Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Begich (D-AK) have reintroduced legislation designed to streamline development of an in-state natural gas pipeline in Alaska by allowing its passage through a national park.

The Denali National Park and Preserve Natural Gas Pipeline Act would allow the Secretary of the Interior to authorize a right-of-way for construction of an in-state gas pipeline along the Parks Highway for the roughly seven miles the highway passes through Denali National Park. The legislation would remove a potential obstacle for proposals to construct a pipeline to deliver gas to Southcentral Alaska.

The proposed route for the 24-inch diameter "bullet" pipeline is the shortest and most logical route through or around the roughly 10-mile bottleneck of the Nenana River Canyon and Denali National Park and Preserve following the existing highway, and would be the least expensive to construct and operate, the lawmakers said. It would also allow for electricity generation from natural gas in the park facilities at Denali and would allow for reasonably priced compressed natural gas to be available to power park vehicles, they said.

Murkowski first introduced the legislation in 2009 (see Daily GPI, April 6, 2009). The bill's current language was passed unanimously out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 2009, Murkowski said.

"Southcentral needs natural gas and an in-state line provides an alternative solution to their future needs," Murkowski said. "By eliminating the uncertainty of permitting and regulatory delays, the Parks Highway route will be able to compete on a level playing field with other proposed routes."

Reintroduction of the act coincides with the introduction of a bill by Republican lawmakers in Alaska intended to light a fire under efforts by TransCanada Corp. to construct a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to serve Lower 48 markets (see Daily GPI, Feb. 10). The bill would create a rebuttable presumption that the TransCanada project, which was licensed under the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, is uneconomic because it failed to garner sufficient firm transportation commitments during its first open season, which ran from April 30 to July 30, 2010 (see Daily GPI, Aug. 3, 2010).

Alaskans in the state's Southcentral region are starved for gas and are eyeing their own options for a intrastate line from the North Slope (see Daily GPI, Dec. 28, 2010; Aug. 11, 2010).

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