Public demands in-state gas now

Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2008

Most members of the public who testified during the second half of the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act legislative road show in Soldotna on Thursday argued that Alaska gas should benefit Alaskans first, but Soldotna resident Greg Dyer thought differently.

Photo By M. Scott Moon
Photo By M. Scott Moon
With his granddaughter Zaree at his side, Bill Warren, right, addresses Sen. Bert Stedman, Rep. Ralph Samuels, Rep. Mike Chenault, Rep. Kurt Olson and other legislators taking public testimony concerning the Alaska Gas Inducement Act on Thursday at the Soldotna Sports Center.

"I think it makes the most sense for the economic future to take the gas to Canada and sell it," he told members of the legislature and the public. "(You're) going to get paid for every cubic meter. I hope it goes to the Lower 48, they need it."

Dyer, who worked on pipelines in the Caspian Sea for four years, is retiring from the oil and gas industry in the next few months, he said. Many members of the community are clamoring for a bullet line to Southcentral Alaska, but Dyer said the in-state take-off points would allow Alaska to take all the gas it needs through a network of pipelines, but the market is in the Lower 48.

Kasilof resident Debbie Brown, Soldotna Mayor David Carey and Nikiski resident Steven Mapes picketed outside the Soldotna Sports Center for Alaska gas benefitting Alaskans first.

"We don't want to send all of Alaska's gas somewhere else," Mapes said. "We'd like to use Alaska's gas for Alaskans rather than just ship it all out of state."

Mapes told legislators that he was thinking of his three sons ages 30, 25 and 21 and the children they will have in the future. A pipeline that serves Alaska would be better instead of one headed to Canada because it would create more jobs and the product would last longer, he said.

"My grandchildren will have jobs here," he said. "What aggravates me is I drove 30 miles today to get a pair of socks. You can't buy a pair of socks in Kenai anymore. The community would be better off if the production on the Slope was used in the state of Alaska"

Brown said that while she is in favor of AGIA as a process, she disagrees with the language in the act that would bar the state from any conversation related to further pipeline projects.

"I'm strongly against the TransCanada application," she said. "It will delay things."

When she took the podium in front of Sen. Burt Stedman, R-Sitka, and the other legislators, Brown urged them to vote no on the TransCanada application and reiterated her concern with the language. It's important for Alaska to have free and open conversation, she said, urging the legislative body not to be the first to throw the state dramatically into poverty.

"We need more than .5 BCF a day," she said.

Declining natural gas reserves in Southcentral Alaska make a gas line to Cook Inlet necessary, Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor John Williams told legislators. Williams stressed that natural gas liquids -- components of natural gas such as propane and butane -- should be stripped and processed in-state.

"This will launch a petrochemical industry at home, in Alaska," Williams said.

The Cook Inlet region's idustrial structures are expandable, he said. A trained workforce already exists, training programs are in place for more workers, land is available for development and a broad waterway is accesible.

"I read in TransCanada's plan that their project is premised on NGL processing taking place in Alberta. It goes on to state that two of the three plants in Alberta are ready to expand to handle Alaska's NGLs. I want Alaskans to process our NGLs. Cook Inlet stands ready to fight for those jobs instead of shipping them down a pipeline to Alberta," he said.

Soldotna resident Pat Hawkins also spoke in favor of bringing North Slope's gas to Alaska before the Lower 48. The AGIA process has been successful, he said. TransCanada is a reputable company, but Alaska needs to take care of in-state needs now.

"It's ridiculous that resources in Prudhoe Bay cannot go into Fairbanks," he said. "We need to build a pipeline and we need to build it now."

Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, said he's been through about six similar public testimonies around the state. The next public testimony will be held in Barrow, he said. It was a good presentation, he said, but he's learned nothing new.

"People need to pay attention to what's going on," he said. "The more you learn, the more you know and the better decision you make."

Wagoner said he is in favor of the TransCanada application and said the one point people are missing is that there were other applicants during the AGIA process and only one complied with the stipulations. It was a competitive process, he said, and TransCanada was successful. He also said Southcentral still has time before it completely runs out of gas, but Fairbanks doesn't.

"We've got another six to eight years' supply in Kenai," he said. "Fairbanks is in terrible straits, they need relief."

Jessica Cejnar can be reached at

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