Alaska's congressional delegation addressed the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce Wednesday in Juneau, touting a victory on loan guarantees secured for construction of an Alaska gas pipeline.
Republican Sen. Lisa Mur-kowski described the project as "the next great happening" for the state. She faces Democratic challenger Tony Knowles in the Nov. 2 election.
"We want to make sure that we make (the gas pipeline) happen and that we make it happen in the very immediate future," Murkowski said. The project would create 400,000 jobs nationwide, she said.
The project was given federal authorization last week in Congress for $18 billion in loan guarantees to build the pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to the Midwest.
Alaska must get the pipeline project moving before the United States signs long-term contracts for natural gas from countries in Africa and the Middle East.
"One of the concerns I have is that we've got a short time frame with our gasline," she said. "As we speak they're signing contracts in Qatar, looking at gas deposits in Angola and Nigeria, places that I don't consider to be politically stable. But that's where they're looking."
The delegation also discussed the transportation needs of the state, while plugging for Murkowski's campaign.
Rep. Don Young, Alaska's sole congressman and chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said that if Republicans maintain control of the Senate, the delegation will be positioned to fund highway construction throughout the state.
He said the federal transportation funding bill is set to expend $299 billion throughout the country for highway projects. And Stevens will become chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee under a Republican-controlled Senate.
"I'll be chairman (of the Transportation Committee) on the House side and he will be working very hard on the Senate side, and if we can't bring the whole pig home, I'll be very disappointed," Young said.
Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.