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WASHINGTON, D.C. â€“ U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today won approval from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for two lands bills that will help facilitate energy projects in Alaska.
The committee, on which Murkowski is the ranking member, passed legislation that would allow construction of a natural gas pipeline along the Parks Highway on the border of Denali National Park, and a small land exchange in the park to allow the National Park Service to permit the construction of a micro-hydropower project to power the privately-owned Kantishna Roadhouse. The bills were among several lands bills passed by the committee on Thursday.
“The committee’s approval of the Kantishna Hills Renewable Energy Act is a win-win for Doyon and the National Park Service,” Murkowski said. “Not only does it promote of the use of clean hydroelectric energy, it will also reduce the traffic of fuel trucks on the Denali Park Road, which will provide for a better park experience for all visitors to one of Alaska’s premier attractions.”
The Kantishna land exchange is H.R. 441. The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Begich, D-AK.
Murkowski first introduced legislation to permit a gas line to be built along the Parks Highway for the seven miles that the highway runs through the park near its entrance in 2010. The bill (S. 302), which the committee approved on Thursday, provides the National Park Service with legal authority to permit a pipeline to be built within the park boundaries so that the state and pipeline developers can determine the best route based on technical and economic grounds, not because of the legal uncertainty surrounding access for a pipeline running across National Park Service lands.
“It is important for Alaskans that our North Slope natural gas has a clear legal path to get to market. This bill will overcome a key hurdle for a pipeline to run along the Parks Highway – the most direct route to Southcentral – and removes the uncertainty about possible permitting delays related to crossing federal lands,” Murkowski said.
The bill allows any “high-pressure” gas line to run through the park along the existing highway utility corridor provided that no compression stations are placed inside park boundaries. The bill also allows distribution and transmission pipelines to be placed in the park, if they are requested by the Park Service to provide natural gas to park facilities and vehicles.
These and other bills approved by the committee on Thursday are now available to be brought up on the floor for consideration by the full Senate.