By Mike Mason
Alaska Governor Sean Parnell signed a piece of legislation on Tuesday that could be another step towards getting the trapped natural gas on the North Slope to market.
House Bill 4 was co-sponsored by Speaker of the House Mike Chenault and he made it a priority to get the bill through the process this year. The bill basically allows the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation to finance and potentially operate a gasline from the North Slope to serve the Fairbanks area and much of Southcentral Alaska. Among the supporters of the legislation was House District 36 State Representative Bryce Edgmon from Dillingham. He chairs the Bush Caucus in the House and he asserts the Caucus played a vital role in getting language added to the bill that would allow gas-related hydrocarbons like propane to be distributed beyond the railbelt.
"I think we were important in amending the major gasline bill to include propane that would get to the outlying areas assuming the gasline itself ever gets built."
Edgmon was referring to language in the approved bill that directs the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation to consider ways to get gas and propane to more Alaskans using other transportation mechanisms other than just a pipeline. House Bill 4 makes the Corporation an independent public corporation under the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. The in-state natural gas pipeline that the Corporation will be working on has an estimated price tag of $7.7-billion dollars.