May 19, 2006
"We have the opportunity to shape the future for Alaska's next generation, and the generation after that, as well," Murkowski said. "The gas pipeline will create jobs and business opportunities. It will bring in at least $70 billion in state revenues over the first 35 years of its operations. Its presence will extend the life of the TAPS oil pipeline by at least 20 years, because gas and oil are found together."
Murkowski said the purpose of the public meetings that will be held statewide is to receive the comments and input of Alaskans regarding the contract and the pipeline project.
"We are wholly committed to the public process we are opening here today, and have set out a very rigorous, statewide schedule of hearings," he said. "Your voice truly matters. Your input is needed to make sure we get the right deal for all Alaskans. We are working with the Legislature to be sure they fully understand the contract, and that they are confident the public is comfortable with it."
The governor encouraged Ketchikanites to express their views either in person to Department of Revenue Commissioner Bill Corbus and his staff, who are in charge of the public meetings, or by going on-line at www.gaspipeline.alaska.gov to comment. Those wishing to comment on the proposed contract may also do so by writing to Corbus at Department of Revenue, Commissioner's Office, PO Box 110430, Juneau, AK 99811-0430 or by calling toll free (866) 512-5427.
For an even more in-depth understanding of the gas pipeline project, the governor also encouraged all interested Alaskans to watch Gavel-to-Gavel coverage of the information sessions being presented to the Legislature by administration staff.
Following the public meetings, the draft contract and draft fiscal interest finding document will be finalized and submitted to the Legislature for its approval later this summer.
The Governor also announced today a full schedule of public meetings and presentations throughout the state to provide information and receive public comments on the proposed natural gas pipeline contract, which began Friday morning in Ketchikan. The governor will make opening comments at several of the meetings.
In addition to taking comments in person in major metropolitan areas, the state will conduct regional and statewide teleconferences. The meetings will be chaired by Commissioner of Revenue Bill Corbus, who is responsible under the Stranded Gas Development Act for providing a final contract to the Legislature.
At the same time the public meetings are taking place, a "project fair" will be held nearby, at which members of the public who are interested in finding out more about the project can obtain the information and have questions answered. The project fair will provide local residents an opportunity to find out about employment and job training related to the gas pipeline project.
"The gas pipeline contract is the biggest single issue before Alaskans in a generation, and will have an impact on virtually everyone in the state," Murkowski said. "It is vital to know the views of Alaskans. Their views will be incorporated into the contract before it is finalized and forwarded to the Legislature for its approval, so we invite their participation."
Murkowski noted that the proposed contract includes provisions that establish a new and different relationship between the people of the state and the producers. "Under the contract, the State of Alaska would take our royalty and severance tax as gas in-kind and would be responsible for transporting and marketing it ourselves," Murkowski said. "We would also be a 20 percent owner of the gas pipeline. So, while there are risks to this new relationship, the rewards are substantially more than we got from the oil pipeline. I hope every Alaskan will take some time to evaluate the contract and what it means for the future of the state."
According to the Office of the Governor, the schedule of public meetings includes:
Ketchikan, 11 a.m., Friday,
May 19 at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.
Three teleconferences will be conducted to take comments from those who are unable to attend a local meeting in person. The teleconferences will be hosted by the Legislative Information Offices in local communities and include:
May 23 - General Statewide
Teleconference, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Individuals who cannot attend at a local LIO because of disability or location may call toll free (888) 295-4546 during the same time period.
In addition, the following will have "Community Presentations" per the tentative schedule. These are not formal public hearings at which testimony will be taken, but are intended to provide information to local communities. The venues are Chambers of Commerce, Rotary meetings, city councils, etc., and vary by community:
Kotzebue - May 22
On the Web:
Publish A Letter on SitNews Read Letters/Opinions