Authorization of Alaska LNG is lawful and reasonable, U.S. appeals court says

Authorization of the Alaska LNG project was lawful and reasonable, a U.S. appeals court ruled, dismissing environmental groups’ petition to review federal approvals.

Alaska LNG liquefaction facility. Courtesy of AGDC

Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) sought authorization to build and operate the $39 billion project that would produce up to 20 million tonnes of LNG per year and export it to non-free trade agreement (non-FTA) countries for a term of 30 years. This permit was granted on 13 April, despite environmentalists’ objections.

After the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted the authorization, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club (CBD) petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for review.

On 16 May, the court said that some issues the petitioners raised were not exhausted and it lacks jurisdiction to consider them.

“We reject CBD’s other arguments on the merits. FERC’s decision to authorize the Alaska Liquid Natural Gas Project was lawful and reasonable. We dismiss the petition in part and deny it in part”, the decision reads.

The Alaska LNG project will consist of liquefaction facilities on the Kenai Peninsula and an approximately 807-mile-long (1,300-kilometre), 42-inch-diameter pipeline capable of transporting up to 3.9 billion cubic feet of gas per day to the plant.

According to the court’s ruling, FERC adequately considered how noises and ship traffic might harm endangered beluga whales and how construction could impact wetlands, despite concerns raised by environmental groups.

FERC’s method for analyzing the significance of the project’s expected greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by comparing those to existing state and nationwide emissions was also backed.

“In approving the Alaska Liquid Natural Gas Project, the Commission complied with the NGA, NEPA, and the APA. CBD fails to provide any reason for this court to disturb the Commission’s reasonable determinations. To the extent the issues raised in the petition for review were not exhausted, we dismiss the petition for lack of jurisdiction. We otherwise deny the petition on the merits”, the decision concludes.

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