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FERC Repeats Request for Alaska Gasline Environmental Data

Despite responses to previous requests filed as recently as last month, FERC last Thursday sent an environmental data request and a terse letter to Alaska Gasline Development Corp. (AGDC) requiring the company to provide information the regulator said has been repeatedly requested already.

"This enclosure includes several requests for information that have been made multiple times during the pre-filing review phase, as well as in the current application review, for which an adequate response has not yet been received," James Martin, gas branch chief for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, wrote to AGDC [CP17-178].

In previous responses to FERC requests for study results, "AGDC has stated that because these studies are not required by the state or other entities, AGDC will not provide the information (e.g., sediment modeling, health impact assessment, etc.)."

FERC requires applicants to provide data including any information that staff "considers necessary or relevant to determine the impact of the proposal on the human environment and natural resources," Martin said.

"I am informing you that any response from AGDC that states, 'the information is not required by the state or other agency and will not be provided' will be considered incomplete and reissued. Incomplete responses and the reissuances of requests for information will affect the schedule for completing the environmental review...Incomplete information or ill-defined commitments by AGDC may compromise our ability to adequately assess and disclose the full impact of the project."

AGDC has 20 days from the date of the letter -- Feb. 15 -- to file complete responses to 289 requests for information from FERC, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers. Without the information requested, FERC staff would be unable to prepare a required draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project, Martin said.

AGDC, which has financial backing from three Chinese investment firms, said last month that it had submitted final responses to 801 questions previously put to it by FERC over a permit application for the Alaska LNG Project, which the state-owned corporation filed last April. AGDC said the questions centered on what the Commission "identified as key issues, ranging from impacts on traditional Alaska native culture to turbidity and sedimentation analysis for impacts on fish...

"AGDC expects FERC will determine they now have the information necessary to complete their analysis and will soon publish a schedule for the National Environmental Policy Act [NEPA] process in the Federal Register that outlines the activities over the next year to develop a draft EIS and a final EIS," AGDC said at the time.

The Alaska LNG Project, estimated to cost $43 billion, would have the capacity to annually export up to 20 million metric tons of LNG. The project is to include a three-train liquefaction plant in Southcentral Alaska at Nikiski; an 800-mile, 1.1 meter diameter gas pipeline; a North Slope gas treatment plant; and interconnecting facilities to connect the Prudhoe Bay gas complex to the gas treatment plant.

"AGDC's thorough and quick response to FERC's 801 data requests advances Alaska LNG closer to construction," said AGDC President Keith Meyer. "Today's accomplishment, on top of recent commercial agreements, is a clear signal to the markets that Alaska LNG is on track to deliver energy stability at competitive prices by 2024/2025."

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, AGDC and three other parties signed a joint development agreement to finance the Alaska LNG Project in Beijing in November. The other signatories were China's state-owned Sinopec Group; the Bank of China; and China Investment Corp.

During his State of the State address last month, Walker called the Alaska LNG project the "most promising economic opportunity" to develop the state's vast natural gas reserves and diversify its energy portfolio.

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