Alaska Stand-Alone Pipeline Draft EIS Released

Comments due March 5, 2012

 

Proposed Route for the Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline and an alternate route through Denali National Park

In 2010, the Alaska legislature directed that the State prepare a plan for an in-state gas pipeline to bring North Slope natural gas to south-central Alaska. The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation was formed a few months later, and became the applicant for the project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developed a Draft Environmental Impact Statement in coordination with 6 other state and federal agencies – including the National Park Service – to provide the basis for respective agency actions and permit evaluations.

The proposed project is a 24-inch diameter pipeline that would carry 500 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas and natural gas liquids from the North Slope to Fairbanks, Anchorage, and the Cook Inlet Area by 2019. According to the Purpose and Need statement, the gas is to be used for electricity generation and home heating, replacing an anticipated shortfall of supply in Southcentral Alaska and providing cleaner fuels for Fairbanks, now reliant on oil and wood for heating. There would also be sufficient supply for speculative future industrial uses. This project is completely distinct from the larger Alaska Pipeline Project that would take gas from the North Slope to the Lower 48, and distinct from the new proposal in the legislature this session to build a pipeline to Valdez or Southcentral to supply a LNG (liquefied natural gas) facility to export gas to Asia.

The proposed project would pass through the Denali Borough, mostly along the Parks Highway, with a deviation to avoid Denali National Park by cutting away south of Nenana Canyon and staying on the east side of the Nenana River, crossing the Yanert River and rejoining the highway south of Carlo Creek. Considered in the EIS is a route variation that would go through the national park instead, staying parallel to the highway corridor. In this version, the pipeline would be attached to the pedestrian/bicycle bridge between the park and the canyon for the first Nenana River crossing, and would pass under the river at Crabby’s Crossing. This variation would require Congressional authorization (for which a bill is pending).

A perusal of the various alternatives is interesting, although most are dismissed without further consideration. A Richardson Highway alternative was dismissed based on 2009 State of Alaska report that found no advantages and many disadvantages to the routing. There was a 2008 analysis of a route following the Intertie behind Sugarloaf Mountain to avoid the national park, but found it to be infeasible. Particularly interesting is the evaluation of alternatives to meeting the energy needs described in the Purpose and Need – from other natural gas projects to conservation to hydro and more – and the subsequent dismissal of all of them and being insufficient or too speculative to replace the proposed project.

The accompanying environmental analysis is extensive. DCC will be studying the EIS carefully, with initial concerns about impacts on the National Park, the Yanert valley, Borough municipal land, and private landowners; safety and environmental hazards associated with the pipeline; and its implications for the development of potential Healy Basin gas, Susitna hydro, and other energy sources. We welcome ideas and opinions from all of our members to help inform our comments.

Public hearings are scheduled between Feb. 13 and March 2 all along the pipeline route. Some of the key local dates are:

2/21/12 6-7 pm Open House/Presentation
7-8:30 pm Public Comment
Fairbanks Westmark Hotel
Yukon Room
813 Noble Street, Fairbanks, AK 99701
2/22/12 5-6 pm Open House/Presentation
6-8 pm Public Comment
Nenana Chief Mitch Demientieff Tribal Hall P.O. Box 356
307.8 Mile Parks Hwy
Nenana, AK 99760
2/23/12 12:30-1:30 pm (Open House/Presentation)
1:30-3:00 pm  (Public Comment)
Cantwell/Healy/McKinley Village Cantwell K-12 School P.O. Box 29
Cantwell, AK  99729
2/23/12 6:30 -7:30 pm  (Open House/Presentation)
7:30-9 pm  (Public Comment)
Talkeetna/Trapper Creek Trapper Creek Elementary School P.O. Box 13108
6742 E. Petersville Rd
Trapper Creek, AK 99683
2/24/12 5-6 pm Open House/Presentation
6-8 pm Public Comment
Willow Willow Community Center P.O. Box 1027, S. Parks Hwy
Willow, AK, 99688
2/27/12 6-7 pm Open House/Presentation
7-8:30 pm Public Comment
Anchorage Hilton Garden Inn Anchorage 4555 Union Square Dr
Anchorage, AK
99503

 

Submit your comments to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers CEPOA-RD-N
Alaska District, Regulatory Division
Attention: Mary Romero
Post Office Box 6898
JBER, AK 99506-0898

 

Send electronic comments, received by March 5, 2012, to:

asapcomments@usace.army.mil

 

or via the ASAP EIS website:

www.asapeis.com

 

For Further Information: Contact Mary Romero by e-mail at mary.r.romero@usace.army.mil, or by

telephone at 800-478-2712 (toll free within AK) or 907-261-7710.

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