Hawker and Chenault to intro Cook Inlet Recovery Act
Legislation Addresses Declining Natural Gas Production in Cook Inlet Basin
Tuesday, December 22, 2009, Anchorage, Alaska - Representatives Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, and Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, today announced they will introduce legislation promoting Cook Inlet natural gas exploration, production, storage and deliverability.
"The Cook Inlet Recovery Act is consumer-security legislation to help ensure Southcentral Alaskans have enough natural gas to keep their homes and businesses warm and their lights on every day of the year," Hawker said.
"The economy of the Kenai Peninsula has been economically devastated by declining natural gas exploration and production," Chenault said. "The lack of sufficient natural gas now threatens the safety of everyone in Southcentral Alaska and we need to do something about it."
The Cook Inlet Recovery Act will provide tax and regulatory incentives to construct large gas storage facilities to help meet consumers' peak winter gas demands; allow more rapid recovery of exploration tax credits to entice the private investment needed for additional discoveries of new gas reserves; and eliminate a production tax penalty imposed on companies working both in Cook Inlet and the North Slope. The legislation will also help protect consumers from the threat of gas delivery interruptions by addressing state regulatory policy that has resulted in the ill-conceived rejection of critical, long-term gas supply contracts negotiated by utilities.
"There is no simple solution that guarantees our regional natural gas needs are met," Hawker said. "Our energy security will be the most important topic considered in the upcoming legislative session. This bill focuses on Cook Inlet gas supply issues, while other equally important legislation will consider geothermal opportunities and other energy alternatives that can significantly reduce the demand for Cook Inlet gas."
Representatives Hawker and Chenault are in the final stage of preparing their legislation for introduction. They are reviewing their initial proposals with Cook Inlet stakeholders, including regulators, community organizations, explorers, producers and utility companies. They are also soliciting co-sponsorships from other concerned legislators.
"Moving the Cook Inlet Recovery Act will be a very public process," Chenault said. "We invite other legislators and concerned citizens to work with us in helping structure this component of the overall solution needed to make real improvements in the energy security of Southcentral Alaskans."
The legislative session convenes Jan. 19, 2010, in Juneau.
Representative Chenault is the Speaker of the House. Representative Hawker is the Co-Chairman of the House Finance Committee.