Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Federal panel OKs work for 800-mile Alaska natural gas pipeline

The Federal Energy Regulation Commission, which is tasked with governing and managing energy projects across the country, has given Alaska the green light to continue work on a proposed 800-mile liquefied natural gas pipeline.

The pipeline would stretch from a gas treatment plan on the North Slope to a processing facility in Nikiski. The idea has been a favored project of Alaska governors going back at least to the days of former Gov. Sarah Palin, with each governor since trying to take it a step further.

Former Gov. Bill Walker, who served before current Gov. Mike Dunleavy, brought the project further than many of his predecessors with a series of discussions taking place between the Chinese government and his administration regarding Chinese buying of Alaska LNG.

The project proposal, which would be run by the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., has been under federal review for six years.

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski called the decision a "capstone moment" for Alaska.

“A final FERC certificate and order are immensely valuable assets for the project and the state of Alaska. A tremendous amount of work has gone into the analysis of the Alaska LNG project, and I thank the FERC commissioners and staff for diligently completing review," Murkowski said. "While there is still more work to do in the state, today’s announcement is good news for Alaska and our efforts to commercialize North Slope natural gas.”

Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan noted the authorization is a significant step in realizing Alaska's LNG potential.

“Getting our gas to market, using the highest environmental standards in the world, would be a huge win for Alaska and for our country," he said. "Producing more energy responsibly strengthens our economy, is good for the environment, and dramatically increases our country’s national security."

The stamp of approval also signals an eventual boost for the state's economy, Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young.

“Alaska’s LNG represents significant potential for our state’s economy,” he said. “Pursuing new energy sources requires a clear assessment of the safety of any project, both for the environment and for our communities. Today’s authorization by FERC is a critical step toward responsibly constructing the LNG project."

State Senate Resources Chair Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, also noted the future benefits for the state's economy and workforce in a statement released Thursday.

“Today’s announcement is welcome news for Alaska’s efforts to monetize our North Slope natural gas," he said. "A successful project will mean good-paying jobs for Alaskans and cheap, reliable energy for the Interior. I commend the work of AGDC and remain optimistic about the long-term viability of Alaska LNG."

Rep. Gary Knopp, also a Soldotna Republican and who is the legislative member of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., noted the timing might be perfect given the difficulties the state has been facing with regard to the oil industry recently.

“It’s been a tough time for Alaska’s oil and gas industry, but we are still a resource rich state and the industry remains a vital part of our future,” Knopp said. “Today’s achievement means the project is shovel ready when the economy improves, and it also provides a reminder of what we can accomplish when we work together as Alaskans."

The project is estimated to create about 10,000 jobs during the construction phase as well as 1,000 jobs for everyday operations.

All final authorizations are estimated to be completed by September.

By:  Erin McGroarty
Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner