Following the completion of an environmental assessment (EA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Taos Field Office has made a decision to grant a right-of-way (ROW) to New Mexico Gas Company to relocate approximately 7 miles of the Taos Mainline within the Rio Grande gorge, primarily between the communities of Rinconada and Pilar along State Highway 68. The project is anticipated to begin in August 2017.
The EA evaluated the potential impacts of the project and considered alternatives to the re-route location. “Input from the public contributed substantially to the final decision on this project,” stated Sarah Schlanger, Taos Field Manager. “The public helped to identify what became the approved route, and public input also led to ruling out some of the early options that would have resulted in unacceptable consequences.”
The existing Taos Mainline is the only natural gas pipeline servicing the communities of Taos, Questa, and Red River, New Mexico, and is at risk from geologic activity in the lower Rio Grande Gorge. The re-routing of the pipeline will reduce the likelihood of damage or rupture from faults, landslides, and other geologic activity.
The authorization includes a 47-acre permanent ROW, along with 30 acres for temporary use, and provides for a 12-inch diameter pipe. Approximately 6.5 miles of the new pipeline will be re-located within the State Highway 68 ROW, before climbing a slope to the Taos Plateau, where it will intercept the existing pipeline. This routing avoids two river crossings and the village of Pilar, while moving the pipeline away from geologically risk-prone areas.
The Decision Record, Finding of No Significant Impact and completed EA are available here.
For more information, please contact BLM Planning and Environmental Specialist Brad Higdon at 575-751-4725.