TAPS Renewal EIS Newsletter
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Volume 3 June 2002

Table of Contents
1Renewing a Pipeline Right of Way
2Draft Copies Available July 5
3Joint Federal/State Public Hearing Dates, Locations
4ADNR Explains Public Process
5Preparing Your Comments

Renewing a Pipeline Right of Way

The U. S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR) continue working closely together as each analyzes and reports to the public on the positive and negative aspects of renewing the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) Right of Way (ROW). This joint process began on May 2, 2001 when the TAPS owners formally filed for the renewal. For BLM, the renewal application set in motion the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process of a full environmental impact statement. The state likewise entered into a formal renewal process.

TAPS was constructed from 1974 through 1977 on a ROW granted by federal, state and private landowners. The federal ROW expires in January 2004 and the state's ROW expires in May 2004. TAPS may be renewed up to an additional 30 years - the length of time requested by the TAPS owners.

To fully analyze the renewal request, the Bureau of Land Management is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the Department of Natural Resources is preparing a Commissioner's Statement of Reasons and Proposed Written Determination (Proposed Determination). On July 5, 2002 each agency will release separate draft reports for public review, followed by public hearings and comment opportunities.

The Draft EIS

This past fall, BLM and the TAPS Renewal EIS contractor, Argonne National Laboratory, conducted public scoping meetings in six communities along the TAPS corridor. The comments from the meetings and a review of existing data and issues provided the framework for the Draft EIS (DEIS).

The DEIS describes the applicants' proposal (preferred alternative) plus two alternatives to that proposal; the affected environment; and the environmental consequences of each alternative, including a special examination of impacts on subsistence.

Renewal alternatives

The alternatives considered in the DEIS were:

  • To renew the Federal Agreement and Grant of ROW (Grant) for TAPS for 30 years. Under this alternative, current operations would be authorized to continue for 30 years. However, changes in the system would occur in response to federal and state requirements and to operational needs.
  • To renew the Grant for less than 30 years. Under this alternative, the current operations would be authorized to continue for some period less than 30 years. However, changes in the system would occur in response to federal and state requirements and to operational needs. This alternative allows consideration of environmental impacts that may be time dependent whose effects could be influenced by the period of ROW renewal.
  • To not renew the Grant. Under this alternative, the TAPS operations would cease at or before the end of the current grant. The BLM would require the TAPS owners to remove the TAPS and restore the TAPS ROW to a condition specified by the BLM. If this alternative were selected, the options for removing the TAPS and further Alaska North Slope oil field activities would require additional NEPA review.
  • Each alternative was examined in detail, without regard to preference, according to the NEPA. The potential major significant impacts of the alternatives are discussed in the DEIS. No renewal decisions will be made until after the public review is completed.

Reviewing the Draft EIS

The DEIS for the TAPS ROW Renewal will be available for public review starting July 5, 2002. The public will have 45 days, until 5 p.m. (ADT) August 20, 2002, to review and comment on the DEIS. All mailed comments must be post marked by August 20, 2002. A series of public hearings will be held in late July through mid-August (see adjacent sidebar).

The public has various options to comment on the DEIS. Any person or organization wishing to provide a comment is encouraged to use the Public Comment form on the TAPS Renewal EIS Web Site (http://tapseis.anl.gov/ involve/pubform.cfm). Commenting via the Web is fast, easy, and helps ensure that your comment is processed rapidly and efficiently. File attachments in all major word processing formats and Adobe Acrobat PDF format can be submitted. You'll save time, postage, and printing costs by submitting your comment through the TAPS Renewal EIS Web Site.

BLM seeks comments on subsistence

The DEIS evaluates the impacts on subsistence of renewing the TAPS right of way for 30 years and for less than 30 years, and of not renewing the pipeline right of way. Evaluations and findings of these impacts (required by Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act - ANILCA - Section 810) for each alternative are addressed in the DEIS, Appendix E. Subsistence impacts in general are also discussed in the body of the DEIS.

BLM welcomes your comments on the subsistence analysis and is including the hearings required by ANILCA, Section 810 with the public comment meetings listed in the adjacent sidebar.

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