Republican News

WASHINGTON -- At the conclusion of an afternoon conference on the future of an Alaska gasline, Alaska Sen. Frank Murkowski today urged changes in pending federal legislation to make sure federal proposals for a line better reflect Alaska needs. Murkowski today hosted a meeting of Alaska North Slope natural gas owners, national gas pipeline transmission companies who would like to be apart of a gasline project, and Alaska State officials. During the meeting all sides analyzed pending Senate Democratic proposals in a national energy bill that offers a federal construction loan guarantee and reviewed proposals by the gas producers seeking a revised expedited permitting process for a pipeline project to the Lower 48 states. “It is very clear after the meeting going into debates about energy legislation in the Senate that there is more work to be done. The (existing) Senate bill falls short of protecting the interests of Alaska and will certainly need to be amended. Everyone must remember that this gas lies beneath the State of Alaska and belongs to the People of Alaska. “While this gas is needed in the Lower 48 and will serve the best interests of the American people over the next 25 years, Alaskan interests can’t be ignored. We must add amendments to protect the state’s interests,” said Murkowski. He said he wanted to amend the Democratic gasline proposals during debate over comprehensive energy legislation later this winter to include a legislative ban to prevent a northern, “over-the-top” route from moving gas run the Beaufort Sea and then down the MacKenzie Delta in Canada. Murkowski said such a ban is needed to avoid environmental risk. He also said he wants any bill amended to provide fair and open access to all gas producers on the North Slope -- which will spur exploration and development -- and to provide Alaskans with a strong voice in determining in-state tariffs and gas distribution, to guarantee Alaskans have access to the gas. “By making sure gas passes through Alaska, it will provide Alaskans, including Alaska Natives, access to abundant and clean energy and the jobs that will result from both construction of the line and of a related petrochemical industry,” said Murkowski, who noted that line construction could mean 3,500 Alaska jobs, and the gas sales could provide the state with $22 billion in revenues over the life of the project. Murkowski said he also wanted an amendment to maximize benefits to the Alaskan workforce. The Senator said he is going to be setting up a meeting with the Bush Administration to attempt to further support for gasline elements in a national energy proposal. Invitations to attend were sent to Alaska Governor Tony Knowles who sent Alaska Commissioner of Natural Resources Pat Pourchot to attend in his place, to the Alaska Legislature who was represented by State Sen. John Torgerson, R-Kasilof, and Rep. Joe Green, R-Anchorage, to the gas owners: Exxon, BP and Phillips and to all of the transmission companies led by Foothills Pipeline, TransCanada Pipelines, Duke Energy, El Paso, Pacific Gas & Electric, Williams, Sempra and Westcoast Energy who agreed last fall to reform a 1970s consortium to participate in the transport of Alaska gas. -30- List of attendees: Don Duncan, Phillips Petroleum Co. Joe Marushack, Phillips Petroleum Co. Dave Welch, BP Ken Conrad, BP Jim Rouse, ExxonMobile Production Co. Mark Sikkel, ExxonMobile Production Co. Robbie Schilhab, ExxonMobile Production Co. Dennis McConaghy, Foothills Pipelines Ltd./Westcoast Energy Inc. Jim Moore, Williams Gas Pipeline Glenn Jackson, Williams Gas Pipeline Byron Wright, El Paso Pipeline Group Lori Laudien, El Paso Pipeline Group Tom King, PG&E Corp. Steve Kline, PG&E Corp. Dale Kelly-Cochrane, Sempra Energy International Bill Purcell, Sempra Energy International Steve Patrick, Sempra Energy International David Freer, Sempra Energy International Pat Pourchot, Alaska Commissioner of Natural Resources Anna Kerttula, representing Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles Alaska State Sen. John Torgerson, R-Kasilof. Alaska State Rep. Joe Green, R-Anchorage.