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Palin Puts Alaska Lawmakers on Standby for AGIA Findings

Findings of the panel reviewing TransCanada's application to build a natural gas pipeline to commercialize Alaska's North Slope gas reserves will be presented to lawmakers the week of May 19, Gov. Sarah Palin said Friday. She also called the legislature into a 30-day special session on June 3.

The governor called for legislators to review "any action taken by the commissioner of natural resources and the commissioner of revenue" under the state's Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA). TransCanada was the only AGIA applicant to have its proposal considered (see NGI, Feb. 25); however, the state has said it would also consider a liquefied natural gas (LNG) option.

"This schedule is extremely aggressive," Palin said. "Our plan is to complete the findings by the week of May 19, allow legislators time to read and absorb the materials, provide public gasline team briefings in Anchorage, and then move to special session in Juneau where they have requested to meet."

The commissioners would give notice of their findings to the legislature the week of May 19, and if they recommend awarding the proposed license, the legislature would then have 60 days to approve issuance of the license. The gasline team's schedule includes briefings in Anchorage -- May 28, 29 and 30 -- on the commissioners' findings for legislators and the public.

Lawmakers passed AGIA legislation with a 59-1 vote on May 11, which began the AGIA application process. The commissioners received proposals on Nov. 30 and reviewed them to determine whether they met the conditions required under AGIA. On Jan. 4 it was announced that the application from TransCanada Alaska Co. LLC/Foothills Pipelines Ltd. (TransCanada) satisfied all of the mandatory requirements set out in AGIA, allowing TransCanada's application to move to the evaluation phase of the AGIA process.

The 60-day public review and comment period on TransCanada's application ended March 6. The Palin administration is continuing to analyze and evaluate the benefits to Alaskans of the gas pipeline project proposed by TransCanada, including a comparative analysis of the benefits of an all-Alaska route for LNG projects.

Palin emphasized that the calling of a special session is not an indication that the commissioners have yet made a determination regarding whether to recommend TransCanada's AGIA application.

"The gasline team faces a truly monumental effort in comprehensively analyzing TransCanada's application, considering the public comments received and reviewing the all-Alaska LNG options for comparison purposes," Palin said.

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