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BLM Gives Go-Ahead for New Mexico Gas Company Taos Mainline Re-route Project

 In January 2017, The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Taos Field Office requested public comments on the draft environmental assessment (EA) for the proposed relocation of approximately 7 miles of a natural gas utility pipeline that serves as the the only purveyor of natural gas to the communities of Taos, Questa, and Red River in Taos County, NM. The EA described their viable options and the environmental consequences associated with each option. 

The pipeline currently runs along the west side of the Río Grande between Rinconada and Pilar, where shifting soils and active geology have put the pipeline at risk of rupture and damage for at least the past three decades.

The project will eliminate two crossings under the Río Grande and remove pipeline infrastructure from a Native American site. After construction, the pipeline will run along the east side of State Road 68.

This final approval came after the public had a chance to comment on the draft environmental assessment, which yielded 33 "unique comments," of which 13 were deemed substantive by the federal agency. The comments urged reclamation of the old pipeline route, limited interruption to traffic and planning for stormwater runoff. 

Substantive comments address one or more of the following:

  1. The accuracy of information in the draft EA
  2. The adequacy of, methodology for, or assumptions used for the environmental analysis
  3. New information relevant tot he analysis
  4. Reasonable alternatives additional to those analyzed in the draft EA
  5. Changes or revision in one or more of the alternatives

The $14 million project is expected to begin in August, according to both the gas company and the BLM.

For more information, see the recent article in the Taos News by Cody Hooks here: http://taosnews.com/stories/blm-greenlights-pipeline-reroute-through-r237o-grande-gorge,40201