The steps ahead might not be few, but another step in the direction of Alaska realizing its liquid natural gas project is a welcome one, particularly in the midst of an economic crisis created by the novel coronavirus response.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission certified the $43 billion project for construction and operation at the end of last week. Project expenses are estimated at $548 million.
This certification is no small achievement. The agency has spent six years reviewing public comment, studies and fieldwork reports. It received more than 150,000 pages of environmental, engineering and cultural data from the state.
However, other state and federal permits still would be necessary before construction of an 800-mile pipeline designed to deliver natural gas from the North Slope to Nikiski, where it would be superchilled into a liquid and shipped in tankers overseas.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy describes the certification as a key step in determining whether Alaska LNG is competitive and economically beneficial for the state.
Dunleavy says the economic review will continue and potential investors would have to be acquired and included in decisions regarding upcoming steps.
The project, which started during the Parnell period, initially involved major oil companies operating in Alaska. But they backed out and the state took over the project during the Walker administration.
It is advancing with Dunleavy's team, as it should.
This project could get Alaska's natural gas to market, and provide a clean energy source for the country, as well as high-paying construction jobs and economic benefits to the state and Alaskans.
This is a positive development in a challenging economic period for Alaska. It's about time for one.