Independent review

By Larry Persily contributor

Federal law won’t allow the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to participate as a cooperating agency in the federal environmental impact statement for the state-led Alaska LNG project, U.S. regulators have concluded.

The state agency promised not to share any information with the project being led by a separate state entity – the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. (AGDC) – but that doesn’t solve the legal problem, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

“Even with a firewall, both agencies would nevertheless be accountable to advancing the interests of the state of Alaska in getting the project approved,” Jim Martin, a branch chief at FERC’s Office of Energy Projects, wrote in a Dec. 14 letter to the Natural Resources commissioner’s office.

DNR in July asked if it could formally join the FERC-led team preparing the EIS for the state-led effort to build a gas line from the North Slope to Cook Inlet and a liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal at tidewater.

The federal regulator is scheduled to release a draft EIS for the project in February, assuming it receives all the information it has requested from the state corporation.

“Even with a firewall, the state of Alaska cannot participate in the proceeding in the dual capacity of both applicant and cooperating agency,” FERC said. Its rules, FERC added, do “not provide an exception for having off-the-record communications with one part of a state…while walling off another part of a state….The Office of General Counsel has informed us that such an arrangement could result in significant due-process issues.”

And even if FERC rules accepted such a firewall or administrative screen for blocking communications between the state agencies, “it would still not resolve the conflict of the state of Alaska acting as an applicant while also seeking to act as an assistant to the decision maker through its status as a cooperating agency,” Martin said in his letter.

“Although we are not able to grant the state’s request for cooperating agency status, the state may nevertheless communicate its special expertise on the record,” Martin added. “There are no restrictions on the Department of Natural Resources or any other state agency submitting public comments to FERC’s docket for the Alaska project.”

Federal offices with permitting authority over a project are required to assist as cooperating agencies, and FERC’s rules allow non-federal agencies to participate as cooperating agencies in preparing an EIS if they have “special expertise with respect to the environmental impact of the proposal.”

The state Office of Project Management and Permitting submitted the July request to FERC. The office coordinates between multiple state agencies with environmental permitting expertise and “routinely enters into agreements with the lead federal agency as the single point of contact for state regulatory agencies…participating in the deliberative process and compiling state agency comments,” the request said.

What’s different with the gas line project, however, is that the state is the developer of the proposed $43 billion venture to pipe North Slope gas more than 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay to a liquefaction plant and export terminal in Nikiski on the Kenai Peninsula.

In addition to working toward FERC approval of the plan, the state development corporation is trying to line up customers, partners and financing for what would be one of the most expensive energy projects in North American history.

22 replies »

  1. The DemonRats are in for themselves only and a few million illegals to bolster their voting base.The way Pelosi,Waters,Harris Schumer carry on they’re living proof you can’t fix stupid!They aren’t going to fix shit but the bottom line in their bank accounts!Zinke is an example of another fine Man and Patriot trying to fix what these Lib-Tards have F/Ued up beyond belief who has chosen to leave for his families well being and name,Shameful.I have owned smarter pets than these Mental Midgets that somehow keep getting re-elected.The founding Fathers are spinning over in their graves like a NASCAR crankshaft!

  2. Still no one wants to address the price per barrel of ANS. Oil reached it lowest value, in more than a year today. Over supply, higher interest rates and less fossil fuel driven energy are the main reasons. Our out going Gov with the Dept of Revenue was forecasting $76 per barrel over next 5-7 months and increasing in the future.
    I do not know what they are smoking, though I do not believe it is legal.
    AK’s budget is mostly petroleum based, with the dip in oil price, the 2019 budget is DOA.
    Opening ANWR may be the only solution, to get us out of this budget mess. Why is that? No one wants to bring up state income tax or statewide sales tax.

    • Income tax is the dumbest most neo-Marxist idea out there. Cut the damned budget; whole agencies can be eliminated from State Government, others are so bloated that 50% or more of employees can be laid off. Consolidate and reduce is the name of the game. More government equals less freedom and lower standard of living for the average citizen not on the public payroll. Sell state land, put it private ownership, demand the Imperial Federal Government live up to its side of the bargain of Statehood and give us our land back. Redistribute power from the ruling elite into the hands of the people. A free State requires power to be in the hands of the people of the state; and not in the hands of oligarchs and their bureaucratic enforcers.

      • Burt,
        “Income tax is a neo-Marxist idea”, had not heard that one yet. Must of missed that somewhere, during my liberal arts college years. Anyway, your statements, seemed to mirror, what the Tea Party were going for in 2010. Is that close?
        Last time I looked, most of them got voted out, during previous election cycles.
        If you do not like the system, work from within and help make it better. That was an old cliche, and may not work here.
        On another note:
        Have you asked your US Senators and Congressman, to petition the Fed, to get our land back?
        Also, not so much imperial to me, though I would agree, our current Fed Administration, has certainly given over to Corporate Capitalism in the 1st degree. What is Rex T. up to, counting is golden parachute. Defense Sec resigned, now that was news. Donald said he is retiring with honors. Glad someone got the money.

    • James,
      I guess we can forget about that $6,700.00 PFD that our Governor promised?
      The economic answer lies in “unlocking” Alaska’s renewables in forms of Wind, Solar, Small Scale Hydro and Geothermal sources as well as Tidal Energy.
      The problem is “TPTB” will not let anyone near the coffers who does not subscribe to their corporate mantra of “drill baby drill”.
      Alaska is destined to follow the history of resource extraction colonies around the globe.
      As oil prices continue to drop and investors diversify their profolios into “greener” markets around the world, less interest will continue in the field of fossil fuel extraction in AK.

      • Well said Steve !! Forward thinking anyone? The methods used by current solar power installers suck . That’s why they don’t work. England has a few good ideas . I admit fossils which is effectively a huge solar energy bank is needed for moment but only becouse big energy is not pushing alternative energy.

      • Opinion,
        I was just reading a new story how Scotland is generating over 70 percent of its country’s electricity with windmills.
        They have a cold climate and renewables seem to work well for them?
        “In November, Scottish wind power produced more than 100% of the threshold for the first time, generating enough energy to power 6 million homes”.
        We are being held back from moving forward with this technology.

      • Steve,
        Anyway we can generate electricity, at lower, than current AK rural rates, is fine by me. Kodiak Island’s wind turbines, are close to generating almost 95-99% of the electrical usage. Yes, I have been there, and the wind does blow a lot, though there are many AK coastal towns, municipalities and villages, that could benefit from this type of technology.

  3. As Zinke is forced to resign and: “Investigations into Pruitt and Zinke’s ethics violations – even the odd stuff – are necessary and prudent…
    Alaska will get the door closed more often to “State” led EIS studies…think Salmon Habitat next!
    “We must not lose sight of the incredible damage these two cabinet members inflicted on communities across this country. Rolling back essential environmental and safety protections, handing over our public lands and waters to fossil fuel corporations and placating the agrichemical industry at the expense of public health are the real crises here – not soundproof phone booths or ridiculously expensive office doors.”
    The next thing that the Feds should examine in how “State” legislature has silenced public disclosure in fracking projects….especially sensitive human impact areas like (Cook Inlet, Point Mackenzie and Kenai Peninsula)…
    The mere fact that AK is the ONLY state in the Union to attempt to fund it’s own pipeline project should be a giant red flag.
    Especially when our major partner (China) is an Authoritarian Government and so are other “States” like Russia and Saudi who fund their own personal oil and gas lines.
    Hopefully the Democratic led Congress can help shine a light on all this corruption and help lift the “Red Curtain” off of Alaska before it is too late.

    • “Democratic led Congress can help shine a light on all this corruption”. Oh, now that is rich. Some of the most corrupt mofo’s the world has ever seen are going to “shine a light on corruption”. If it wasn’t for double standards, Democrats would have no standards. I can’t believe you actually said that Steve. I lost all respect for you.

      • Let me clear it up for you. There is no double standard, only separate standards. The first standard is for Republicans, who have no right to criticize until they have achieved perfection. Since we don’t do perfection here on planet earth, Republicans are not allowed to criticize. Democrats have a higher calling. Everything they do shall be judged bay the standard of the ends justifies the means.

        For decades Democrats have been in increasingly dominant control of education, information, media, entertainment and of course the public sector workforce. The results should be shameful, but since Democrats are to blame there is no shame.

      • Well Bryan,
        After “trolling” me for 4 months and tossing insult after insult, I would say you do not respect different opinions no matter what the topic is at hand.
        As for the GOP, what have they offered to us?
        18 years of war in the middle east…
        A “defense” budget that is in the trillions.
        A war on drugs…
        Private prisions throughout America.
        Rollback of nearly all environmental protections.
        Corruption that demands thousands of “man hours” wasted on investigations.
        Attacks and censorship on the media.
        Failed healthcare reform.
        Growing inequality through deregulation of corporations.
        And Trump finally does something good (withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria) and republican senators and right wing “journalists” wish to attack him with the “sky is falling” B.S.
        Maybe one day you might have a solution for some of the problems our country is facing (like skyrocketed debt to China)…maybe, but highly doubtful!

      • Trump . Right step out of Syria . It’s all or nothing. That’s history. Good job trump . Trump also about to try step out of Afghanistan. Takes a real leader to risk political suicide. Let’s hope he pulls off the exits . I don’t hold my breath, globalists and war machine he is up against is truly impressive. I will believe his exits when I see it . They stymie and attack his every move . I almost have no hope of his success. Read Mattis resignation letter . Gives a taste of what trump is up against even from his supposed allies. I recognize risks of pulling out of those countries but you can’t have success with our current methods and situation there is to complex . Let’s hope our money is better spent on humanitarian efforts. Good luck trump . Who needs enemies when you have appointments like he has ? Brad pascal seems good . Bannon probably would have been more useful staying close .

    • Well said Steve except sadly you are naive about democrat house . Check fake Russian bots deployed by democrat operatives to make it look as if Russians were active and supported a certain Republican candidate in Alabama. Instead they were created by democrats to smear a questionable candidate. Our situation is dire as far as honestly in politics. Both sides are truly corrupt. Research tactics used to destroy republicans and their allies. Democrats are corrupt with a touch of insanity. Not speaking of voters . Just politicians. You are enlightened and ahead of the times otherwise. I’m often impressed by your forward thinking. Naive on politicians though. I am to . Keep on with the environmental awareness concept though! . Global warming is a bit of confusion though. Skip it . To complicated. Anyone who absorbs and disseminates the media bs has not studied adequately. Weather can’t even be predicted more than a moment ahead . Global temperatures situation is so complicated with so many variables anyone who says I’m right I’m right is full of nonsense and non thinkers. Consider the incalculable variables. Sun distance, sun spots , clouds , evaporation , cooling , sun shielding . Regular weather Patterns , atmosphere thickness and surface area , temperature of space , oceans , earth core temperatures, earth core changes , crust thickness, and on and on . I’m sure even items scientist haven’t considered. No one and nothing can predict accurately our future temperatures becouse one small change in those items makes huge difference. To many variables. Those who are certain of a specific outcome have not tried to calculate accurately or they will find its beyond impossible. That said it’s obvious we should mitigate our impact for responsibility reasons and environmental concerns . Anyone not concerned about breathing/ drinking chemicals should think about it deeply. I’m sure folks think I should shut up already. Good day .

    • We have windmills on Fire Island. They are not cost effective for electricity production but they are great civic pride eye candy for enviros.

      • Yep, “green” energy doesn’t help the environment at all. It is all “feel good bs” and an utter waste of taxpayer funds. of Obama’s failed $3 BILLION “Cash for Clunkers”. Not to mention his failed subsidies in the billions for worthless solar panal farms.

      • Bryan,
        Tell that to Scotland…
        They do not have to frack in people’s back yards to pump gas into electrical generating like we are seeing in S.C. AK.
        Wind turbines in the Valley would allow more of that Hillcorp Gas to be exported as well which would further improve AK’s GDP.
        Win -Win for consumers and industry.

      • Steve, what happens to all these unsightly, ugly, scenic ruining wind turbines during an earthquake? So Scotland with a mere population of 7 million uses wind turbines. They could just as easily and more efficiently used natural gas or nuclear power which put em all to shame.

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