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Former Alaska Governors Resisting TransCanada Gasline Plan

A plan to pipe treasured Alaskan North Slope gas reserves through Canada to Lower 48 markets would put the state's gasline destiny in the hands of foreigners, a former Alaska governor said last week in denouncing a proposal before the state's legislature to allow TransCanada Corp. to develop the gasline.

"Why turn over control of a resource this valuable to a foreign country?" former Gov. Wally Hickel asked. "If TransCanada gets the license, they and their government will determine when it will be built, who gets the jobs, how much it will be taxed (which will come out of our pockets) and how our gas will be used.

"Once you build a $30-40 billion pipeline, you're locked in. This is a forever decision. And it's a bad one."

Another former governor, Tony Knowles, last week said he wants lawmakers to postpone their decision on the TransCanada proposal and ask the pipeline company to negotiate with the two oil companies -- BP and ConocoPhillips -- behind a competing pipeline proposal known as Denali (see NGI, April 14), reported the Anchorage Daily News.

Meanwhile, the Alaska Gasline Port Authority (AGPA), which is backing an all-Alaska gasline project with an LNG liquefaction plant at the end -- despite being rejected by the state under its Alaska Gasline Inducement Act process (see NGI, Feb. 4) -- said last month that Mitsubishi Corp. had joined its consortium.

With Alaska's lawmakers due to vote on TransCanada's gasline proposal (see NGI, June 30) no later than Aug. 2, Hickel has broken with Gov. Sarah Palin, whom he supports, to speak out against her administration's choice for the gasline's route.

"This is nothing personal...But on this issue, her advisors have taken her down the wrong road. It's up to the legislature to save her, save Alaska and save themselves from the worst decision of the 21st Century...Once the ill-advised TransCanada plan is out of the picture, the state of Alaska can build our own pipeline," Hickel said.

The former governor wants the state to hire a pipeline company to build a line from the Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. From there gas could be liquefied and shipped by tanker to the U.S. West Coast, Asian markets and elsewhere, he said.

Hickel was among a political delegation that recently visited China to explore the prospect of exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the country where energy demand growth is off the charts (see NGI, May 19). China, as well as Japan and India, have been big spenders on LNG cargoes of late (see NGI, May 26).

"Let's build the best pipeline in the U.S. and ship our clean natural gas to the U.S. West Coast and the world and make billions for the Alaska people. That's where Alaska's future is," said Hickel. "If we think the future is in the tar sands of Alberta or the rustbelt of the U.S., we should have our heads examined."

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