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Delegation secures $20 million in
energy bill to train pipeline workers


October 26, 2004

Alaska Labor Commissioner Greg O'Claray said Monday the state is prepared to act quickly when the federal government releases $20 million for a program to train workers to help construct an Alaska natural gas pipeline.

The $20 million is included in provisions secured by Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young. The bill won senate approval after earlier passage in the House of Representatives and went to the White House for signature by President George W. Bush.

The appropriation is included in tax incentives to encourage construction of either a natural gas pipeline to the Lower 48 or an all-Alaska pipeline to transport liquefied natural gas to tidewater.

When release conditions are met for the appropriation, the secretary of labor will issue a $20 million training grant to the state. The Alaska Workforce Investment Board in the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development would oversee the grant.

The funding would be used "to recruit and train adult and dislocated workers in Alaska, including Alaska Natives, in the skills required to construct and operate an Alaska gas pipeline system."

Congressional language stipulates that the grant will underwrite the design and construction of training facilities to support an Alaska gas pipeline training program.

"This is an opportunity to do what we do best: provide state-of-the-art training that qualifies resident Alaskans for good jobs as pipeline constructions workers," O'Claray said.

The commissioner said the department recently outlined a similar pilot agreement with oil companies and trade unions. The pilot program funds training in November that will qualify 100 workers for pipeline construction jobs this winter on the North Slope.

The pilot project is funded with a $334,000 grant from the State Training and Employment Program (STEP) and $170,000 from the oil companies and unions.

The proposed $20 million federal appropriation includes a stipulation that not more than 15 percent of the grant may be used for design and construction of the training facility, a condition that O'Claray said he welcomes.

"That is good," O'Claray said, "because the lion's share of the $20 million ­ at least 85 percent ­ will go directly to hands-on training for resident Alaskans."

The commissioner added, "Before the appropriation is released Governor Frank Murkowski will issue formal confirmation to the secretary of labor that pipeline construction is expected to begin within two years.

"Governor Murkowski's commitment to building the natural gas pipeline is absolute so I don't expect any delays," O'Claray added. "Working together, the congressional delegation and the administration are making good pipeline jobs for Alaskans."


Source of News Release:

Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Web Site



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