ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - On Wednesday, Valdez Mayor Jeremy O'Neil held a Skype an interview with KTUU, discussing the matter of whether or not Valdez has been given fair consideration as a potential suitor for the Alaska LNG terminal. He purposefully sat with the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System terminal in the background.
"Why are we going to go and build a stairway to heaven when there's a path that's already laid out and has been for 40 years?" he asked.
"I'm personally puzzled as to how we could dismiss the existing right of way that extends to tidewater and Valdez."
O'Neil cited two previous studies which both elected to take the same path as TAPS for the Alaska LNG pipeline project, before pointing out that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) latest 3800-page-long draft environmental impact study only contains one page about considerations for Valdez.
When reached for comment, Alaska Gasline Development Corporation spokesman Tim Fitzpatrick told KTUU that the AGDC stands by the work done by FERC in regards to Alaska LNG.
Fiztpatrick refered to a section from the study which discusses Anderson Bay and what it would take to place a terminal near Valdez.
It reads: " ... it would require constructing an additional 113 miles of lateral pipelines to reach in-state markets in Fairbanks and Anchorage. Assuming a standard right-of-way width of 100 feet, the additional lateral length would affect about 1,370 additional acres of land and associated resources such as forests and wetlands."
Another portion of the draft EIS reads: " ... Liquefaction facilities at this location would require extensive civil design work and terracing. From the shoreline, the topography rises steeply to an elevation of 2,500 feet. Site preparation would involve blasting, excavating, grading, and terracing the site to create level surfaces for the facilities. AGDC estimates that about 39 million cubic yards of overburden and rock would need to be removed. This material would be disposed of in Anderson Bay and used to form the base for the Marine Terminal MOF, which would cover about 73 acres of the seafloor. Marine life in the 73-acre area would be affected."
The letter published by the the City of Valdez reads:
"The Nikiski Alternative requires approximately 196 additional miles of up to 180-foot-wide right-of-way, access roads, and other facilities in pristine wilderness. The Valdez Alternative avoids these impacts by utilizing the existing utility corridor and right-of-way for TAPS. Other advantages of the Valdez Alternative include: (1) avoiding construction and operation of a 27.3-mile section of offshore pipeline crossing Cook Inlet within critical habitat for beluga whales; (2) avoiding construction in Minto Flats, State Game Refuge, Susitna Flats Game Refuge, Denali State and National Park, and numerous areas of essential anadromous fish habitat; and (3) avoiding hazardous construction, operating and shipping conditions in Cook Inlet."
Ultimately, there will be quite some time between now and any final decision on where the Alaska LNG terminal would be best suited.
A public comment period on the draft environmental impact study carried out by FERC will be open until November, with a final version expected in March of 2020.
Copyright 2019 KTUU. All rights reserved.