FERC: Scoping Meetings

“Intro to Scoping”*  PRESENTATION
and print handouts:
1 slide per page
to be nice to your eyes, or
2 slides per page
to be nice to the trees

*updated 7/20

» July 24 NED Resource Report files are HERE.


What the heck is “Scoping”?

From FERC’s website:
Scoping meetings, which are sponsored by FERC, are utilized by staff to identify relevant issues of major Certificate projects, pursuant to NEPA. Scoping is the process of defining and refining the scope of a environmental impact statement (EIS) or environmental assessment (EA) and the alternatives to be investigated. The scoping process is one of the opportunities for public involvement. 

Scoping meetings are designed to help FERC determine the scope of its environmental analysis.  Members of the public, and especially municipal officials in affected towns, should be making suggestions for the scope of the study and requesting specific types of impacts to be investigated by the firm hired by FERC to conduct the study.  There is no need to have the answers or provide specific details to FERC as they will be doing that investigation for themselves. All commenters are encouraged to submit their comments in writing, whether or not you participate in a meeting.  The official deadline for submitting written scoping comments on the NED project is August 31, 2015.

FERC has stated that a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required for the NED project.

Details on NED scoping meeting locations and other information are in this Notice from FERC.

Your comments should request research into specific topics, for example:
— “Please identify and address means of dealing with all vernal pools within ‘x’ number of yards of any pipeline segment, work area or staging area associated with pipeline construction.”
— “Please address the effect the project would have on appraised property values within one mile of the proposed route.”

Scoping Meetings: What to Expect

Scoping meetings are conducted by FERC. There will be a panel of FERC staff to hear comments from all parties. These are usually limited to 3 minutes (complete with a timer of lights and buzzer to keep things on schedule).  There is no back and forth discussion or Q&A with FERC.
Although your verbal comments are limited to 3 minutes, you may submit comments in writing of ANY length.

The pipeline company’s participation:
The pipeline company will have information on display and will be available to answer questions one on one before and after.  Near the beginning of the meeting, they will make a brief statement.

» Read the transcript of the Scoping Hearing for Kinder Morgan’s CT Expansion pipeline, held in Sandisfield, MA, October 2014

SUGGESTED LIST OF SUBJECTS TO REQUEST:
(Merely some starting points – citizens and municipal board members will have more insight into what concerns they would like to see the EIS address. Also see example statements below.)
• Ask them to please identify all areas of environmental concern within or adjacent to “x” yards of the pipeline path:
— wetlands, waterways (for natural communities and human use), vernal pools, aquifers, public and private wells and septic systems (could be affected by blasting)
— intended blasting zones
— impacts to roadways
— temporary construction workspace and staging areas
— (near compressor stations) area species affected by continuous noise and light
— (near any blow-down point) any pollution to air, ground and water from natural gas released from the system, and their proximity and effects to human, animal and plant populations

SPECIFIC QUESTION EXAMPLES:
— wetlands that support any rare or exemplary natural communities
— streams and other waterways that support any rare or exemplary natural communities or human uses, whether recreational or as drinking water
— certified and certifiable vernal pools and analysis of the means by which damage would be avoided or mitigated
— all temporary work zones and staging areas used during construction, the pre-construction condition of these areas and plans for restoration and mitigation of damages incurred during construction
— sources of water to be used for hydrostatic testing during the construction process and how such water sources would be replenished or restored; also areas in which such testing is expected to take place and potential impacts of run-off from the testing process

• There are many more classes of concerns to address. FERC’s guidance to pipeline applicants provides a good overview of the general topics that the EIS will cover.  Please use your expertise and knowledge of your area, and consult some examples below to get more detailed ideas.

EXAMPLES OF SCOPING STATEMENTS
(for NED)
» Statement by MA Senator Warren (pending arrival)
» Statement by MA Congressional Rep. Tsongas
» Statement by MA Congressional Rep. McGovern
» Statement by MA State Legislators
Rosenberg, Downing, Kulik, Mark, Cariddi, Whipps-Lee

» Rachel I. Branch
» Polly Ryan

(from other pipelines):
» EPA Region 1 Comments on Atlantic Bridge
» EPA Comments on Rover
» Food & Water Watch et. al. Comments on Atlantic Bridge
» Fresh Water Accountability Project on Rover

COMMENTS OF USE TO SCOPING STATEMENTS

» FERC’s comments to KM about insufficiency of Resource Report and communication with stakeholders
» Sec. of EEA comments on NED
» Energy Facilities Siting Board Comments on NED pre-filing


FERC Scoping Meetings Drew Large Crowds

On the afternoon of Friday, July 24th, Kinder Morgan released its 6,571 page set of new Resource Reports, based on a re-scaled project and still packed with major sections of some of the most impactful aspects of pipeline infrastructure still blank. The timing of this release, after residents of PA & NY had meetings with the old Resource Reports as their only reference, and just four days before these Scoping Meetings in MA & NH started, was characterized in a range of ways, including “untimely”, “unfair”, and possibly “capricious”.

The call to halt the current schedule of Scoping Meetings, and to start the Scoping process from scratch with a new 60-day comment period was made over and over, not just from scored of citizens, but from a sizable list of elected officials.

MEDIA REPORTS ON HEARINGS (partial list, see NED News for more)
» Hundreds Oppose Pipeline Project, iBerkshires
» FERC Gets and Earful, Greenfield Recorder
» Pipeline Protesters Flood FERC Session in Nashua, Ledger-Transcript
» Pipeline Official Grapples with Criticism, Greenfield Recorder

VIDEO COVERAGE OF HEARINGS
» Pittsfield Scoping Meeting – July 28
» Greenfield Scoping Meeting – July 29
» Milford Scoping Meeting – July 30
» Dracut Scoping Meeting (Partial Video) – August 11