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Longhorn Pipeline Decision - Note to Correspondents

Release Date: 11/6/2000
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

     Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the completion of the environmental assessment on the Longhorn Partners Pipeline, L.P. project, and their joint finding of no significant impact.

     The project included a plan of 40 mitigation measures to address pipeline integrity and protect the public health and environment.  The announcement of the joint EPA/DOT finding clears the way for the pipeline project to serve as an additional source of gasoline and other refined petroleum products for El Paso, Odessa and other area consumers.    

     In response to the EPA/DOT environmental assessment and extensive public comments, Longhorn Partners Pipeline, L.P. agreed to implement a series of extraordinary safety and mitigation measures that have not been required on any pipeline in the country.

These measures include:

To protect drinking water supplies and important habitats - Longhorn Partners Pipeline, L.P. has agreed not to transport gasoline containing the controversial additive MTBE, to install a sophisticated secondary containment system, and to reduce gasoline flow within the pipeline during flood events in central Texas.  This is the first pipeline in the country to remove MTBE from its shipments in an effort to protect water quality.

To improve safety and protect communities -  Longhorn Partners Pipeline, L.P. has agreed to create an extensive spill prevention program, a highly sensitive system to enhance leak detection, more frequent and detailed pipe inspections, new pipe over the Edwards Aquifer and Barton Springs recharge zone, and create six emergency response centers along the pipeline to minimize spill response time.

     In settlement of 1998 litigation, EPA agreed to work closely with DOT Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) in preparing an "environmental assessment" (EA) on the project. Over the past 18 months, engineers, scientists and pipeline experts have conducted a mile-by-mile review of the proposed pipeline project to evaluate its safety and potential impacts on the environment.

     EPA/DOT held six public meetings (November 1999 - January 2000) to gather public comment on the proposed project and help ensure their environmental assessment addressed public concerns.  Over 6,000 public comments were reviewed by EPA/DOT during its assessment and resulted in many important changes to the draft environmental assessment and improvements to Longhorn's mitigation plan.

     In a letter dated September 7, 2000, the White House Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair George Frampton recommended the agencies conclude their extensive review of the Longhorn pipeline and its extraordinary mitigation plan with a "finding of no significant impact."   The CEQ Chair noted that the environmental assessment process resulted in an unprecedented mitigation plan that will reduce the probability of a spill and render the threat to the environment insignificant.  He concluded by noting that the purposes and policies of the National Environmental Policy Act would be well served by issuance of a "finding of no significant impact" in this matter.

     In 1995, Longhorn Partners Pipeline, L.P. (Longhorn) purchased a 50-year old pipeline Exxon Pipeline Corporation had used to transport crude oil from Crane, Texas to Houston. Once completed, the proposed pipeline will deliver gasoline and other refined petroleum products from Houston to El Paso and Odessa, Texas.  

     Copies of the environmental assessment will be available via our website at www.epa.gov/region6 or by writing the Environmental Protection Agency, Attn: Longhorn Review Team (6EN-XP), 1445 Ross Avenue, Dallas, TX, 75202-2733.  

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