[Federal Register: August 2, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 149)]
[Page 50453-50454]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Swanson River 
Satellites Natural Gas Exploration and Development Project

AGENCY: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Availability.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the Draft Environmental 
Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Swanson River Satellites Natural Gas 
Exploration and Development Project is available for public review. 
During the 60-day review and comment period, there will be two public 
hearings on the DEIS as described below. The DEIS evaluates the 
potential environmental impacts of constructing natural gas exploration 
and production facilities. The proposed project would be located in the 
northwest portion of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Kenai 
Peninsula, Alaska, in the vicinity of the existing Swanson River oil 
and gas field. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is the lead 
Federal agency in the environmental review process. The Bureau of Land 
Management (BLM) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) are serving 
as cooperating agencies. This notice is being furnished as required by 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Regulations (40 CFR 
1503.1) to invite comments from other agencies and the public on the 
content of the DEIS.

DATES: The public hearing dates are:

1. September 5, 2002, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Soldotna, Alaska.
2. September 17, 2002, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Washington, DC.

    Written comments must be received by October 1, 2002.

ADDRESSES: The public hearing locations are:

1. Soldotna, Alaska--Aspen Hotel, 326 Binkley Circle, Soldotna, AK
2. Washington, DC--U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax 
Drive, Room 200B, Arlington, VA

    Comments should be addressed to: Brian Anderson, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Division of Natural Resources, Stop 221,1011 E. Tudor 
Road., Anchorage, AK 99503.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Anderson (907) 786-3379.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Union Oil Company of California d.b.a. 
Unocal has applied for a right-of-way grant to construct facilities, 
including roads, pipelines, drill pads, and other facilities necessary 
for exploration and production of natural gas resources within the 
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, a Conservation System Unit established 
by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) (Sec. 
303, Pub. L. 96-487, 16 U.S.C.668dd). The right-of-way application is 
being evaluated under regulations at 43 CFR part 36 implementing Title 
XI of ANILCA, ``Transportation and Utility Systems in and Across, and 
Access into, Conservation System Units in Alaska.''
    The East Swanson River Satellite is approximately five miles east 
of the Swanson River Field (T8N, R8W, SM). The North Swanson River 
Satellite encompasses the Birch Hill Unit, and is located approximately 
three miles northeast of the northern Swanson River Field boundary 
(T9N, R9W, SM). Most of the surface estate within the project area is 
owned by the United States and is managed by the USFWS, although a 
portion of the surface estate involved has been conveyed to the Tyonek 
Native Corporation. The subsurface oil, gas, and coal mineral estate is 
owned by Cook Inlet Region Incorporated (CIRI), with the exception of 
the Birch Hill Unit, where these minerals are leased from the United 
States. Under Title XI, CIRI is entitled to adequate and feasible 
access to their valid inholdings for economic and other purposes, 
subject to reasonable regulations necessary to protect the natural and 
other values of the Refuge. Unocal has leased the natural gas 
development rights from CIRI and the United States.
    Unocal proposes to develop natural gas exploration and production 
from up to two locations in the North Swanson River Satellite area, and 
up to two locations in the East Swanson River Satellite area. In 
addition to natural gas wells, a water well and drainage sump will be 
installed at each site. The satellite areas would be connected to the 
existing Swanson River Field infrastructure via a new 100-foot-wide 
road and pipeline corridor extending a total of approximately 12 miles. 
The corridor would accommodate a gravel road, primary and secondary 
products pipelines, a produced water disposal pipeline, and 
communications and electric power lines. Constructing the roads and 
pads would require approximately 278,600 cubic yards of gravel, which 
would be extracted from sources specified by the USFWS. A phased 
construction is proposed, beginning with roads and pads needed for 
natural gas exploration, and followed as necessary by installation of 
pipelines and other production facilities. In the event that 
exploration results do not warrant production, or at the conclusion of 
production activities, roads and pads would be restored according to a 
restoration plan approved by the USFWS.
    Unocal has also applied for a Department of the Army permit under 
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act from the USACE, and notice of 
staking/permit to drill for existing Federal oil and gas leases from 
the BLM. Under Title XI of ANILCA, the USFWS, USACE, and BLM each has 
an independent decision regarding their authority over the proposed 
project, but that these decisions will be issued concurrently.
    The DEIS evaluates the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative 
impacts of constructing the proposed project, and assesses reasonable 
alternatives that would protect the resources of the Refuge. The 
environmental review is being conducted in accordance with the 
requirements of NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4371 et seq.) as implemented by the 
Council on Environmental Quality regulations at 40 CFR 1500-1508, and 
the pertinent regulations of USFWS. Copies of the DEIS are available 
for public review at the following locations: Z.J. Loussac Public 
Library, Anchorage; Soldotna Public Library, Soldotna; and the Kenai 
Community Library, Kenai. The DEIS is also available online at http://

[[Page 50454]]

    Dated: July 2, 2002.
David B. Allen,
Regional Director, Region 7, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 02-19482 Filed 8-1-02; 8:45 am]