The industrial area of Nikiski, featuring a refinery and currently mothballed LNG and fertilizer plants, was selected by the producer-led consortium of the Alaska LNG Project before the state took over in 2017. (Photo/File/AJOC)

The industrial area of Nikiski, featuring a refinery and currently mothballed LNG and fertilizer plants, was selected by the producer-led consortium of the Alaska LNG Project before the state took over in 2017. (Photo/File/AJOC)

Borough OKs funds for legal help on LNG project

The firm is supporting the borough’s efforts to keep Nikiski as the ideal location for LNG project.

The effort to keep Nikiski as the location for the Alaska Liquid Natural Gas Project — a planned 800-mile pipeline that would carry natural gas from the North Slope to a liquefaction plant and terminal — is still going strong.

At their Jan. 21 meeting, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly unanimously approved $150,000 to retain services from the law firm Norton Rose Fulbright. The law firm is helping the borough intervene in the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation’s application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in order to maintain Nikiski as the ideal location for the LNG project.

The Matanuska Susitna Borough and the city of Valdez have also sought to host the project.

In 2018, the borough hired Norton Rose Fulbright to represent its interests regarding the LNG project. Since then, the law firm has “successfully” intervened in the case, tracked filings with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and has filed other documents with the commission supporting the borough’s interest in locating the LNG facility and marine terminal in Nikiski, according to a Dec. 26 memo from borough attorney Colette Thompson to the assembly.

“It is anticipated that the borough’s interest would best be protected by continuing to participate in the process and retaining Norton Rose to advise and represent it,” the borough attorney’s memo said.

The ordinance appropriating the $150,000 says that this process is a “specialized area of law” and the continuing services and expertise of Norton Rose will be needed to adequately represent the borough’s interest in this matter.

No one from the public spoke on the ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting, but Assembly President Kelly Cooper — who joined the other assembly members in approving the funds — said she was originally going to vote against the funds because of concerns voiced by her constituents.

“We are all very enthused that the LNG project — if and when it happens — will be in Nikiski,” Cooper said at the meeting. “We all feel strongly the (environmental impact statement) will show that Nikiski is still the appropriate place for that. The $150,000 for three attorneys in D.C. to continue to have their meter running was bothersome to many of my constituents, but it makes sense to me with the (environmental impact statement) being due in March and a ruling in June.”

Cooper said she can support spending the money until the end of the fiscal year this summer, but at that time, the borough should be finished with the need for legal help, she said.

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