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Biden backs large natural gas project despite pleas from climate activists 5/4/2023

The Biden administration formally issued a record of decision recently to approve a massive Alaska natural gas pipeline and export project that is strongly opposed by environmental groups.

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) finalized decision reaffirms the original 2020 approval of the project under the Trump administration but amends it to include additional environmental protections, according to federal filings. The $38.7 billion project Alaska LNG Project is comprised of the following integrated and interdependent facilities:  a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Southcentral Alaska designed to produce up to 20 million metric tons per annum of LNG; an approximately 807-mile, 42-inch diameter gas pipeline; a gas treatment plant (GTP) within the Prudhoe Bay Unit (PBU) on the North Slope; an approximately 1-mile, 60-inch diameter gas transmission line connecting the GTP to the PBU gas production facility; and an approximately 63 mile, 32-inch diameter gas transmission line connecting the GTP to the Point Thomson gas production facility.  The mainline of the Alaska LNG Project will traverse over 800 miles from the GTP on the North Slope of Alaska through several boroughs before it crosses Cook Inlet and connects with the liquefaction plant and marine terminal in Nikiski, Alaska. 

Project developer Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC), a state-owned venture founded to ensure Alaskans benefit financially from the state’s natural gas reserves, applauded the record of decision, saying it would enable the U.S. to boost energy supplies to allies.

“This order is terrific news for the Alaska LNG (liquefied natural gas) project,” AGDC President Frank Richards said after the decision was first issued. “The Biden administration has reaffirmed the authorization for and climate benefits of Alaska LNG, which will provide Alaskans and U.S. allies with a significant source of low-emissions, responsibly produced energy consistent with international environmental priorities.”

“This supplemental decision adds to the record of support for Alaska LNG and our work developing this important project continues,” Richards added.

DOE’s decision, which prevents venting carbon dioxide and reaffirms prior environmental requirements, ultimately allows the project developer to export LNG to non-free trade agreement nations. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved construction of the project in May 2020, years after it was first proposed in 2014. 

Under the proposal, the developer would construct a pipeline that stretches from Alaska’s natural gas-rich North Slope Borough to Cook Inlet in southern Alaska where an export terminal facility would be built. The project would be among the only LNG export terminals anywhere in the West.

“It’s the only major LNG project in America that’s got all its permits – it’s got state and federal. That’s not easy to do,” Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska. “It’s got its export license. That is also not easy to do, from DOE. And, importantly, it’s got federal loan guarantees. So, it’s the only major project in our country that’s got the full faith and credit of the United States of America backing it.”

“These are great jobs. So, it’s a win for the economy, win for American families, win for Alaskans getting clean-burning gas themselves, and helping our allies not only get off Russian oil and gas.

Overall, according to AGDC, the project would create 10,000 jobs during construction and 1,000 permanent jobs. It would also have an average throughput of 3.1 billion cubic feet (bcf) of LNG per day, much of which would be delivered to Alaskans. The DOE decision published Monday, May 1st authorizes the project to export 2.6 bcf of LNG per day.

By comparison, the electric power sector across the entire West Coast — California, Oregon and Washington — consumed 2.4 bcf of natural gas per day last year, according to federal data.

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