December 2, 2015

Ms. Kimberly Bose
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE, Room 1A
Washington, D.C. 20426

Re: Alaska LNG Project, Docket # PF 14-21

Dear Ms. Bose:

The Resource Development Council (RDC) is writing to express its strong support for the proposed Alaska LNG Project, which is absolutely vital to Alaska’s future economy.

RDC is an Alaskan business association comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s oil and gas, mining, forest products, tourism and fisheries industries. RDC’s membership includes Alaska Native Corporations, local communities, organized labor, and industry support firms. RDC’s purpose is to encourage a strong, diversified private sector in Alaska and expand the state’s economic base through the responsible development of our natural resources.

With steadily declining throughput of oil in the trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) and new exploration and development highly unlikely in the Chukchi Sea in the foreseeable future, the Alaska LNG Project is positioned to become the foundation of Alaska’s economy in the 21st century. The project could create between 9,000 and 15,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs. Moreover, it is important to recognize that for every oil and gas industry job, there are an estimated 20 additional jobs generated across Alaska’s economy.

The project is expected to generate billions of dollars in revenues annually to the State of Alaska. Providing a market for Alaska’s natural gas will likely spur further exploration across the North Slope and Interior Alaska, increasing throughput in and extending the life of TAPS, as well as generating more private sector economic activity and jobs for Alaskans.

The Alaska LNG Project will also make affordable natural gas available to Fairbanks and other communities, which in recent years have experienced the highest energy rates in the nation to heat their homes in the harsh Arctic climate.

The proposed gas pipeline will utilize proven technologies that will enable safe operations while minimizing environmental impacts. RDC is confident this project can be built in an environmentally responsible manner, as was TAPS, which was constructed 40 years ago.

RDC supports the Alaska LNG Project as currently proposed, including the routing of the pipeline to tidewater in Cook Inlet. While the project crosses a sliver of Denali National Park, the routing inside the park follows an established corridor that includes a state highway and other utilities. The gas pipeline will not have a negative impact on tourism or wildlife as most of the pipeline will be buried. Moreover, the existing 800-mile oil pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez has had virtually no impact on tourism. In fact, thousands of tourists each year pay for tours that include the pipeline as a venue. The proposed gas pipeline could actually help tourism by lowering energy costs for hotels, lodges, and other industry operations, leaving more dollars to investment in visitor infrastructure, which would ultimately help diversify the Alaskan economy.

RDC is aware that special interests are opposing siting the Alaska LNG Project’s marine terminal and liquefaction facility at Nikiski, citing highly speculative potential impacts to the Cook Inlet beluga whales. It is important to note that the collapse of the beluga whale population is due almost exclusively to excessive subsistence harvests in the 1990s. No other anthropogenic source of stress is explicitly held to have been co-responsible for the decline.

Since statehood, the Cook Inlet beluga whale has coexisted with responsible resource development, including commercial fishing and oil and gas. Indeed, there are already numerous oil and gas pipelines in Cook Inlet, which have been operating safely for decades. In addition, other large-scale facilities offshore and along the coast of Cook Inlet have coexisted with the beluga whale for generations, including oil and gas platforms, the Tesoro refinery, the ConocoPhillips LNG export facility, the previously-active Agrium fertilizer plant, the Port of Anchorage, Port MacKenzie, and fish processing plants. It wasn’t until the unsustainable subsistence harvests of the 1990s that the beluga population plummeted. Restrictions on activities that have not and will not be shown to hamper recovery of the whales are at best, inappropriate.  Construction occurring in critical habitat areas will have significant planning and monitoring to ensure the well being of beluga whales and other marine mammals.

The overwhelming economic benefits of the Alaska LNG project must be given serious consideration. Past performance of pipelines in Cook Inlet have demonstrated the ability to coexist with marine wildlife. Major revisions to re-route the gas pipeline to Prince William Sound to avoid beluga whale critical habitat would result in crippling delays and seriously jeopardize the project.

The Alaska LNG Project is poised to be the single largest infrastructure investment America’s history. The project is clearly in the public interest. RDC urges FERC to fully consider the economic and other benefits of the Alaska LNG project in the Environmental Impact Statement. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.


Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc.