Kenai Peninsula could house $45 billion gold mine, natural gas line.

Author:Strieker, Julie

The proposed $45 billion Alaska natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to the Kenai Peninsula takes a route that could place it within (or just outside) the borders of Denali National Park and Preserve.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will look at environmental analyses by other agencies, as well as congressional action, to decide if the pipeline will be routed for 6.16 miles inside the park or if the route will go outside the borders, but on steeper, less stable ground, according to Larry Persily in one of his regular project updates. Persily works for the Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor's office.

The decision on the route, along with thousands of other details, will be outlined in a voluminous document called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), an essential, and mandatory, element to any large project that must be completed before the first shovelful of dirt is moved. An EIS is based on detailed studies that document the benefits, potential pitfalls, and alternative plans for the project, as well as ways to mitigate any negative effects.

FERC has selected a third-party company, ERM, to work on preparations for the EIS. The state of Alaska, via the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., will pay the contractor's fees and expenses. Persily estimates the costs to be in the millions.

The pipeline is comprised of three major projects: a gas treatment plant on the North Slope, which includes a 62-mile pipeline from the Point Thomson gas field; an 804-mile pipeline from the North Slope to the Kenai Peninsula; and a gas liquefaction plant, storage tanks, and marine terminal in Nikiski, Persily says.

As it stands, as of the end of 2016, FERC had compiled 420 pages of questions and comments from other agencies about the resource reports.

"These comments ask for clarifications of discrepancies and additional information that we believe necessary to continue the review of the LNG and gas treatment plant and to begin substantive preparation of a draft environmental impact statement for the project," FERC states in a December 14 letter to Alaska LNG, published by Persily.

A sampling of questions include: how the project would affect subsistence hunting along the pipeline corridor; how any influx of cash to remote communities might impact them; how to handle increased recreational hunting and fishing by construction workers; safety at the Nikiski marine terminal; and how project managers plan to measure acute exposure guideline levels...

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