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Bodman: Absence of Funding for Alaska Pipe Coordinator Not Oversight

The absence of funding in the Bush administration's fiscal year 2008 budget for the office of a federal coordinator for the long-stalled Alaska natural gas pipeline project was not an oversight, but rather was intentional, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman told a Senate energy panel Wednesday.

"It's [an] unfortunate situation that in Alaska they have not gotten their act together to deal with this" pipeline, Bodman told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee during a hearing on the Department of Energy's proposed budget for FY2008.

As a result, funding has not been included in the budget, he said. "We don't see the need for spending money on something that there isn't a call for," he said in response to questions from Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a champion of the pipeline.

Murkowski said Alaska legislators were trying to put together legislation to move the pipeline forward. "If the legislation is successful and the new governor [Sarah Palin] presents a plan [for the project] that is going to work," a federal pipeline coordinator will be needed, she said. Murkowski indicated that favorable action by the state could come in the "next nine months or so."

Just last month, Palin outlined a new North Slope pipe plan in her State of the State address (see Daily GPI, Jan. 19).

Bodman told the Alaska senator to check back with him then. "We will try to respond as soon as you get this done in the next six or nine months."

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