Industries Environmental Documents
FERC Staff Issues Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Alaska LNG Project (CP17-178-000)
Issued: June 28, 2019
The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) has prepared this draft environmental impact statement (EIS) to assess the impacts of constructing and operating the Alaska LNG Project (Project) proposed by the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC). The purpose and need of the Project is to commercialize the natural gas resources of Alaska’s North Slope, by converting the existing natural gas supply to liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export and providing gas for users within the State of Alaska.
Pursuant to Sections 3 of the Natural Gas Act, AGDC is seeking Authorization to construct, own, and operate the following facilities in Alaska: a new Gas Treatment Plant; a 1.0-mile-long, 60-inch-diameter Prudhoe Bay Unit Gas Transmission Line; a 62.5-mile-long, 32-inch-diameter Point Thomson Unit Gas Transmission Line; a 806.6-mile-long, 42-inch-diameter natural gas pipeline (Mainline Pipeline) and associated aboveground facilities, including eight compressor stations and a heater station; and a 20-million-metric-ton per annum liquefaction facility (Liquefaction Facilities), including an LNG Plant and Marine Terminal.
The Gas Treatment Facilities (Gas Treatment Plant, Prudhoe Bay Unit Gas Transmission Line, and Point Thomson Unit Gas Transmission Line) would be on state land designated for oil and natural gas development within the North Slope Borough. The Mainline Pipeline would start at the GTP and generally follow the existing Trans Alaska Pipeline System crude oil pipeline and adjacent highways south to Livengood, Alaska. From Livengood, the Mainline Pipeline would head south–southwest to Trapper Creek following the Parks and Beluga Highways, then turn south–southeast around Viapan Lake. It would then cross Cook Inlet entering near Beluga Landing and exiting at a landing near Suneva Lake on the northern part of the Kenai Peninsula. The Mainline Pipeline would terminate at the Liquefaction Facilities, which would be sited on the eastern shore of Cook Inlet in the Nikiski area of the Kenai Peninsula. The Project would have an annual average inlet design capacity of up to 3.7 billion standard cubic feet per day and a peak capacity of 3.9 billion standard cubic feet per day.
FERC is the federal agency responsible for authorizing onshore LNG facilities used for exportation of natural gas. FERC is the lead federal agency responsible for the preparation of the draft EIS. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Department of Energy, and National Marine Fisheries Service are cooperating agencies because they have jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to environmental resources and impacts associated with the Project. The cooperating agencies provided input to the conclusions and recommendations presented in the draft EIS. Following issuance of the final EIS, the cooperating agencies will issue subsequent decisions, determinations, permits, or authorizations for the Project in accordance with each individual agency’s regulatory requirements.
We conclude that Project construction and operation would result in temporary, long-term, and permanent impacts on the environment. Most impacts would not be significant or would be reduced to less than significant levels with the implementation of proposed or recommended avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures, but some impacts would be adverse and significant.
We conclude that constructing the Project would have significant impacts on permafrost due to granular fill placement, particularly for the Mainline Pipeline facilities. The Project would have significant adverse impacts on wetlands from granular fill placement resulting in substantial conversions of wetlands to uplands. Significant adverse impacts on forest would result from permanent losses or conversions from installation of aboveground facilities, granular fill placement, and vegetation maintenance in the Mainline Pipeline right-of-way. For caribou, the impacts on the Central Arctic Herds would likely be significant due to the timing of impacts during sensitive periods, permanent impacts on sensitive habitats, and the Project location at the center of the herds’ range. During the years of simultaneous construction, startup, and operational activities at the Liquefaction Facilities, as well as during flaring events, impacts on air quality could be significant. Operational noise associated with the Liquefaction Facilities at the two nearest noise sensitive areas would likely double due to facility operation, which would be considered a significant increase.
The Project would result in positive impacts on the state and local economies, but adverse impacts on housing, population, and public services could occur in some areas. The Project could disproportionately affect environmental justice communities due to impacts on subsistence practices and public health effects based on a Health Impact Assessment prepared by AGDC. However, these impacts are not expected to be high and adverse.
Project construction and operation is likely to adversely affect six federally listed species (spectacled eider, polar bear, bearded seal, Cook Inlet beluga whale, humpback whale, and ringed seal) and designated critical habitat for two species (polar bear and Cook Inlet beluga whale). With the issuance of the draft EIS, we are requesting to initiate formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service regarding Project effects on federally listed species.
Because the Project would result in substantial impacts on permafrost, wetlands, forest, and caribou (Central Arctic Herds), and since other current or reasonably foreseeable projects in the study area would similarly affect these resources, we found that cumulative impacts on these resources would or could be significant. Visual effects from the Project near the DNPP would be high, so any additional effects in this area from other projects would contribute to cumulative visual impacts, which could also be significant.
Our conclusions in the draft EIS are based wholly or in part on the following factors:
- the Project would be constructed in compliance with all applicable federal laws, regulations, permits, and authorizations;
- AGDC would implement all best management practices and the measures described in the Project Upland Erosion Control, Revegetation, and Maintenance Plan and Project Wetland and Waterbody Construction and Mitigation Procedures;
- AGDC has committed to following impact minimization measures contained in plans it has prepared for resources, such as a Blasting Plan; Fugitive Dust Control Plan; Gravel Sourcing Plan and Reclamation Measures; Migratory Bird Conservation Plan; Noxious/Invasive Plant and Animal Control Plan; Paleontological Resources Management Plan; Polar Bear and Pacific Walrus Avoidance and Interaction Plan; Plan for Unanticipated Discovery of Cultural Resources and Human Remains; Revegetation Plan; Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures Plan; and Winter and Permafrost Construction Plan, among others;
- AGDC would be required to satisfy the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ regulatory requirements to mitigate unavoidable impacts on waters of the United States, including wetlands;
- compliance with the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act would be complete prior to construction;
- the Project would include protections and safeguards that ensure facility integrity and public safety;
- the Coast Guard determined that Cook Inlet is suitable for accommodating LNG carrier activity associated with the Project; and
- FERC’s environmental and LNG engineering construction inspection programs would ensure compliance with AGDC’s commitments and the conditions of any FERC Authorization.
In addition, we recommend that the Project-specific impact avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures that we have developed (included in the draft EIS as recommendations) be attached as conditions to any Authorization issued by the Commission for the Project.
The draft EIS comment period closes on October 3, 2019.
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