A federal office in Washington issued a report Tuesday guiding would-be natural gas producers on the North Slope how to navigate federal regulations.
Larry Persily is the Federal Coordinator for the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline and authored the report. He called it a tool for any company that, in the future, chooses to pursue a pipeline – regardless of its destination.
“Whether you build a pipeline from the North Slope to the Canadian border to serve North American markets, or you build a pipeline from the North Slope to tidewater in Valdez or Kenai somewhere, to serve Asian markets. All these environmental permitting issues are going to be the same,” Persily said.
The report examines a whole host of permitting issues, from clean water and air regulations, to possible dredging sites for dock expansion.
And it recommends potential pipeline applicants survey the Native communities once they select a route, because the company will need to abide by government-to-government requirements.
“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission wants to know who lives out there, how much they depend on what resources; be it fish, fowl, caribou, whatever. Where are the hunting grounds? What seasons? Those are things you’ve got to know, so you can build a project without hurting someone else along the way,” Persily said.
Of course, the real barrier to a pipeline is not environmental regulation. It’s the global market for natural gas. Persily says there won’t be any pipeline until companies see the $40 billion one would cost as a sound investment.