oil gas drilling scoping template by p155sed0ff


									                                              The Ecology Center
                                              801 Sherwood, Suite B
                                               Missoula, MT 59802
                                                 (406) 728-5733
                                                                                                   November 7, 2002
Magalie Salas, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First St., N.E., Room 1A
Washington, DC 20426

Ms. Salas:
The following are comments on behalf of the Ecology Center on the Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co.'s pipeline and
other associated activities proposed in the states of North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming ( letter, dated October 8, 2002).
Please note that we are especially concerned about projects located within National Forests, National Grasslands, other public
lands, important wildlife habitat, important biological communities, watersheds, and roadless areas in this area. We wish to
be mailed further NEPA documents for the project as they are released to the public.

Roadless Areas:
There are a number of inventoried roadless areas, uninventoried roadless areas, unroaded areas (as
defined by the FS in the Roadless Area Conservation Rule and similar guidance). See the accompanying
maps from the Roadless Area Conservation Rule FEIS (USDA FS) for Wyoming and North Dakota. See
also the FS's Southern Little Missouri Oil and Gas FEIS (SLMOG FEIS, Custer NF/Dakota Prairie Grasslands),
maps of inventoried roadless areas considered in the Plan Revision for the Dakota Prairie Grasslands (USDA FS),
Upton Mineral Development NEPA document (cover letter dated 5/9/02, Medora RD, Dakota Prairie Grasslands,
USDA FS ), Upton Mineral Development NEPA document (cover letter dated 7/10/02), Medora RD, Dakota Prairie
Grasslands, USDA FS), Whiting Petroleum Development NEPA document (cover letter dated 7/19/02 Medora RD,
Dakota Prairie Grasslands, USDA FS), and Camwest Exploration NEPA document (cover letter dated 8/20/02,
McKenzie RD, Dakota Prairie Grasslands, USDA FS).

The FS (See Federal Register; January 5, 2001) has previously discussed the ecological importance of
roadless areas:
         Inventoried roadless areas provide clean drinking water and function as biological strongholds
         for populations of threatened and endangered species. They provide large, relatively undisturbed
         landscapes that are important to biological diversity and the long-term survival of many at risk
         species. Inventoried roadless areas provide opportunities for dispersed outdoor recreation,
         opportunities that diminish as open space and natural settings are developed elsewhere. They
         also serve as bulwarks against the spread of non-native invasive plant species and provide
         reference areas for study and research species (Final Roadless Rule, January 2001, p3).
Roadless areas should be preserved to protect these values, especially along portions of the project area
that cross national forests and national grasslands such as the Dakota Prairie Grasslands and Custer
National Forest.

Planners should specifically avoid these areas and avoid negatively impacting connectivity and biological
corridors among these areas.

Pipeline development and associated infrastructure could negatively affect the wildlife, native plant, soils,
watershed, recreational and other resources and values dependent upon roadless areas. How would the
project impact biological corridors in the area, including (roaded or unroaded) biological corridors
between roadless areas?

Because of the increasing scarcity of roadless land in the Great Plains, and the ever-increasing awareness of the
importance that these areas have for the conservation of biological diversity, any impacts that would degrade the
wilderness characteristics of a roadless area are unwise. Constructing pipeline infrastructure and related
infrastructure in a roadless area is an irreversible and irretrievable decision which could have serious environmental
consequences. The EIS for this project must take these issues into full consideration.

A bioregional and ecosystem approach to wilderness protection reflecting the best science available—conservation
biology—shows that further degradation of roadless areas is scientifically, ethically, biologically, and socially

If this project passes through USDA FS lands, then the following should be considered: Under Forest
Service criteria, roadless areas must generally include 5,000 acres or more. The definition of roadless
areas also includes, however, all roadless areas “adjacent to National Park lands endorsed for
Wilderness” and other roadless areas “adjacent to existing wilderness areas regardless of size.” And
other areas may qualify under FS definitions. Further, roadless areas can include areas “where logging is
not evident” [National Audubon Society v. U.S. Forest Service, 21 E.L.R. 20828, 20829, n.1 (D. Ore.

In his response to an appeal of the roadless evaluation of the Idaho Panhandle Forest Plan the Chief noted
that Forest Plans do not mandate development of roadless areas, they merely permit it. The decision
stated that the tradeoffs between preservation of roadless values and development would be thoroughly
evaluated at the project level and the benefits of non-development vs. development weighed. In
addition, the Chief stated that “. . . decisions of the Forest Plan represent a dynamic management system .
. . that can be modified. . . The Forest Plan will be monitored continually and adjusted as needed” (Idaho
Panhandle Decision at 8 and 9). In the recent court decision on the Panhandle case the judge, supporting
this contention stated, “. . .any future development which might take place (in roadless areas) will again
be determined by the Forest Service and will be subject to the requirements of NEPA” [Idaho
Conservation League v. Mumma, 21 E.L.R. 20666, 20668 (D. Mont. 1990)].

On the issue of whether the roadless area and undeveloped quality of the analysis area requires the
preparation of an EIS, NEPA mandates the preparation of an EIS for any “major federal action
significantly affecting the quality of the human environment” [42 U.S.C. 4332(2)(C)]. Projects that
irreversibly damage the recreational value and resources associated with roadless areas and undeveloped
lands constitute a “major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.”

“Roadless areas provide a sanctuary to animal and plant species most sensitive to human disturbances.
These animal and plant species may not be able to adapt to new habitat created by fragmentation.
Further timber sale activities may significantly impact recreational opportunities in these unroaded areas.
. . It is undisputed that once a roadless area is developed through logging and road construction, it is
irrevocably and irreversibly changed” [National Audubon Society v. U.S. Forest Service, 21 E.L.R. 20828,
20830 (D. Ore. 1990)].

“The decision to develop a previously undeveloped area is an irreversible and irretrievable decision, the
impacts of which must be analyzed in an EIS” [National Audubon Society v. U.S. Forest Service, 21
E.L.R. 20828, 20830 (D. Ore. 1990)].

The Forest Service and FERC should recognize and consider the unique ecological values associated with
designated and de facto roadless areas within what is otherwise a heavily roaded and fragmented
national forest system. Agency (FS) and non-agency scientists have both come to recognize that such
undisturbed areas provide critical habitat for the maintenance of biological diversity and population
viability in the Inland Northwest. See, e.g., Eastside Forests Scientific Society Panel. 1993. Interim
Protection for Late-Successional Forest, Fisheries, and Watershed; National Forests East of the Cascade
Crest, Oregon and Washington; A report to the United States Congress and the President (“existing
roadless regions have enormous ecological value” and further logging in them should be halted);
Wilcove, D.S., C.H. McLellan and A.P. Dobson. 1985. Habitat Fragmentation in the Temperate Zone.
In: M.E. Soule, ed. Conservation Biology: The Science of Scarcity and Diversity. Sinauer Associates,
Sundland, Mass.; Noss, R.F. 1987. Protecting Natural Areas in Fragmented Landscapes. Natural
Areas Journal 7(1): 2-13; Saunders, D.A., R.J. Hobbs and C.R. Margules. 1991. Biological
Consequences of Ecosystem Fragmentation: A Review. Conservation Biology 5(1): 18-32; Harris, L.D.
and G. Silva-Lopez. 1992. Forest Fragmentation and the Conservation of Biological Diversity. In: P.L.
Fiedler and S.K. Jain, eds. Conservation Biology: The Theory and Practice of Nature Conservation,
Preservation, and Management. Chapman and Hall Publishers, New York, NY. pp. 197-238.

The courts also have recognized the unique ecological values associated with roadless areas and the need
for the agencies to consider the undisputed “environmental significance” of these areas in a project EIS.
See Smith v. U.S. Forest Service, No. 93-36187 (9th Cir. Aug. 22, 1994) (decision to log a roadless area is
“environmentally significant,” regardless of current wilderness designation status); National Audubon
Society v. U.S. Forest Service, 4 F. 3d 832 (9th Cir. 1993) (“the decision to log in a previously
undeveloped tract of land is „an irreversible and irretrievable decision‟ which could have „serious
environmental consequences‟”). For instance, the establishment of a regional network of interconnected
reserves and appropriate linkages is considered, by many scientists, to be critical to managing for genetic,
species, and landscape diversity on our public lands. See, e.g., Noss, R.F. 1983. A Regional Landscape
Approach to Maintain Diversity. Bioscience 33(11): 700-706; Hudson, E.E. 1991. Landscape
Linkages and Biodiversity. Island Press, Covelo, Cal., 195pp. You should consider the unique functions
of roadless areas as refugia for solitude-dependent wildlife and at-risk fisheries, reservoirs of undisturbed
genetic material, connecting corridors within an increasingly fragmented landscape and natural “control”
areas for experimental “management” and scientific research.

You must address the project‟s full potential impact on these critical ecosystem features by closely
examining land beyond the immediate analysis area and considering the cumulative landscape-scale
effects of continued habitat destruction within and adjacent to unroaded forest land. NEPA demands
such. See e.g., City of Tenakee Springs v. Clough, 915 F. 2d 1308, 1312-1313 (9th Cir. 1990) (finding
Forest Service‟s cumulative impact analysis inadequate under NEPA and citing LaFlamme v. Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission, 852 F.2d 389 (9th Cir. 1988) for the proposition that remand to the
agency for further consideration of cumulative impacts is appropriate where the agency examined single
projects in isolation without considering net impacts of all past, present and future projects in the area);
Save the Yaak Committee v. Block, 840 F. 2d 714, 721 (9th Cir. 1988); 40 CFR fl 1508.27(a) (“the
significance of an action must be analyzed in several contexts”). These cumulative impacts include not
only present and foreseeable future effects, but also the accumulated, incremental effects of past human
activity, including prior degradation or destruction of undisturbed habitat. See 40 CFR fl 1508.7.

NEPA requires that agencies consider the best available scientific and technical information in making its
decisions. See, e.g., Warm Springs Dam Task Force v. Gribble, 621 F. 2d 1017, 1023 (9th Cir. 1980). The
scientific literature on biological diversity makes it clear that logging project assessments should consider,
among other things, size distribution and connectivity for various types of habitat patches, amount and
distribution of important types of such patches (such as roadless areas) which have been reduced by prior
human activity, disturbed and historic vegetative mosaic patterns across the forest, cumulative effects of
past activity from a watershed or regional ecosystem level, and edge effects of further forest
fragmentation. See, e.g., Noss, R.F. 1990. Indicators for Monitoring Biodiversity: A Hierarchical
Approach. Conservation Biology 4(4): 355-364.

The best science states that a major focus of analyses such as this should be to find ways to connect and
buffer roadless areas with other undeveloped land to assure species viability and ecosystem functioning
is perpetuated. In short, take a “hard look” at the cumulative impacts of allowing logging and road
building in unroaded areas and in roaded areas providing corridors or linkages between core roadless
areas. See Kleppe v. Sierra Club, 427 U.S. 390, 410 n.21 (1976); Save the Yaak, supra, 840 F. 2d at
718-719. State-of-the-art conservation biology and the principles that underlie the agency‟s own new
policy of “ecosystem management” dictate an increasing focus on the landscape-scale concept and design
of large biological reserves accompanied by buffer zones and habitat connectors as the most effective (and
perhaps only) way to preserve wildlife diversity and viability. See, e.g., Noss, R.F. 1993. The
Wildlands Project Land Conservation Strategy. Wild Earth Journal, Special Issue: 10-26; Noss, R.F.
1992. Conserving Oregon‟s Coast Range Biodiversity; A Conservation and Restoration Plan. Coast
Range Association, Newport, OR. pp. 40; Baker, W.L. 1992. The Landscape Ecology of Large
Disturbances in the Design and Management of Nature Reserves. Landscape Ecology 7(3): 181-194;
Graham, R.W. 1988. The Role of Climatic Change in Design of Biological Reserves: The
Paleoecological Perspective from Conservation Biology. Conservation Biology 2(4): 391-394.

The analysis should examine impacts to potential wilderness designation of roadless areas in the project

We urge the agencies to fully protect the roadless resources and other associated resources and values of inventoried roadless
areas and surrounding lands. Agencies should appropriately protect the above-ground resources, hydrological resources
(including waterways, seeps, springs, watertables, and aquifers), and any cave or sensitive geological resources that may exist
in the area. MIS, TES, big game, and other state, federal-, and agency-recognized species dependent on the resources of the
area should be adequately protected from adverse effects. Cultural resources, viewsheds, and non-motorized recreational
values of the areas should be adequately protected from adverse effects as well. In fact, we request that the agencies identify
any roadless areas as specific areas that are particularly sensitive to extractive mineral development on NFs and National
Grasslands and other lands.

Road construction in roadless areas is controversial. In accordance with 36 CFR 294.12(b)(7), the agency should conduct
appropriate analysis and established proper mitigation measures/BMPs to ensure that
     Such road construction or reconstruction must be conducted in a manner that
    minimizes effects on surface resources, prevents unnecessary or
    unreasonable surface disturbance, and complies with all applicable
    lease requirements, land and resource management plan direction,
    regulations, and laws. Roads constructed or reconstructed pursuant to
    this paragraph must be obliterated when no longer needed for the
    purposes of the lease or upon termination or expiration of the lease,
    whichever is sooner.

Roads and Infrastructure:
Roads and other infrastructure may be proposed to access or service the pipeline. Areas along the
pipeline may have ground disturbance and may be similar, in many respects, to roads. The pipeline and
associated infrastructure may provide access for illegal or environmentally destructive motorized vehicle
access. Roads, other access routes and infrastructure associated with mineral development can have a
negative affect on many resources, including wildlife, native plants, watersheds, aquatic species, soils,
roadless characteristics, non-motorized recreation and other recreation, and cultural and historic

What is and what would be the Open Road Density in the project and cumulative effects analysis areas?
In the roadless area(s)? Could the road(s) and other potential access routes proposed here be used for
any illegal or environmentally destructive motorized use and off-road riding? What will stop motorized
users from merely bypassing the gates and signs you plan to erect? How will impacts be controlled or
mitigated? A summary of all roads—temporary, system, nonsystem, other public and private, etc.—and
their locations is also requested for inclusion in the environmental analysis. As per Forest Service
Manual 7703.1 and 7711.2 (for portions of the project area in National Grasslands and NFs), has the Forest
documented each road in the project area? When will unnecessary roads be obliterated and revegetated,
as required by NFMA? Locations of road closures should be revealed, the method of closure, and what
if any traffic would be allowed on the “closed” roads. In addition, the Forest Service must examine the
effectiveness of its road closures, thereby fully considering the negative affects on wildlife habitat and
biodiversity of both closed and open roads. What degree of monitoring of roads, non-system routes,
motorized routes, other access routes, and off-road riding areas and motorized use has occurred?
Closed or not, these roads are of concern to the overall quality of associated watersheds. I refer you to a
Forest Service letter from Steven R. Johnson, Forest Hydrologist to the Kootenai National Forest,
referenced as Reply to: 2500 dated February 6, 1995, Subject: Factors Supporting Road Removal and/or
Obliteration. Within this letter he indicates: Watershed impacts from roads basically fall into three areas:
introduced sediment into streams; snowmelt re-direction and concentration; and surface flow production.

Road surface drainage, and the sagging of road ditches into channels and creeks are a potential problem
that should be addressed. Roads designed in the past, the very ones we are trying to obliterate now,
were designed without current BMP philosophy in mind so it is not surprising. For the roads we no
longer actively use, our dwindling road maintenance budget will make it difficult to maintain the culvert
crossings. When these fail during storm and runoff events, tremendous amounts of sediment can be
delivered directly to the channel and from there down into lower streams with significant beneficial uses
such as sensitive fish habitat. It is important to note that culverts can fail if not maintained even on roads
that have become so brushed in that travel is difficult.

It is imperative that both open road densities and total road densities be examined as to the potential
effects they will have upon water quality as well as wildlife habitat.

Please look for opportunities to perform road rehabilitation work and to repair other sediment sources
caused by past management activities in the cumulative effects analysis area.

Please disclose why new roadwork is necessary for this project.

Economics and Net Public Benefit:
          Net public benefit is determined by numerous inputs and outputs, some of which are quantifiable and others which
are more qualitative. Economic analysis can provide a useful basis for evaluation only if the economic evaluation is
comprehensive and documents all costs and benefits related to the proposed action. We would like the analysis to:
(1) Insure that the economic analyses are meaningful, by including in the analyses both direct and induced costs;
(2) Adequately assess all current, in-place benefits;
(3) Include impacts to hunter opportunity and other forms of recreation (how will the proposed project impact the quality of
backcountry hiking, for example?);
(4) Quantify all induced losses to outfitters and guides who may currently derive economic benefits from the areas;
(5) Consider all costs related to the projects, including the costs of preparing the analyses, all specialist support and
consultation, costs associated with travel management and administration, road construction and engineering expenses, weed
control, reforestation and planting, and all other costs.
          Finally, the EIS should document how your decisions and the selected alternatives maximize net public benefit. In
other words, you should give consideration to, and adequately document, who benefits by these projects and who "pays" for

Wildlife and Plant Life:
          The NEPA document should contain a comprehensive effects analyses for each of the proposed activities on all
forest management indicator species (in affected National Grasslands and NFs). For all lands, the analysis should address the
following questions:
(1) What are the results of surveys for TES species, the forest's/grassland's MISs and other FS-recognized, state-listed, and
federally listed species in the analysis areas? (including habitat indicator species, major interest species, fisheries, and other
unique plants and animals).
(2) What are the species-specific habitat losses expected to occur as a result of implementing each alternative?
(3) What effects will project activities have on the distribution and movement patterns of MIS species and other
forest-/grassland-recognized species?
          What are the effects on these species both site-specifically and in regards to habitat forest-wide as a result of the
proposal? The analysis should show that the indicator species identified in the forest plan are in fact appropriate indicators
of environmental changes in these areas for this type of project. If the biologists feel it is appropriate to document impacts
using substitute species, they should accompany such a substitution with reasonable justification
          What are the impacts of the proposed project on ungulate habitat, hunter opportunity, wildlife habitat fragmentation,
riparian vegetation, key habitats, fragile habitats, grouse habitat, and biological diversity, and ESA listed species?
          We are concerned that important vegetative and biological communities in the PA and vicinity could be impacted.
The FS's Southern Little Missouri Oil and Gas FEIS (SLMOG FEIS, Custer NF/Dakota Prairie Grasslands) identified
ponderosa pine, limber pine, native grasslands, woody draws, sagebrush, and other important or unique vegetative or
biological communities in the SLMOG FEIS analysis areas (Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences
Sections). The SLMOG FEIS may have missed other such important areas. How will these areas be identified and
protected? We are particularly concerned about the direct, indirect and connected impacts of the project on such areas,
including the potential for displacement, disturbance, and invasive plant infestation and encroachment resulting from this
project. How does the project affect all of these?
          We are concerned that possible sharp-tailed grouse, bighorn sheep, antelope, mule deer, ferruginous hawks, sage
grouse, sturgeon chub, loggerhead shrikes, prairie falcons, merlins, golden eagles, sensitive plant species, TES/MIS
butterflies, TES/MIS amphibians, candidate ESA species (SWMOG FEIS Affected Environment and Environmental
Consequences Sections), other TES/MIS species, FS-, federally- and state- listed species or their habitat in the analysis area.
The SLMOG FEIS may have missed such species and habitat. How will such species and habitat be identified and
protected? We are particularly concerned about the direct, indirect and connected impacts of the project on such species and
habitat, including the potential for displacement, disturbance, and invasive plant infestation and encroachment resulting from
this project. Are any individuals or populations likely to move into the area? How does the project affect all of these?
          To what degree are the above analyses incomplete or inadequate?
          The Moody Plateau Bighorn Sheep Study was supposed to examine the impacts of oil and gas development on
bighorn sheep (SLMOG FEIS III-113). Has the study been completed? According to the study, how could bighorn sheep
(throughout the entire project area and vicinity) be affected by pipeline development?

Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive Species:
          On all lands, we are gravely concerned about possible impacts on threatened, endangered, and (FS- and other
agency-listed) sensitive species, and other state and federal and agency listed species. The environmental analyses must
assess how the pipeline proposal and associated activities modify these habitats, specifically addressing the following
(1) Would the projects contribute to the extinction of threatened or endangered species?
(2) What specific effects will the alternatives have on habitat for threatened, endangered, (FS- and other agency-listed)
sensitive species, and other state and federal and agency listed species.?
(3) What are the results of surveys in the area for aquatic species, bald eagles, peregrine falcons and any other threatened,
endangered, or sensitive species which may use the habitat in the analysis area or downstream from the analysis area?
(4) What are the habitat losses expected to occur.
(5) Does any part of the project area fall within designated recovery areas of any ESA listed species? Particularly for listed
species, we expect to see formal consultation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service initiated.
          Thorough surveys for threatened, endangered, and sensitive species and management indicator species must be
conducted before NEPA documents are finalized so that effects can be expressed in terms of populations and habitat acres,
and the public has an opportunity to comment on the adequacy of proposed mitigation. Ample surveys should have been
conducted at times of the day and times of the year when species are most likely to be detected. Surveys should be
conducted by appropriate personnel. Additionally, potential effects must be expressed both in terms of local populations and
overall populations and distribution of the species in question.

Invasive Species:
According to the SLMOG FEIS, "noxious weeds are spreading rapidly through the state of North Dakota"(P. III-94).
Other agency documents indicate that invasive species are a problem in Montana, Wyoming, and other states.
Activities such as pipeline development contribute towards the spread of invasive plants. The agency should
analyze the full impacts of invasive plants in this area, the degree to which projects such as this one (by itself and
cumulatively) will contribute to the spread of invasive plants. The agency should demonstrate that the mitigation
measures proposed will effectively eliminate the causes of noxious weed spread. There is a potential for pipeline
construction and use, road and other facility construction and heavy vehicle to traffic spread existing weeds in the
area around developments, and probably introduce new species of weeds

The agency should consider all reasonable measures that could reduce the potential spread of noxious weeds.
Failure to consider strong mitigation measures violates NEPA requirements to minimize adverse effects:
       Use all practicable means, consistent with the requirements of the Act and other essential
       considerations of national policy, to restore and enhance the quality of the human environment
         and avoid or minimize any possible adverse effects of their actions upon the quality of the
         human environment. (40 CFR 1500.2(f))

A mere listing of mitigation measures is insufficient to qualify as a reasoned discussion by NEPA. EISs must
analyze mitigation measures in detail and explain the effectiveness of such measures [Northwest Indian Cemetery
Protective Ass'n v/. Peterson 795 F.2d 688 (9th Cir. 1986)]. Many agency documents from this area (especially
those for projects and studies on National Grasslands and NFs) describe possible mitigation measures but do not
discuss them in adequate detail nor do they discuss or disclose the costs, effectiveness or efficacy of the mitigation
measures. The long-term effectiveness of herbicides and other noxious weed treatments are still seriously
questionable. The agency should demonstrate that treatment and prevention measures will be adequate. The
agency should demonstrate that this project will comply with all federal and state laws, regulations, and executive
orders regarding invasive species and noxious weeds.

Whenever invasive species outbreaks occur, the public is expected to continuously foot the bill for noxious weed
treatments—the need for which increases as agencies continue the large-scale propagation of weeds through their
actions, and fail to monitor the effectiveness of noxious weed plans. There is no guarantee that the money needed
for needed work to prevent the spread of invasive species will be supplied by Congress, no guarantee that this
amount of money will effectively stem the growing tide of noxious weed invasions, no accurate analysis of the costs
of the necessary post-treatment monitoring, and certainly no genuine analysis of the long-term costs beyond those
incurred by site specific weed control actions.

On National Grasslands and NFs, NFMA regulations relevant to noxious weeds include:

"Management prescriptions, where appropriate and to the extent practicable, shall preserve and enhance the diversity
of plant and animal communities, including endemic and desirable naturalized plant and animal species, so that it is
at least as great as that which would be expected in a natural forest . . ." (36 CFR 219.27(g))

"Provide for and maintain diversity of plant and animal communities to meet overall multiple-use objectives, as
provided in paragraph (g)" (36 CFR 219.27 (a)(5)) "[D]iversity shall be considered throughout the planning process.
Inventories shall include quantitative data making possible the evaluation of diversity in terms of its prior and present
condition." (36 CFR 219.26)

"[V]egetative manipulation of tree cover shall" "[p]rovide the desired effects on water quantity and quality, wildlife
and fish habitat, regeneration of desired tree species, forage production, recreation uses, aesthetic values, and other
resource yields." [36 CFR 219.27 (b)(6)]

The FS should have considered preventive measures, including foregoing or greatly reducing the footprint of this
project, in order to better address the problem of invasive plants.

Water Quality and Fisheries:
          The NEPA document should contain a careful analysis of all reasonably past, present and foreseeable impacts to
fisheries and water quality. The cumulative effects analysis should address the condition of the streams, aquifers and ground
water in relation to all past management activities, as well as considering the present proposal. We request that the
environmental analysis disclose the locations of seeps, springs, bogs, ponds and other sensitive wet areas, and the effects on
these areas of the project activities. Where livestock are permitted to graze or oil and gas and other mineral projects occur,
we ask that you assess the present condition and continue to monitor the impacts of grazing activities and mineral activities
upon vegetation diversity, soil compaction, streambank stability, and subsequent sedimentation. We further request that you
protect riparian areas, especially around stream crossings.
          The agency should use a worst case scenario in analyzing the potential effects of the proposed project. The NEPA
document should analyze the effects of a major spill on fisheries, water quality, and riparian areas. The NEPA document
should provide proper requirements for dealing with any and all spills, and must adequately document how the proposed
mitigations will be effective.

         Soils in the project area could be adversely affected. For example, the SLMOG FEIS states, "soils that are located
on steep topography, are highly susceptible to wind or water erosion, have high potential for mass failure, are shallow to
bedrock, are saline or alkaline, or soils which are virtually impossible or extremely difficult to reclaim are considered fragile
(USFS 1974; and Mertes 1978)"(p. III-10). We request an analysis of potential compaction, erosion, rutting, loss of organic
soil cover and other impacts to soils resulting from this project.

Air Quality:
         We request a full analysis of impacts to air quality including impacts of emissions, flaring, and other factors.
Despite the proposed mitigation measures, activities associated with pipelines, further oil and gas development and continued
operations will exacerbate air quality problems in this area.

Human Health:
          The agency should analyze impacts to human health associated with this project, including potential impacts to
private landowners, workers, recreationists, persons downstream or downwind from the project and others.

Cumulative Effects, Connected Activities, Direct and Indirect Effects:
         We request that the environmental analysis detail all other projects (FERC, USFS, BLM, private, state or others) that
would lead to cumulative effects in or near the project areas. The agency should analyze what other mineral, grazing,
roadbuilding, weed-spraying activities and other land disturbance and habitat manipulation are occurring,. The agency
should analyze the degree to which this project would lead to connected activities, direct effects, and indirect effects. The
agency should analyze the degree to which this project would facilitate increased oil and gas development across parts of the
landscape, and the adverse impacts of such oil and gas development. A piecemeal approach to NEPA should not be used.
Consideration of cumulative effects must include the existing or anticipated effects of past, present, and proposed activities,
including those on nearby National Forest, BLM, state and private lands surrounding the analysis areas. We are concerned
about extensive pipeline development and drilling in this area. Please provide maps documenting past, present, and
approved pipeline and drilling activities, including such information as year, reclamation success level, and cover level for
each activity. How will the proposed drilling tend to fragment project area habitat for plants and other wildlife. The
cumulative effects analysis should, as accurately as possible, describe how the habitat for and distribution of TES and MIS
species has been changed as a result of all management activities in the area, including fire suppression, road building, timber
harvesting, mining, etc..
           The regulations define "cumulative impact" as: “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.” 40 C.F.R. § 1508.7.
         Courts have repeatedly emphasized that merely identifying "risks" of adverse impacts, without including an
analysis of the nature and extent of the resulting impacts is insufficient for purposes of NEPA. See Defenders of
Wildlife, 130 F. Supp. 2d 121, 128 (D.D.C. 2001) (setting aside agency's EIS where it "states that noise would be
increased and both the pronghorn and their habitat would be disturbed" but contains "no analysis of what the nature
and extent of the[se] impacts will be") (emphasis added); National Parks & Conservation Association v. Babbitt, 241
F.3d 722, 743 (9th Cir. 2001) (NEPA document inadequate where it identified "an environmental impact" but "did
not establish the intensity of that impact")

         Consideration of cumulative impacts requires "some quantified or detailed information; ... [g]eneral statements
about 'possible' effects and 'some risk' do not constitute a 'hard look' absent a justification regarding why more definitive
information could not be provided." Neighbors of Cuddy Mountain v. U.S. Forest Service, 137 F.3d 1372, 1379-80 (9th Cir.
1998). Here, the FS has not fully considered the effects of its proposed action.

Reclamation and Bonding:
          The land must be restored to its natural state once the proposed activity is completed, using recontouring of
slopes, revegetation, and removal of any toxic or other waste. The environmental analysis must make assurances of
reclamation prospects, based on empirical evidence with similar land types including soils, slope, aspect, and
moisture regimes. If you propose natural vegetation regeneration, then we would like to see resource analyses and
statistical evaluations that support your decisions. If you choose a different form of regeneration such as planting,
we would like to review an analysis of the cost of a similar reclamation program. Furthermore, we are concerned
that the NEPA document should have disclosed the permittees past reclamation performance. Without such
information, the public and decision maker can not determine if the company is not only willing to fully reclaim all
disturbed areas, but it can not determine what level of commitment the company has to reclamation activities.

The issue of reclamation must be included in the economic analyses, and proof of bonding for reclamation should
specify the amount of bond and the justification for that amount. We are very concerned that the required
reclamation will not be done and this project will therefore be not meet federal standards. The Forest should make
sure that the permittee has posted enough money in their bond to totally reclaim the surface of the site. If
reclamation is not guaranteed (e.g. if the money is dependent upon a budget being approved), then please do not
approve the project. Approving the project without being absolutely positive that sufficient money exists to reclaim
the site is irresponsible to the public. FERC and the FS need to insist that the area gets reclaimed to the extent that
everything works--environmentally--just like it did before.

Hazardous Waste:
         The agency must not allow any toxic chemicals to affect the surface. Any chemicals and solvents should
be stored in tanks, and not in earthen pits. No wastewater should enter non-contaminated bodies of water, including
above and sub-surface water sources.

Best Management Practices (BMPs):
          We would like to see a more thorough discussion of the BMPs and mitigation measures you would propose to
ameliorate project impacts. This discussion must go beyond a mere listing, and include the following:
(1) The relative effectiveness of each proposed BMP in achieving their intended goal(s);
(2) How dependent proposed BMPs are on outside sources of funding (e.g. reclamation bonds), and the likely environmental
consequences should those funding sources not be realized. Any mitigation costs should be disclosed in the economic
(3) What BMP failure(s), if any, have led to any needed rehabilitation in the project area from past management activities?

          Consideration of soil stability and regeneration capacity should have been included that discussed:
(1) Are there any areas of unstable soils which could result in mass movement, and will any proposed activities occur in
these areas or soil types?
(2) How much soil compaction and surface erosion has occurred in the proposal area because of past actions, and what will
the likely erosion increases be for the alternatives proposed?
(3) What has been the actual effectiveness of proposed BMPs in preventing sediment from reaching water courses?
(4) What BMP failures have been noted for past projects with similar landtypes?

Visual/Aesthetic Quality:
         Visual quality and aesthetic quality (including noise impacts) should be analyzed and protected in the project area
and vicinity whether on public land or private land. The project analyses should have described the all the applicable Visual
Quality Objectives for the areas (for National Grasslands, NFs and other lands with other visual quality objectives or
standards) and nearby public land or other sites of high visual concern, and properly assessed how the project would meet
those VQOs/standards/objectives. Key viewpoints in the area should be taken into consideration.

Biological Corridors:
         A recent court ruling, Marble Mountain Audubon v.
Rice (No. 90-15389, D.C. No. CV89-170-EJG, Sept. 13, 1990) interprets NEPA to require agencies to consider biological
corridors. The standard for such a review is the same “hard look” NEPA requires of other environmental effects. We are
requesting that the agency analyze the effects of each of the alternatives on possible biological corridors in the project areas,
including species-specific assessments of corridor location and use.

Wild &Scenic Rivers
         What impact will this project have on waterways that are protected or eligible for protection under the Wild and
Scenic Rivers Act? Will the project be visible from any such waterways? State wild and scenic rivers? What impact will
the project have on wild and scenic river corridors?

Cultural Resources:
         Consideration of cultural resources should have been fully addressed in the analysis, and should have included the
information on whether all appropriate surveys for cultural resources in the project area have taken place. The agency should
consult with knowledgeable Native Americans and other experts to ensure that no cultural resources (including historic,
archaeological, spiritual, and traditional use areas) are negatively impacted. The agency should not only consider physical
impacts to cultural resources, but also impacts that can have direct or indirect impacts to important cultural practices.
Activities that can have impacts to cultural attachment to the landscape should be considered. (For analysis of this issue, see,
for example, the analysis of cultural attachment in the Apco (AEP) 765 kV Transmission Line DEIS, Jefferson NF, USDA
FS, Region 8). Are there any cultural resources, identified in SLMOG FEIS or elsewhere, in the vicinity of the project area?

Consideration of Additional Protective Measures:
          The agency must determine whether this project is consistent with the Forest Plan, and all relevant laws,
regulations and agency requirements (including those on FS lands). The agency has an obligation to the public to
develop and analyze an alternative which considers disallowing further development on public lands. At the very
least, the agency must consider imposing further restrictions and condition on the pipeline or its route. There is
extensive new information regarding the impacts of oil and gas development on protected species, vegetative
communities, and other environmental and wilderness that may not have been considered in the 1980s Forest Plans
for NFs and National Grasslands in the vicinity of the project. Analysis of this new information may very well lead
to a conclusion that further development of some public lands would be inconsistent with those values.

The agency should adequately consider the full scope of impacts associated with the development of this pipeline
corridor. Potential impacts that must be fully considered include the encroachment and spreading of exotic and
invasive plant species, loss of and fragmentation of wildlife habitat, erosion, hazards associated with potential fire
and explosion, and impacts associated with the abandonment of pipelines. The EIS should explain whether or not
abandoned pipelines will be removed, or what impacts would be associated with removal or abandonment of unused

Roads and Vehicular Traffic:
The EIS should fully consider the impacts of roads construction and use including among other things, increased
erosion of extremely sensitive soils, increased vehicular emissions, wildlife habitat fragmentation, introduction of
exotic and invasive plant species, noise pollution that will disturb both wildlife and the recreating public, slope
stability, alteration of natural runoff, and soil compaction hindering reclamation.

Hazardous Spills:
 Transportation and use of chemicals and other materials in the various phases of mineral extraction and
transmission are major potential vectors for hazardous spills. Contingency plans for such spills should be provided
in order to reduce impacts to the wildlife, cultural, aquatic, roadless and other values of the area. The agency must
disclose and discuss the impacts hazardous spills would have including, but not limited to impacts on vegetative
communities, impacts on wildlife (specifically sensitive, threatened and endangered species), related fire and air
pollution impacts.
The agency should consider the impact of all phases of oil and gas exploration, development and operation on the
public’s use and enjoyment of the public lands in the area for recreation purposes. Due to the project's proximity to
Theodore Roosevelt NP (and other important sites) and due to the diversity of wildlife and scenic badlands
topography found here, the area may be a nationally significant recreation attraction. The impacts of pipeline
development will be felt throughout the area, not just surrounding the immediate areas surrounding the pipeline, but
also in the most sensitive and remote roadless areas of the public lands through which it passes.

Disturbed Surface Area:
Please account for the disturbed surface area for this project, including the acreage that will be impacted by roads,
other infrastructure, and other connected activities and reasonably foreseeable activities if this pipeline were

Groundwater Impacts:
The EIS should adequately address the impacts to groundwater. Water pollution, aquifer contamination, aquifer
depletion, among other issues, are all serious issues that must be fully considered in this EIS.

Are timing limitations, location of the pipeline (or a portion of the pipeline) underground, alternative locations, controlled
surface use restrictions and other protective measures needed to fully protect wildlife, roadless areas, other resources, and
public lands of this area?

Thank you for considering our comments.


Sherman Bamford
The Ecology Center


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