(Juneau) - The 27th Alaska Legislature's final regular session closed without key legislation enabling the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation to continue with its project delivering North Slope gas to Fairbanks, Southcentral and other communities. House Bill 9 sponsors Speaker Mike Chenault and Rep. Mike Hawker expressed disappointment in the Senate for failing Alaskans in need of affordable natural gas.
The Senate effectively neutered the only pipeline project forging ahead to get gas to Alaskans.
~ Rep. Mike Chenault
"I commend our colleagues in the House for their leadership and vision in passing House Bill 9," Speaker Chenault, R-Nikiski, said. "I had hoped the Senate would listen to Alaskans who need the benefits of clean, reliable, low-cost energy in their communities. Instead, they've cut off the most promising project in a decades-long pursuit of instate natural gas."
The House passed HB 9 in March. The Senate did not to take up the bill in a meaningful way. The sponsors worked closely with the administration to refine the measure passed by the House, adding a sanctioning requirement and a commitment offering Fairbanks greater promise for a gasline. The revised version, available online, also promotes economic development and a competitive business environment by granting all pipelines the ability to offer contract carriage. The bill includes pipeline expansion requirements to encourage exploration and development of oil and gas basins statewide.
It is simply wrong that Alaskans struggle to pay monthly fuel bills and prepare for rolling brown-outs in the dead of an Arctic winter, while our North Slope natural gas remains undeveloped.
~ Rep. Mike Hawker
Senate committees did not provide the opportunity to introduce the new bill version.
"The Senate did not allow legitimate, public discussion on this bill, while Alaska's energy outlook grows worse with supply gaps looming in Southcentral and crippling costs in Fairbanks," Chenault said. "The Senate effectively neutered the only pipeline project forging ahead to get gas to Alaskans."
"It is simply wrong that Alaskans struggle to pay monthly fuel bills and prepare for rolling brown-outs in the dead of an Arctic winter, while our North Slope natural gas remains undeveloped," Rep. Hawker, R-Anchorage, said. "But the greater travesty is that Alaskans no longer have the opportunity to change that. AGDC has made tremendous progress to the point of scheduling an in-state gasline open season for 2013. With House Bill 9, AGDC would also have been positioned to have a powerful seat at the table as gas producers and TransCanada consider aligning around an even larger pipeline."
Chenault and Hawker pledged to continue their efforts to enable AGDC to maintain its momentum on natural gas pipelines linking Alaskans with their resource, and asked House and Senate members to stand with them advancing an instate gas pipeline.