Over the years in Juneau, I have repeatedly asked this administration and each of the owners and potential producers of North Slope Gas,"When can we expect to see a pipeline, and will Alaska receive a fair share of the profits derived from our gas?"
I wanted to know when the producers intended to sell gas. I also asked if Alaska should invest in the pipeline. Having watched twice, when the Canadians took the state ferry hostage, I asked, "What would stop Canada from holding our gas hostage in the future?"
The answers I received were often confusing, complex, sometimes less than responsive, and certainly less than reassuring.
This experience caused me to draft and submit Senate Bill 221 (Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas Development Authority) last spring. I believe that Alaskans want a secure all-Alaska gas pipeline running from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, and they want it now!
Electrical blackouts roll through California, Oregon and Nevada. The energy crisis is real, and Alaska could be a major part of the solution to that crisis. Unfortunately, some wish to build the pipeline through Canada, thus giving the Canadians control over our destiny. Others want the major oil companies to tell us where and when to build the pipeline and on what terms.
As the debate goes on, some are moving quickly to deliver gas to California. Just two weeks ago, Bolivia announced a $ 5 billion gas pipeline project aimed at California. The window of economic opportunity may soon close as other gas producing companies and countries react to capture these markets.
SB 221 would allow Alaskans to own and control the gas pipeline. All of the jobs created in building and operating the pipeline would be Alaska jobs. Alaska would get the jobs created by liquefaction and could develop the plastics and petrochemical plants associated with this resource.
No foreign power could ever hold our gas or our pipeline hostage.
Value could be extracted from Alaska's gas before it left our state. Alaskans could utilize Alaska's gas along the way. Fairbanks, Delta Junction, Glennallen, Valdez and (with a spur line from Glennallen to Sutton) all of Cook Inlet could utilize this gas.
With passage of SB 221 we can literally start building the pipeline.
Yukon Pacific has pledged its permits. The existing pipeline right of way and the corridor could be used. That road is already built and the right of way already exists. Those permits have already been granted.
The resulting revenue to Alaska will be greater, and the project will be on line years quicker, if we pass SB 221 and build an all- Alaska gas pipeline.
The decisions on which this gas pipeline will be built are of major importance and will significantly affect future generations of Alaskans. An all-Alaska gas pipeline may be the only way to make sure that Alaska gets a fair share and Alaska's gas doesn't get left out of the world markets.
A citizens' initiative has been filed which will put my bill on the 2002 ballot if the Legislature should fail to pass SB 221 this next session. I welcome this great support and encourage everyone to sign that initiative.The initiative will assure that Alaska's gas pipeline will be built by Alaskans, owned by Alaskans, and controlled by Alaskans.
The all-Alaska gas pipeline deserves serious consideration by every Alaskan.
Sen. Robin L. Taylor, R-Wrangell, has served in the Alaska Legislature since 1984.
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