My Turn: All benefit from all-Alaska pipeline

Posted: Friday, August 30, 2002

The All-Alaska gasline project will be on the November general ballot. It is titled Ballot Measure 3. This ballot proposition offers new jobs for Alaskans, new state revenues, gas for Southcentral, and a bright future for our children and their children. The passage of Prop 3 will create the All-Alaska Gasline Authority to own and oversee the construction of a gas pipeline in Alaska. The authority is modeled after the Permanent Fund Administration, small and efficient.

The private sector, through competitive bidding, builds this gasline, not the state.

Ballot proposition 3 is a real project, not another study. Alaska gas has never been offered to any markets. The time for more studies has come and gone. We must stop studying routes and actually offer a real project to the world financial and gas markets.

The section of the initiative language entitled "Credit of state not pledged" (Sec. 41.41.400) was carefully written so that the project would stand-alone based on this project's revenues, not the Permanent Fund or the state's general revenues. Nothing will be built until markets for the gas are secured.

The All-Alaska gasline project parallels the existing oil pipeline (TAPS) to Valdez. The gas is then liquefied and shipped by tanker to markets in the U.S. West Coast, Asia, British Columbia and Hawaii. Keeping the gasline in Alaska has so many positive possibilities for Alaskans, all of which would be lost by going through Canada.

Prop 3 abides by our state Constitution regarding development of our natural resources. Building a massive "bullet" pipeline to Alberta simply exports our valuable hydrocarbons into the Canadian petrochemical industry where they will "strip out their pound of flesh" and give us nothing back. We cannot allow this to happen. Not one atom of our North Slope hydrocarbons should ever be exported into Canada. Our hydrocarbons, minus the methane, must be extracted from the gas on our side of the border even if a Canadian line is built in the future.

Building a spur line from Glennallen to Southcentral will help avert gas shortages estimated to begin in 2013. The key to continued and new economic development in Southcentral is clean abundant energy. Bringing our gas to Southcentral solves this problem. The All-Alaska gasline will also provide clean new energy to our coastal and river communities statewide. I challenge anyone to show how a "bullet" pipeline to Canada accomplishes these objectives.

The Canadian Highway project offers only a portion of the revenues Alaska would receive if we owned the All-Alaska project outright. Estimated project revenues: up to $1 billion per year. Through municipal revenue sharing, Prop 3 lets all Alaska communities benefit in the new revenues. The All-Alaska route also has the most construction jobs (13,000 estimated) and over 350 permanent jobs.

Prop 3 also fuels a new petrochemical industry for Alaska, thus providing thousands of additional new jobs and a new manufacturing and exporting industry in Alaska using our existing port, rail, road and shipping infrastructure which are already in place. The extraction and commercialization of the most valuable hydrocarbons (benzene, ethane, propane, etc.) is the proper management of our resources for the maximum benefit of Alaskans per our constitution.

This project has a current estimated price tag of $12 billion, including 16 tankers for both LNG and LPG (propane). This price tag also includes the "fractionation" plant ($3.6 billion) for capturing the hydrocarbons. This project does not need federal price subsidies as the Canadian route does to make it economical. We could, however, use our own railroad bonds to help finance it, keeping the benefits in Alaska, and not in Canada.

Alaskans must take our gas and our future into our hands once and for all. We do not need a dividend reduction, income tax, or sales tax with Prop 3. It solves the fiscal gap and more. Can 40,000 Alaska voters who signed the Initiative petition be wrong? Vote yes on Prop 3.

Scott Heyworth of Anchorage is the chief sponsor of Ballot Measure 3.

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