April 3, 2013 | Vol. 25 Edition 25

Clock ticks on Alaska gasline bill

House passes HB4 which now goes to Senate

The Alaska House of Representatives passed HB4 Monday night. The legislation, if passed by the Senate, will build a so-called gas-only natural gas bullet line from the North Slope to the Anchorage area, dimming chances that a large diameter LNG gasline to Valdez will be built.

Valdez Star photo
Taylor Bickford of Strategies 360 and Lisa Von Bargen, the city\'s director of economic development, gave a presentation at the Valdez Civic Center last Thursday to show residents details of the city-sponsored presentation it is holding in other Alaska communities to drum up support for the MVP gasline.

The bill passed 30-9 in a late-night session at 11:15 p.m. Monday night.

According to reports from the Anchorage Daily News, the late-night session included fart jokes, Kawasaki receiving a drubbing by fellow house members for sticking his tongue out at the cameras recording for Gavel to Gavel, the legislative TV service, and other behaviors some House members said were less than dignified.

Rep. Eric Feige, (R-Chickaloon) who represents Valdez and District 6 in the Alaska House was the lone Republican to vote against the bill’s passage. Democrats , Max Gruenberg and Scott Kawasaki voted with the Republican majority.

Democratic leaders had proposed four last-minute amendments to HB4according the spokesman Mark Gnadt. The press release issued by the Democrats said the failed amendments were“an effort to add much needed accountability and assurances Alaskans will get low-cost gas and the maximum benefit from a small diameter gasline…”

Critics of HB4, including officials from the City of Valdez, say HB4 will do little to curb escalating energy costs for most Alaskans, will not maximize state revenues and is worrisome due to language in the bill which will exclude much of the contracts with industry from the open records act.

The City of Valdez has been embroiled in an expensive media campaign against HB4, which includes TV commercials, radio spots and color ads in Alaska’s largest newspapers. The campaign’s focus is to sway public opinion against HB4 in favor of a large-diameter liquid natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to tidewater, which the city has rebranded at the MVP, or Maximum Volume Pipeline.

Officials have stated publicly that while Port Valdez is the city’s preferred terminus for an MVP line, the City of Valdez will not protest a similar MVP line if it benefits Alaskans with low-cost natural gas liquids and maximizes state revues with an export component.

There are two weeks left in the regular 90-day legislative session and HB4 is in the hands of the State Senate, where it is tentatively scheduled for hearings in the resources and finance committees.

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