Coal is not evil, and Southcentral Alaska needs to develop it

Posted: Sunday, September 02, 2007

In reply to "Coal will take us backwards"

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Bob Shavelson's commentary was typical of greenie innuendo. All fluff, little substance.

Coal is not evil, and it is a necessary development in the face of nonexistent infrastructure to provide natural gas in Southcentral anytime before 2012.

What Shavelson fails to note is why Agrium would be considering a coal conversion plant to produce natural gas in order to keep producing ammonium nitrate. The reason is that Southcentral Alaska is in deep kim chee due to the shortsighted policies of both Tony Knowles and Frank Murkowski with respect to the means to move North Slope natural gas to market. By 2012, the reserves in Cook Inlet will be exhausted, and Southcentral residents and businesses will be converting from NG back to fuel oil to heat houses.

Both of these governors rejected Yukon Pacific's pipeline proposal, which would have been moving at least 1.5-2.5 BCF of natural gas to market by 2002, had these illustrious directors of Alaska's economic policy not been blinded by the illusions of a massive project to move gas through Canada.

The Palin administration was required to literally start from scratch to overcome the "give it all away" attitude of Tony and Frank.

Where are the "world class renewable energy sources" that are under development in Alaska? Surely by now, with the looming energy vacuum in Southcentral, there is a need. Yet, Shavelson provides not one demonstration of viable, "cleaner, more secure power supplies and good long terms jobs."

These sources are farther out on the development horizon than natural gas being delivered to Southcentral Alaska by a feeder line from the North Slope.

The same lack of substance is being pandered in the Mat-Su Valley by those alleging to have the answers to alternatives to coal. Yet, no answers with sound economics have been forthcoming.

The specter is that Southcentral will be importing natural gas from Asia or the Middle East with 35 trillion cubic feet of recoverable reserves setting idle on the North Slope. Or, we develop coal in the interim to provide power for a new power plant and coal for natural gas conversion to keep Agrium running and the Chugach Electric natural gas power plants on the west side of Cook Inlet running until North Slope natural gas becomes available in Southcentral.

Larry Wood

General manager, Terra Resources Ltd.


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