FERC update 7/27/17
Finally, the long-awaited study plan determination (FERC 2017 Determination) of the Initial Study Review (ISR) by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects was made public June 22, 2017.
Besides the actual determination, FERC dealt with Governor Walker’s August 2016 request to hold the licensing process in abeyance. FERC states “it considers the process in abeyance” because no study work is being done. The process can be restarted. But a firm financial commitment by the applicant is necessary with the caveat that the current study data could be considered stale i.e. outdated. Scoping and modifications might be necessary to the study plan. The study data must be adequate to inform FERC about licensing conditions and to carry out the Draft Environmental Impact Study under the National Environmental Policy Act.
The next step would be the completion of the Updated Study Report (USR). With a completed USR and more engineering work, the state could file a draft license application, a significant step.
Stakeholders’ requests for study modifications and new study requests were filed by June 23, 2016 by nine government agencies, 12 NGOs, and four individuals. Thirty-five studies had modification requests. Modifications in 17 studies were approved in part. Study modifications for 18 studies were not accepted. The one new study request was denied.
- Specifically, FERC agreed with stakeholders that additional study data is needed in aquatic habitat and riverine systems.
- The Recreation Resources Study (12.5), River Recreation Flow and Access Study (12.7) and Transportation Resources Study (15.7) will require study and analysis from Willow Creek (River Mile 50) to Susitna Station River (Mile 29.9). This is a big win for the Community Councils of Talkeetna and Willow and supported by the National Park Service.
- FERC said that it is premature for the applicant to assert that there will be no project impacts on the flows of the Lower Susitna River.
- The modification request by many stakeholders for a Susitna River Basin-wide climate change impact study was denied.
- FERC refused to consider Greenhouse Gas Emissions from reservoir inundation, near-surface permafrost melting, and cement manufacturing emissions.
- The National Valuation Study of a free flowing Susitna River was denied.