Chenault Pushes to Increase Profile of In-State Gas Line

House Speaker Mike Chenault is calling for the House and Senate to increase the profile of an in-state natural gas line dedicated to providing energy to Alaskans.

In 2010, Chenault sponsored a bill setting up the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation – or AGDC. Friday, he said that it’s time for the work of that group to be expanded.

Chenault says the project to build a gas line through Canada for North American Markets – known as AGIA – appears to be stalled.  And Governor Parnell has only just recently called for more consideration of a line that would provide liquefied national gas for export to Pacific Rim countries.  Either of those projects would have provided access to gas for use in Alaska.

“I don’t want to call it a backup line because I think it might be the only viable option we have to bring gas to the citizens of Alaska.  Some people might call it a backup line, they might call it a Plan B,    But I think the project is moving forward.  And at the end of the day,  this might be the only project that is viable that actually pencils out that we can build,” Chenault said.

Chenault says there are three House bills in the Senate right now relating to the in-state gas line.  And he is working on a fourth measure to introduce next year.  That bill currently under discussion would allow AGDC to take steps to determine ownership of the line, avoid some technical requirements of the Regulatory Commission, and speed up the right of way process.   Anchorage Republican Mike Hawker, who has been working with Chenault on the plans, says there is nothing yet fixed in the project or in the legislation they will introduce.

“I know everything we’ve been working on is about removing government impediments to letting the marketplace, letting commercial interests work to bring together a project that actually gets the gas to consumers.  We’re not doing anything here that dictates any kind of organization, any kind of final structure, any kind of ownership structure.  But we want to remove impediments to letting the market determine those things as a market most effectively and efficiently can,” Hawker said.

The House bills that Chenault says are in the Senate all passed near the end of the session and are waiting for hearings in various committees.   One would establish a set-aside fund to cover the expenses of AGDC.  Another would exempt some of the Corporation’s work from the Public Records Act.  And the final one would limit judicial review for the pipeline’s right of way or construction of a project.

The bill Chenault and Hawker are working on is expected to be ready for introduction at the start of next year’s session.

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