Biden administration reapproves exports for proposed Alaska LNG project

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Thursday approved exports from a massive prospective Alaska liquefied natural gas project.

The Alaska LNG project, estimated in June 2020 to cost $38.7 billion, would include a North Slope natural gas treatment plant, 800 miles of pipeline and a liquefaction facility in Nikiski in Southcentral Alaska. The Alaska-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corp. is leading the project and has been seeking buyers for exports. The corporation has not reached a final investment decision on whether to construct the project, according to an Energy Department spokesperson.

The order reapproves a Trump-era decision to allow exports from the project to nations with which the U.S. does not have a free-trade agreement. The proposed project would export primarily to Asian markets.

“With this supplemental record of decision, the Biden Administration has reaffirmed the authorization for and climate benefits of the Alaska LNG Project, which will provide Alaskans and U.S. allies with a significant source of low-emissions, responsibly produced energy consistent with international environmental priorities,” said AGDC President Frank Richards in a statement.

“Upon initial review this supplemental decision adds to the record of support for Alaska LNG and we will review it carefully as our work developing this important project continues,” Richards said.

Despite Thursday’s approval, questions linger about whether the project could be economically viable.

“My team is continuing to follow the proposed gas line project closely, and I believe in the importance of a thorough public process to determine whether an Alaska gas line can be economically viable and gain the support of community stakeholders,” Alaska Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola said in a statement.


The amended order reaffirmed prior environmental conditions and imposes new environmental requirements that prevent venting carbon dioxide which the department believes will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, according to a Energy Department spokesperson.

The Biden administration has previously signaled support for the Alaska LNG project. In October, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emmanuel convened an LNG summit in Tokyo. There, Japanese energy companies met with Richards and Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan about the prospect that Alaska LNG could be exported to Japan.

Sullivan spokesman Ben Dieterich said the decision “bolsters the case” for the Alaska LNG project.

“Upon initial review, this supplemental record of decision on Alaska’s LNG Project, released by President Biden’s own Department of Energy, appears to reaffirm what Senator Sullivan and many Alaskans have been arguing for years: Natural gas is a proven source of desperately-needed energy that also presents the opportunity to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions,” he said in a statement.

The decision comes on the heels of the Interior Department’s approval of a huge ConocoPhillips oil development on the North Slope, the Willow project, which enraged environmental groups.

Environmental groups decried the Energy Department’s Alaska LNG decision Thursday, saying the project would damage Alaska’s wilderness and endanger the climate. Several groups also said the move is out of step with the Biden administration’s climate goals.

Earthjustice, an environmental law firm, is representing conservation groups in a challenge to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s 2020 approval of the project.

“It’s frustrating to see the Department of Energy rubber-stamp a massive fossil-fuel infrastructure project of this kind when it clearly conflicts with the urgent need to tackle the climate crisis,” said Earthjustice senior attorney Erin Colón.

Riley Rogerson

Riley Rogerson is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Washington, D.C., and is a fellow with Report for America. Contact her at