On Alaska LNG, don't stop asking questions

Keep asking.

That’s what we hope to see from residents of Nikiski — indeed, from residents of the entire central Kenai Peninsula — as plans for the Alaska LNG project progress.

Representatives from Alaska LNG met with people over coffee on Thursday at a Nikiski eatery. While the atmosphere was friendly, those in attendance had a number of pointed questions about potential project impacts on both individual properties as well as the community as a whole — and answers weren’t necessarily as clear or concrete as those asking might have liked.

With the project still on the drawing board, some of those answers are simply yet to be determined. But with a project of this scope, it’s important to keep asking, so that no issue falls through the cracks.

Before it approves the project, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requires an environmental impact statement. The document will contain information on things like impacts to fish and wildlife and land use, as well as socioeconomic and cultural impacts. In other words, project planners need to consider what will happen to the community if the project moves forward.

Last winter, Larry Persily, then the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Gas Line Projects, told a Chamber of Commerce luncheon audience that it would be incumbent upon the community to pay close attention to the environmental impact statement and hold Alaska LNG accountable.

“Federal agents will certainly read (the EIS) and make comments,” Persily said at the time, “but, we don’t live here. So, on these issues, it’s really up to you to watch out for yourselves.”

Persily is now a special assistant on oil and gas issues to Borough Mayor Mike Navarre, and the borough administration has put together web page with project updates as well as links to a wealth of useful information about the project at www.kpb.us/mayor/lng-project.

Getting answers to some questions will require some patience as engineers continue to look for the best options. But that patience should go hand-in-hand with persistence. If there’s an issue with the project you think needs to be addressed, don’t let it slip through the cracks. Keep asking.

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