Reprinted with permission from DCReport.
Federal energy regulators plan toÂ rushÂ through environmental reviews for aÂ $45 billion liquefied natural gas projectÂ in Alaska that wouldÂ sell gas to Asian utilitiesÂ and could help worsen climate change.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission plans to issue an environmental impact statement for theÂ proposed 825-mile pipelineÂ a monthÂ earlyÂ in November 2019. A decision on building the pipeline could be made in February 2020. By then the commission is likely to have a three-person Republican majority. Trump has nominated long-time fossil-fuel supporter Bernard McNamee to the five-person board.
âItâs incredibly reckless for Trump to try to fast-track the biggest natural gas project in U.S. history,â said Kristen Monsell, senior attorney for theÂ Center for Biological Diversity.Â âA proper review would show this risky venture endangers Alaskaâs wildlife and deepens our dependence on dirty fossil fuels.â
Tyson SlocumÂ ofÂ Public CitizenÂ told senators in September that exporting natural gas to China willÂ fuel its manufacturing industry at the expense of the United States.
Our country is one of the biggest exporters of LNG, which is cooled to -260Â° Fahrenheit to make it easier to ship and store. The United StatesÂ exported $3.3 billionÂ in LNG in 2017.
In April, more than a dozen federal agencies agreed toÂ slash the timeÂ needed for environmental reviews and permits on major infrastructure projects such as the pipeline. In August,Â FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyreÂ signed anÂ agreementÂ with the administrator of theÂ Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety AdministrationÂ to speed up approving LNG transportation facilities.
TheÂ same dayÂ the agreement was signed FERC announced revised review schedules for a dozen LNG projects including the Alaska pipeline. Other projects that would be speeded up included ones in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
âLNG export terminals are extremely complicated and dangerous facilities with wide-ranging harmful environmental impacts,â saidÂ Moneen Nasmith,Â an attorney withÂ Earthjustice.Â âIt is irresponsible to arbitrarily expedite the review of these proposals.â
Republican senators, includingÂ Sen. Bill CassidyÂ (R-La.) andÂ Sen. Ted CruzÂ (R-Texas), who have received $4.7 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, haveÂ pushed FERCÂ to approve LNG projects quicker.
Alaska isÂ workingÂ with three major China-owned institutions â oil companyÂ Sinopec,Â China Investment Corp.Â andÂ Bank of ChinaÂ â that could invest in the project. Other potential gas buyers includeÂ PetroVietnamÂ andÂ Tokyo Gas.
Alaskaâs major oil companies and the state originally developed the LNG project but those companiesÂ dropped itÂ because of low natural gas prices and an LNG oversupply.