The following editorial first appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:
Alaska is moving closer to a natural gas pipeline. Which pipeline project isn't decided. But the way to a line is being paved in Washington, D.C., by Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat from New Mexico, agreed to several provisions designed to support Alaska's effort to build a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to the Lower 48.
The provisions are included in an energy bill, which changes the federal loan guarantee program. It increases the loan guarantee from $18 billion to $30 billion, plus inflation; it allows the Federal Financing Bank to capitalize the pipeline, thus reducing administrative costs and interest rates; it clarifies that the federal government provides a 100-percent loan guarantee for up to 80 percent of the project's cost; and it results in speedier acquisition of a loan guarantee.
The provisions are applicant-neutral. That means whether TransCanada or the Denali project is successful in bringing the project on, the provisions apply to either, or even any other pipeline project.
The gas pipeline will be the largest construction project in North America. Such a project will boost the economy, providing jobs and billions of dollars in federal tax revenues. It also will help to make natural gas affordable and assist the Obama Administration in reaching its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Additionally, the committee approved a provision allowing a right-of-way through Denali National Park and Preserve for an in-state line.
These provisions will serve not only the state, but the nation in realizing the benefits of Alaska's wealth of natural gas sooner rather than later.
It's in ways like these that the gas line is moving ahead, even if no pipe has been laid yet.