TAPS Renewal EIS Newsletter
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Volume 2 November 2001

Table of Contents
1Americans Comment, Renewal Team Listens
2TAPS Renewal EIS Progresses
3Consultation with Alaska Native Tribes
4TAPS Renewal Informational Resources Available

Americans comment, renewal team listens

If you want to talk, we're going to listen -

This is the message that the Joint Pipeline Office's (JPO's) renewal team emphasized this summer and fall as it began work on its environmental impact statement (EIS) examining the renewal of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) right-of-way. The team - lead by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and assisted by Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff members and contractors from Argonne National Laboratory - offered the public various ways to provide input during its scoping period.

Scoping is one phase of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis process. It is intended to give interested parties the chance to comment on a proposed action and to offer suggestions about the issues that should be considered in the EIS analyses. Scoping was the earliest, but not the last, opportunity for people to offer their opinions about renewing the TAPS right-of-way. The comment period began July 31 and closed October 19, 2001.

The BLM and Argonne Laboratory representatives held public scoping meetings in Anchorage, Barrow, Delta Junction, Fairbanks, Glennallen, and Valdez in September and October. More than 100 individuals, interest groups, elected and appointed officials, Native corporations, organizations and villages, industry representatives, and professional and civic agencies attended the meetings. The project contractor offered several meeting formats, reflecting each community's desire - some favoring an informal open house, others a formal presentation.

In addition to the comments presented at public meetings, the renewal team also received comments by mail, e-mail, Internet, voice message, fax and tribal consultation (see article on page 3). More than 230 people and organizations submitted comments, and more than 1,700 people participated in the scoping process by providing comments, requesting information, attending public meetings, or visiting the TAPS Renewal EIS Web Site (tapseis.anl.gov). During the scoping period, 2,411 visits were made by 1,370 visitors to the web site.

Meeting    Meeting

TAPS Renewal EIS Public Scoping Meeting

Most commentors (53%) used the dedicated web site. Of the remaining comments, 15% were delivered orally at the public or tribal meetings; 11% were sent to the toll-free fax line; 9% were sent by regular mail; 7% by e-mail; 4% were hand delivered; and 1% were given over the toll-free telephone line. Just under half (48%) of the comments were from Alaskans.

The comments covered a broad spectrum of opinions, issues, and concerns about TAPS. Below is a sample of the comments we received.

  • Age and condition of the TAPS. After a quarter century of use, some questioned the condition of the pipeline system and offered recommendations for steps needed to be taken to ensure that it operates safely into the future. Given the age of TAPS, some suggested that it be renewed for a period shorter than the maximum legally allowable renewal period of 30 years.
  • Environmental impact. Some members of the public voiced concerns about TAPS' past and potential future environmental impacts, including those to air, water, wildlife, and habitat. These concerns included the potential for impacts from catastrophic incidents and cumulative impacts associated with TAPS and encompassed measures that might minimize such impacts.
  • Social and economic impacts. Commentors were concerned about TAPS' past impacts and potential future impacts on Alaska's society and on Alaska's and the nation's economies. Concerns were expressed about impacts on subsistence use of resources by residents along the pipeline, worker safety, public health, employment, government revenues, and the economic impacts to adjacent landowners and to the oil and related industries. Some suggested management steps BLM and DNR can take to lessen harmful impacts and enhance beneficial impacts.
  • Accountability. Citizens discussed ideas of how future operations of TAPS can be more accountable to the government and the public. Ideas included additional audits, technical reviews, security measures, changes in the existing grant provisions, and new oversight panels or advisory groups.

To view the Summary of Public Scoping Comments, Trans-Alaska Pipeline System Right-of-Way Renewal Environmental Impact Statement, visit the TAPS Renewal EIS Web Site (http://tapseis.anl.gov) or obtain a copy of the summary by e-mailing a request to tapswebmaster@anl.gov or by contacting Rob McWhorter at 907-271-1355.

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TAPS Renewal EIS Progresses

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