Originally published in the Peninsula Clarion
Chairman for the Alaska LNG Advisory Committee, Tim Johnson, presented an update at Tuesday’s Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting, saying the group is focusing on potential impacts the proposed project would have on borough communities.
The role of the Alaska LNG Advisory Committee is to monitor the activities and developments related to the Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas project slated for Nikiski. In his presentation, Johnson emphasized the importance of planning and being prepared for when the project comes to fruition.
“Even though there’s not a project now, we need to be working toward having a plan in place if it’s sanctioned,” Johnson said at Tuesday’s meeting.
The borough mayor’s office is currently working on getting feedback from borough communities about potential impacts the LNG project could have across the peninsula. Through their bimonthly meetings, the committee is hoping to elicit more comments from the public regarding the project. Johnson said the committee has heard a lot of public testimony, especially when it comes to concerns about rerouting the Kenai Spur Highway. Currently, the highway passes through the approximately 900-acre footprint of the planned LNG plant, which will liquefy and export gas sent from an 800-mile pipeline from the North Slope.
Johnson said the project is very important to Alaska and the borough.
“We want to get input from service areas, Native corporations and city entities so we can have a full list of what the potential impacts of this project are, how we can start to prioritize them and work together to have a plan,” Johnson said. “If something does advance and develop we can work quickly.”
While the borough collects information about impacts from communities, the committee is working on its own list of impacts the project may have on the peninsula, which they hope to prioritize and plan for this year.
“There is no funded project, but as everyone realizes the size and the magnitude of the project is such that if it were to move forward, we need to be ready,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the committee is made up in large part by Nikiski residents but has expanded to represent a larger portion of peninsula communities.
“I think that’s very important because whether you’re in Homer or Seward, there are going to be major impacts,” Johnson said. “It’s throughout the borough, not just Nikiski and the city of Kenai.”
The next Alaska LNG Advisory Committee will be held 6 p.m. on Jan. 15, at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center. Johnson said key topics at the next meeting will include discussion on payment in lieu of taxes, prioritizing impacts and the project’s environmental impact statement that is scheduled to be completed at the end of February.