Young to insist that gas pipeline wind through Alaska Interior

PHOTO/Rob Stapleton/AJOC
Alaska’s gas producers must choose a north-south route for developing North Slope natural gas, rather than an east and south route, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, told a public policy group in Anchorage on Feb. 21.

Young, who chairs the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he is optimistic that a gas pipeline to the Lower 48 will be built soon. But he told the oil companies that he is adamant that the pipeline pass through Alaska’s Interior rather than proceed east offshore to the Mackenzie Delta before turning south through Canada, he added.

"It’s important because of what it will mean to the state. Alaska needs cheap gas," the congressman told members of Commonwealth North.

The three major gas producers, BP, Phillips Alaska Inc. and ExxonMobil Production Co., are conducting a review to determine which route the pipeline should follow. A decision is expected in the second quarter.

Young said Alaska’s congressional delegation is committed to "fighting the good fight" to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration and development.

"But the key to it is President Bush’s enthusiasm and dedication to an energy policy," Young said. "The only energy policy we’ve had for the last eight years is Bill Richardson, secretary of energy, on kneepads in Saudi Arabia."

Young said he’s looking forward to the opportunities that will be open to him for the next six years as Transportation chairman to get things moving in the industry.

"I believe that is the transportation industry’s No. 1 problem in America today," Young said. "You cannot compete globally, if you can’t move goods quickly and efficiently."

Excessive permitting for new projects and litigation has bogged down the industry and changes are needed to shorten the permitting process and discourage unnecessary litigation, Young said.

For Alaska, he said that means state and local officials have an opportunity to advance the projects they need and expect help in Congress.

"You Alaska communities and the state have to be aggressive about your needs and make them known now, while I’m chairman of Transportation," he said.

Young vowed to work for expanding the Alaska Railroad; improving the state’s airports; building secondary roads in smaller Alaska communities; constructing a bridge in Ketchikan and one for highway and rail traffic across Knik Arm; properly funding the U.S. Coast Guard so it can fulfill its missions; and revising the way Alaska wetlands are administered by federal agencies.

Nationally, Young’s goals include revising federal transportation laws to promote road and infrastructure development; moving the staging of goods away from ports in downtown areas to relieve congestion; encouraging a mass transit demonstration project of a magnetic levitation train between Las Vegas and Los Angeles; expanding and improving air routes, particularly to arctic destinations; and reorganizing and modernizing the Federal Aviation Administration.

03/03/2001 - 8:00pm