Official Copy of the comments submitted by KEF to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

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Kentucky Environmental Foundation
128 Main Street
Berea, KY 40403

Friday, 25 November 2016

Docket Number CP15-88-000

The Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF) submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission {FERC} regarding this Docket Number on 18 May 2015.

KEF repeats those comments here as part of their comments on what is now the Draft Environmental Assessment released on 2 November 2016.

18 May 2015  Comments


The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company {TGP} has requested to reinstate the use of an aging pipeline to transfer gas across multiple states.  Multiple factors including the age of the pipeline, a change in the type of fuel to be transferred, as well as the pressure that fluid requires for transfer, creates questions around the stability of the pipeline. 

The re-purposing project is unprecedented and has significant risks associated with it. A full Environmental Impact Statement {EIS} should be developed covering all direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the abandonment and re-purposing of the pipeline, including consideration of the impacts to air, land, and surface and groundwater resources, as well as to public health and safety, from the conversion of the pipeline to the transportation of natural gas liquids {NGL’s). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission {FERC} should coordinate with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal and state agencies to assure a thorough environmental review.


1) KEF believes FERC should prepare an EIS instead of an Environmental Assessment (EA) regarding the docket number referenced above.

2) KEF further believes it inappropriate for FERC to limit its NEPA responsibilities to the abandonment portion of the project as they recognize the future use of the pipeline referenced for the transmission of NGL’s in their notice of 28 April 2015.
            The separation of the abandonment and future use by the applicant should not limit the scope of the FERC NEPA review, as KEF believes the separation is an intentional effort by the applicant to avoid a full and careful NEPA review of their intentions.

25 November 2016 Comments on the Environmental Assessment
KEF adds the following additional comments to the Draft EA issued 2 November 2016. 
KEF believes public hearings should be held prior to any final decision by FERC regarding the docket number cited, based on the following:
CFR Title 40 – Protection of the Environment – Chapter V –§1506.6:
(c) Hold or sponsor public hearings or public meetings whenever appropriate or in accordance with statutory requirements applicable to the agency. Criteria shall include whether there is:
(1) Substantial environmental controversy concerning the proposed action or substantial interest in holding the hearing. (Emphasis added.)
Expanding on comment (2) submitted 18 May 2015 above KEF provides the following

 Comment (2)
The following citations from Title 40  – Protection of the Environment – Chapter V – Part 1508 affirm KEF’s position that FERC must consider environmental impacts BEYOND abandonment of the existing pipeline.
KEF likewise implicitly rejects the November 21, 2016 comment by the Kentucky Oil and Gas Association (KOGA) that reads, As documented in the EA, consideration of the future potential use of an abandoned line bears no causal relationship to FERCs decision to grant or deny the companys request to abandon interstate natural gas service.

As reflected in the cited sections immediately below the KOGA position is ludicrous.

NEPA – The National Environmental Policy Act provides the following:

CFR Title 40 – §1508.7 Cumulative impact.
Cumulative impact is the impact on the environment, which results from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-Federal) or person undertakes such other actions. Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time. (Emphasis added.)
CFR Title 40 – §1508.8Effects.
Effects include:
         (a) Direct effects, which are caused by the action and occur at the same time and place.
(b) Indirect effects, which are caused by the action and are later in time or farther removed in distance, but are still reasonably foreseeable. Indirect effects may include growth inducing effects and other effects related to induced changes in the pattern of land use, population density or growth rate, and related effects on air and water and other natural systems, including ecosystems.
Effects and impacts as used in these regulations are synonymous. Effects include ecological (such as the effects on natural resources and on the components, structures, and functioning of affected ecosystems), aesthetic, historic, cultural, economic, social, or health, whether direct, indirect, or cumulative. Effects may also include those resulting from actions, which may have both beneficial and detrimental effects, even if on balance the agency believes that the effect will be beneficial. (Emphasis added.)
KEF: KEF’s position is that, based on the reasonably foreseeable effects stated above and the following (EA Pg 1 To the Party Addressed):
 “The purpose of the Project is to disconnect and abandon pipeline segments from interstate natural gas service and construct and operate new natural gas infrastructure as a replacement to maintain service to existing customers. Following abandonment, TGP intends to sell the pipeline to Utica Marcellus Texas Pipeline LLC (UMTP), an affiliate of TGP, for transportation of natural gas liquids (NGL’s).” (Emphasis added)

Given the clear and explicit language in the referenced sections, FERC must reconsider their narrow view of their responsibilities in this regard.
FERC:  “…if the Commission approves the abandonment and construction of new facilities, TGP states that it plans to sell the 964-mile-long abandoned pipeline to UMTP. TGP adds that UMTP would then construct the UMTP Project to transport NGL’s from existing processing plants in Ohio to Mont Belvieu, Texas. TGP notes that the UMTP Project would have an initial design capacity of 150,000 barrels per day of NGL’s, with the ability to deliver up to about 450,000 barrels per day of NGL to facilities on the Gulf Coast.” (EA- Pg 10) 
FERC: The objectives of this EA are to:
“…identify and assess potential impacts on the natural and human environment which could result from the proposed action;  (EA- Pg.2, Emphasis added.)

KEF: Yet, an in-depth analysis of impacts from the “transportation of natural gas liquids (NGL’s)”, contained in the proposed action, were not included in the EA.

FERC:  “As described in the environmental analysis section of this EA, constructing and operating the Project would temporarily and permanently impact the environment.” And  “We also conclude that nearly all of the Project-related impacts would be contained within or adjacent to the temporary construction right-of-way and ATWS.” (EA- Pg 139)

KEF: Including the repurposing operations in the scope of the EA would show significant Project-related impacts. (i.e. Compressor Stations).
COMMENT (3Environmental Impact Statement Required
KEF: FERC must develop a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that includes a thorough review of both the environmental effects and safety considerations of the abandonment and the subsequent use of the pipeline for transporting NGL’s.
•The flow reversal, product changes and conversion to service of this 70+ year-old pipeline are controversial actions that warrant thorough analysis. FERC approval of abandonment in place is a prelude to any leaks, spills, or other damage, and is a “major federal action.”
 • The EIS must evaluate the risks posed to land and water resources, and in particular groundwater, from NGL leaks and spills, as well as impacts on public safety and public health associated with both catastrophic and smaller leaks and spills.

• Alternatives to approving abandonment of the pipeline in place, including mandating removal of the abandoned line, must be evaluated.

•The reuse of the pipeline is an action that is within the “related action” and FERC must analyze it even if that use is not within FERC’s “jurisdiction,” and has effects that are “direct, indirect, and cumulative” and which NEPA requires be analyzed.

• FERC understands clearly the intentions of TGP if abandonment is approved. Knowing the connection, FERC must consider the risks of repurposing from NG to NGL’s as reflected in the Federal Register announcement.

According to Title 49Subtitle BChapter ISubchapter DPart 192

PHMSA is required to identify and provide a worst-case discharge analysis as part of their responsibility. 

KEF believes that if FERC’s EA approves the “proposed action”, which includes repurposing from NG to NGL’s, that FERC must be held to the same requirement. 

FERC – 2.10 Reliability and Safety

FERC: The pressurization of natural gas at a compressor station and the transportation of natural gas by pipeline involve some risk to the public in the event of an accident and subsequent release of gas. The greatest hazard is a fire or explosion following a leak or rupture at a compressor station or a major pipeline rupture. (EA – Pg 135).

Furthermore KEF Cites:

 Dated: September 9, 2014.
Julie P. Agarwal,
Secretary, Maritime Administration.
[FR Doc. 2014–22284 Filed 9–17–14; 8:45 am]
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
[Docket No. PHMSA20140040]
Pipeline Safety: Guidance for Pipeline Flow Reversals, Product Changes and Conversion to Service
AGENCY: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), DOT.
ACTION: Notice; issuance of advisory bulletin

SUMMARY: PHMSA is issuing this advisory bulletin to alert operators of hazardous liquid and gas transmission pipelines of the potential significant impact flow reversals, product changes and conversion to service may have on the integrity of a pipeline. Failures on natural gas transmission and hazardous liquid pipelines have occurred after these operational changes. (Emphasis added.).

KEF: Again, FERC cites risks associated with NG and ignores the increased risks associated with NGL’s.

FERC: The pipeline and aboveground facilities associated with the Project must be designed, constructed, operated, and maintained in accordance with the DOT Minimum Federal Safety Standards in 49 CFR 192. The regulations are intended to ensure adequate protection for the public and to prevent natural gas facility accidents and failures. The DOT specifies material selection and qualification; minimum design requirements; and protection from internal, external, and atmospheric corrosion.  (EA -Pg 136 Emphasis added.)

KEF: FERC cannot justify relying on an EA while ignoring this “CFR” component of the Abandonment and Capacity Restoration Project.

FERC: We received comments expressing concern about the safety of high-pressure gas pipelines. Commenter’s expressed concerns about exposed and corroded pipelines seen in Tennessee, Kinder Morgan’s safety record, and the potential for failure or explosion based on increased pressure in existing older pipelines following construction of the Project.

KEF: KEF reiterates the concerns about Kinder Morgan’s safety record and provides attachment #1 in support of this comment. Furthermore, we note that Kinder Morgan, the owner of the TGP, is rarely mentioned in the EA, due to their cloudy safety record.

FERC: TGP states that the proposed abandonment associated with the ACRP would result in certain segments of pipeline operating at higher pressures and other segments operating at lower pressures. However, the higher pressures would not exceed the Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure (MAOP) as regulated by PHMSA in 49 CFR 192.  (EA Pg.137)

KEF: PHMSA didn’t exist when this pipeline was built. Therefore, assurances that pressures will meet these standards over long periods of time are almost meaningless.

FERC: UMTP would comply with applicable regulations and requirements to ensure safe operation of the UMTP Project. UMTP would meet PHMSA requirements for conversion of service (i.e., conversion from natural gas to NG, (79 FR 56121–56122; PHMSA, 2014b, Docket No. PHMSA–2014–0040) .

These requirements include:
• review of design, construction, and operations and maintenance records or performing
testing to ensure safe operation;
• verification of design pressure through hydrostatic testing under CFR 195.5(a).

KEF: Relying on testing for a short period at the beginning of operations provides little security when the pipeline being tested is already 70+ years old.  Even newer pipelines when flows are reversed have accidents.

“Two recent pipeline failures occurred on hazardous liquid pipelines where the flow had been reversed. The Tesoro High Plains Pipeline rupture was discovered on September 29, 2013, after leaking an estimated 20,000 barrels of crude oil in a North Dakota field. The location of pressure and flow monitoring equipment had not been changed to account for the reversed flow. The Pegasus Pipeline failed on March 29, 2013, releasing about 5,000 barrels of crude oil into a neighborhood. “[FR Doc. 2014–22284 Filed 9–17–14; 8:45 am], (Pg 1).

COMMENT (4) Alternatives

KEF: KEF believes the No Action Alternative did not receive objective analysis as FERC weighed more heavily the “objectives of the Project” when compared to the cumulative health and environmental impact. The cumulative negative impact was, in fact, ignored based on FERC’s narrowing of the scope of their EA to abandonment only.
In fact, TGP is using the term “objectives of the Project” to infer that there is a need for the NGL’s to be shipped through Kentucky to supply “existing customers” implying some value to those communities living with the risks posed due to the pipeline. It is KEF’s understanding that the materials shipped via the pipeline are primarily slated for export and therefore the people and the environment along the route are exposed to all the risks associated with the Project for the sole purpose of profit for those party to the Project. We therefore submit that the No Action alternative would best satisfy the NEPA requirement of attaining a significant environmental advantage over the proposed action,
Furthermore, the basis for rejection of the No Action alternative stated in §3.1 (EA Pg 173) is admittedly speculative at every level.   “Such costs are expected to exceed the ongoing costs of operating and maintaining the Project’s replacement facilities. In addition, ongoing maintenance, repair, and replacement of aging segments of the pipeline would cause some level of environmental impact along the right-of-way. It is unknown whether these impacts would be greater than, similar to, or less than the impacts analyzed in section 2.0 of this EA.” (Emphasis added.)

KEF’s position is that in the likely occurrence of a leak, explosion or similar incident that the level of environmental impact (not to mention health and injury) would far outweigh the No Action alternative.

FERC: As stated on page 1 of the EA,  “The purpose of the Project is to disconnect and abandon pipeline segments from interstate natural gas service and construct and operate new natural gas infrastructure as a replacement to maintain service to existing customers. Following abandonment, TGP intends to sell the pipeline to Utica Marcellus Texas Pipeline LLC (UMTP), an affiliate of TGP, for transportation of natural NGL’s.” (Emphasis added.)

KEF:  Who are the “existing customers” if the pipeline is going to switch from NG to NGL’s? KEF contends there are no “existing customers” as used in the context of the proposed Project.  The double talk and mischaracterization of the proposed materials currently flowing and those planned to be flowing through the repurposed pipeline are contained throughout the EA. For example, FERC identifies NGL’s as being the long-term intentional use of the pipeline if abandonment is approved. Yet on page 152 of the EA they state, “The available data show that natural gas transmission pipelines continue to be a safe, reliable means of energy transportation.”, avoiding the known differences in risk associated with transmission of NG vs. NGL’s via pipeline – especially 70+ year old pipelines!

COMMENT (5) Permits and Approvals

KEF notes that in Appendix K:  Permits, Approvals, and Consultations for the UMTP Project that FERC states, “No County level environmental permits anticipated at this time.“ (Pg K-2).

KEF notes that at the time of the release of the EA, November 2016, two Kentucky counties passed ordinances requiring Conditional Use Permits prior to any actions associated with the proposed action (Boyle County and Madison County). It is anticipated that additional Conditional Use Permit Ordinances (where planning and zoning exists) and resolutions opposing the Project will be forthcoming. 

COMMENT (6)A Warning from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials
Safety Administration

Pipeline Safety: Guidance for Pipeline Flow ReversalsProduct Changes and Conversion to Service [FR Doc. 2014–22284 Filed 9–17–14; 8:45 am]) [Docket No. PHMSA–2014–0040] (Pg 2).

“Operators should review past integrity assessments, assessment tools and inspections. As a result of these changes, the location of certain threats may change. Previous assessments may not have evaluated the integrity of the pipeline at the location where the threat will be after these operational changes have been implemented.

Integrity depends on accurate records to make suitable decisions. Operators should validate material and strength test records for all affected segments of pipe.”

KEF: Portions of the pipeline under consideration for flow reversal were constructed in or about 1944 – 1948. We believe that accurate records regarding material and strength from that time period, if they exist at all, are not applicable to today’s material and strength requirements.

“While a new hydrostatic pressure test with a spike test is an important part of confirming the integrity of a pipeline, it may not be advisable to perform flow reversals, product changes or conversion to service under the following conditions:

• Grandfathered pipelines that operate without a Part 192, Subpart J pressure test or where sufficient historical test or material strength records are not available;

• LF–ERW pipe, lap welded, unknown seam types and with seam factors less than 1.0 as defined in §§ 192.113 and 195.106. (Emphasis added)

KEF: It is virtually impossible for TGP or any other entity involved in the Project to certify the condition of the existing pipeline meets these standards.

FERC: “Operators should enhance their communication with affected stakeholders concerning the changes with supplemental messages per API RP 1162 (incorporated by reference §§ 192.7 and 195.3). Public awareness communication should start in the projects planning stage, continue into the operations phase, provide project specific information and be responsive to the concerns of potentially affected persons.”

KEF:  Repeated invitations from citizens, and even local governments, to join in public discussions regarding the Project have been ignored or declined by TGP and their associates.

In summary, KEF believes FERC is circumventing their responsibilities under NEPA by allowing the Parties to the Project to piecemeal the process thereby avoiding their responsibilities to protect the public and the environment.
KEF believes the risks associated with repurposing a 70+ year-old pipeline to carry heavier and more volatile substances, under greater pressures than it was designed for is ignoring foreseeable risks in order to avoid safer and more costly approaches to their objectives.
KEF believes FERC should, at the very least, perform an Environmental Impact Statement to address the concerns we and many other citizens, governments, business associations and scientists have raised.

KEF appreciates the opportunity provided to submit these comments and is available to discuss any matters associated with them.

Respectfully Submitted,

Craig E. Williams

Project Director,
Kentucky Environmental Foundation