WASHINGTON, May 22, 2017 – The Center for Biological Diversity today moved to intervene in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proceedings on the state of Alaska’s plans to build the nation’s largest-ever liquid natural-gas project. Alaska LNG involves an 807-mile pipeline, a liquefied natural gas facility and the shipping of 20 million tons of the condensed fuel abroad every year.
The proposal could vastly expand drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the Arctic. Under the Natural Gas Act, FERC must find that the project is in the public interest in order to approve it.
“This massive LNG project is a massively terrible idea,” said Kristen Monsell, a Center attorney. “Expanding drilling and fracking in the Arctic is incredibly dangerous, and this polluting plan is likely to be an economically disastrous boondoggle. We’re intervening to protect polar bears, the climate and Alaskans from this monstrous project.”
The proposal originally involved BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and the state-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corporation. But the oil companies have pulled out of the project because of the surplus LNG on the world market and the project’s high cost, currently estimated at $45 billion, which could leave Alaska taxpayers on the hook if LNG prices stay low.
Alaska’s Gasline Development Corporation, the only party currently pursuing the project, submitted its application to FERC on April 17. Gov. Bill Walker has asked the Trump administration to fast-track approval and exempt the project from dozens of environmental rules.
“Alaska LNG threatens some of the rarest animals on Earth. Exempting the country’s largest LNG project ever from environmental protections so that Alaska can send gas abroad is ridiculous,” Monsell said. “The project will be devastating to Alaska’s wildlife — and maybe to state taxpayers as well.”
Natural gas would be shipped to overseas markets on tankers through Cook Inlet and the Gulf of Alaska, passing through the habitat of endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales and critically endangered North Pacific right whales, whose population is down to just of 25 individuals. The Asia-Pacific region is the Alaska LNG project’s intended market.
The project would also involve the construction and operation of a gas-treatment plant and associated 60-mile pipeline on the North Slope. As currently proposed the 807-mile pipeline would transport natural gas from the gas treatment plant to the liquefaction facility in Nikiski, and have a daily capacity of 3.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
Alaska’s application asks FERC to approve the project by December 2018 so that it can have the project operational by 2024.