Gov. Walker calls special session on new gas tax, pipeline buyout

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Gov. Bill Walker on Thursday formally called the Alaska Legislature back to Juneau for a third special session this year.

His proclamation calls for considering two topics: A tax targeting undeveloped natural gas still in the ground, and buying out Canadian pipeline builder TransCanada’s ownership stake in a proposed natural gas pipeline.

In a press release, Walker likened the state’s unproduced natural gas reserves as milk with no expiration date. He says taxing it serves as an insurance policy against the “significant risk of never monetizing” the gas.

The TransCanada pipeline ownership buyout is a state option that closes at the end of the year under previous pipeline development agreements. The buyout would give the state more negotiating power with the other pipeline partners, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and BP.

In a press release, the governor said the gasline project has gone from “a wish-list item to a must-have” because of the state’s $3.5. billion budget deficit.