TAPS Renewal EIS: Public Participation Invited
What we are doing -
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), in cooperation with the State of Alaska, is preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the renewal of the Federal Agreement and Grant of Right-of-Way for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS). The renewal would permit continued operation of the TAPS by its owner companies for up to 30 years beyond 2004, when the existing agreement will expire.
A little background -
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (most commonly referred to as "TAPS") is the transport system that moves crude oil from the Alaskan North Slope to the Valdez Marine Terminal. The system includes about 800 miles of 48-inch-diameter warm crude oil pipeline, pump stations, communications sites, material sites, a work pad and access roads, and related facilities.
The land on which the pipeline is located is referred to as the TAPS right-of-way. Right-of-way land ownership is divided among the Federal Government (375 miles); State Government (344 miles); Native allotments/corporations (51 miles); TAPS owners (8 miles); and other private owners (22 miles). BLM and other Federal agencies and the State of Alaska work together on a daily basis, through the Joint Pipeline Office (JPO), to oversee the Federal and State rights-of-way.
The original Federal Grant was authorized on January 23, 1974, under the Mineral Leasing Act as amended by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act of 1973. That Act states that " the BLM shall renew a right-of-way upon request of an applicant." On May 2, 2001, the TAPS owner companies submitted an application for renewal of TAPS to BLM and Alaska's Department of Natural Resources (ADNR). BLM had previously decided that renewal of the Federal Grant is a major Federal action, requiring an environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).
The ADNR leads the process for renewal of the State right-of-way lease. ADNR and BLM have developed a coordinated renewal process that satisfies both Federal and State requirements.
We ask for your advice (scoping) -
"Scoping" is an important early step in the EIS analysis process. It is your opportunity to tell the government your views on the appropriate scope of issues to be addressed in the EIS, and to identify what you believe are the significant issues related to renewal of the TAPS right-of-way. People and interested groups are encouraged to become involved in the EIS through the scoping process.
In general, we already know that the EIS will address environmental, social, subsistence, and economic impacts resulting from renewing the TAPS right-of-way. We are interested in your views on these subjects, as well as on other potential impacts (positive or negative). Your comments are most useful if we get them now, during scoping.
Results of scoping will be made public -
The comments received during the scoping period will be categorized and analyzed, and a public report of results of scoping will be issued.
It is easy to participate now -
Scoping comments will be accepted until October 19, 2001. Comments can be submitted by letter (mailed or hand-delivered), e-mail, fax, World Wide Web comment form, phone voice message, and later in September and October, at six public meetings in pipeline corridor communities.
Another chance to participate later -
When the Draft EIS is presented for public review in the summer of 2002, BLM will invite your comments during a 45-day public comment period. Those comments will be taken into account, and a Final EIS and Record of Decision announcing BLM's decision will be published at the end of 2002.
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