Knowles tries to jump-start gas line
By Cathy Brown

The Associated Press
Anchorage Daily News
9 January, 2001)

ORDER: The governor sets up a permit coordinator's office and natural gas policy cabinet.

Juneau -- Gov. Tony Knowles took steps Monday that he said will speed construction of a natural gas pipeline: establishing a permit coordinator's office introducing tax-incentive legislation.

The administrative order Knowles signed also creates a natural gas policy cabinet. He wants the pipeline to follow the Alaska Highway route rather than a more northern route almost completely through Canada.

He said he will seek $4 million for work on permits and rights of way on the highway route.

"It's time to jump-start this important project," Knowles said.

Knowles also introduced a bill that would let the administration negotiate a tax deal that would make the project more attractive to developers. His spokesman, Bob King, said taxes might be deferred at the beginning of a project.

The deal would have to come back to the Legislature for approval, King said.

Knowles' legislation joins two other bills already proposed. One by Rep. Joe Green, R-Anchorage, is similar to the governor's bill. Another introduced by Rep. Eldon Mulder and House Speaker Brian Porter, both Anchorage Republicans, is a largely empty bill that can be adapted as lawmakers decided what needs to be done to promote a project.

"The intent is to create a bill that will provide for incentives, inducements, to develop a natural gas pipeline through the state," Mulder said.

Sen. John Torgerson, R-Kasilof, said Monday he plans to do much more research before moving any gas line legislation through his Senate Resources Committee. Incentives like tax flexibility may be a good idea, he said, but he's not sure yet.

"We may be giving away the house. I don't know," Torgerson said.

Rep. Scott Ogan, R-Palmer, chairman of the House Special Committee on Oil and Gas, said he generally likes Knowles' ideas, particularly faster permitting.

"It looks pretty Republican to me," Ogan said.

He said he and some other legislators aren't ruling out a trans-Alaska oil pipeline route, which would require shipping the gas in liquefied form.

Source: original document.

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