Focus remains on resources

Posted: Friday, October 31, 2008

Alaska is, first and foremost, a resource state.

We have commercial fishing, minerals, timbering, and oil/gas resources that literally are the basis of our economy, especially here on the Kenai Peninsula.

Those resources provide direct jobs and jobs from the service sector to support people who work in the industries and almost 90 percent of our revenue comes from petroleum production.

Our natural beauty is also our resource, bringing visitors to the State and then to our area. Jobs are made, taxes are collected, and our economy is helped.

My focus has always been on resources. I have the background, training and experience needed in the legislature to understand the dynamics of resource production and protection.

Let's talk about the Pebble Mine project. Like the vast majority of you, I did not support the ballot initiative that would have refused to allow the project to go through the permitting process.

My opponent feels otherwise, according to his comments at the joint Chamber debate in Kenai.

The permitting process for Alaska is rigorous and intended to protect our resources. Reclamation is a significant issue to me and I will be carefully monitoring this.

If Pebble clears the hurdles of the permitting process, we stand to gain a tremendous economic benefit; this area would likely be the head quarters on the mainland, including the point of hire. That's a lot of jobs for us!

Natural gas is critical -- for electrical generation and for heating our homes. We need to drill for more gas in the Cook Inlet. I support a natural gas line from here to Fairbanks and think the best of all possible worlds would be if we were able to export Cook Inlet gas to the Anchorage and Fairbanks area, not import it from the North Slope.

In order to do that, we need to have a political climate that supports our Cook Inlet explorers and developers. I am a strong proponent of that industry and in fact I have successfully passed legislation that enhanced their business environment.

I will continue to work with our industry to maximize the resources of the Cook Inlet. We are one of the few places in the world where oil/gas production works cooperatively with the fishing industry. We need to applaud that relationship and not bite the hands that feed us.

Natural gas for Agrium's use is critical. I successfully got a $5 million grant through the legislature for them to invest in coal-gasification. That process is now being evaluated by Fairbanks and I'm hopeful they will be able to develop it. The other alternative is either more natural gas from Cook Inlet or importing from the North Slope via an in-state line. I have not given up on Agrium.

Finally, we have the mega-project; a natural gas pipeline through Canada to serve the USA.

Governor Palin initiated the AGIA process -- without that aggressive action, we would still be negotiating with the big 3 producers, just like we were with her predecessor.

The AGIA process, through a request for application, led us to the TransCanada (TC) Alaska project, the only one that met all the conditions of AGIA. None of the big three producers submitted an application.

I believe that awarding TC Alaska a contract spurred the Denali Project, a project by ConocoPhillips (CP) and British Petroleum (BP).

My opponent said he didn't support the TC Alaska award because TC Alaska doesn't have gas and he had concerns about the $500 million "skin" Alaska put into the project.

Guess what, the Denali Project doesn't have enough gas either! Both projects will require Exxon to commit gas to the line and Exxon said they will not commit to the Denali Project.

The money we commit to the TC Alaska project will be offset by lower tariffs. The $500 million today means a reduction in tariff rates of about $1.2 billion over the life of the pipeline. We put skin in the game and we realize a benefit. That's good business.

To summarize, you and I supported letting Pebble go through the permitting process; my opponent does not. I support going forward with the TC Alaska project, ensuring competition; my opponent does not.

Alaska's resources are our economic lifeline.

I'm asking you to support the candidate who recognizes that, who has actively worked to accomplish their development, and who has the experience and background necessary to continue to develop them.

I'm asking you to vote for me, Tom Wagoner, on November 4.

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