Keep the LNG project moving forward

  • Thursday, January 8, 2015 5:44pm
  • Opinion

While Gov. Bill Walker has acted within his authority during his first month in office, a number of those actions, including the removal of three Alaska Gasline Development Corporation board members and his order that remaining board members not sign confidentiality agreements, leave us with questions about the administration’s goals moving forward.

The state government is facing some hard decisions due to the drop in oil prices and the corresponding drop in state revenue. Alaska is facing a $3.5 billion budget deficit, and calls for smarter spending are appropriate. Indeed, smart spending should be the rule whether the state is facing a deficit or not.

However, we wonder if knee-jerk spending freezes and project delays are smart. While the state is facing a funding gap in the near term, it also needs faces a long-term energy gap. Several of the state’s mega-projects are intended to address Alaska’s long-term energy needs, including the Susitna-Watana Hydro project, the Alaska LNG Project and the Alaska Stand-Alone Pipeline. The latter two of those projects fall under the purview of the AGDC.

Early in the gubernatorial campaign, Gov. Walker called the LNG project fatally flawed, and the ASAP project uneconomic. It seems reasonable to assume that Gov. Walker will nominate new AGDC board members with philosophies similar to his own.

Our concern, and one expressed by members of the Legislature, is whether and how much a shuffling of leadership will affect the projects — specifically, whether project schedules will be pushed back. And we have concerns that preventing board members from being privy to confidential information will impede the decision-making process.

We know what happens when projects are delayed. They get much more expensive, or they don’t get done at all.

Al Bolea, a former oil company executive and one of the AGDC board members fired by Walker, told the Associated Press that it’s normal for a new governor to surround himself with people he believes will support his plans.

“I think once the governor gets his hands around this huge project and sees all the good work that was done that he’s going to make all the right decisions,” Bolea told the AP. “I would encourage everyone to view this as just normal, that this isn’t a sign of some massive change. It’s just a new person in a huge job, the executive of a huge state, getting things lined up the way he wants them.”

We hope that’s the case. While campaigning on the Kenai Peninsula, Gov. Walker said he would work to bring an LNG project to fruition, with a terminus in Nikiski, and we’d like to see that effort continue. Gov. Walker has said he doesn’t want to slow that project down, but with funding uncertainty and changes in leadership, the road map is going to look different. We hope the administration is looking beyond the current fiscal situation, and is keeping the final destination in view.

More in Opinion

Gov. Mike Dunleavy discusses his veto of a wide-ranging education bill during a press conference March 16 at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Governor, please pay more attention to Alaskans

Our governor has been a busy guy on big issues.

A roll of “I voted” stickers sit at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Juneau in 2022. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Strengthening democracy: Native vote partners to boost voter registration

GOTNV and VPC are partnering to send over 4,000 voter registration applications this month to addresses and P.O. boxes all over Alaska

Priya Helweg is the acting regional director and executive officer for the Region 10 Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Happy Pride Month

This month is dedicated to acknowledging and uplifting the voices and experiences of the LGBTQI+ community

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30.
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

Fixers from Alaska and elsewhere step in after guilty verdict

Ballot booths are set up inside Kenai City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Perspective from an election worker

Here is what I know about our Kenai Peninsula Borough election system

Apayauq Reitan, the first transgender woman to participate in the Iditarod, tells the House Education Committee on March 30, 2023, why she opposes a bill restricting transgender rights. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The imaginary transgender sports crisis

House Bill 183 is a right-wing solution to a problem that doesn’t exist now and never will.

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, a Nikiski Republican, speaks in favor of overriding a veto of Senate Bill 140 during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Session ends with budget, dividend and bills passed

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

The Alaska State Capitol. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Listen to PAs; support Senate Bill 115: Modernizing PA Practice in Alaska

Health care is rapidly evolving, demanding a more flexible and responsive system

Mount Redoubt can be seen across Cook Inlet from North Kenai Beach on Thursday, July 2, 2022. (Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion file photo)
Opinion: Hilcorp Alaska: Powering Southcentral Alaska — past, present and future

Hilcorp Alaska has and will continue to fully develop our Cook Inlet basin leasehold

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, a Nikiski Republican, speaks in favor of overriding a veto of Senate Bill 140 during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024 (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Collegiality matters

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Juneau Empire file photo
Larry Persily.
Opinion: Alaska might as well embrace the past

The governor, legislators, municipal officials and business leaders are worried that the Railbelt will run short of natural gas before the end of the decade