Wagoner: Need to take 'anes' out of pipeline flow

Posted: Friday, October 31, 2008

Age: 65

Occupation: Retired, small businessman, commercial fishing

Family: Wife, Dorothy; daughters, Dawn and Denise

Education: Pomeroy High School, 1960; Eastern Washington University, 1966, B.A.; 1969 B.A. Education; UAA, 1980, Master's Education/Administration

Organizations and special interests: Charter member Kenai Rotary Club, past president and board member Kenai Chamber of Commerce, advisory board Salvation Army, Elks No. 2425.

Previously held elected office and experience: Alaska Senate, 2003-present, committees: chair, Community & Regional Affairs 2003, member 2004-present; member, Transportation 2003, co-chair 2004; vice chair Resources 2003-04, chair 2005-06, member 2007-08; member Legislative Council 2003-06; member, World Trade and State Federal Affairs 2005-present; vice chair State Affairs 2005-06; Kenai city mayor, 3 years, Kenai City Council, 3 years, Alaska Post Secondary Committee, 3 years

Ways for voters to contact you: Office, 283-7996; home, 283-4930; e-mail, senator_tom_wagoner@legis.state.ak.us

1. How should Alaska position itself to ride out, or perhaps benefit from, the stark financial realities of the current economic crises, and what steps do you think the Legislature should take to help protect constituents?

Fortunately, Alaska has a fairly stable housing market, so we have not experienced those problems like the rest of the nation.

People who had stock market investments took a hit; a problem not only for them but for government portfolios as well, including many retirement accounts.

If congress pursues action to provide economic relief for those investments, Alaska should make sure we are on the list, particularly for our Permanent Fund investments. Some of the sting will be reduced because the dividend is based on a five-year earnings average.

Because Alaskan's received the PFD and a $1,200 resource rebate, we have been able to offset some of the personal financial crisis. I want to remind readers I supported the rebate while my opponent referred to it as "redneck socialism."

At this point, we should wait to see of any added actions by congress and what market corrections take place.

2. Alaska is a resource state, but relatively little in the way of processing infrastructure has been built here that would allow Alaska to add value to those raw materials. What can and should the state do to change that?

One possibility I vigorously pursued is to remove the "-anes" from the pipeline flow in Alaska, so we can utilize the by-products like methane, propane, ethane, etc.

It allows us to develop good, year-round jobs for processing the "-anes"; value-adding for what would otherwise be a complete export of Alaska's publicly owned resources. That's one of the benefits of the TC Alaska contract; the State will be able to identify take-off points on that gasline.

That also allows us to develop in-state markets for propane, for shipment to villages who desperately need this energy and who would otherwise not receive any benefit of a gasline.

Another is coal gasification; I was successful in obtaining a $5 million grant to Agrium to pursue their Blue Sky Project to continue processing that value-added operation. If successful, the plant would have operated on the gas produced from the Beluga Coal fields.

3. Surpluses from high oil prices have allowed the Legislature to increase funding to schools. What is your opinion of the current level of education funding and why?

The biggest problem in school funding for the past decade has been the need to pay the Area Cost Differential (ACD). That was accomplished this year because we finally had the money and because Rep. Chenault relentlessly pursued it as Co-Chair of the House Finance Committee. He deserves that recognition.

We need to complete the work that was set out last year and fund the balance of the ACD's. With that in place, education funding should be inflation-proofed annually, so we don't keep losing pace in the class rooms.

I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that the State's surplus funds this year were a direct result of the ACES's legislation introduced by Governor Palin, which I supported. But remember, when the price of oil drops (which is currently happening) so does Alaska's revenues. Adequate education funding will continue to be a priority.

4. What are you prepared to do to advance alternative energy efforts in Alaska, should you be elected?

Gasline off takes for propane will provide alternative energy in rural Alaska and smaller wind turbines should also be reviewed for use there and elsewhere, providing the operating costs are economical. Continued reliance on diesel-generated power must be changed or the exodus from rural Alaska will continue.

Railbelt Alaska should change their electrical generation from natural gas to hydro -- it's expensive to initially build but will provide our children and our children's children with renewable energy -- free fuel. We have to look again at the Susitna and Chakachamna projects.

Alaska needs a State plan that looks at the unique character of each region. The bill I introduced this year, SB 217, spoke to that need and required the State to develop and then implement a Plan. In the meantime, I supported a five-year energy rebate to help Alaskans offset the high costs of energy from the current processes.



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