The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced on April 23, 2009 that TransCanada Alaska pre-filed for a pipeline license with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build a large-diameter gas pipeline from the North Slope to Alberta, Canada (DNR, 2009, Â¶1). The pipeline will transport up to 4.5 billion cubic feet of gas per day from Alaska to the continental United States, and was spearheaded under Governor Palin’s Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA). The pre-filing was done two years early. (Delridge, 2009, Â¶2).
Governor Palin said, “The pre-filing process is a significant milestone in obtaining a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the FERC and I am pleased that TransCanada has taken this step to move the project forward.” Obtaining the certificate is a key step in the regulatory process which must occur prior to construction and operation of the pipeline. Formal filing of the FERC certificate is scheduled for October 2012 with the issuance of a certificate planned for June 2014 (DNR, 2009, Â¶2).
Pre-filing expedites the environmental review process, according to Dr. Mark Myers, AGIA Coordinator (DNR, 2009, Â¶3). Drue Pearce, the federal coordinator for the Alaska pipeline concurred (Delridge, 2009, Â¶4).
Other specific benefits of pre-filing include:
- “Enables FERC to begin the environmental review process at an early stage, facilitating timely and efficient authorization of the project as provided by the expedited review and approval time lines in the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Act;” (DNR, 2009, Â¶5).
- “Permits FERC, as the lead agency for preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement for the project, to work with other relevant federal agencies that will participate in the project’s environmental review;” (DNR, 2009, Â¶6).
- “Allows the Office of Federal Coordinator to coordinate a federal implementation plan for the project that will detail each relevant federal agency’s plans and processes for carrying out appropriate agency actions;” (DNR, 2009, Â¶7).
- “Provides for FERC and TC Alaska to work together to engage relevant stakeholders, including landowners, Alaska Natives, environmental groups, and other interested Alaskans, through a process that will include site visits, participating agency consultations and public open house meetings that all relevant federal agencies and TC Alaska will follow; and (DNR, 2009, Â¶8).”
- “Enables FERC to work with TC Alaska to ensure that substantial field work is done in a manner consistent with FERC’s environmental requirements, thus avoiding any unnecessary delays” (DNR, 2009, Â¶9).
According to Tony Palmer, Vice President, TransCanada, the pre-filing enhances the information exchange between that company and FERC, and other government agencies (Delridge, 2009, Â¶3).
Under the AGIA, the State of Alaska will provide $500 million for costs related to securing the FERC license, which includes up to half of the costs related to an “open season.” In pipeline parlance, “open season” means “a pipeline company lays out its plans for gas producers and takes commitments for space in the line.” Thence, financing is secured, followed by the FERC license (Delridge, 2009, Â¶6-8).
“FERC officials will review the filing and grant or disapprove it, commission spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen said” (Delridge, 2009, Â¶13).
The docket number is: PF 09-11 and is available at www.ferc.gov (Delridge, 2009, Â¶15).
The AGIA is Governor Palin’s brainchild and her accomplishment. The pre-filing expedites her project by two years. This pipeline will be the largest infrastructure project in North American history. It will bring American natural gas to American markets. Governor Palin is essentially a project manager on this job — among everything else she must do daily.
Only a seasoned executive could manage a project of this size and scope, and perform all the other aspects of governing her state besides.
Delridge, R. (2009, April 24). TransCanada marks milestone in gas line plan. Fairbanks Daily News Miner.. Retrieved April 26, 2009 from: http://www.newsminer.com/news/2009/apr/24/transcanada-marks-pipeline-milestone/
TransCanada initiates pre-filing with FERC. (2009, April 23). State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved April 26, 2009 from: http://dnr.alaska.gov/shared/mediareleases/dsp_media_release.cfm?id=1151&title=TransCanada%20Initiates%20Pre-Filing%20with%20FERC