Gov. Bill Walker address members of the media during a news conference at the Capitol in Juneau, Alaska, on Monday, March 2, 2015.  A bill filed by House leadership would undercut Walker's plan to expand the scope of the in-state natural gas pipeline to be comparable and some say competitive with the North Slope producer-backed pipeline.  (AP Photo/The Juneau Empire, Michael Penn  )

Gov. Bill Walker address members of the media during a news conference at the Capitol in Juneau, Alaska, on Monday, March 2, 2015. A bill filed by House leadership would undercut Walker's plan to expand the scope of the in-state natural gas pipeline to be comparable and some say competitive with the North Slope producer-backed pipeline. (AP Photo/The Juneau Empire, Michael Penn )

Bill passed limiting state entity in alternate gas plan

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Tuesday, March 31, 2015 4:46pm
  • News

JUNEAU, Alaska) — The Alaska Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would temporarily restrict participation by a state-sponsored corporation in an alternate gas pipeline project proposed by Gov. Bill Walker.

The vote followed a failed attempt by legislative leaders and Walker to reach an agreement.

The vote was 13-7, but notice of reconsideration was given, meaning the bill could be voted on again before advancing. It passed the House last week.

Walker has said he would veto the bill. A legislative override would require the support of at least 40 legislators.

Supporters of the bill say it reaffirms state support for Alaska LNG, the major liquefied natural gas project the state is pursuing with BP, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp., TransCanada Corp. and the state-sponsored Alaska Gasline Development Corp., or AGDC. They say they’re worried that Walker’s proposal will cast a shadow of uncertainty over the project.

Critics of the bill say it will hamper the state’s negotiating position on Alaska LNG and put the state at a disadvantage if Alaska LNG stalls.

HB 132 would restrict AGDC from planning or taking steps to develop an alternate export or liquefied natural gas project until the earliest of these: the state or one of the oil and gas companies pulls out of Alaska LNG; Alaska LNG enters its next phase; or July 1, 2017.

The bill stemmed from an opinion piece in which Walker expressed support for Alaska LNG but also called for increasing the size of a smaller, stand-alone pipeline, initially aimed at delivering gas to Alaskans, and turning it into a project that would be capable of exports.

He wrote that whichever project was first to produce a solid plan and conditions acceptable to the state would get full state support, or that, perhaps, the two might be combined at some point.

The language raised concerns with some lawmakers that Walker was proposing a competing project.

Walker, in an attempt to clarify his position, sent a letter to the Senate Resources Committee chair last week and repeatedly referred to his proposal as a backup.

House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, and Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, sponsors of the bill, released their own op-ed, saying the letter offered few details and that Walker’s approach “clearly creates a competing alternative that threatens the state’s investment in and the success of Alaska LNG.”

Details of the alternate project are still being fleshed out. At a recent meeting, the AGDC board directed staff to develop rough cost estimates and a schedule for two different scenarios. The board also sought modification of an order issued by Walker late last year halting new, unobligated spending on the gas line.

Many see a major gas project as critical to state efforts to shore up revenues amid declining oil production, create jobs and provide energy for Alaskans.

Walker has said he’s had high-level discussions with the oil and gas companies and all have indicated an understanding of his proposal and willingness to move forward on Alaska LNG.

Contacted by email, BP Alaska spokeswoman Dawn Patience said the company remains committed to an Alaska LNG project in which the state is an equal participant and co-investor.

Natalie Lowman, a ConocoPhillips Alaska spokeswoman, said the company understands the state’s desire to have a fallback and does not believe that causes a problem for Alaska LNG, which her company supports. But she said the fallback option should be just that and not a competing project.

Kim Jordan, an Exxon Mobil spokeswoman, said the collective efforts should focus on advancing Alaska LNG. Expansion of the stand-alone pipeline project “will create confusion and uncertainty with federal regulators, potential buyers and the public about the state’s intention to fully support and participate in the Alaska LNG project,” she wrote.

More in News

Kenai Fire Marshal Jeremy Hamilton is seen by one of Kenai Fire Department’s Tower trucks on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 at Kenai Fire Department in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Get up, get out and get safe’

Kids taught about fire safety as part of prevention effort

Bob Bird, left, chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party, and former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman make the case in favor of a state constitutional convention during a debate in Anchorage broadcast Thursday by Alaska Public Media. (Screenshot from Alaska Public Media’s YouTube channel)
Constitutional convention debate gets heated

Abortion, PFD factor into forum.

Carol Freas (right) helps a voter fill out absentee election materials in Kenai City Hall ahead of the Oct. 4 municipal election on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Absentee voting already underway

Absentee in-person voting has been made available across the borough

Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara
Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara
What’s on the ballot: Reapportionment, new field house, school bond

Voters will decide on ballot measures that address schools, public safety and legislative bodies

Cars line up ahead of dismissal at Mountain View Elementary School on Thursday, September 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. A bond package up for consideration by Kenai Peninsula Borough voters on Oct. 4 would fund improvements to the school’s traffic flow. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Parking lot problems

Lack of space for pickup and drop-offs creates traffic jam at elementary school

Soldotna Elementary School Principal Dr. Austin Stevenson points out elements of the school building on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Aging school on the brink

Renovations are cost prohibitive at Soldotna Elementary

Rep. Mary Peltola, an Alaska Democrat, delivers a speech on the U.S. House floor before Thursday’s vote approving her first bill, establishing an Office of Food Security in the Department of Veterans Affairs. It passed the House by a 376-49 vote, although its fate in the Senate is undetermined. (Screenshot from official U.S. House video)
Poll: Peltola’s a popular pol

Food for vets bill passes House, pollster says she is “the most popular figure in Alaska right now.”

A parking sign awaits the new executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund at its Juneau headquarters, Three finalists will be interviewed for the job during a public meeting Monday by the fund’s board of trustees, who are expected to deliberate and announce the new director immediately afterward. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Interviews, selection of new Permanent Fund CEO set for Monday

Three finalists seeking to manage $73.7B fund to appear before trustees at public meeting in Juneau

Principal Sarge Truesdell looks at cracked siding outside of Soldotna High School on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. The siding is one of several projects in a bond package Kenai Peninsula voters will consider during the Oct. 4 municipal election. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Split siding at SoHi

The damage has been given patchwork treatment over the years

Most Read