Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: From the Desk of Senator Johnny Ellis:

Saturday, August 02, 2008

From the Desk of Senator Johnny Ellis:

I am fortunate enough to live in Midtown Anchorage, District 24 which is served by Alaska Progressives Senator Johnny Ellis and Representative Berta Gardner. I am also lucky in that both of them send out informative newsletters, frequently discussing issues on which they are much better informed.

Here's Senator Ellis's newsletter regarding the huge step taken by the Senate to endorse TransCanada as the constructor of our gas pipeline.

Note: I'm one of the folks who wanted--still wants--an All-Alaskan pipeline. I will continue to hope that this vote does not close the door on that possibility.

August 1st, 2008


Friends and Neighbors,

This afternoon the Alaska Senate voted 14-5 to grant a license to TransCanada to pursue a natural gas pipeline in line with the state’s requirements. I was a “yes” vote on this bill, and I believe this is the beginning, not the end, of a race to a gas line. Alaska is closer than ever to realizing this long-held dream. This process has given us two pipeline projects racing toward the finish line.

Over the nearly two months that the Legislature discussed this issue I kept an open mind about TC Alaska’s proposal, as well as those from the Alaska Gasline Port Authority and the Denali group (British Petroleum and ConocoPhillips). After countless hours taking testimony from oil industry consultants and executives, Administration officials, and Alaska residents, I believe the Legislature has chosen the best course to deliver a gas line.

Some of the most convincing testimony we heard came from Dan Dickinson, who was an oil and gas consultant for Governor Murkowski, and who now consults with the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee. Mr. Dickinson and nearly every other expert we consulted said TC Alaska’s proposal can only move a pipeline forward, and will not crowd out competing proposals, like Denali .

Under the state’s terms, TC Alaska will receive $500 million to take it through an “open season” and to apply for a federal (FERC) license. The terms that come along with this money include some of the “must haves” in my book: Alaska hire, a pipeline with an expandable capacity, enforceable benchmarks, distance-sensitive rates, reasonable transportation rates, the possibility of an LNG Y-line from Delta to Valdez , and take off points for spur lines around the state. It has always been my priority to build a gas line on Alaska ’s terms, and today we took a major step in that direction.

It’s important to keep in mind what today’s vote did not do. It did not crowd out alternate proposals like the Port Authority and Denali . It did not inhibit a bullet line to deliver in-state gas to Southcentral. And it was not a “giveaway” of $500 million. This money buys the Alaska must haves listed above and will be recouped in the form of lower transportation (tariff) rates.

Over the last year I have voted on two of the most important issues during my time in public service. Last fall we reworked the state’s oil tax regime to give the state a more equitable share of our oil resources. And today the state moved closer than ever to a natural gas pipeline. We’re trying to spur new exploration for gas, or a “Gas Rush,” and I believe we are moving closer to making that a reality.

Next up: we’ll be working all weekend on energy relief.

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