Gov. Tony Knowles said Nov. 17 that his administration will support an Alaska Highway routing option for a pipeline to move Alaska North Slope natural gas to the Lower 48.
A gas pipeline going through the state, the governor told the Resource Development Council's 21st annual conference in Anchorage, will have a "multiplier effect of billions of dollars of investment within our borders." There will be billions of dollars of revenues to the state and access by communities to an affordable clean energy source. Also, he said, there would be spin-off industries from gas liquids utilization, gas to provide feedstock for industrial growth; the possibilities of liquefied natural gas and gas-to-liquids projects, and other "upstream, midstream and downstream potential."
In addition to the instate economic impacts, Knowles said, "the Alaska Highway pipeline can be built far sooner than the other route." Permitting, international agreements and environmental work are in place from the 1976 federal pipeline act for the highway route. He characterized the alternate route being proposed, the Beaufort Sea to Mackenzie River delta route, as having "no precedent and formidable technical, environmental and logistical challenges that may never be satisfactorily addressed."
He said work would start on the process of issuing state rights-of-way. There must be, he said, "a thorough and transparent review of all environmental aspects of building and maintaining a pipeline and associated facilities."
And, he said, the Department of Natural Resources and the Joint Pipeline Office "will work with any and all potential project applicants."
Knowles said he would ask the Legislature in January for a special appropriation of approximately $4 million to fund work toward a gas pipeline, and for statutory help. The 1998 Stranded Gas Development Act, he said, was geared specifically toward what looked to be the gas development option them — liquefied natural gas. Knowles said he would introduce legislation to amend that bill to include a gasline and gas-to-liquids.
The governor also said he would be appointing a Natural Gas Policy Council to consider issues including: what the state should do with its royalty gas; how to provide gas to communities along the route and areas, like Southcentral, that may need North Slope gas in the future; how to plan for LNG and GTL future projects; and whether Alaskans should participate in the projects. Knowles said he would ask the council to report to Alaskans by the end of the year.