Headlamp – Murkowski and Zinke charting a path to energy security.

Project online by 2025. The federal agency responsible for studying the environmental impact of the Alaska LNG project has released a timeline for completing its review. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced Tuesday that it plans to release a draft of the final Environmental Impact Statement in a year, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported. The project could be authorized by March 2020 if the agency sticks to its timeline, although the state was hoping to get through that permitting process and begin construction next year. Alaska Gasline Development Corporation President Keith Meyer said the corporation can still bring the project online by 2025. “We’re just happy that it’s a schedule that we can work with, we can live with and that does not adversely impact the project,” Meyer said.

Promises made to rural Alaska. Alaska’s senior Sen. Lisa Murkowski used her plum position atop the Senate’s energy committee Tuesday to advance rural Alaska issues with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Murkowski quizzed Zinke on permitting for the controversial Ambler Road project and land management concerns for miners in Interior Alaska. Her efforts to secure favorable outcomes comes after a string of “wins” for the Alaska delegation with the department, including opening part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to potential oil drilling and beginning the process of building a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. “You and I have worked closely to chart a path to energy security which you have noted runs right through the state of Alaska,” Murkowski said, thanking Zinke for his actions over the last year. Murkowski questioned Zinke on the status of the department’s involvement in a resource management plan for Interior Alaska, in the 40 Mile District, that was released during the final days of the Obama administration.

“Royalty owners indicated that, when they asked for any type of follow-up on this, they get really vague and ambiguous statements,.” The Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee approved a new set of oil and gas rules Monday, but regulations that add transparency to royalty statements won’t take effect until July 2019. The new rules require oil companies to clearly identify the amount and purpose of each deduction taken from royalty payments. Bruce Hicks, assistant director for the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division, said regulators heard from royalty owners who are frustrated about deductions taken from their payments and the lack of information explaining them. “Royalty owners indicated that, when they asked for any type of followup on this, they get really vague and ambiguous statements,” Hicks said. The rules require any deductions taken from oil and gas royalties to be labeled under categories of transportation, processing, compression and administrative costs.

From today’s Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:

EPA STREAMLINES POLLUTION CONTROL PROGRAM TO BOOST PLANT EXPANSIONS: The EPA moved Tuesday to relax requirements for power plants and other industrial facilities in a way that will allow them to expand operations without the fear of being punished.

New guidance, New Sources: Pruitt said the new guidance affects New Source Review rules that have been difficult for industrial facilities to navigate when considering adding more plant capacity or making upgrades.

Removing barriers: EPA’s air chief, Bill Wehrum, said the new guidance outlines a “common-sense interpretation of NSR rules,” and said the result is the removal of “unnecessary administrative barriers to the construction of cleaner and more efficient facilities.”

The industry has long seen New Source Review as a tricky regulation that should be avoided when possible. The EPA program attempts to determine if, by modifying a power plant, or building a new manufacturing plant, for example, a significant new source of pollution is being created.

First Reads:

Timeline set for environmental study of Alaska LNG project
AP News, March 14, 2018

Interior secretary promises action on rural Alaska issues
Anchorage Daily News, Erica Martinson, March 14, 2018

Rules adding transparency to oil royalty statements get final OK
The Bismarck Tribune, Amy Dalrymple, March 12, 2018