Interior Democrats Fight for Fairbanks in Small Gasline Proposal
JUNEAU – Before voting on House Bill 9 (HB9) tonight, Interior House Democrats offered a number of amendments to protect Fairbanks’ and Alaskans’ interests as the state moves forward on a small gasline from the North Slope.
“As it is, this bill would repeat many of the mistakes Alaskans have made in the past,” said Rep. David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks). “We have an oil line right through the Interior and we still pay some of the highest energy prices in the nation, and without significant changes, this bill would let us watch a gasline go by without any real benefit to Fairbanks.”
Rep. Guttenberg and Representative Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) and Representative Bob Miller (D-Fairbanks) offered a series of amendments to prioritize getting gas to Interior residents, to ensure the gas rates are fair to Interior residents, to encourage Alaska-preference in hiring, to restore the voter-created Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority, and to build the line from Cook Inlet to the Interior first so Fairbanks and Interior residents can get cheaper gas sooner.
“If we’re going to build this small gasline, my amendment simply says that we build the section between Cook Inlet and Fairbanks first,” said Rep. Miller. “That way we can get cheap, dry gas to Fairbanks and encourage more Cook Inlet development while we build the rest of the line. If the gas we think is in Cook Inlet proves to be enough to meet in-state needs, we can postpone the rest of the project and save ourselves a ton of money.”
“Right now, this small line bypasses Fairbanks and makes Interior residents pay for a straddle plant to keep Anchorage prices low,” said Rep. Scott Kawasaki. “The Interior is already paying far more than the rest of the Railbelt, and we need to make sure everyone will get fair, affordable gas if we’re going to consider this small line.”