information on the Plains & Eastern EIS, contact Jane Summerson, Ph.D., DOE NEPA Document Manager, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585, or email at Jane.Summerson@ee.doe.gov. For general information about the DOE NEPA process, contact Carol Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance (GC–54), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585, or phone at (202) 586–4600, voicemail at (800) 472– 2756, or email at askNEPA@hq.doe.gov. Additional information regarding DOE’s NEPA activities is available on the DOE NEPA Web site at http://energy.gov/ nepa. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 75623 1. Background Section 1222(b) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) authorizes the Secretary of Energy, acting through and in consultation with the Administrator of the Southwestern Power Administration (Southwestern) to participate with other entities in designing, developing, constructing, operating, maintaining, or owning new electric power transmission facilities and related facilities located within any state in which Southwestern operates, provided the Secretary determines that certain conditions have been met. Southwestern is one of four Power Marketing Administrations that operates within DOE. Southwestern is chartered to market and deliver power in the southwestern United States, including Arkansas and Oklahoma, to rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities. On June 10, 2010, DOE issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for new or upgraded transmission projects pursuant to Section 1222 (75 FR 32940). Clean Line Energy Partners LLC of Houston, Texas, the parent company of Plains and Eastern Clean Line LLC and Plains and Eastern Clean Line Oklahoma LLC (collectively referred to as Clean Line), responded to the RFP on July 6, 2010, providing a description of the proposed project and supporting information. Clean Line’s original proposal included two HVDC lines, each rated at 3,500 MW, together with the capacity to deliver 7,000 MW. Since the original proposal was submitted, Clean Line has modified its Section 1222 proposal to a single HVDC line with the capacity to deliver 3,500 MW. More information on the proposed project, including updates, can be found at http://PlainsandEasternEIS.com. DOE has concluded that Clean Line’s proposal complied with and was responsive to the RFP. Prior to making a determination whether to participate in the proposed project, DOE must fully evaluate the proposed project, in consultation with Southwestern, including reviewing the potential environmental impacts pursuant to NEPA and the requirements of Section 1222(b). DOE is preparing the Plains & Eastern EIS pursuant to NEPA, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) NEPA regulations (40 CFR parts 1500 through 1508), and the DOE NEPA implementing regulations (10 CFR part 1021). Portions of the proposed project may affect floodplains and/or wetlands. There are floodplains associated with the Cimarron River, North Canadian River, Arkansas River, White River, E:\FR\FM\21DEN1.SGM 21DEN1 75624 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 246 / Friday, December 21, 2012 / Notices Cache River, and Mississippi River, each of which would be crossed by the proposed transmission line, and potentially at other locations along the proposed routes. Similarly, wetlands could be present along the proposed routes, including near tributaries to rivers in the project area. This NOI, therefore, also serves as a notice of proposed floodplain or wetland action in accordance with DOE floodplain and wetland environmental review requirements (10 CFR part 1022). The Plains & Eastern EIS will include a floodplain and wetland assessment. DOE plans to coordinate the NEPA review and the NHPA Section 106 compliance process. DOE also intends to initiate consultation with USFWS and NMFS, as appropriate, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with 2. Purpose and Need for Agency Action DOE’s purpose and need for agency action is to implement Section 1222(b) of the EPAct. To that end, DOE needs to decide whether and under what conditions to participate in Clean Line’s proposed Plains & Eastern Project. 3. Proposed Action and Alternatives The proposed project would include an overhead ± 600kV HVDC electric transmission system with the capacity to deliver approximately 3,500 MW from the Oklahoma Panhandle region to load-serving entities in the Mid-South and Southeast. The proposed project would traverse Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee, a distance of approximately 700 miles. The western portion of the proposed project would interconnect to the transmission system operated by the Southwest Power Pool in Texas County, Oklahoma. The eastern portion of the proposed project would interconnect to the transmission system operated by TVA in Shelby County, Tennessee. TVA would make the necessary upgrades to its transmission system, which could include construction and operation of new transmission lines and substations and upgrades to existing transmission lines and substations. A new AC/DC converter station would be built at each end of the transmission line. Each converter station would require the use of approximately 30 to 50 acres and would be located on private land. The converter stations are proposed to be located in Texas County, Oklahoma, and either Shelby County or Tipton County, Tennessee. The proposed project would include, in addition to the HVDC transmission line, four to six AC transmission lines of up to 345kV VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Dec 20, 2012 Jkt 229001 interconnecting the western converter station with new wind generation facilities that would be located in parts of the Oklahoma panhandle, southwest Kansas, and Texas panhandle within approximately 40 miles of the western converter station. Clean Line anticipates that electricity generated by these facilities would constitute the majority of the transmission capacity of the transmission line. The proposed project would also include the following major facilities and improvements: • Right-of-way easements for the transmission lines with a typical width of approximately 150 to 200 feet for the HVDC line and potentially narrower for the AC transmission lines. • Tubular or lattice steel structures used to support the transmission lines. For the HVDC line, structures typically would be between 120 and 200 feet tall depending on site-specific conditions. Limited quantities of taller structures may be required in some locations to address engineering constraints. Structures for the AC transmission lines may be shorter. • Access roads, including improvements to existing roads, new overland access, and new unpaved temporary roads to access the proposed project facilities and work areas during the construction and operation phases. • Ancillary facilities, such as communications facilities for access control and protection. DOE’s proposed action is to participate with Clean Line in the proposed project. In the Plains & Eastern EIS, DOE will analyze the potential environmental impacts of a range of reasonable alternative routes that could comprise the proposed project. DOE will also identify possible mitigation strategies for potential environmental impacts. Clean Line identified the proposed location for the western converter station based on the presence of both an excellent wind resource (as classified by the DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory) and adequate electrical interconnection facilities, including planned upgrades to existing facilities. Clean Line identified the proposed location for the eastern converter station based on the presence of high-voltage transmission facilities capable of interconnection and delivery of up to 3,500 MW of energy to portions of the Mid-South and Southeast. As part of its planning process, Clean Line first identified several corridors within a broad study area. Clean Line evaluated the corridors for engineering and environmental issues and subsequently refined the corridors using PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 input from federal and state agencies, municipalities, non-governmental organizations, and various stakeholders. Clean Line then identified a study corridor approximately five to eight miles wide and held meetings with community leaders in counties intersected by the study corridor to solicit additional input. Clean Line then held open house meetings in fall 2012 to seek additional public input on potential routes. Using this information, Clean Line identified and submitted to DOE several potential routes. In Oklahoma, the potential routes proposed by Clean Line begin in the central Oklahoma Panhandle and proceed in an east-southeasterly direction through generally rural areas between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, exiting the state in eastern Oklahoma near Sallisaw. The routes pass through the Central Flyway for migratory birds throughout Oklahoma. The proposed routes intersect the following counties in Oklahoma: Texas; Beaver; Harper; Woodward; Major; Garfield; Kingfisher; Logan; Payne; Lincoln; Creek; Okmulgee; Muskogee; and, Sequoyah. More specifically, from southern Texas County near Guymon, Oklahoma, to Harper County, routes are generally parallel to U.S. Highway 412 in an easterly direction through the Oklahoma Panhandle. They trend southeasterly in Woodward County, crossing the North Canadian River, and north of the city of Woodward and east of Boiling Springs State Park. From Woodward County, routes continue generally east and southeast in Major, Garfield, and Kingfisher counties, crossing the Cimarron River near Fairview and Glass Mountains State Park. In Payne County, routes cross the Cimarron River a second time and run near the Cushing Municipal Airport. The routes then trend in a southeasterly direction south of Cushing. The routes diverge around Bristow and run north of the city of Okmulgee. Routes continue a southeasterly trend in Muskogee County, crossing the Arkansas River at the Webbers Falls Reservoir near Gore. The routes then begin an easterly track, exiting Oklahoma northeast of Sallisaw in eastern Sequoyah County and entering Arkansas in western Crawford County. In Arkansas, the routes proposed by Clean Line enter western Arkansas north of the city of Van Buren and proceed in an easterly direction through generally rural areas, exiting eastern Arkansas south of the city of Osceola, entering into Tennessee across the Mississippi River. The routes pass through the Mississippi Flyway for migratory birds throughout Arkansas E:\FR\FM\21DEN1.SGM 21DEN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 246 / Friday, December 21, 2012 / Notices and Tennessee. The proposed routes intersect the following counties in Arkansas: Crawford; Franklin; Johnson; Pope; Conway; Van Buren; Faulkner; Cleburne; White; Jackson; Poinsett; and, Mississippi. More specifically, from Crawford County to eastern Pope County, the routes are south of the Ozark National Forest and generally follow the Arkansas River valley and Interstate Highway 40. Routes diverge around Alma and Dyer, but pass north of Ozark, Clarksville, and Dover, near the Cherokee Wildlife Management Area. In Conway County north of Morrilton, the routes continue in an easterly direction. The routes continue this easterly track north of Greenbrier, near Damascus and Quitman. North of Searcy, the routes turn northeast generally parallel to State Highway 67 north of Bradford, crossing the White River. The routes continue easterly along divergent paths across the Cache River and south of Marked Tree, cross Interstate Highway 55, to two proposed crossing locations of the Mississippi River. The proposed Mississippi River crossing locations are a north-south oriented crossing east of Wilson, Arkansas, at approximately river mile 768, and an east-west oriented crossing southeast of Joiner, Arkansas, at approximately river mile 762. In Tennessee, the routes proposed by Clean Line enter western Tennessee from Arkansas at the two potential crossing locations described above and generally proceed in a southeasterly direction along separate paths through generally rural and suburban areas of Tipton County and Shelby County. The routes diverge around the community of Drummonds, with one route near Munford and Atoka and one route near Millington. The routes converge near the proposed interconnection point in Shelby County near Tipton, Tennessee. DOE will analyze a range of reasonable alternatives. DOE has reviewed Clean Line’s process and its proposed routes and determined that they provide a sufficient initial basis for the EIS. In addition, DOE will consider additional reasonable alternatives proposed in scoping comments and may expand or refine the range of alternatives based on those comments. Maps identifying the potential routes currently proposed for analysis are available on the EIS Web site at http://PlainsandEasternEIS.com. In addition to the facilities associated with the proposed project, the EIS will also analyze any facility additions and upgrades to third party systems to accommodate the proposed project. The EIS also will analyze a No Action alternative, under which DOE would VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Dec 20, 2012 Jkt 229001 not participate with Clean Line in the proposed project. DOE assumes for analytical purposes that the Plains & Eastern Project would not move forward and none of the potential environmental impacts associated with the proposed project would occur. 4. Preliminary Identification of Environmental Issues DOE proposes to analyze potential short-term environmental impacts, such as those from construction, and potential long-term environmental impacts of operating and maintaining the transmission line. DOE’s guidance for the preparation of an EIS recommends the use of the sliding-scale approach when evaluating environmental impacts. This approach would focus the analysis and discussion of impacts on significant environmental issues in proportion to the significance of the potential impacts. DOE has identified the following preliminary list of impact areas for evaluation in the EIS: • Land Use, Recreation, and Visual Resources • Water Use and Water Quality • Surface Water Features including Rivers, Floodplains, and Wetlands • Fish, Wildlife, and Vegetation, including Critical Habitat • Socioeconomics • Environmental Justice • Historic and Cultural Resources • Geology, Soil, and Mineral Resources • Human Health and Electric and Magnetic Fields • Air Quality and Climate Change • Construction-Related Impacts, including Road Clearing, Traffic, and Noise • Accidents, Intentional Destructive Acts, and Hazards, including Air Space Management • Waste Management This list is not intended to be allinclusive or to imply any predetermination of impacts. DOE invites interested parties to suggest specific issues, including possible mitigation measures, within these general categories, or other categories not included above, to be considered in the EIS. 75625 and other policies. Tribal concerns, including impacts on Indian trust assets and potential impacts on cultural resources, will be considered. DOE invites federal, state, tribal governments and local agencies with jurisdiction by law or with special expertise to be cooperating agencies on the EIS as defined in 40 CFR 1501.6. Such governments and/or agencies may also make a request to DOE to be a cooperating agency. As of this notice, TVA, and the Tulsa District and the Memphis District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have committed to being cooperating agencies. 5.2 National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 of the NHPA requires federal agencies to consider the effects of an undertaking on historic properties—historic structures and historic artifacts—before authorizing an undertaking (36 CFR part 800). Federal agencies are encouraged to coordinate compliance with Section 106 of the NHPA with any steps taken to meet the requirements of NEPA (36 CFR 800.8). In the interest of being comprehensive and less duplicative, DOE plans to coordinate the NEPA review and Section 106 compliance process for the preparation of the Plains & Eastern EIS to the greatest extent practicable. Further, DOE plans to invite federal, state, tribal governments, and members of the public to participate in this NEPA process for the purpose of ensuring the standards in 36 CFR 800.8(c)(1) through 800.8(c)(5), ‘‘Protection of Historic Properties,’’ are met, including identifying mitigation actions that may be appropriate to address potential adverse effects that may result from implementing the proposed project. 5.3 Endangered Species Act Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act requires an agency proposing to take an action to inquire of the USFWS and NMFS, as appropriate, whether any threatened or endangered species ‘‘may be present’’ in the area of the proposed action [see 16 U.S.C. 1536(c)(1)]. Accordingly, DOE intends to initiate consultation with these agencies. 5. Agency Responsibilities 6. Public Participation 5.1 Stakeholder Involvement and Cooperating Agencies The purpose of the scoping process is to identify alternatives and potential environmental impacts that DOE should analyze in the EIS. DOE will hold 12 public scoping meetings at the following locations and times in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee to provide the public with an opportunity to present comments, ask questions, and discuss the scope of the Plains & Eastern EIS DOE will prepare the EIS and will coordinate with appropriate federal, state, and tribal governments; local agencies; and interested members of the public during the preparation of the EIS. DOE will consult with Indian tribes on a government-to-government basis in accordance with Executive Order 13175 PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\21DEN1.SGM 21DEN1 75626 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 246 / Friday, December 21, 2012 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with with DOE and Clean Line representatives. • January 22, 2013, 5:00–8:00 p.m. at Arkansas State University—Marked Tree Student Center, 33500 Highway 63 E, Marked Tree, AR 72365 • January 24, 2013, 5:00–8:00 p.m. at Gateway Baptist Church Center, 1915 Rosemark Road, Atoka, TN 38004 • January 28, 2013, 5:00–8:00 p.m. at Pickle Creek Center, 822 NE 6th Street, Guymon, OK 73942 • January 29, 2013, 5:00–8:00 p.m. at Beaver County Fairgrounds—Pavilion Building, 1107 Douglas Avenue, Beaver, OK 73932 • January 31, 2013, 5:00–8:00 p.m. at Woodward Convention Center— Meeting Room 1, 3401 Centennial Lane, Woodward, OK 73801 • February 4, 2013, 5:00–8:00 p.m. at Muskogee Civic Center Room D, 425 Boston Street, Muskogee, OK 74401 • February 5, 2013, 5:00–8:00 p.m. at Cushing Youth and Community Center, 700 South Little, Cushing, OK 74023 • February 7, 2013, 5:00–8:00 p.m. at Enid Convention Hall—Grand Ballroom, 301 South Independence, Enid, OK 73701 • February 11, 2013, 5:00–8:00 p.m. at Van Buren Public Library, 1409 Main Street, Van Buren, AR 72956 • February 12, 2013, 5:00–8:00 p.m. at Lake Point Conference Center—Event Center, 61 Lake Point Lane, Russellville, AR 72802 • February 19, 2013, 5:00–8:00 p.m. at Arkansas State University—Newport, Student Community Center—M&P I&I NEDC Room (First room on the left), 7648 Victory Boulevard, Newport, AR 72112 • February 21, 2013, 5:00–8:00 p.m. at Carmichael Community Center Auditorium, 801 S. Elm, Searcy, AR 72143 DOE will also announce the public scoping meetings via local news media, industry newsletters, and posting on the DOE NEPA Web site at http:// energy.gov/nepa/public-commentopportunities and on the Plains & Eastern EIS Web site at http:// PlainsandEasternEIS.com at least 15 days prior to each meeting. The scoping meetings will start with an informal open house to facilitate dialogue between project officials and the public. DOE will then provide an overview of the proposed project and lead a short, informal question-andanswer period to clarify the information presented and to answer questions about the NEPA process. The public will have an opportunity to view maps and project information and present VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:28 Dec 20, 2012 Jkt 229001 comments on the scope of the Plains & Eastern EIS. Representatives from DOE, Clean Line, and involved agencies will be available to answer questions and provide additional information to meeting attendees. A court reporter will be available at each scoping meeting to record oral comments from meeting attendees. In addition to providing comments at the public scoping meetings, DOE will accept written comments as described in the ADDRESSES section. DOE will consider all comments postmarked or received during a 90-day public scoping period beginning with publication of this notice and ending on March 21, 2013. DOE will consider comments postmarked or received after that date to the extent practicable. DOE expects to publish the draft EIS in the fall of 2013. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will publish a Notice of Availability of the draft EIS in the Federal Register, which will begin a minimum public comment period of 45 days. DOE will announce how to comment on the draft EIS and will hold public hearings during the public comment period. People who would like to receive a copy of the draft EIS when it is issued should submit a request as provided in the ADDRESSES section and specify their format preference. Issued in Washington, DC, on December 14, 2012. Patricia Hoffman. Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. [FR Doc. 2012–30833 Filed 12–20–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450–01–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Environmental Management SiteSpecific Advisory Board, Portsmouth Department of Energy (DOE). Notice of open meeting. AGENCY: ACTION: This notice announces a meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board (EM SSAB), Portsmouth. The Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub. L. 92–463, 86 Stat. 770) requires that public notice of this meeting be announced in the Federal Register. DATES: Thursday, January 10, 2013, 6:00 p.m. ADDRESSES: Ohio State University, Endeavor Center, 1862 Shyville Road, Piketon, Ohio 45661. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Greg Simonton, Alternate Deputy Designated Federal Officer, Department of Energy SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office, Post Office Box 700, Piketon, Ohio 45661, (740) 897–3737, Greg.Simonton@lex.doe.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Purpose of the Board: The purpose of the Board is to make recommendations to DOE–EM and site management in the areas of environmental restoration, waste management and related activities. Tentative Agenda • Call to Order, Introductions, Review of Agenda • Approval of November Minutes • Deputy Designated Federal Officer’s Comments • Federal Coordinator’s Comments • Liaisons’ Comments • Presentations • Administrative Issues • Subcommittee Updates • Public Comments • Final Comments from the Board • Adjourn Public Participation: The meeting is open to the public. The EM SSAB, Portsmouth, welcomes the attendance of the public at its advisory committee meetings and will make every effort to accommodate persons with physical disabilities or special needs. If you require special accommodations due to a disability, please contact Greg Simonton at least seven days in advance of the meeting at the phone number listed above. Written statements may be filed with the Board either before or after the meeting. Individuals who wish to make oral statements pertaining to agenda items should contact Greg Simonton at the address or telephone number listed above. Requests must be received five days prior to the meeting and reasonable provision will be made to include the presentation in the agenda. The Deputy Designated Federal Officer is empowered to conduct the meeting in a fashion that will facilitate the orderly conduct of business. Individuals wishing to make public comments will be provided a maximum of five minutes to present their comments. Minutes: Minutes will be available by writing or calling Greg Simonton at the address and phone number listed above. Minutes will also be available at the following Web site: http://www.portsssab.energy.gov/. Issued at Washington, DC, on December 17, 2012. LaTanya R. Butler, Deputy Committee Management Officer. [FR Doc. 2012–30779 Filed 12–20–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450–01–P E:\FR\FM\21DEN1.SGM 21DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 246 (Friday, December 21, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 75623-75626]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-30833]


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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY


Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for 
the Plains and Eastern Clean Line Transmission Project and Notice of 
Potential Floodplain and Wetland Involvement

AGENCY: Department of Energy.

ACTION: Notice of Intent (NOI) To Prepare an Environmental Impact 
Statement and Notice of Potential Floodplain and Wetland Involvement.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) intends to prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line 
Transmission Project (DOE/EIS-0486; Plains & Eastern EIS or EIS) to 
assess the potential environmental impacts of participating with Clean 
Line Energy Partners LLC (Clean Line) in the proposed Plains & Eastern 
Project (the proposed project). The proposed project would include an 
overhead  600 kilovolt (kV) high voltage direct current 
(HVDC) electric transmission system and associated facilities with the 
capacity to deliver approximately 3,500 megawatts (MW) primarily from 
renewable energy generation facilities in the Oklahoma Panhandle region 
to load-serving entities in the Mid-South and Southeast via an 
interconnection with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The proposed 
project would traverse Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee, a distance of 
approximately 700 miles between interconnection facilities in Texas 
County, Oklahoma, and Shelby County, Tennessee. The proposed project 
would require construction of a new alternating current (AC)/direct 
current (DC) converter station at each end of the transmission line.
    Portions of the proposed project may affect floodplains and/or 
wetlands. This NOI, therefore, also serves as a notice of proposed 
floodplain or wetland action in accordance with DOE floodplain and 
wetland environmental review requirements (10 CFR part 1022). The 
Plains & Eastern EIS will include a floodplain and wetland assessment. 
DOE plans to coordinate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
review and the Section 106 compliance process under the National 
Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). DOE also intends to consult with the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine 
Fisheries Service (NMFS), as appropriate, pursuant to Section 7 of the 
Endangered Species Act.

DATES: DOE invites public comment on the scope of the Plains & Eastern 
EIS during a 90-day public scoping period beginning with publication of 
this notice and ending on March 21, 2013. See Public Participation in 
the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for public scoping meeting dates 
and locations. DOE will consider all comments received or postmarked by 
the end of the scoping period and will consider comments received or 
postmarked after the ending date to the extent practicable.

ADDRESSES: Written comments on the scope of the Plains & Eastern EIS 
and requests to be added to the EIS distribution list may be submitted 
by any of the following methods:
     Electronic comments via the project Web site at http://PlainsandEasternEIS.com.
     Email to info@PlainsandEasternEIS.com.
     U.S. Mail to Plains & Eastern Clean Line EIS, 1099 18th 
Street, Suite 580, Denver, CO 80202.
    For additions to the distribution list, please specify the format 
of the Plains & Eastern EIS that you would prefer to receive (printed 
copy, CD, or DVD) and a preference for either the complete EIS document 
or ``Summary Only.'' When completed, the EIS will be available for 
download at the project Web site (http://PlainsandEasternEIS.com) and 
at the DOE NEPA Web site (http://energy.gov/nepa).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information on the Plains & 
Eastern EIS, contact Jane Summerson, Ph.D., DOE NEPA Document Manager, 
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of 
Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585, or email at 
Jane.Summerson@ee.doe.gov.
    For general information about the DOE NEPA process, contact Carol 
Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance (GC-54), U.S. 
Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 
20585, or phone at (202) 586-4600, voicemail at (800) 472-2756, or 
email at askNEPA@hq.doe.gov. Additional information regarding DOE's 
NEPA activities is available on the DOE NEPA Web site at http://energy.gov/nepa.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

1. Background

    Section 1222(b) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) authorizes 
the Secretary of Energy, acting through and in consultation with the 
Administrator of the Southwestern Power Administration (Southwestern) 
to participate with other entities in designing, developing, 
constructing, operating, maintaining, or owning new electric power 
transmission facilities and related facilities located within any state 
in which Southwestern operates, provided the Secretary determines that 
certain conditions have been met. Southwestern is one of four Power 
Marketing Administrations that operates within DOE. Southwestern is 
chartered to market and deliver power in the southwestern United 
States, including Arkansas and Oklahoma, to rural electric cooperatives 
and municipal utilities.
    On June 10, 2010, DOE issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for new 
or upgraded transmission projects pursuant to Section 1222 (75 FR 
32940). Clean Line Energy Partners LLC of Houston, Texas, the parent 
company of Plains and Eastern Clean Line LLC and Plains and Eastern 
Clean Line Oklahoma LLC (collectively referred to as Clean Line), 
responded to the RFP on July 6, 2010, providing a description of the 
proposed project and supporting information. Clean Line's original 
proposal included two HVDC lines, each rated at 3,500 MW, together with 
the capacity to deliver 7,000 MW. Since the original proposal was 
submitted, Clean Line has modified its Section 1222 proposal to a 
single HVDC line with the capacity to deliver 3,500 MW. More 
information on the proposed project, including updates, can be found at 
http://PlainsandEasternEIS.com. DOE has concluded that Clean Line's 
proposal complied with and was responsive to the RFP.
    Prior to making a determination whether to participate in the 
proposed project, DOE must fully evaluate the proposed project, in 
consultation with Southwestern, including reviewing the potential 
environmental impacts pursuant to NEPA and the requirements of Section 
1222(b). DOE is preparing the Plains & Eastern EIS pursuant to NEPA, 
the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) NEPA regulations (40 CFR 
parts 1500 through 1508), and the DOE NEPA implementing regulations (10 
CFR part 1021).
    Portions of the proposed project may affect floodplains and/or 
wetlands. There are floodplains associated with the Cimarron River, 
North Canadian River, Arkansas River, White River,

[[Page 75624]]

Cache River, and Mississippi River, each of which would be crossed by 
the proposed transmission line, and potentially at other locations 
along the proposed routes. Similarly, wetlands could be present along 
the proposed routes, including near tributaries to rivers in the 
project area. This NOI, therefore, also serves as a notice of proposed 
floodplain or wetland action in accordance with DOE floodplain and 
wetland environmental review requirements (10 CFR part 1022). The 
Plains & Eastern EIS will include a floodplain and wetland assessment. 
DOE plans to coordinate the NEPA review and the NHPA Section 106 
compliance process. DOE also intends to initiate consultation with 
USFWS and NMFS, as appropriate, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered 
Species Act.

2. Purpose and Need for Agency Action

    DOE's purpose and need for agency action is to implement Section 
1222(b) of the EPAct. To that end, DOE needs to decide whether and 
under what conditions to participate in Clean Line's proposed Plains & 
Eastern Project.

3. Proposed Action and Alternatives

    The proposed project would include an overhead  600kV 
HVDC electric transmission system with the capacity to deliver 
approximately 3,500 MW from the Oklahoma Panhandle region to load-
serving entities in the Mid-South and Southeast. The proposed project 
would traverse Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee, a distance of 
approximately 700 miles. The western portion of the proposed project 
would interconnect to the transmission system operated by the Southwest 
Power Pool in Texas County, Oklahoma. The eastern portion of the 
proposed project would interconnect to the transmission system operated 
by TVA in Shelby County, Tennessee. TVA would make the necessary 
upgrades to its transmission system, which could include construction 
and operation of new transmission lines and substations and upgrades to 
existing transmission lines and substations.
    A new AC/DC converter station would be built at each end of the 
transmission line. Each converter station would require the use of 
approximately 30 to 50 acres and would be located on private land. The 
converter stations are proposed to be located in Texas County, 
Oklahoma, and either Shelby County or Tipton County, Tennessee. The 
proposed project would include, in addition to the HVDC transmission 
line, four to six AC transmission lines of up to 345kV interconnecting 
the western converter station with new wind generation facilities that 
would be located in parts of the Oklahoma panhandle, southwest Kansas, 
and Texas panhandle within approximately 40 miles of the western 
converter station. Clean Line anticipates that electricity generated by 
these facilities would constitute the majority of the transmission 
capacity of the transmission line.
    The proposed project would also include the following major 
facilities and improvements:
     Right-of-way easements for the transmission lines with a 
typical width of approximately 150 to 200 feet for the HVDC line and 
potentially narrower for the AC transmission lines.
     Tubular or lattice steel structures used to support the 
transmission lines. For the HVDC line, structures typically would be 
between 120 and 200 feet tall depending on site-specific conditions. 
Limited quantities of taller structures may be required in some 
locations to address engineering constraints. Structures for the AC 
transmission lines may be shorter.
     Access roads, including improvements to existing roads, 
new overland access, and new unpaved temporary roads to access the 
proposed project facilities and work areas during the construction and 
operation phases.
     Ancillary facilities, such as communications facilities 
for access control and protection.
    DOE's proposed action is to participate with Clean Line in the 
proposed project. In the Plains & Eastern EIS, DOE will analyze the 
potential environmental impacts of a range of reasonable alternative 
routes that could comprise the proposed project. DOE will also identify 
possible mitigation strategies for potential environmental impacts.
    Clean Line identified the proposed location for the western 
converter station based on the presence of both an excellent wind 
resource (as classified by the DOE National Renewable Energy 
Laboratory) and adequate electrical interconnection facilities, 
including planned upgrades to existing facilities. Clean Line 
identified the proposed location for the eastern converter station 
based on the presence of high-voltage transmission facilities capable 
of interconnection and delivery of up to 3,500 MW of energy to portions 
of the Mid-South and Southeast.
    As part of its planning process, Clean Line first identified 
several corridors within a broad study area. Clean Line evaluated the 
corridors for engineering and environmental issues and subsequently 
refined the corridors using input from federal and state agencies, 
municipalities, non-governmental organizations, and various 
stakeholders. Clean Line then identified a study corridor approximately 
five to eight miles wide and held meetings with community leaders in 
counties intersected by the study corridor to solicit additional input. 
Clean Line then held open house meetings in fall 2012 to seek 
additional public input on potential routes. Using this information, 
Clean Line identified and submitted to DOE several potential routes.
    In Oklahoma, the potential routes proposed by Clean Line begin in 
the central Oklahoma Panhandle and proceed in an east-southeasterly 
direction through generally rural areas between Oklahoma City and 
Tulsa, exiting the state in eastern Oklahoma near Sallisaw. The routes 
pass through the Central Flyway for migratory birds throughout 
Oklahoma. The proposed routes intersect the following counties in 
Oklahoma: Texas; Beaver; Harper; Woodward; Major; Garfield; Kingfisher; 
Logan; Payne; Lincoln; Creek; Okmulgee; Muskogee; and, Sequoyah. More 
specifically, from southern Texas County near Guymon, Oklahoma, to 
Harper County, routes are generally parallel to U.S. Highway 412 in an 
easterly direction through the Oklahoma Panhandle. They trend 
southeasterly in Woodward County, crossing the North Canadian River, 
and north of the city of Woodward and east of Boiling Springs State 
Park. From Woodward County, routes continue generally east and 
southeast in Major, Garfield, and Kingfisher counties, crossing the 
Cimarron River near Fairview and Glass Mountains State Park. In Payne 
County, routes cross the Cimarron River a second time and run near the 
Cushing Municipal Airport. The routes then trend in a southeasterly 
direction south of Cushing. The routes diverge around Bristow and run 
north of the city of Okmulgee. Routes continue a southeasterly trend in 
Muskogee County, crossing the Arkansas River at the Webbers Falls 
Reservoir near Gore. The routes then begin an easterly track, exiting 
Oklahoma northeast of Sallisaw in eastern Sequoyah County and entering 
Arkansas in western Crawford County.
    In Arkansas, the routes proposed by Clean Line enter western 
Arkansas north of the city of Van Buren and proceed in an easterly 
direction through generally rural areas, exiting eastern Arkansas south 
of the city of Osceola, entering into Tennessee across the Mississippi 
River. The routes pass through the Mississippi Flyway for migratory 
birds throughout Arkansas

[[Page 75625]]

and Tennessee. The proposed routes intersect the following counties in 
Arkansas: Crawford; Franklin; Johnson; Pope; Conway; Van Buren; 
Faulkner; Cleburne; White; Jackson; Poinsett; and, Mississippi. More 
specifically, from Crawford County to eastern Pope County, the routes 
are south of the Ozark National Forest and generally follow the 
Arkansas River valley and Interstate Highway 40. Routes diverge around 
Alma and Dyer, but pass north of Ozark, Clarksville, and Dover, near 
the Cherokee Wildlife Management Area. In Conway County north of 
Morrilton, the routes continue in an easterly direction. The routes 
continue this easterly track north of Greenbrier, near Damascus and 
Quitman. North of Searcy, the routes turn northeast generally parallel 
to State Highway 67 north of Bradford, crossing the White River. The 
routes continue easterly along divergent paths across the Cache River 
and south of Marked Tree, cross Interstate Highway 55, to two proposed 
crossing locations of the Mississippi River. The proposed Mississippi 
River crossing locations are a north-south oriented crossing east of 
Wilson, Arkansas, at approximately river mile 768, and an east-west 
oriented crossing southeast of Joiner, Arkansas, at approximately river 
mile 762.
    In Tennessee, the routes proposed by Clean Line enter western 
Tennessee from Arkansas at the two potential crossing locations 
described above and generally proceed in a southeasterly direction 
along separate paths through generally rural and suburban areas of 
Tipton County and Shelby County. The routes diverge around the 
community of Drummonds, with one route near Munford and Atoka and one 
route near Millington. The routes converge near the proposed 
interconnection point in Shelby County near Tipton, Tennessee.
    DOE will analyze a range of reasonable alternatives. DOE has 
reviewed Clean Line's process and its proposed routes and determined 
that they provide a sufficient initial basis for the EIS. In addition, 
DOE will consider additional reasonable alternatives proposed in 
scoping comments and may expand or refine the range of alternatives 
based on those comments. Maps identifying the potential routes 
currently proposed for analysis are available on the EIS Web site at 
http://PlainsandEasternEIS.com. In addition to the facilities 
associated with the proposed project, the EIS will also analyze any 
facility additions and upgrades to third party systems to accommodate 
the proposed project.
    The EIS also will analyze a No Action alternative, under which DOE 
would not participate with Clean Line in the proposed project. DOE 
assumes for analytical purposes that the Plains & Eastern Project would 
not move forward and none of the potential environmental impacts 
associated with the proposed project would occur.

4. Preliminary Identification of Environmental Issues

    DOE proposes to analyze potential short-term environmental impacts, 
such as those from construction, and potential long-term environmental 
impacts of operating and maintaining the transmission line. DOE's 
guidance for the preparation of an EIS recommends the use of the 
sliding-scale approach when evaluating environmental impacts. This 
approach would focus the analysis and discussion of impacts on 
significant environmental issues in proportion to the significance of 
the potential impacts. DOE has identified the following preliminary 
list of impact areas for evaluation in the EIS:

 Land Use, Recreation, and Visual Resources
 Water Use and Water Quality
 Surface Water Features including Rivers, Floodplains, and 
Wetlands
 Fish, Wildlife, and Vegetation, including Critical Habitat
 Socioeconomics
 Environmental Justice
 Historic and Cultural Resources
 Geology, Soil, and Mineral Resources
 Human Health and Electric and Magnetic Fields
 Air Quality and Climate Change
 Construction-Related Impacts, including Road Clearing, 
Traffic, and Noise
 Accidents, Intentional Destructive Acts, and Hazards, 
including Air Space Management
 Waste Management

    This list is not intended to be all-inclusive or to imply any 
predetermination of impacts. DOE invites interested parties to suggest 
specific issues, including possible mitigation measures, within these 
general categories, or other categories not included above, to be 
considered in the EIS.

5. Agency Responsibilities

5.1 Stakeholder Involvement and Cooperating Agencies

    DOE will prepare the EIS and will coordinate with appropriate 
federal, state, and tribal governments; local agencies; and interested 
members of the public during the preparation of the EIS. DOE will 
consult with Indian tribes on a government-to-government basis in 
accordance with Executive Order 13175 and other policies. Tribal 
concerns, including impacts on Indian trust assets and potential 
impacts on cultural resources, will be considered. DOE invites federal, 
state, tribal governments and local agencies with jurisdiction by law 
or with special expertise to be cooperating agencies on the EIS as 
defined in 40 CFR 1501.6. Such governments and/or agencies may also 
make a request to DOE to be a cooperating agency. As of this notice, 
TVA, and the Tulsa District and the Memphis District of the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers have committed to being cooperating agencies.

5.2 National Historic Preservation Act

    Section 106 of the NHPA requires federal agencies to consider the 
effects of an undertaking on historic properties--historic structures 
and historic artifacts--before authorizing an undertaking (36 CFR part 
800). Federal agencies are encouraged to coordinate compliance with 
Section 106 of the NHPA with any steps taken to meet the requirements 
of NEPA (36 CFR 800.8). In the interest of being comprehensive and less 
duplicative, DOE plans to coordinate the NEPA review and Section 106 
compliance process for the preparation of the Plains & Eastern EIS to 
the greatest extent practicable. Further, DOE plans to invite federal, 
state, tribal governments, and members of the public to participate in 
this NEPA process for the purpose of ensuring the standards in 36 CFR 
800.8(c)(1) through 800.8(c)(5), ``Protection of Historic Properties,'' 
are met, including identifying mitigation actions that may be 
appropriate to address potential adverse effects that may result from 
implementing the proposed project.

5.3 Endangered Species Act

    Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act requires an agency 
proposing to take an action to inquire of the USFWS and NMFS, as 
appropriate, whether any threatened or endangered species ``may be 
present'' in the area of the proposed action [see 16 U.S.C. 
1536(c)(1)]. Accordingly, DOE intends to initiate consultation with 
these agencies.

6. Public Participation

    The purpose of the scoping process is to identify alternatives and 
potential environmental impacts that DOE should analyze in the EIS. DOE 
will hold 12 public scoping meetings at the following locations and 
times in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee to provide the public with 
an opportunity to present comments, ask questions, and discuss the 
scope of the Plains & Eastern EIS

[[Page 75626]]

with DOE and Clean Line representatives.

 January 22, 2013, 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Arkansas State 
University--Marked Tree Student Center, 33500 Highway 63 E, Marked 
Tree, AR 72365
 January 24, 2013, 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Gateway Baptist Church 
Center, 1915 Rosemark Road, Atoka, TN 38004
 January 28, 2013, 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Pickle Creek Center, 822 
NE 6th Street, Guymon, OK 73942
 January 29, 2013, 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Beaver County 
Fairgrounds--Pavilion Building, 1107 Douglas Avenue, Beaver, OK 73932
 January 31, 2013, 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Woodward Convention 
Center--Meeting Room 1, 3401 Centennial Lane, Woodward, OK 73801
 February 4, 2013, 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Muskogee Civic Center Room 
D, 425 Boston Street, Muskogee, OK 74401
 February 5, 2013, 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Cushing Youth and 
Community Center, 700 South Little, Cushing, OK 74023
 February 7, 2013, 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Enid Convention Hall--
Grand Ballroom, 301 South Independence, Enid, OK 73701
 February 11, 2013, 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Van Buren Public Library, 
1409 Main Street, Van Buren, AR 72956
 February 12, 2013, 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Lake Point Conference 
Center--Event Center, 61 Lake Point Lane, Russellville, AR 72802
 February 19, 2013, 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Arkansas State 
University--Newport, Student Community Center--M&P I&I NEDC Room (First 
room on the left), 7648 Victory Boulevard, Newport, AR 72112
 February 21, 2013, 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Carmichael Community 
Center Auditorium, 801 S. Elm, Searcy, AR 72143

    DOE will also announce the public scoping meetings via local news 
media, industry newsletters, and posting on the DOE NEPA Web site at 
http://energy.gov/nepa/public-comment-opportunities and on the Plains & 
Eastern EIS Web site at http://PlainsandEasternEIS.com at least 15 days 
prior to each meeting.
    The scoping meetings will start with an informal open house to 
facilitate dialogue between project officials and the public. DOE will 
then provide an overview of the proposed project and lead a short, 
informal question-and-answer period to clarify the information 
presented and to answer questions about the NEPA process. The public 
will have an opportunity to view maps and project information and 
present comments on the scope of the Plains & Eastern EIS. 
Representatives from DOE, Clean Line, and involved agencies will be 
available to answer questions and provide additional information to 
meeting attendees. A court reporter will be available at each scoping 
meeting to record oral comments from meeting attendees.
    In addition to providing comments at the public scoping meetings, 
DOE will accept written comments as described in the ADDRESSES section. 
DOE will consider all comments postmarked or received during a 90-day 
public scoping period beginning with publication of this notice and 
ending on March 21, 2013. DOE will consider comments postmarked or 
received after that date to the extent practicable.
    DOE expects to publish the draft EIS in the fall of 2013. The U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency will publish a Notice of Availability 
of the draft EIS in the Federal Register, which will begin a minimum 
public comment period of 45 days. DOE will announce how to comment on 
the draft EIS and will hold public hearings during the public comment 
period. People who would like to receive a copy of the draft EIS when 
it is issued should submit a request as provided in the ADDRESSES 
section and specify their format preference.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on December 14, 2012.
Patricia Hoffman.
Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.
[FR Doc. 2012-30833 Filed 12-20-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6450-01-P