The Senate has begun learning about the bill setting up the development of a gas pipeline from the North Slope to South Central and the railbelt. The measure passed the House last month and had two hearings in its first committee of referral during the regular session. A re-written version returned today for the first time during the special session. And sponsors focused on explaining the needto restore many of the elements the Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee had eliminated.
In particular, Anchorage Republican Mike Hawker – one of the co-sponsors – wanted to give the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation the ability to complete the project without any future action by the legislature. He explained that possible shippers and customers will be more comfortable if they know it would not be a political issue.
We’re sixty legislators in this building. We all have provincial interests to represent. We essentially are obligated when a project comes forward if it’s not the one that absolutely benefits me to the greatest degree possible, I’m obligated to challenge it. But an agency that has a broader mission to serve all the state of Alaska, we really believe that can serve to insulate proper economic best business practices decisions, from the inevitable politics of this building.
Another reason for eliminating the need for legislative approval is the flexibility that would be available to the development corporation if it works with potential gas producers and TransCanada Pipeline in putting together a project..
We don’t want to create a situation that in any way compromises the ability to go forward with a project should one come to fruition.
With the ability to keep working rather than waiting for legislative approval along the way, Hawker says the project could be out for an open season – where the corporation would look for customers – by next year. And it is projected to deliver gas to market in 2018.
The bill will be back before the committee.