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Commenters Argue For Alternative North Slope Gasline Route, LNG Plant Site

Proving that plans to pipe Alaska North Slope natural gas to a liquefaction plant for global tanker export are far from a done deal, multiple commenters in the project's FERC docket have said the natural gas pipeline should follow a different route and the liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant should be sited elsewhere than currently proposed.

Earlier this month, 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 (AGPA) told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that regulators are obligated to consider their preferred "Valdez alternative." 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. The comments were posted on the Commission website last Friday [PF14-21].

The "Nikiski alternative" follows the route of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) from the North Slope south to Livengood. At Livengood the pipeline route deviates from the TAPS corridor and travels to the west side of Cook Inlet, crosses the inlet and makes landfall near Nikiski, where the LNG plant and terminal would be located.

Valdez, the mayors and AGPA want the pipeline to follow a "historically preferred" route from Livengood south along the TAPS corridor to Anderson Bay near Valdez, where an LNG facility and terminal would be sited.

"A robust analysis of the Valdez alternative is required in order to determine if the project applicants have justified deviating from the decade's worth of analysis that previously led FERC to choose the Valdez alternative as the preferred alternative," the commenters said.

They contend that continuing to follow the TAPS corridor would avoid environmentally sensitive areas. Previously, FERC and the federal Bureau of Land Management/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued final environmental impact statements (EIS) designating the Valdez alternative as the preferred route, they said. "Accordingly, any EIS for the AKLNG Project must '[r]igorously explore and objectively evaluate' the Valdez alternative."

Late last year state entity Alaska Gasline Development Corp. took over the AKLNG project from the state's major producers, who backed out because of the project's weakened economics.

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