Tri-Borough mayors urge spur line

Posted: Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Tri-Borough Commission is urging that any future pipeline project include a spur line to Southcentral and that a portion of the line's revenues be dedicated to Alaska communities.

Mayor John Williams of the Kenai Peninsula Borough, Mary Mark Begich of the Municipality of Anchorage, and Mayor Curtis Menard, of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, sent a letter Monday to Gov. Sarah Palin saying the Southcentral region depends on a secure supply of affordable natural gas, but that its current source, Cook Inlet, is dwindling, putting the region's future economic health at risk.

The three mayors representing the interests of the Southcentral region recently developed an energy policy detailing their concerns and the need to connect Southcentral to North Slope gas by 2020.

"A spur line to Southcentral connecting to a main pipeline offers tremendous in-state economic opportunities for more than 60 percent of Alaskans," they told the governor, along with co-addressees Senate President Lyda Green, R-Wasilla, and House Speaker John Harris, R-Anchorage. "Lower energy costs, a secure long-term energy supply and in-state value-added manufacturing are just a few of the positive outcomes that would result from a spur line."

Millions in state funds already have been spent on planning, permitting and right-of-way work for a spur or bullet line project through the work of the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority, which Alaska voters created in 2002 by ballot initiative, they said.

The mayors expressed gratitude to the governor and legislators for approving community assistance during the recent legislative session, saying the $60 million appropriated over four years would be of "enormous assistance" to communities.

"At the same time, administration officials have said an Alaska natural gas pipeline could generate revenues in the neighborhood of $60 billion over the life of the project," the mayors noted. "We believe Alaska's communities should share in a portion of those revenues to meet the needs of residents and provide sorely needed property tax relief."

Williams was unavailable for comment Monday, but special assistant Bruce Richards said recent discussion of a possible "Y" line to Valdez included in TransCanada's pipeline proposal under the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act helped lead to Monday's letter.

Richards said Williams had written to Palin in February urging her to consider a natural gas pipeline land route to tidewater at Cook Inlet to tie into expanded liquefied natural gas facilities here. Now, on the eve of the special session called to discuss the TransCanada proposal, the mayors wanted to reiterate their concerns.

"They thought it was important to keep us on the map," Richards said.

Hal Spence can be reached at hspence@ptialaska.net.



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