New taxes and user fees have either already happened or are being considered to balance the great Alaska budget. Meanwhile, a pipeline from Prudhoe Bay gas fields to Midwest customers is looking likely.
Who will fund construction of the pipeline and how much will they make for financing the estimated $20 billion project? Who funded the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, and how much have they made from their investment?
One thing is for sure: Alaska didn't fund the last pipeline. We didn't have the capital to even think about it. I imagine the folks who grubstaked the venture have been pretty pleased with themselves for a good while.
We could do it different this time. The permanent fund could become a half owner in the new pipe.
The benefits would be threefold. First, Alaskans would benefit from jobs created by planning and construction of the pipe. Second, North Slope gas would bring needed funds into the state treasury and, third, the permanent fund would probably make a nice return on its investment.
In the short term, dividends would be down. But Alaskans are all about the long haul.
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