Legislators Supporting Deadline for Gasline Project

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

Legislators are supporting a deadline that could lead to the closing of the state-licensed gasline project from the North Slope to North American markets.   House speaker Mike Chenault introduced legislation last week giving the state’s licensee, TransCanada, until July 15 to provide lawmakers with evidence that the line is still economically viable.

He says the administration is asking for $163-million in next year’s budget  to cover pipeline expenses for the project,  and the public is asking about its status. He says the bill is simply asking for information.

Anchorage Republican Mike Hawker, who co-sponsored the bill, sees it as an attempt to create a sense of urgency around the project by adding a reporting deadline that was not in the original terms of the legislation.

Governor Sean Parnell recognizes the urgency that Hawker sees.  However, in a written statement released by his staff Monday,   he says adding the deadline for transportation commitments  would, “lead to delays and ultimately end our opportunity to build this pipeline.”  He says it will have a chilling effect on businesses considering investing here.

Other opponents to the bill agree with the governor. Minority Leader Beth Kerttula – a Democrat – says Alaskans want the pipeline project now, but that desire doesn’t recognize the reality and the size of the project. She says lawmakers who approved the pipeline project in 2007 knew it wouldn’t be finished immediately.

The bill was referred only to the House Finance committee and hasn’t yet been scheduled for a hearing.

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