The Alaska Senate approved Gov. Sean Parnell's (R) proposal to extract, develop and transport natural gas from the state's North Slope region, potentially the biggest infrastructure project in state history. The vote on SB 138 came mostly along party lines, with four Democrats and one Republican in opposition. Three Democrats joined 12 Republicans in support of the measure. The project, which is estimated to cost as much as $65 billion, has three components: a North Slope treatment plant, a large-diameter 800-mile pipeline and a natural gas liquefaction plant and export facility that would be built in Nikiski. The proposal would make the state a partner with the North Slope's major oil producers — BP, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips — and pipeline company TransCanada Corp. Alaska would also be a major investor in the project with a direct 25 percent share, though it could conceivably give all or part of that share to TransCanada in lieu of coming up with the funds to pay for it. That drew sharp criticism from opponents like Senate Minority Leader Hollis French (D), who said the state is giving up too much in the deal. Under an agreement already signed with TransCanada, the state could surrender its 25 percent share of the pipeline, with an option to then then buy back only 40 percent of that portion. "I wonder if most Alaskans know they are only getting 40 percent of a quarter of this pipeline," he said. Critics also argued that for all the talk of the building infrastructure, the bill doesn't actually require a pipeline to be built. "This isn't a project, this is another study," said Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D). "This project requires us to surrender our sovereignty for a handful of beans," said French, who voted against the bill. But the bill's supporters countered that the lack of a requirement to build the pipeline is really a positive because it doesn't commit the state to following through on a bad deal. It does, however, allow the project to go forward to see if it can be profitable. Parnell praised the vote, saying "Our legislation paves the way for Alaskans to become owners in the project and ensures an open, public process going forward." The bill is now in the House. (ALASKA DISPATCH, ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, NATURAL GAS INTELLIGENCE)
The above article is provided by the State Net Capitol Journal. State Net is the nation's leading source of state legislative and regulatory content for all states within the United States. State Net daily monitors every bill in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the United States Congress - as well as every state agency regulation. Virtually all of the information about individual bills and their progress through legislatures is online within 24 hours of public availability.
If you are a lexis.com subscriber, you can access State Net Bill Tracking, State Net Full Text of Bills and State Net Regulatory Text . If you are interested in learning more about State Net, contact us.
To subscribe to the Capitol Journal and access archived issue go to the State Net Capitol Journal.
For more information about LexisNexis products and solutions, connect with us through our corporate site.