Speech Includes TransCanada Letter Imploring Action on Gas Pipeline
July 13, 2006
Alaska Governor Frank H. Murkowski urged the Legislature to swiftly review and pass the Petroleum Production Tax or PPT and Stranded Gas Act amendments during an address to a joint session in the House Chamber in Juneau Thursday.
"I would like to address you not as a Democrat or Republican, but as Alaskans," Murkowski said. "The issue facing us today is greater than party politics; greater than petty bickering; greater than your job here as legislators and greater than my job here as governor."
Speaking before 51 members of the House and Senate, the governor said the gas pipeline project "is a rare and historic opportunity to authorize the largest construction project ever undertaken in our state. A project that for the next 50 years will solidify the economic foundation of our state for generations to come."
The governor re-submitted his proposed 20/20 PPT, with slight modifications, to both chambers yesterday, along with an amendment to the Stranded Gas Development Act authorizing him to negotiate oil and other terms with the project sponsors.
"Last night (First Lady) Nancy (Murkowski) asked me: 'What does this pipeline debate really mean to the average Alaskan?'" Murkowski said, adding that the gas pipeline willl provide an estimated $100-billion to the state's treasury; extend the life of the Trans Alaska oil pipeline system; allow the state to invest an estimated $25-billion into the Permanent Fund and provide nearly 10,000 construction jobs during project development.
"Sitting here in 2006, it may be difficult to visualize something that can happen in 2050," Murkowski said. "We believe that with the gas pipeline, there should be no reason for a personal income tax in Alaska. Likewise, there should be no need for any statewide sales tax.
"You may not be able to visualize the benefits to yourselves of something happening 30 and 40 years into the future. But there are young Alaskans our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who will be here at that time and will benefit from our good decisions today."
Summarizing his address, the governor said, "As the Legislature, you have the power to approve our vision for the future, or not, as you choose. But if you do not choose wisely?
"Nobody wants to give up their dreams; lose their jobs and walk away from their homes," Murkowski said. "To avoid these draconian alternatives, the people of Alaska have asked over and over again for a fiscal plan.
"Well, here's our fiscal plan it is my job to persuade you of the logic and soundness of this fiscal plan and get your support for it. We are building the 'Bridge to Alaska's Future.' Are any of you among us intent on tearing it down?"
Adding scope to the gas pipeline debate, the governor released a letter from TransCanada, a company that submitted a Stranded Gas Act application with the state in 2005, expressing their support for action on the current contract under consideration with BP, ConocoPhilips and ExxonMobil.
"We encourage the State of Alaska to resolve the outstanding issues, ratify the agreement and move forward," TransCanada President and CEO Hal Kvisle wrote.
The governor pointed to key issues concerning the Canadian portion of the line, then referred to Kvisle's letter which states, "We believe commercial negotiations will lead to a reasonable 'win-win' outcome in Canada.
"We are prepared to engage immediately to negotiate a commercial framework for the Canadian section, with the intention of including that framework in your agreement with the producers."
Closing his address, the governor said, "You and I will be held accountable by every Alaskan for the decisions we make here, whether those decisions are good or bad.
"In conclusion, let's get to work and get this gas pipeline moving now," Murkowski said. "As a summing up, we have a choice: With the PPT 20/20 and the proposed contract we have a very good chance of doubling oil taxes at current prices and getting a gas pipeline with tremendous riches.
"Or, by trying to get a little more, we have a very good chance of ending up with nothing. A bright future is before us. We must reach out for it now."