Sens. Murkowski, Begich Ask for Parks Highway Right-of-Way for Gas Line
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Denali National Park and Preserve Natural Gas Pipeline Act was reintroduced today by Alaska's U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich. The legislation would authorize a right-of-way along the Parks Highway for construction of an Alaska in-state natural gas pipeline.
"Southcentral needs natural gas and an in-state line provides an alternative solution to their future needs," Murkowski said. "By eliminating the uncertainty of permitting and regulatory delays, the Parks Highway route will be able to compete on a level playing field with other proposed routes."
"Securing a new supply of natural gas for Southcentral is an essential part of providing Alaska families with affordable and stable energy costs," said Sen. Begich. "I am proud multiple parties were able to come together, including the National Parks Service and the National Parks Conservation Association, and find an agreement that works for everyone and moves us forward."
The main gas line is currently expected to reach Southcentral Alaska in, or after, 2020. Due to the growing need for natural gas in that portion of the state, Alaska is considering investing in a smaller pipeline to meet medium-term demand.
The proposed route is the shortest and most logical route for a pipeline through or around the roughly 10-mile bottleneck of the Nenana River Canyon and Denali National Park and Preserve following the existing highway, which passes briefly - 7 miles - through the Park.
The proposed route would also be the least expensive to construct and operate. Additionally, it would offer several environmental advantages.
· Would allow for electricity generation from natural gas in the park facilities at Denali.
· Would allow for reasonably priced compressed natural gas (CNG) to be available to power park vehicles. Currently, National Park Service permitted diesel tour buses travel 1 million road miles annually, and converting the buses to CNG would significantly reduce air emissions in the park.
· A new bridge will need to be built over the Nenana River, providing a pedestrian access/bicycle path for visitors who otherwise must walk along the heavily traveled highway.
Because of the above environmental advantages, eight environmental groups have expressed support for pipeline construction along the existing highway right-of-way through Denali Park.
The bill's current language was passed unanimously out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 2009.
Alaska state regulators and financial markets will ultimately decide if this pipeline project will go forward.