Nine groups file motions surrounding LNG project

Published: May. 22, 2017 at 12:35 PM AKDT
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As plans to build a massive pipeline as part of the United States' largest national liquefied natural gas project move forward, an environmental agency has filed a motion to intervene in an overall attempt to stop the development from coming to fruition.

On Monday, the Tuscon-based Center for Biological Diversity filed

proceedings of the state's LNG plans: The Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas project, which includes an 807-mile, 42-inch-diameter pipeline; a liquefaction facility designed to produce up to 20 mil. metric tons per year of liquefied natural gas; a gas treatment plant; a 63-mile, 32-inch-diameter pipeline; and eight compressor stations, all within the state of Alaska.

A representative for the Center for Biological Diversity said Monday that the Alaska LNG proposal could increase the frequency and occurrence of damaging exploration methods, and threaten local wildlife, including polar bears and whales.

"The project will emit harmful air pollutants, exacerbate climate change, damage water quality, hundreds of miles of land that it will run through, all so that Alaska can ship LNG abroad," said Kristen Monsell, a staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. "That nobody wants."

The LNG proposal, she said, could specifically vastly expand drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the Arctic.

But the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, known as AGDC, cites

of the project, including a secure energy supply, billions of dollars in revenue, and up to 12,000 jobs while construction is underway.

Representatives for the

- now the sole group pursuing the project after British Petroleum, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobile dropped out due to high costs of the project - also said the move is certainly not uncommon.

"Today was the cutoff day for interveners," said Keith Meyer, AGDC President. "Some are positive, some are not. The Center for Biological Diversity, also Sierra Club, basically have a policy to negatively intervene in projects that might produce oil and gas."

In addition, the motion to intervene is not an actual lawsuit. Simply put, it's a move often used when a party not initially involved in a lawsuit wants to become a party. In this case, the CBD is not a plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit in progress, but filed the motion in order to open up that option.

The Center for Biological Diversity is also just one of nine groups that filed motions to intervene, according to Meyer. Seven of those were positive interventions, he said, and two - from the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club - were negative.

"They're actually very expected," Meyer said. "Matter of fact, you'd expect a much larger list. Having only nine and having most of those in support is actually pretty good. So we're actually pretty pleased about the process."

As for the filed motions to intervene, they are not set in stone simply because a party filed. If no party objects to a filing, the group that filed automatically becomes an intervener or a party to the proceedings. However, if a party does object, that party has to file to an official objection and that in turn can be responded to as well.

"This is the first step for us to become a party to these proceedings," Monsell said, "and we will be participating throughout the proceedings, including the commission and compilation of a draft of an environmental impact statement."