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Interior Delegation Members React to Flint Hills Refinery Closure News



Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, Juneau, Alaska – Members of the Alaska Legislature’s Interior Delegation released the following statements upon learning of this afternoon’s decision by Flint Hills Resources Alaska to cease processing crude oil at its North Pole refinery.

“This is a sad day for the entire Interior region and Alaska as a whole,” Delegation Chair Rep. Pete Higgins, R-Fairbanks, said. “We will be looking to the governor for his leadership in the coming days, which will hopefully address the Dept. of Environmental Conservation decisions that forced Flint Hills into making this announcement. This will have far-reaching impacts economically to the Interior. The news hit us hard and fast today, and we will be working with the governor and the DEC to alleviate the impact to the families and businesses affected by the shutdown.”

The refinery employs more than 125 Alaskans between the Port of Anchorage and its North Pole operations.

“I am very disappointed,” Senate Majority Leader John Coghill, R-North Pole, said. “It will have a huge negative impact on workers and our community and our state.”

The company and the State have been at odds over who bears responsibility for cleaning up groundwater contamination which occurred on the site: Flint Hills, the State or the prior owner, Williams.

“I am LIVID! This is terrible news for North Pole and for all of Alaska,” Rep. Doug Isaacson, R-North Pole, said. “In my opinion this was foreseeable and preventable. The domino effect of losing 81 refinery jobs means 800 jobs are affected.  The railroad that will lose substantial revenue and the communities that will hurt significantly.”

“More stringent regulations hit close to home,” Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-Fairbanks/North Pole, said. “Unrealistic expectations by the DEC played a major role in the closing. The ripple effect of this tragedy will be felt by the entire community. We must make sure we take care of all those effected.”

Delegation members noted that the decision doesn’t just effect today’s operations, but plans for Interior growth as well.

“This is very bad news for Fairbanks and North Pole, and Alaska, and for all of Flint Hills’ employees and customers, including our military bases,” Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, said. “How difficult will it now be for us to sell the Air Force on the idea of locating their new F-35s at Eielson Air Force Base, when our source of jet fuel is shutting down?”

"I don't know how, but we need to fix this,” Senate Finance Co-Chair Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, said. “Fairbanks didn't accept high heating bills and we've got a trucking project on the way. We didn't accept what was happening with the military and we fixed that.  Healy Clean Coal. A gas line project. If we can turn those things around we can turn this around too.”

Delegation members are still processing the news, and are in discussions on how to proceed.

“The announcement today regarding Flint Hills shutting its doors came as a shock,” Rep. Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, said. “We will continue to monitor the situation as to loss of jobs, groundwater contamination, and the economic impact this will have on our community.”

The Interior Delegation is made up of legislators whose districts serve Interior Alaska. Delegations members advocate on behalf of bills, issues, and budget items of importance to their area and use their delegation meetings to work toward common goals, while also helping inform other legislators on issues of importance to their area.

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