Voices of the Peninsula: Parnell has natural gas pipeline on the right track

  • By Mike Chenault
  • Monday, October 20, 2014 8:44pm
  • Opinion

I’ve been involved in state politics for 14 years, and I have to say, the progress the Legislature and Governor Parnell have made together in the last 2 years is a real highlight.

We’re farther than ever getting a big gasline built. I’ve never seen all the necessary parties aligned like they are today. They’re spending money, committing hundreds of millions more, signing agreements, running field programs, and applying for federal permits. Alaska, this is real work, not just a pipedream. This is reliable, affordable gas to Alaskans — and gas to overseas markets, putting revenue into our state treasury.

Along with moving forward on this big line, Governor Parnell worked with the Legislature to create AGDC — Alaska’s very own gas development company. AGDC represents Alaskans’ interests in the big pipeline, but they’re also geared up to take over and do a pipeline themselves, if need be. I appreciate Gov. Parnell’s work with us on creating AGDC, and ensuring accountability and transparency to Alaskans.

Governor Parnell’s administration settled a long-time standoff over Pt. Thomson, and now more than a thousand Alaskans are working there. This work will be the foundation for a natural gas pipeline.

Our local Cook Inlet industry is absolutely booming. I love driving down the North Road and seeing the new shops and businesses — these are our neighbors finding opportunity in the revived Cook Inlet oil and gas business. Governor Parnell supported Rep. Mike Hawker and myself on the Cook Inlet Recovery Act, which drove this renaissance right in our backyard.

Bill Walker threatens all this — if nothing else, because of his tendency to sue when he doesn’t get his way; his lack of concrete plans; his inability to bring parties together; and his flip-flops when it comes to what he may or may not do if elected.

Walker has been lobbying for a gasline to Valdez for decades — even when economics dictated another terminus. He was behind the City of Valdez spending nearly $1 million trying to shut down an instate pipeline delivering gas to Alaskans.

His ‘plans’ keep shifting with the winds. He’s never had gas — but thinks Alaska can sue the industry into filling a line. He talks about lists of permits received, but doesn’t like to mention those expired years ago. He touts things like a federal filing for an export permit — but the feds stamped that ‘rejected’ and handed it back. Why? No gas. No pipeline. No plan.

Walker failed to understand the basic economics related to putting a complex LNG deal together. You need a chain of contracts, from the resource to the market. He started with the market — where the buyers want the lowest price for Alaska’s gas, while the state wants the highest price for its resources. Why he aligned with those wanting the lowest price for Alaska’s gas, I’ll never understand.

I’m glad he was never successful; his gasline made about as much sense as grain silos in Valdez or a fish processing plant in Anchorage. His gasline, had it been built, would have drained the North Slope of gas that was critical in producing the oil that has fueled our economy and filled our treasury. It was too soon, too big. We’re making sure the project going ahead today is right-sized.

I trust voters to look carefully for the substance when they hear Walker’s fast talk.

I don’t think you’ll find much but empty slogans and big promises.

I’ll be supporting Governor Parnell on Nov. 4. He’s worked with members of the Legislature and myself to truly advance Alaska’s interests. Work on a gasline, on oil taxes, on Cook Inlet reform, and on Pt Thomson is putting thousands of Alaskans to work.

This is the route I choose for Alaska — moving forward. Let’s stay the course.

Mike Chenault is Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives.

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