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Trucking ahead: Advocates must emphasize broad benefits of gas plan

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Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013 12:00 am

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Editorial

The discussion by members of the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee on Tuesday included some critical questions about the proposed natural gas trucking plan from the North Slope to Fairbanks.

This is understandable. Many legislators are not familiar with the project details or its justification.

It’s clear that legislators from other parts of the state need to hear more from Fairbanks senators and representatives about the importance of this plan to the Fairbanks area and the opportunities it presents for this region.

As we’ve said before, the plan developed by Gov. Sean Parnell is a good starting point for the Legislature.

The bill would provide the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority the authority to back as much as $275 million in financing for the natural gas processing facilities on the North Slope and an expanded distribution system in Fairbanks.

The plan in its current structure includes a mixture of low-cost loans, bonds and a $50 million grant. A key variable is the interest rates to be paid on the project and it may well be that a reduction is needed to make this a success. That is one of the key areas our legislators need to explore.

The thrust of the comments from Sens. Bert Stedman and Donny Olson was that residents in small communities outside the Fairbanks North Star Borough ought to be able to benefit from a project.

In other words, a statewide solution — or something as close as possible to it — is needed. We agree with that concept and encourage lawmakers to find a path forward that provides low-cost energy to as many Alaska residents as quickly as possible.

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