Governor Pleased to Learn NWT Premier has Changed Position on Gas Pipeline
October 02, 2003
While he was in Calgary, the Governor met with Premier Stephen Kakfwi of the Northwest Territories, and Premier Dennis Fentie of the Yukon Territory.
"I was especially heartened to talk with Premier Kakfwi of the Northwest Territories, who has moderated his position on the Alaska gas pipeline," Murkowski said. "Previously, Premier Kakfwi had been strongly in opposition to the Alaska Highway route, in favor of an 'over-the-top' route. Now that it is clear that the southern route is not competing with the construction of the Mackenzie Delta pipeline, Mr. Kakfwi has indicated the southern route is no longer an issue."
In remarks to the conference, Kakfwi said, "Another result of this new cooperation is that I am no longer pressing for an 'over the top' pipeline route for Alaska gas. That was a position taken when we were in a position of confrontational competition with the Yukon. In this new era of cooperation, it is no longer an issue."
In his remarks, Murkowski said he expects the natural gas pipeline to be approved by Congress in the upcoming energy bill, and that the southern, Alaska Highway route would be the preferred one. He expressed his concern that Canadian opposition in the past to the commodity risk provision that pipeline advocates hope to have included in the energy bill has not been helpful.
Murkowski also reviewed the need to open ANWR to exploration to reduce the dependence of the US on imported foreign oil. "Studies indicate the coastal plain may contain between six and 16 barrels of recoverable oil," Murkowski said. "With enhanced recovery technology, ANWR could provide an additional 30 to 50 years' of reliable supply. We also estimate ANWR could create between 250,000 and 735,000 American and Canadian jobs, would have a very small footprint on the land, and no negative impact on the wildlife of the area, if Prudhoe Bay is any indicator."
The Governor and Premier Fentie discussed the Alaska - Yukon Intergovernmental Relations Accord. The agreement, after it is approved by the Yukon Legislative Assembly, will be signed this winter, and is expected to advance Alaska's relationship with the Yukon. It will promote cooperation in the areas of health care, regional economic development, tourism, transportation, trade and commerce, resource management, environmental issues, and resource development.
Murkowski also said he is encouraged to hear that the Canadian government announced on September 17 that it will open a consulate in Anchorage by the fall of 2004.
"At $143 million in exports
to Canada, our next door neighbor is Alaska's third largest trading
partner," Murkowski said, "and our exports to Canada
are going up. We share a common border with Canada that is longer
and more remote than any other state. And with the trans-boundary
fisheries, environmental, and other natural resource issues we
have in common, it only makes sense to have a consulate in Alaska.
I welcome their federal government's decision and look forward
to its opening."
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