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Other Renewal Processes

In addition to the TAPS Renewal EIS process, other steps must be taken to renew the TAPS right-of-way.

The BLM's EIS process is the principal avenue for the public to voice its concerns and ideas about the environmental impacts of renewal of the TAPS Grant of right-of-way. However, federal laws and regulations also mandate that BLM undertake other steps before it can renew TAPS. These steps include a separate study of the pipeline's useful life and a review of the compliance of TAPS with federal laws, regulations, and terms of the existing grant. Federal and state agencies are conducting these studies and reviews and will issue reports on their findings in mid 2002. BLM published a Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act (TAPAA) Report in July, 2002.

Trans-Alaska Pipeline System Federal and State Renewal Processes

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The following describes the major steps of the joint U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) Renewal process, as depicted on the diagram above. BLM documents are italicized; DNR documents are underlined.

Application - The oil companies that own the TAPS applied for the renewal of the right-of-way with BLM and DNR on May 2, 2001.

Pre-Scoping Processing and Preparation - BLM reached agreement with the applicants on reimbursement and obtained a contractor to assist it on the development of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). BLM and DNR activated a TAPS Renewal web site (no longer available) and engaged in public outreach to inform the public about the renewal process.

Federal/State Coordinated Analysis - The BLM and DNR, through their offices in the Joint Pipeline Office, are taking the lead in several analyses of the pipeline system. BLM, DNR, and other federal and state agencies are assessing compliance of TAPS with laws, regulations, and the grant and lease. As part of determining how long the pipeline right-of-way can be renewed (thirty years maximum), BLM is also conducting a Useful Life analysis and DNR will do a duration analysis. This involves examining the important physical systems of the pipeline, for example, the above and below ground pipe, valves, storage tanks, and determining whether they are engineered sufficiently to last thirty years and what changes will be necessary for them to last another thirty years.

Government-to-Government Consultation with Alaska Native Tribes - Throughout the renewal process BLM and DNR are committed to involving tribes. These will be proactive efforts to learn of and address the concerns of tribes.

Scoping - Early in the process BLM will seek comment from the public and from tribal, state, and local governments on the application to renew TAPS. While BLM will welcome your thoughts throughout the renewal process, this early comment period is the best time to tell BLM about your concerns about the current and future operation of TAPS and offer your ideas on how the management of that right-of-way can be improved. While this is a federal process, DNR will participate in scoping to take advantage of the information provided by the public.

Prepare Environmental Impact Statement/Draft EIS/Draft Grant/TAPAA Report - Based upon the comments BLM gets from scoping and our review of compliance and useful life, it will develop a range of alternatives to the applicants' proposal. BLM will coordinate its actions with DNR; the goal is for any revisions to the federal grant of right-of-way to be as consistent as possible with changes in DNR's lease for the pipeline on state land. BLM will issue a Draft EIS that will describe the applicants' proposal; alternatives to that proposal; the affected environment; and the environmental consequences, including a special examination of impacts on subsistence. This document will include a draft of a new grant. The TAPAA Report that summarizes BLM's compliance and Useful Life analysis will be issued separately. These documents will be available on the web site, CD, and paper.

Draft Commissioner's Renewal Determination - The DNR Commissioner will make a draft determination of whether the leaseholders are in commercial operation and in compliance with applicable state laws, regulations, and the existing lease, and will propose the terms of a new lease. The DNR will coordinate their decision on changes to the state lease with BLM's proposals for changes to the federal grant.

Federal and State Public Comment Period - Once people have had a chance to examine the Draft EIS and the Commissioner's Proposed Renewal Determination, BLM and DNR will conduct meetings in communities along the pipeline and where renewal of the pipeline will have a significant affect. BLM will have official subsistence hearings at the same time in communities that may be significantly affected by the proposal or one of the alternatives. BLM and the DNR will especially welcome your comments on these documents. People will also be able to comment by mail, and over the Internet.

Federal and State Analysis of Comments/Revise EIS and Commissioner's Renewal Determination - Based on comments that we get from you and others on the Draft EIS and the Draft Commissioner's Renewal Determination, BLM and DNR, respectively, will revise their documents.

Final EIS - BLM will issue a Final EIS addressing comments received on the Draft EIS. As with the Draft EIS, it will be available on the web site, CD, and on paper.

Final Commissioner's Renewal Determination - After consideration of public comment, DNR will issue a Final Commissioner's Renewal Determination in November. As with the draft, it will be available on the web site and on paper.

Record of Decision - After BLM has had a chance to receive comments on the Final EIS, it will issue a final decision. Regulations require that BLM wait 30 days after the issuance of the Final EIS before making any final decision.

Final Grant - The Final Grant can be issued at the same time as the Record of Decision or shortly thereafter.

Signing of the Final Commissioner's Renewal Determination and Decision - Regulations require that the Commissioner wait 30 days after the issuance of the proposed Final Commissioner's Renewal Determination and Decision before signing the document.

Final Lease - The Final Lease can be issued at the same time as the Final Commissioner's Renewal Determination and Decision or shortly thereafter.

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