By Adam Pinsker
Channel 2 News
6:28 PM AKST, February 7, 2013
It could be one of the largest projects in Alaska since the Trans-Alaska pipeline was constructed more than 35 years ago. A natural gas pipeline spanning from the North Slope to the Tidewater; delivering a resource that could provide relief for Alaskans suffering from skyrocketing energy bills.
Governor Sean Parnell backs the concept, but not the execution of this project. He’s worried about handing over too much power to the Alaska Gas line Development Corporation, which is handling the project’s oversight.
"I told them I wanted protections for Alaskan consumers,” Parnell said on Wednesday. “I told them I wanted to hold AGDC accountable for cost of service to consumers."
The bill's co-sponsor, Rep. Mike Hawker (R-Anchorage) says he's more than willing to work with the governor on this issue, but notes that establishing quasi private-government corporations in Alaska is nothing new. He pointed to the Alaska Railroad, Alaska Industrial Authority and the Permanent Dividend Fund as prime examples.
"We can debate this project for another 10 years; we've been debating it for 10 years,” adds Hawker. “We've gotten nowhere in this state, this is the one project that actually has legs bringing Alaska's gas to Alaskans."
Hawker says AGDC will be around for the long term, helping oversee expansion of the gas line to smaller communities once the initial line is in place. Hawker’s Democratic counterpart on the House Resources Committee says he’s worried that Alaskans will be left holding the bag if the project fails.
"By saying that we don't know if this pencils out or not, but we're going to give all that authority over to a quasi-government entity, where it's really only five members that we get to choose and pick,” said Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage).
“Any decision from there on out is totally removed the legislature and totally removed from the public,” adds Tuck.
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