Biden Admin Affirms Trump-Era Decision to Export Natural Gas From Alaska

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The Department of Energy (DOE) on Thursday affirmed a Trump-era decision to export liquified natural gas (LNG) from a facility in Alaska.

Under the Trump administration, in 2020, a company called Alaska LNG was authorized to export LNG to any country with which the United States has not entered into a free trade agreement (FTA).

In a supplemental record of decision (pdf) issued by the department on April 13, Biden administration officials reaffirmed the original authorization in 2020. However, they also amended the project to include more restrictions intended to protect the environment.

The decision on April 13 comes after the Sierra Club, an organization that seeks to “fight for environmental and social justice,” in September 2020 filed a Request for Rehearing over the matter.

The department had agreed to the request to look further into the project’s environmental impacts, after which it would either reaffirm, modify, or set aside the Trump-era authorization.

“Upon review, DOE finds that the environmental impacts presented … are not sufficient to alter DOE’s determination … that exports of LNG from the proposed Alaska LNG Project to non-FTA countries are not inconsistent with the public interest,” the department stated.

One Change

As such, the department affirmed the original Trump-era order but with one modification that was an amendment the Sierra Club recommended: Alaska LNG is required to certify each month that the natural gas produced for export in LNG form “did not result in the venting of byproduct carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, unless required for emergency, maintenance, or operational exigencies and in compliance with the FERC Order for the Alaska LNG Project.”

“DOE believes that this venting prohibition will reduce emissions of [greenhouse gases] from the Alaska LNG Project beyond what may have occurred under the Alaska LNG Order.”

Otherwise, other parts of the authorization remain the same.

The LNG pipeline and export project was estimated in June 2020 to cost $38.7 billion. It was first proposed in 2014 by the Alaska Gasline Development Corp (AGDC), which was tasked with maximizing the state’s natural gas reserves by the Alaskan legislature, and is leading the project.

By Mimi Nguyen Ly

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