House passes bill advancing in-state gas line

Richard Mauer

The House late Monday passed a bill to advance an in-state gas line after hours of debate, 30-9.

The bill, passed at 11:15 p.m., moves on to the Senate for hearings in the waning days of the session.

The bill makes the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. an independent state-chartered public corporation and gives it the power and authority to design a gas line from the North Slope to Southcentral Alaska and obtain the rights of way for the route of a 36-inch diameter pipe.

Most of the House Democratic minority voted against the bill after their series of amendments failed to pass. They argued that House Bill 4 doesn't provide proper consumer protections over the eventual price of gas through the line and doesn't guarantee that Alaskans would get first crack at jobs building the line.

Rep. Max Gruenberg and Scott Kawasaki, both Democrats, voted with the Republican majority in favor. Democratic Rep. David Guttenberg was absent.

Republican Rep. Eric Feige voted against the bill. Also voting against it was Rep. Neal Foster, a Democrat from Nome who caucuses with the Republican majority.

Backers said that while the bill wasn't perfect, it moves Alaska forward toward a long-term dream of bringing North Slope gas to most of the state's population.

The pipeline could function as a stand-along pipeline or could connect to a larger-diameter line to Valdez built under the state license to TransCanada Corp.

This story has been revised to reflect a correction on the bill's vote. Two members of the House majority caucus, Reps. Eric Feige, R-Chickaloon, and Neal Foster, D-Nome, voted against the bill, while two members of the House minority, Reps. Max Gruenberg, D-Anchorage, and Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks, supported the bill.


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