DOE backs Alaska gas exports over climate objections

By Niina H. Farah | 03/20/2024 07:01 AM EDT

The department’s re-approval of shipments from the $43 billion project predates its decision to pause new LNG export decisions.

Department of Energy headquarters in Washington.

Department of Energy headquarters in Washington. Francis Chung/POLITICO

The Department of Energy is defending its decision to re-approve exports from a massive liquefied natural gas project in Alaska, even as the agency acknowledged the project would likely result in a net increase in global greenhouse gas emissions.

In a brief filed in federal court last week, DOE said it has broad discretion under federal law to deem Alaska LNG to be in the public interest, a finding that is being disputed by environmental groups. The agency’s determination predates its January decision to pause new LNG export approvals as it takes a closer look at the effect that shipping natural gas overseas has on climate change and energy costs.

The $43 billion Alaska LNG project includes an 800-mile pipeline connecting a gas treatment facility in Alaska’s remote North Slope to a liquefaction facility in the south of the state. Most of the LNG from the project would be exported, starting in 2032.


“Here, DOE reasonably determined, based on a thorough consideration and discussion of all pertinent benefits and potential harms, that it lacked a basis for finding that Alaska LNG exports would be inconsistent with the public interest,” Justice Department attorneys wrote in a brief filed Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.