Scoping meetings, which are sponsored by FERC, are utilized by staff to identify relevant issues of major Certificate projects, pursuant to NEPA. Scoping is the process of defining and refining the scope of a environmental impact statement (EIS) or environmental assessment (EA) and the alternatives to be investigated. The scoping process is one of the opportunities for public involvement. Affected property owners and other stakeholders can provide detailed comments about issues pertaining to their properties. For example, stakeholders can provide information on sensitive environmental features in the project area; suggest alternatives to be evaluated; or help identify construction constraints.
FERC staff may hold public scoping meetings in the project area for major projects that typically require an EIS or EA. The scoping meetings are typically held during the Commission’s pre-filing process, but may be held after the application is officially filed with the Commission.
FERC scoping meetings are open to the general public and are structured for people to make statements to the FERC staff about the project. FERC staff describes the environmental review process with members of the public, provides relevant information, and answers procedural questions. The Company is present and typically gives a summary of its project and is available before and after the formal part of the meeting for questions and answers. One of the main purposes of a formal scoping meeting is so the members of the public get an opportunity to speak their concerns. Comments on the proposed project may be submitted in written form or made verbally during the course of the scoping meeting. The scoping meetings are recorded by a stenographer and will become part of the formal record of the Commission proceeding on the project. Scoping meeting transcripts are accessible and placed in the record through the Commission’s eLibrary system, in the docket number assigned to the proceeding.
Information gathered at scoping meetings during pre-filing help the Company prepare environmental mitigation measures to present in its environmental resource reports filed with the Commission in its Certificate Application. In return, this information provides FERC staff with the resources needed to publish a more complete environmental document for public review. Companies not involved in the pre-filing process are not afforded the benefit of resolving stakeholder concerns prior to filing their Certificate Applications.