FERC has released a draft environmental impact statement for the Mountaineer XPress Project and Gulf XPress Project, proposed by Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC and Columbia Gulf Transmission, LLC, respectively.
According to FERC, while construction and operation of the projects would cause some adverse and significant environmental impacts, if the projects are built and operated in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, the mitigation measures mentioned in the EIS, and the agency’s recommendations, these impacts would be lowered to acceptable levels. Although many factors were considered before reaching this conclusion, the main reasons are:
- Columbia Gas and Columbia Gulf would minimize impacts on natural and cultural resources during construction and operation of their projects by implementing their project-specific Environmental Construction Standards (which incorporates FERC’s Upland Erosion Control, Revegetation, and Maintenance Plan and FERC’s Wetland and Waterbody Construction and Mitigation Procedures); Spill Prevention, Containment, and Countermeasure Plan; Horizontal Directional Drill Contingency Plan; Unexpected Contamination Discovery Plan; Unanticipated Discovery Plan (for the treatment of cultural resources and human remains); Blasting Plan; and Karst Mitigation Plan
- FERC staff would complete Endangered Species Act consultations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prior to allowing any construction to begin
- FERC staff would complete the process of complying with section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and implementing the regulations at 36 CFR 800 prior to allowing any construction to begin
- Columbia Gas and Columbia Gulf would be required to obtain applicable permits and provide mitigation for unavoidable impacts on waterbodies and wetlands through coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and applicable state agencies
- Columbia Gas would develop a Landslide Mitigation Plan
- Columbia Gas would consult with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to identify any specific construction, restoration, and/or operation mitigation measures that would be implemented to promote compatibility with the restoration and management of forested areas
- Columbia Gas would develop a Noxious and Invasive Weed Management Plan
- Columbia Gas would develop a Migratory Bird Plan and identify special measures, if any, that Columbia Gas would implement to reduce impacts on cerulean warbler habitat
- An environmental inspection and mitigation monitoring program would be developed that would ensure compliance with all mitigation measures that become conditions of the FERC authorizations and other approvals
In addition, FERC has created and recommended other site-specific mitigation measures that Columbia Gas and Columbia Gulf will implement to further decrease the environmental impacts of the projects.
Comments on the draft EIS must be received in Washington, DC by April 24, 2017.