An alternative to a natural gas pipeline

We’ve been hearing a lot about the cost of the proposed LNG pipeline and many believe that the project may not pencil out.

Here is an idea the would kill four birds with one stone: Liquify the gas on the North Slope and build a rail link to transport it to our cities and to a port for shipment overseas.

Here’s why the idea makes sense: A rail line would be cheaper to construct and operate than a pipeline and the technology exists that will permit shipment of LNG.

Now the other reasons.

Despite the fervent promises of SB 21 supporters, North Slope oil production will continue to decline to the point that the pipeline will have to be abandoned, leaving behind substantial reserves of stranded oil. Transporting this oil by rail could be the only way Alaskans could benefit from this precious resource.

Like it or not, global warming is a reality and someday, Prudhoe Bay may become an international port. Having a rail line in place to transport goods to and from other countries could energize Alaska’s economy the same way Anchorage’s airport did after it became a hub for international freight flights. Of course, in order to complete this picture, Alaska and Canada would have to cooperate on a rail line connecting the Alaska Railroad to the existing rail system in British Columbia.

Last, having a railway system stretching from Prudhoe Bay down to America would open great new opportunities for tourism and commerce.

Before we commit to a multi-billion dollar project, I hope our governor and lawmakers will pause for a moment and consider the benefits of transporting LNG by rail.