By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Copper Basin urges Valdez action on gasline

Residents make pleas to council after passage of HB9


Valdez – and allies from the Copper Basin – are circling the wagons around the Alaska legislature after last week’s passage of House Bill 9, the controversial bullet-line legislation.

Bill Walker, attorney for the City of Valdez and legal council to the Alaska Gasline Port Authority said he believes the legislation will not make its way through the state senate this year. To become law, the bill would have to receive approval from the state senate, which also has a competing bullet line bill.

“They sort of cancel each other out,” Walker said.

Walker told council the Port Authority is well positioned to further the goal of building large diameter natural gas pipeline to Port Valdez for liquid natural gas (LNG) export to Asia, despite numerous competing gas development schemes floating around Juneau.

Representatives from the Copper Basin made an appearance before the council Monday night, advocating for a greater alliance between Valdez and its allies for an all-Alaska gasline along the Richardson Highway corridor.

“You guys are our first cousins, but we’re unorganized,” Richard Dennis, president of the Copper Valley Chamber of Commerce, told the council Monday night. “You guys have the baton.”

Dennis made the appeal after Alan LeMaster, a staunch all-Alaska gasline advocate from Gakona, urged the council to step-up its efforts in the legislature and with the producers to secure a firm plan to build it.

“It’s obvious to us you guys are in a premier place,” for the end of a natural gas pipeline, LeMaster said, except Valdez has not offered $400 million in free money as an incentive to industry officials to develop the state’s gas.

“We need to lock arms in common effort,” LeMaster said.

LeMaster and Dennis also noted the port in Nikiski is likely to seek a large diameter gas pipeline in direct competition with Port Valdez.

Gov. Sean Parnell is endorsing yet another gas development scheme to build a gasline to “tidewater,” without naming the port. Many believe it will be the tidewater in Nikiski.

Walker later suggested council may need to hold a work session before its April 16 meeting to discuss what Valdez will do to super-charge its support an all-Alaska gasline to tidewater in Valdez.

Walker noted a fourth report comparing statewide benefits of an all-Alaska line to Valdez is due out in the coming weeks, as are several high-stakes meetings between Asian buyers, North Slope leaseholders, the Port Authority and numerous competing interests within state government – including the recent deal made on the Point Thompson leases on the North Slope.

Walker likened the process to circled wagons with an old-fashioned shoot-out, Juneau style.

“That’s kind of the Alaskan way sometimes,” he said.

Kathy Jordan

Alan LeMaster of Gakona testifying against HB9 in the bathroom of the Legislative Information Office in Glennallen two weeks ago. The LIO manager for the Copper Basin rigged up a special line from the bathroom to Juneau when the scheduled remote testimony on HB9 got preempted by a Senate hearing.


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