FAIRBANKS - Gov. Sarah Palin traveled to Fairbanks on Wednesday for a ceremonial signing of her gas pipeline legislation, the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act.
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Palin's gas line team, state lawmakers, local politicians and union leaders all joined her at the pipeline viewing station just north of Fairbanks.
The governor, wearing double-knee Carhartts, stood with two of her daughters in front of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.
"It's been Alaska's economic lifeline for a generation," she told a crowd of about 100, referring to the oil pipeline. "Now it's time for a new generation of energy for Alaska - it's time for our gas line."
The only thing missing Wednesday was the actual bill. The Legislature approved it in mid-May, but the bill hadn't received all the official signatures in time for the Fairbanks bill signing. Palin said she would sign the bill later in Anchorage.
Palin and Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin touted the benefits of AGIA, which sets up a competitive process by which potential pipeline builders can apply for a state license to build the line.
"The beauty of AGIA is this legislation is open to all comers," Palin said, "AGIA excludes no one."
Palin said AGIA would provide stability for pipeline builders, natural gas for Alaskans, and firm construction timelines. If the state's chosen partner doesn't come through, she said, the bill lets the state consider using lease and royalty terms to go it alone.
"It lets us consider doing it ourselves," she said.
Irwin touched on the 20 requirements companies have to meet under AGIA.
During the legislative session, the three major North Slope producers described the requirements as too strict and urged lawmakers to make them less-than-mandatory. Some lawmakers expressed support for making the bill more flexible.
Irwin described the requirements as both fair and critical for the state.
"They're not anti-any company - they're pro-Alaska," he said.
House Speaker John Harris, R-Valdez, thanked the governor for her persistence and said he was happy for the language requiring pipeline builders to negotiate a project labor agreement.
"Let's hope that within a few years we have a project on and going," he said.
Drue Pearce, a former state lawmaker serving as federal coordinator for the gas pipeline project, conveyed greetings and congratulations from the president and federal agencies.
"It's a great day for Alaska, but I have to say, it's also a great day for the United States," she said.
Palin thanked the three local mayors - Fairbanks Mayor Steve Thompson, North Pole Mayor Doug Isaacson, and Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker - for their support.
Irwin said the gas line team still had a lot of work to do, including the actual request for applications, which he said they hoped to submit in July.
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