Frustrated by a lack of progress on an Alaska natural gasline, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich yesterday introduced legislation that would streamline federal regulations and extend key benefits to apply to Alaska-based segments of a gasline that could eventually be connected to the lower 48.
Instead of just applying to the proposed Alaska Highway route through Canada, Begich’s legislation could allow federal benefits to apply to other gasline projects being contemplated in the state today.
The 2004 Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Act requires that a pipeline must reach the Canadian border in order to receive benefits such as expedited permit timelines and judicial review, the support of the federal coordinator’s office, federal loan guarantees, and other benefits outlined in federal law.
“As the state continues debating which route to go down, this bill will jumpstart the crucial part of any plan and helps ensure we get the critical first segment of the gasline built from the North Slope to Fairbanks,” Begich said.
Recognizing current efforts to build a gasline are not moving forward, Begich in September wrote a letter to Gov. Sean Parnell encouraging the State to look at creating its own loan guarantee to partner with the federal guarantee for the project.
“The State of Alaska’s financial reserves make it the envy of the other 49 states and also give some members of Congress an argument against federal backing for the project,” the Sept. 19 letter states. “Those same financial reserves, however, also provide an opportunity for the state to step up and work with federal financing to make this project happen.”