They don't have the money or the gas, but a grass-roots group has begun a drive to build a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez.
Citizens for the All-Alaskan Gasline Initiative is attempting to get an initiative on the 2002 General Election ballot creating a governmental body that would oversee an 800-mile pipeline to Valdez, estimated to cost $7.3 billion.
"I believe it is economically viable," said Scott Heyworth, who chairs the group.
If approved by voters, the newly created Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority would search for markets to sell liquid natural gas in Asia and the United States while looking for funding to construct the pipeline, Heyworth said.
The proposal is similar to a bill filed in the state Senate late last session by Sen. Robin Taylor, a Wrangell Republican. However, SB 221 would give the state power of eminent domain should oil companies refuse to negotiate with the state on a sale of natural gas.
Curtis Thayer, spokesman for a consortium of oil companies studying a pipeline route to the Lower 48, said the economics of a Valdez route don't work out because there is no processing plant on the East Coast that could receive the gas.
The Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Team representing Phillips, BP Exploration (Alaska) and ExxonMobil is considering only two routes to get natural gas from Prudhoe Bay to existing pipelines to the Lower 48, Thayer said.
One proposal calls for a 2,000-mile pipeline to Alberta that generally follows the Alaska Highway. The other would carry gas through an offshore pipeline to Canada's Mackenzie Delta where the pipeline would head south to Alberta.
Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer must approve the content of the initiative before the group attempts to gather the 28,782 necessary signatures on a petition. The group must submit the petition before Jan. 14 to get it on the November 2002 General Election ballot.
The All-Alaskan Gasline Initiative is on the Web at http://www.alaskagaspipeline.org/.
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