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Environmental Groups Jumping on Alaska LNG Docket

The Alaska LNG project -- a pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal that would finally commercialize the state’s North Slope natural gas -- is seeing its FERC docket expand with mounting environmentalist objections to the project.

Recently filing motions to intervene at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [CP17-178] are the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), and the Northern Alaska Environmental Center.

“...Sierra Club members everywhere will be affected by the greenhouse gases emitted by the increased natural gas production induced by the project, by emissions directly from the project itself, and by emissions from ‘downstream’ of the project, associated with transporting, regasifying, and burning exported LNG,” Sierra Club said in its motion.

The CBD cited the concerns of Alaskans living near the project as well as potential effects on the environment.

“The proposed pipelines and terminal will adversely affect an array of ecosystems, including the Arctic, Cook Inlet, and other coastal and terrestrial habitats, and the health of aquatic, marine and terrestrial species in those areas,” the group said. “The project will emit or result in the emission of substantial amounts of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants.”

Fairbanks, AK-based Northern Alaska Environmental Center told FERC in its motion to intervene that its members would be affected by the project and said Alaska LNG is not in line with the group’s priority for a transition away from fossil fuels. “At this time, Northern Center does not know enough about the details and potential impacts of the Alaska LNG project to take a position as to whether, or in what manner, the project should be constructed.”

The project was formally filed at FERC in April. Alaska LNG is composed of a gas treatment plant at Prudhoe Bay, an 800-mile pipeline to Southcentral Alaska with up to five offtakes for in-state use, and a natural gas liquefaction plant in Nikiski to produce LNG for export.

The project would give market access to 35 Tcf of proven gas resources stranded on the North Slope. Alaska Gasline Development Corp., a state of Alaska entity overseeing the project, anticipates 9,000-12,000 jobs for design and construction plus 700-1,000 jobs for long-term operations.

Earlier this year in pre-filing comments, the city of Valdez and mayors of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, city of Fairbanks, and city of North Pole, along with the Alaska Gasline Port Authority, told FERC that regulators are obligated to consider their preferred "Valdez alternative" for the project’s pipeline route and plant site. The alternative route would bring the pipeline closer to their communities -- providing more readily available access to gas -- and would site the LNG liquefaction and export terminal at Valdez instead of Nikiski.

More recently,Brendyn Shiflea, president of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District in Alaska, wrote to FERC in support of the project. “Alaska holds America’s largest concentration of proven, conventional, but stranded gas. The Alaska LNG Project will liberate these resources and provide America with a major new energy infrastructure that can supply domestic needs and provide a stable source of gas supply for trading partners in the Asia-Pacific region and positively reduce of trade imbalance,” Shiflea said.

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