Palin's gas line bill moving forward

Posted: Friday, May 11, 2007

Gov. Sarah Palin's gas line bill inched closer to lawmakers' approval Thursday.

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One day after Palin announced she would veto any bill bearing substantive changes, the House and Senate finance committees approved only minor alterations to the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act.

The bill will next go to the House and Senate floors for separate discussions among all 60 lawmakers. They are scheduled to be heard today.

"Hopefully what we end up with is a project that brings Alaska's gas online," said Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, the House committee's co-chair who oversaw testimony on the bill. "We hope it will move this project forward."

Under AGIA, producers and independent pipeline companies can vie for rights to build the pipeline that lawmakers hope will ship trillions of cubic feet of North Slope natural gas to market.

The bill is designed to stimulate competition through inducements, but also stipulates requirements, the administration calls "must haves."

Palin's energy team has remained firm on these conditions while producers have called this format too rigid.

On Wednesday, Palin pledged to veto the bill if significantly amended by lawmakers, as first reported in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

"If we don't have the must haves are in there, we'd would have to start over, because Alaskans wouldn't be protected," Palin told reporters on Thursday. "We want to make sure AGIA results in the competitive process we have known to be needed from day one."

Palin stopped short of saying she would call a special session to reconsider AGIA if she issued a veto.

The House Finance Committee spent two hours Thursday afternoon reviewing 20 amendments before a packed house in the committee room.

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