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Governor Promotes Stronger Pacific Northwest 'Connections'
Speaks in Victoria at PNWER Summit


July 14, 2004

Victoria, B.C. - Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski on Tuesday told delegates at the 14th annual summit of the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region that improved road, rail and pipe connections would "unify and strengthen our region's importance to the rest of the continent."

PNWER is a public-private partnership comprised of state governments and private sector groups in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, and the Yukon Territory.

The governor was the keynote speaker on the third day of the July 11-14 meeting in Victoria, B.C.

"Today, I'm going to talk about connections," the governor told the audience at the Victoria Conference Centre. "It's time to finish our part of the continent, to let us contribute." Murkowski said the three missing connections so important to Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and North America are building the Alaska natural gas pipeline, extending the Alaska Railroad to Canada, and a highway connection from Southeast Alaska into British Columbia.

The governor's Victoria presentation was his second in a three-city speaking tour to promote the Alaska gas line project and other development opportunities. He spoke Friday, July 9, before the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America in Calgary, Alberta, and will give a presentation Wednesday, July 14, at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners' conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

"The problem for Alaska and North American natural gas consumers is yet another problem of missing connections," Murkowski said in Victoria. "Some 1,800 miles of challenging terrain stands between Alaska's North Slope gas reserves and the existing Canadian pipeline system in Alberta.

"Nothing of this scale and magnitude is going to be easy, but think of the benefits," he said of the proposed gas pipeline. "Benefits to consumers, benefits to Alaskans, and benefits to Western Canadian producers by keeping the lines full of gas."

The state is negotiating with North Slope producers and other companies, looking for the best way to get the pipeline built.

The governor also told delegates of Alaska's push to link the 49th state by rail with the rest of the continent, extending the Alaska Railroad to the Yukon Territory and bringing up Canada's rail system to make the connection.

"We're at a point of unprecedented bi-national cooperation. This will only continue to grow," Murkowski said. Congress has appropriated $4 million for the U.S. share of taking a hard look at the rail extension, the governor said, and the state will continue to push for appointment of the study-group by the U.S. and Canadian federal governments.

It just makes sense, the governor said, to extend the railroad in conjunction with gas line construction. In addition to possible cost savings by sharing construction resources, the gas line would benefit by the new rail connection for shipping steel pipe, equipment and materials.

"The railroad is big, and requires a big vision, but that doesn't mean that smaller projects are no less visionary and no less important to make vital connections," Murkowski said.

The Bradfield Canal region, just south of Wrangell on the mainland along the Alaska-British Columbia border, is highly mineralized, and a road connection would open up its resources for development, the governor said.

The administration is working to promote construction of the road from tidewater in Alaska to the Canadian highway system just a short distance across the border. Tourism, timber and mining all would benefit from the road connection with the interior, Murkowski said.

"Those of us in the Western states and provinces are still developing our resources," the governor said. "We need to move ahead cooperatively, on mutually beneficial projects, overcoming unreasonable opposition from those who would deny us the right to prosper."

The Alaska delegation at the conference also included State Sen. Fred Dyson of Eagle River, president of the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region organization.


Source of News Release:

Office of the Governor
Web Site


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