Another Way to Get Gas to Alaskans

By Dave Donaldson

A bill scheduled to be introduced in the House today will set up another group to attempt to put together a plan to deliver natural gas to the railbelt.    House Speaker Mike Chenault,  who sponsored the measure,  says his goal is have plans available by July of next year  to use in the event of any delay with the AGIA pipeline from the North Slope to North American Markets.

The take I get from the administration is their interest is in AGIA.   And that’s their first priority is AGIA.    I don’t think that Alaskans need to be a second priority or third priority.  I think they also need to be right up there and be considered as the top priority.

Chenault points to parallel work being done by the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority — or ANGDA —  the Governor’s In-State gasline Coordinator,  and private industry such as Enstar,  Anchorage’s Natural Gas Utility.  Chenault says his goal is to give all those interests one source they can all use to begin working together.

I think just try to get them together.  Not necessarily make them work together, but put together a team that gets you to the objective — and the objective is to have an in-state gas line.

Chenault’s plan would put Alaska Railroad President and C-E-O Pat Gamble as head of the development team.   Also included would be a representative of the state’s Department of Transportation,  the Governor’s In-state Coordinator Bob Swenson and the executive director of ANGDA, Harold Heinze.  That team would also assemble an advisory group of other interests to provide input into the project.

Chenault doesn’t have a conclusion in mind for the group’s work.   He says ideally private enterprise would build it,  however, he recognizes the Railroad’s unique tax-free bonding authority and its ability to assemble the essentials for the task.

The Senate is also looking to the railroad for development of an in-state gas line.   Anchorage Republican Lesil McGuire has prepared a bill that would turn all pipeline planning and construction authority over to the Railroad.

Chenault’s bill is scheduled to by heard by the House Resources Committee on Friday.


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