An opportunity for more and different public hearings! The Withlacoochee River doesn’t even rate a mention, nor the Ochlockonee River. Nor any county other than Stewart, nevermind the ones that have passed resolutions against the Sabal Trail pipeline: Terrell, Dougherty, Colquitt, Brooks, and Lowndes Counties, Georgia and Hamilton County, Florida, plus the cities of Albany, Moultrie, and Valdosta, Georgia. This is the Savannah Army Corps of Engineers Public Notice, issued the same Friday September 11th 2015 as the ones from Mobile and Jacksonville, each slightly different.
So is that one, two, or four possible new public hearings? All in addition to forthcoming GA-EPD air quality permit hearing in Albany, GA, probably in October, and the series of FERC dog an pony shows starting 28 September 2015 in Albany and proceeding with its court recorders and industry-funded environmental reviewers throughout Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.
And don’t forget the forthcoming legal hearing on WWALS v. FL-DEP & Sabal Trail in Florida.
Here’s the USACE Savannah public notice web page:
Expiration date: 10/12/2015
PROJECT NAME: Sabal Trail Pipeline
NEAREST NAMED WATERWAY: Chattahoochee and Flint
OVERALL PROJECT PURPOSE: To construct a natural gas pipeline.
Here’s the Public Notice and Attachments (PDF):
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
SAVANNAH DISTRICT, CORPS OF ENGINEERS
1104 NORTH WESTOVER BOULEVARD, UNIT 9
ALBANY, GEORGIA 31707
September 11 2015
JOINT PUBLIC NOTICE
Savannah District/State of Georgia
The Savannah District has received an application for a Department of the Army Permit, pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 United States Code [U.S.C.] 403) and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344), as follows:
Application Number: SAS-2013-00942
Applicant: Mr. George McLachlan
Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC
400 Colonial Center Parkway, Suite 300
Lake Mary, Florida 32746
Location of Proposed Work: The Sabal Trails Pipelines Project (Project) would affect waters of the United States, including wetlands, within the States of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. For additional information, please reference the attached general location map; and, refer to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) available on the FERC website (www.ferc.gov) using the eLibrary link. Click on the eLibrary link, click on “General Search,” and enter the docket number CP15-16. Be sure you have selected an appropriate date range.
Description of Work Subject to the Jurisdiction of the US. Army Corps of Engineers: The applicant proposes to construct and operate approximately 515.5 miles of interstate natural gas transmission pipeline consisting of 480.9 miles of mainline pipeline in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida (Mainline); a 21.5-mile-Iong pipeline lateral in Florida (the CCL); and a 13.1-mile-long pipeline lateral in Florida (the HCL). Additional detail can be found within the FERC DEIS.
This Joint Public Notice announces a request for authorizations from both the US. Army Corps of Engineers and the State of Georgia. The applicant’s proposed work may also require local governmental approval.
Lead Federal Agency Role: The FERC is considered the lead federal agency for the coordination and conduct of environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Pursuant to NEPA, the FERC is preparing an EIS for the proposed Southeast Market Pipelines Project. The Corps is participating as a cooperating agency in the development of the EIS; however, a separate decision document would be prepared prior to a final decision concerning issuance or denial of the requested Department of the Army permit. Comments received would be used by the Corps in the preparation of any documentation, if required, pursuant to NEPA, prior to a final decision concerning issuance or denial of the DA permit.
STATE OF GEORGIA
Water Quality Certification: The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, intends to certify this project at the end of 30 days in accordance with the provisions of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which is required for a Federal Permit to conduct activity in, on, or adjacent to the waters of the State of Georgia. Copies of the application and supporting documents relative to a specific application will be available for review and copying at the office of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, Watershed Protection Branch, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30334, during regular office hours. A copier machine is available for public use at a charge of 25 cents per page. Any person who desires to comment, object, or request a public hearing relative to State Water Quality Certification must do so within 30 days of the State’s receipt of application in writing and state the reasons or basis of objections or request for a hearing. The application can be reviewed in the Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Division, 1104 North Westover Boulevard, Unit 9, Albany, Georgia 31707.
State-owned Property and Resources: The applicant may also require assent from the State of Georgia, which may be in the form of a license, easement, lease, permit or other appropriate instrument.
US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
The Savannah District must consider the purpose and the impacts of the applicant’s proposed work, prior to a decision on issuance of a Department of the Army Permit.
Cultural Resources Assessment: According to FERC’s DEIS, Sabal Trail conducted a cultural resources survey within a 300-foot-wide corridor for the pipeline corridor, a 50foot-wide corridor for access roads, and the footprints for all aboveground facilities and contractor yards. The Area of Potential Effect (APE) to aboveground cultural resources was defined as the APE for direct effects plus areas where land use may change, and any locations from which the Project may be visible. Sabal Trail surveyed 96.7 percent of the project workspace in Georgia between September 2013 and August 2014. They will survey the remaining 3.3 percent (6.35 miles of the pipeline corridor) pending landowner permission. Sabal Trail identified a total of 202 cultural resources sites: 160 archaeological sites and 42 historic architectural sites. Of the 160 archaeological sites or isolated finds, 128 are prehistoric, 10 are historic, and 22 have both prehistoric and historic components. Sabal Trail did not recommend any archaeological sites as eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The report recommended that 125 sites are not eligible for NRHP listing. The remaining 35 sites remain unevaluated; further investigations are underway for 24 of the sites and will be described in future reports. Of the 42 historic architectural sites, 8 buildings or groups of buildings are recommended eligible for NRHP listing, and 9 railroad lines, and 1 railroad trestle are also recommended NRHP eligible. The remaining 24 historic architectural properties are recommended not eligible.
The Georgia State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), in a January 26, 2015 letter, requested more rigorous survey methods and additional site evaluation work. The SHPO did not concur with NRHP ineligible recommendations for 30 recorded sites, and recommended additional work, such as closer interval shovel testing and excavation of test units for 20 of the sites. The SHPO also recommended further delineation for 10 sites that were not fully defined beyond the project workspace (sites 9SW155, 9TE181, 98TE184, 9TE186, 9TE189, 9TE190, 9TE200, 9TE204, 9TE205, and 9BO50).
Sabal Trail submitted a revised cultural resources survey report to the Georgia SHPO that provided additional discussion about site significance and eligibility, revised eligibility status for the 30 sites recommended ineligible in the first report, and recommendations for testing at 22 sites. The revised report is currently under review.
Endangered Species: Throughout the DEIS, FERC recommended additional construction practices, avoidance measures, and mitigation measures where they believe the project, as proposed, would not adequately support certain species’ conservation needs or agency-recommended conservation measures; or where additional habitat data or species-specific surveys are necessary. They note that implementation of these recommendations would minimize impacts on special status species and their habitat associations (e.g., wetlands, waterbodies, sand ridges). Thus, they conclude that project-related impacts on special status and state-listed species would be reduced to levels that would not threaten a species population viability, or contribute to trends toward federal listings. Pursuant to Section 7(c) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), we request information from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Marine Fisheries Service; or, any other interested party, on whether any species listed or proposed for listing may be present in the area.
Public Interest Review: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors, which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership and in general, the needs and welfare of the people.
Consideration of Public Comments: The Corps is soliciting comments from the public; federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Native American Tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to NEPA. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.
Application of Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines: The proposed activity involves the discharge of dredged or fill material into the waters of the United States. The Savannah District’s evaluation of the impact of the activity on the public interest will include application of the guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, under the authority of Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act.
Public Hearing: Any person may request, in writing, within the comment period specified in this notice, that a public hearing be held to consider this application for a Department of the Army Permit. Requests for public hearings shall state, with particularity, the reasons for requesting a public hearing. The decision whether to hold a public hearing is at the discretion of the District Engineer, or his designated appointee, based on the need for additional substantial information necessary in evaluating the proposed project.
Comment Period: Anyone wishing to comment on this application for a Department of the Army Permit should submit comments in writing to the Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, Attention: Mr. Terry C. Kobs, 1104 North Westover Boulevard, Unit 9, Albany, Georgia 31707, no later than 30 days from the date of this notice. Please refer to the applicant’s name and the application number in your comments. 4
If you have any further questions concerning this matter, please contact Mr. Terry C. Kobs, Project Manager, Coastal Branch at 229-430-8567.
SABAL Trails Project Overview (1)
For more context, see the WWALS Issues page on Sabal Trail.