By Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON, April 14 (Reuters) – The Biden administration on Thursday approved exports of liquefied natural gas from the Alaska LNG project, a document showed, as the United States competes with Russia to ship Arctic natural gas to Asia transport.
The Department of Energy approved Alaska Gasline Development Corp’s (AGDC) project to export LNG to countries with which the United States does not have a free trade agreement.
Supporters of the roughly $39 billion project expect it to be operational by 2030 if it receives all the necessary permits. The LNG would mainly be exported to countries in Asia.
Frank Richards, president of Alaska-owned AGDC, said the company will review the 51-page decision as it develops the project, which will “provide Alaskans and U.S. allies a significant source of low-emission, responsibly produced energy in line with international standards.” standards will provide environmental priorities.”
Alaska LNG includes a liquefaction facility on the Kenai Peninsula in southern Alaska and a planned 807-mile (1,300 km) pipeline to transport gas stranded in northern Alaska across the state.
The project, for which exports were first approved by Donald Trump’s administration, has been opposed by environmental groups. The Biden administration conducted an environmental review of Alaska LNG, concluding that it has economic and international security benefits and that opponents had failed to demonstrate the exports were not in the “public interest.”
The Biden administration amended the prior permit to ban venting of the project’s associated greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.
Nevertheless, the decision was decried by environmental groups as a “carbon bomb”.
“Joe Biden’s climate presidency is falling apart,” said Lukas Ross of Friends of the Earth. Ross said it was the second US approval of a “fossil fuel mega-project” in as many months.
Earthjustice, an environmental law firm, said the decision paved the way for more lawsuits aimed at stopping the project.
The Biden administration last month approved ConocoPhillips’ $7 billion Willow oil and gas drilling project on Alaska’s North Slope.
Russia plans to commission the first of three lines of its Arctic LNG-2 project, which is among the largest LNG plants in the world, by the end of 2023.
The Biden administration is seeking to authorize more US LNG exports as it competes with Russia, which has traditionally been one of the world’s largest energy exporters.
Russia is under pressure from Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, and the US has boosted LNG exports to Europe after Moscow halted gas pipeline deliveries to the continent.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Sandra Maler, Tom Hogue, and Chizu Nomiyama)
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