FERC issues draft EIS on proposed Bison gas pipeline

A proposed 302-mile natural gas pipeline from a site in Wyoming to an interconnection in North Dakota would have some adverse environmental impacts which could be mitigated, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in a draft environmental impact statement.

A proposed 302-mile natural gas pipeline from a site near Gillette, Wyo., to an interconnection in Morton County, ND, would have some adverse environmental impacts which could be reduced with appropriate measures, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in a draft environmental impact statement.

The Bison Pipeline Project would include a 30-inch diameter pipeline from the Dead Horse Region near Gillette across southeastern Montana and southwestern North Dakota where it would connect with Northern Border Pipeline Co.’s system near Northern Border’s Compressor Station No. 6, according to the project’s sponsor, Bison Pipeline LLC.

It said that the pipeline would have a 477 million cubic feet/day design capacity which could be expanded to 1 billion cubic feet/day, and added that it hopes to have the line operating by Nov. 15, 2010. Bison Pipeline, which is based in Omaha, is part of a TransCanada Corp. subsidiary. TransCanada also is a partner and operator of Northern Border.

FERC noted in its Aug. 21 draft EIS that the proposed project also would include a new 4,700 horsepower compressor station in Hettinger County, ND. It pointed out that its draft EIS contains conclusions and recommendations from the commission’s staff, which considered input from the US Bureau of Land Management as a cooperating agency.

BLM will present its own conclusions and recommendations in a separate record of decision and adopt FERC’s final EIS if, after independently reviewing it, the US Department of the Interior agency concludes that its permitting requirements have been satisfied, FERC continued.

‘Less than significant’

In its draft EIS, FERC said that the proposed pipeline project would result in some adverse impacts if it is approved with Bison’s proposed minimization and mitigation measures and FERC’s recommended mitigation measures. “However, these impacts would be reduced to less than significant levels with the implementation of Bison’s proposed mitigation and the additional measures we recommend in the EIS,” it said.

It indicated that the proposed pipeline would use existing rights-of-way for 53.1 miles, or approximately 17.6% of its route. “The proposed route has been significantly influenced by agency recommendations to avoid sensitive wildlife habitats and vegetation types. Bison has been responsive to landowner requests for minor route modifications and has adopted many of these into the route evaluated in this EIS,” FERC said.

Bison also would reduce adverse impacts to more acceptable levels if it used dry-crossing methods on fisheries of special concern based on its own proposal and FERC’s recommendation, the draft EIS said. It also recommended that the company complete all necessary surveys for sensitive species and cultural resources, and the appropriate consultations before beginning construction.

FERC said that it would accept comments on the draft EIS through Oct. 12. It said that commissioners would consider staff recommendations and a final EIS before making a final decision on the proposed project.

Contact Nick Snow atnicks@pennwell.com

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