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Committee Starts Work on Critical Arctic Infrastructure Legislation

SB140 creates incentives to build ports, roads, and emergency and telecommunication projects in the Arctic

JUNEAU-This week, the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee started consideration of Senate Bill 140, sponsored by Senator Lesil McGuire (R-Anchorage), which is a bill designed to boost infrastructure development in the Arctic.  SB140 aims to create incentives to attract private investment to build much needed ports, roads, emergency and telecommunications projects in the Alaskan Arctic.  SB140 came out of the work completed by the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission (AAPC), co-chaired by Senator McGuire and Representative Bob Herron (D-Bethel).

“The Arctic is our future alongside a healthy oil economy.  Alongside the commercialization of our North Slope gas, the Arctic is the third leg of the stool that will be the future of our state,” Senator McGuire told committee members.  “But without Arctic infrastructure, we will not be able to develop it.   We have approximately $100 billion in private capital that we’ve identified through the AAPC, but in order for those private sector dollars to make their way into Alaska, we need some tools.”

SB 140 expands the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority’s (AIDEA) tool bag by extending the same authority for loans, loan guarantees, bonds and bond guarantees that it currently utilizes in the energy sector via the SETS fund in order to develop Infrastructure in the Arctic.   The Sustainable Energy Transmission and Supply Development Fund (SETS) was created by Senator McGuire in 2012 under Senate Bill 25.  The financing tools in SETS are currently leading to the first commercialization of Alaska’s North Slope natural gas while bringing much needed energy relief to Interior Alaska in the form of LNG trucking to Fairbanks. 

“Now it is time for Americans to turn their eyes to the North.  The Federal Government is lagging behind the rest of the world on the Arctic,” said Senator McGuire.  “Alaska is what makes the U.S. an Arctic nation.  This bill ensures that Alaska will not lag behind.  We need infrastructure which can serve critical needs including everything from tourism, oil spill response, search and rescue, and even national defense.”

City Manager of Unalaska and AAPC Commissioner Chris Hladick, Assistant City Manager of Seward Ron Long, Trimble Strategies President and AAPC Commissioner Stephen Trimble, as well as First Infrastructure Managing Director and adviser to AIDEA Steven Klein all testified in support of SB140 at the Labor and Commerce meeting. 

During the hearing, Senator McGuire also answered several questions and received general praise for the project.  To watch the testimony and hearing, please click here.

Senator McGuire also told committee members there are several changes to strengthen the bill and she will work with the committee on those changes to produce a Committee Substitute for the bill in the near future.

For more information, please contact Jesse Logan in Senator McGuire’s office at (907) 465-2995.   

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