Alaska's Massive LNG Project a Bad Idea?
The State of Alaska is pushing a massive project to drill more fracked gas wells, build a 807 mile pipeline and construct what would be America's largest gas liquification plant and marine terminal so that it can export an additional 20 million tons of the condensed fuel abroad every year.
On the surface, some may think that this is not such a bad idea. After all, natural gas is cleaner than coal, right?
The reality is that there is currently a surplus of natural gas and the prices are very low. Most nations are rapidly moving away from fossil fuels, so by the time that the project is completed there may be little or no market for the gas.
Major oil & gas companies have already pulled out of the project due to its high financial risk.
The other problem is that it would cause massive environmental damage from fracking and the pipeline construction and operation. Natural gas from fracked wells release so much methane into the atmosphere that the contribution to climate change is on par with burning coal.
The State of Alaska is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to fast-track the project and exempt it from already weak environmental requirements. So, the environmental damage would be even greater than normal.
A more sane energy alternative would be for Alaska to mine the massive methane clathrates in the Arctic before they all melt. Methane is up to 100 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2 in the near-term and 25 times more potent in the longer term. It would be much better to burn the methane as a fuel than to let it be released into the atmosphere. Keeping Arctic methane out of the atmosphere is urgently needed and would be environmentally beneficial.
The Center for Biological Diversity has intervened in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proceedings for the project but the Trump administration is likely to approve it regardless of the risks.