The Biden Administration has approved an 807-mile project for a natural gas pipeline in Alaska, which environmentalists have criticized as a threat to the climate and wildlife.
The Department of Energy issued a Supplemental Record of the Decision, which reaffirmed its approval of the project under the Trump Administration in 2020 but amended it to include more environmental protections. The $38,7 billion project, proposed by state-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corporation AGDC, includes not only the pipeline but also LNG export infrastructure.
The DOE issued a statement saying that “the Department of Energy has today amended a 2020 decision in order to impose new requirements for the environment which prevents carbon dioxide venting, as well as reaffirming previous environmental conditions.” This order does not approve the construction of the project. That was done by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2020.
The statement went on to say that “This order does not also evaluate the long-term feasibility of the project in relation to factors outside the DOE’s regulatory scope.” The Alaska LNG project is regulated by FERC, a non-profit agency. The State of Alaska [AGDC] has developed an Alaska LNG Project and is not yet at a final decision about whether or not to build the project.
The AGDC, which was created by the Alaska State Legislature a decade earlier with the mandate to maximize the vast natural gas reserves of the state, first proposed the LNG export and pipeline project in 2014. After years of analysis of the environmental impact, FERC approved construction to begin in May 2020.
In 2020, the DOE also authorized AGDC to export LNG from Alaskan sources in any country in that the United States does not have a free-trade agreement. The decision on Thursday confirms this authorization, with additional carbon dioxide venting restrictions.
In a press release, AGDC President Frank Richards stated that “With this Supplemental Record of Decision, the Biden Administration reaffirmed authorization for the Alaska LNG Project and its climate benefits, which will provide Alaskans as well as U.S. Allies with an important source of low emission, responsibly produced energy in line with international environmental priority.”
“This supplemental decision, upon initial review, adds to the record supporting Alaska LNG. We will review it carefully while our work developing this project continues,” he said.
Early in January, the DOE released its final supplemental impact statement. It determined that the project’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) would be negligible and could even lead to lower emissions globally. The report stated that the project would not increase GHG emissions when providing the same service to society (through the production of crude oil and natural gas).
AGDC states that the project will also create 10,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent positions. The project would have a daily average of 3.1 billion cubic feet of LNG, with a large portion of it being delivered to Alaskans.
This is a major step in creating more jobs for Alaskan families, and it’s a big boost to the Alaska LNG Pipeline Project, said Rick Whitbeck. He’s the Alaska State Director of Power The Future. The approval shows that the Biden administration finally recognizes the important role fossil fuels have in our future energy.
Environmental groups, led by Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity, blasted this decision and claimed that it would worsen climate change. They also threatened to take legal action.
The proposed Alaska LNG project would endanger Arctic wildlife, and worsen the climate crisis. It would lock in decades of increased extraction and exports of gas at a moment when it is evident that we need to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels.
Claiming that such a project could be in the public’s interest is not only out of line with the Biden Administration’s commitment to climate change — it’s also out of line with reality. We will use every possible avenue to prevent this ill-advised development from ever being built.
Liz Jones, a lawyer at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute said that it was “painful” to see the DOE approve the project a week after the Biden Administration approved the Willow Project, a major oil drilling project in northern Alaska.
Jones stated that “this project will send billions of cubic feet of gas per day through Alaska and waters filled with wildlife to be burnt on foreign shores in our overheated atmosphere.” The Alaska LNG project was never approved.