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Democrats: Local Gas First

JUNEAU – Today, seven Democratic legislators in the Alaska Legislature called on the governor to require binding commitments to meet local gas needs before a producer exports Cook Inlet gas as a condition of state support for the producer’s federal export license application. 

“If it’s Alaska’s gas, it has to be our gas first,” said Rep. Petersen. “It’s our job to make sure Alaskans can count on getting the benefits of our resources. With increased exploration in the Inlet, there should be plenty of gas to meet local needs and to export, but as you can see now, Alaska can’t just sit back and hope they sell our gas here, we need to make sure it’s in writing.”

Recently, Marathon Oil Corporation withdrew its commitment to supply gas to the new Kenai gas storage facility, presumably to export the gas to the lucrative Asian market.  Had the Parnell administration heeded Democrats’ calls to continue a local needs requirement in place from 2009 to 2011, Southcentral Alaskans could have avoided the current uncertainty over this winter’s gas supply.

“There’s a lot of new exploration in Cook Inlet, and we built the gas storage facility as a bridge to meet local needs until that new gas comes on line. We need to fill it,” said Representative Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage). “I support exporting excess Cook Inlet gas, but we have to meet local needs first.”

In 2010, Rep. Tuck and Rep. Petersen, along with fellow Anchorage democrats Senator Bill Wielechowski, Senator Hollis French, Senator Bettye Davis, Representative Les Gara and Representative Berta Gardner wrote a letter to the Attorney General urging him to renew local gas commitments from ConocoPhillips and Marathon before supporting the companies’ application for a federal export license.

"We've worked to ensure local energy security by allowing Marathon and Conoco to only export gas that wasn't needed in Alaska. While there is a place for gas exports from Cook Inlet, we've sought, and will continue to seek, rules requiring that local demand be met as a condition for allowing gas to be exported.  Allowing gas to be exported when it cuts into our local supply needs threatens the energy security of Alaskans and our ability to heat our homes at an affordable price," said Rep. Gara.

ConocoPhillips’ current export license expires next March.

Today’s letter to the governor and the 2010 letter to the Attorney General are attached.

Contact Mark Gnadt, Press Secretary for the House Democratic Caucus, for more information at the contact numbers below.

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