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
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,
"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
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