Federal regulators are launching a statewide series of public meetings in a dozen communities to take comments on the $55 billion Alaska LNG project that's considered critical to the state's economic future.
The meetings will allow the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to gather concerns about the megaproject designed to move natural gas from the North Slope to Nikiski in Southcentral, where plans call for it to be chilled into a liquid at a huge plant and sent on oceangoing tankers to Asia.
Under the umbrella of Alaska LNG, the state is partnering with oil giants ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips. Also, Gov. Bill Walker is asking lawmakers to buy out a fourth partner, pipeline builder TransCanada, to give the state a greater stake.
The gas is not expected to flow until 2025. The partners are in an early phase, conducting preliminary engineering work. With the participants still not in agreement on several large issues, it's uncertain whether they will agree to conduct more extensive studies that could cost each hundreds of millions of dollars.
Comments gathered at the meeting will be incorporated into an environmental impact statement that FERC plans to prepare for the project.
The meetings are a chance for the public to express local concerns, such as impacts to fishing, groundwater, traffic and safety issues, said Larry Persily, former federal pipeline coordinator and special assistant to Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre.
"Whether it's Nikiski or along the pipeline route in Healy or in Fairbanks at the pipe laydown yard or in Anchorage, it's good to point out to federal regulators that there are local issues they need to cover in the environmental impact statement," he said.
The information-gathering will begin Tuesday, with simultaneous meetings in Nikiski and Kaktovik on the North Slope. They'll wrap up Nov. 19, with simultaneous meetings in Anchorage at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center and in Fairbanks' Morris Thomson Cultural and Visitors Center.
Officials with Alaska LNG -- ExxonMobil is the lead partner -- will be available one hour before the meetings begin to provide information about the project. In Barrow, they will be available for an hour after the meeting, according to the agency.
All the FERC meetings are set to begin at 6 p.m. and end at 9 p.m., or after all speakers have presented.
Additional meetings will also be held Oct. 28 in Houston and Barrow; Oct. 29 in Trapper Creek and Nuiqsut; Nov. 17 in Coldfoot and Healy; and Nov. 18 in Tyonek and Nenana.
To learn more about the project, visit www.ferc.gov and search for docket PF14-21.
Comments are being accepted until Dec. 4, and people can do so in writing if they can't attend the public meetings. Comments must include the project's docket number, Persily said.
Here are four ways to comment outside the meetings: