Tag Archives: AGIA

Legislature starts to question TransCanada’s role in building LNG line

5839204_mMembers of the Alaska state Senate are beginning to question whether or not TransCanada is the right company for the state to partner with to build a large diameter natural gas pipeline that all told could cost more than $60 billion. The pipeline, which would carry natural gas from the North Slope to tidewater that would be shipped as LNG, would be one of the largest construction projects in the world. Legislation being considered this session, introduced by Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration, would begin to bind the state with TransCanada for generations.

However, the state has not put the newly conceived LNG project up for bid. Nor has it appeared to consider other companies that might partner with the state to build the line.

“It’s not Exxon, BP and Conoco’s responsibility to see that the state is aligned and to protect our interests. We have to protect our interests with TransCanada,” said Sen. Bert Stedman during a Senate majority press conference. Other members of the majority, including Sen. Peter Micciche, said during the press conference that they will look hard at the partnership.

The administration has proposed legislation that would begin the process of building the natural gas pipeline, a project that’ s been in the works for over 40 years. The initial legislation is just a start, the administration has said. However, it’s a start with a start at binding agreements and a multimillion dollar price tag attached to it.

TransCanada and Alaska go back a long way, most recently when it was the company chosen by the legislature in 2008 to build a pipeline to go from Prudhoe Bay through Canada. It was the only company then that designed a project to fit specific “must haves” that were delineated by Gov. Sarah Palin’s administration.

In exchange, the company was entitled to receive $500 million of state money to allow it to get to crucial commercial agreements with the companies that own the lease rights to the gas—ExxonMobil, BP and Conoco– and companies willing to ship the gas. For various reasons, those commercial agreements all dissipated. Legal contracts that the state has with TransCanada, however, haven’t.

Some legislators are wondering if the state has stuck with TransCanada simply to delay potential legal issues.

Democratic Sen. Hollis French would like the Senate Judiciary Committee to explore the legal contracts the state has with TransCanada. So far, however, Senate President Charlie Huggins hasn’t assigned that bill to the committee.

“There’s discomfort in the Capitol about whether we’re getting shoehorned into this new gasline deal with a partner that didn’t deliver in the last deal,” French said. “What’s the cost of shopping around?” he asked.

Legislators have likened the relationship with TransCanada to a marriage. French continued with the metaphor. “It’s like we’re staying in the marriage for the sake of the children without knowing who the children are,” he said.

The state has hired various consultants to help it understand that contracts. However, the bulk of committee testimony so far has been used by TransCanada, Exxon, ConocoPhillips, and BP, all of whose testimony appears to be coordinated.

Meanwhile, rumors persist that behind closed doors, some of the producing companies are also quietly questioning TransCanada’s role in the project.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com

Correction: The original version of the story said that Sen. Hollis French was on the “Judicial” Committee. There is no such thing as a “Judicial” Committee. It’s the Judiciary Committee and Sen. Bill Wielechowski is now the minority member.


Weekly roundup: Aloha moderate malarkey flu

aloha It’s still very early in the election season. The sun is still low and coy, objects hidden under the snow haven’t even begun to think of stirring, and most Alaskans haven’t even begun to think about who they’re going to vote for in the upcoming elections.

It feels a lot like Joe Miller time.

I know that many of you common-sense conservatives have written Miller off. But common-sense conservatives have never been accused of being commonly sensitive enough to feel the fury of that small group of primary voters, the ones that Sarah Palin awoke from their long slumber and the ones that are now gathering during these long winter nights to plan for a Miller win, much like they did in the early days of 2010.

Word is that the meetings are happening with increasing frequency, particularly in the Mat-Su Valley, where there’s something in the water which makes everyone feel dispossessed. The meetings are revivalesque, I’m told. In other words: those people vote.

In the meantime, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell , who also tries really hard to act like he’s dispossessed, is plugging along, sending out press releases accusing Begich of being soft on energy and not “enthusiastically” supporting Murkowski’s bid to end exports on oil. I say be careful of what you wish for. Any more enthusiasm from Begich and he’ll be knocking at your door, using that soon-to-be-grating,  folksy voice to try and convince you that he’s as “independent as Alaska.”

And he’ll keep going until you agree.

Speaking of Begich. How’s this for his new moniker, a la Art Hackney: “Malarkey Mark.” And isn’t it interesting that the national Republicans are bashing him giving a speech in Hawaii rather than being in D.C., voting to extend unemployment benefits? Maybe they’ve been employed for so long that those same Republicans forgot they don’t like the bill?

Besides, in addition to attending fundraisers and giving a speech, Begich likely spent the rest of his waking hours in Hawaii convincing Alaskans that he’s as independent as they are. Indeed, you can’t throw a stone this time of year in Hawaii without hitting an Alaskan. Former Mayor Tom Fink is reportedly there, giving lectures to anyone who will listen on laissez faire economics and school choice. Rep. Les Gara is riding a girl’s 10 speed bike around Oahu. It was the affordable one available, he said.

From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.

Speaking of throwing stones, neither of the two Republican candidates running for lieutenant governor showed at the first state-wide candidate forum in Anchorage on Tuesday night. Mayor Dan Sullivan had other plans, so he declined immediately. Sen. Lesil McGuire called in sick right before it started. Malarkey? Who can blame her? I’d be sick too if I were a moderate Republican in that crowd, in this state, where to win statewide office, you have to get at least a handful of those Valley folks to cast their vote for you. Maybe the remedy is in the Valley water.

Anyway, because no Republican showed, the show was left to Democrats Sen. Hollis French and Palmer teacher Bob Williams, and independent Craig Fleener. As expected, Gov. Sean Parnell took a beating.

Sen. Hollis French, as usual, was like, “au contraire Parnell!” He was like, “Oil companies j’en peux plus!”

I don’t know Craig Fleener well enough to poke fun at him. He seems really nice, smart. Besides, he’s a former Marine.

But the line of the night belonged to Bob Williams.

Bob Williams? I hadn’t heard of him either, and yet he has blue eyes and even comes with props! On Tuesday night, there was a red cup, yellow cup and green cup, and some sort of piece of cloth all of which represented something important enough to warrant them. I can’t remember what it was, however. (My dog ate my notes, and then I suddenly came down with the moderate malarkey Republican flu.)

What I do remember, perhaps the only thing I remember, is when Blue Eyes called Parnell a wimp.

That got the requisite, snide, liberal chuckle. But Williams wasn’t done. Because it’s so uncool in school to call anybody a name, he went on to explain what he meant was that Parnell is “Wildly Inaccurate, Misleading, and Partisan.” It doesn’t quite work as an acrostic, but nobody, least of all Parnell, is going to challenge him.

What else is going on out there? Mayor Dan hired his buddy, high school friend and chief-of-staff Dan Kendall to run ML&P. His qualifications for running one of the state’s largest electrical utilities? For 30 years he was a corrosion technician for ENSTAR. For 30 years, he did nothing but drive around in his truck, getting a big union paycheck to check for cronyism. Oops! I mean corrosion.

Whispers of Eagle River Rep. Lora Reinbold, and Valley Rep. Wes Keller organizing what’s being called a “conservative caucus” in the House to push out the moderates. Because, you know, Alaska’s Republican dominated House is so full of moderates. Must be something in the water.

And there’s lots of talk about the good bureaucrats at Revenue and DNR, who could probably use a chug or two of Valley water, trying to untangle the state from the very last vestige of the Palin regime. Next session, the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, or AGIA, will be likely be a goner, taking its hundreds of millions with it, and one of the countless big dreams of a big natural gasline. Aloha AGIA.

As William’s might put it: “Alaska Gets It in the….Abdomen again.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com