Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editorial:
Thumbs up: After a week in limbo after the scheduled end of the legislative session in Juneau, the Alaska Senate unanimously passed House Bill 105, which would allow for the refocusing of the Interior Energy Project on gas supply elsewhere than the North Slope. The bill’s swift passage, after which it headed back to the House for a concurrence vote, voids the prospect that it could have ended the session in limbo, causing a delay of at least a year.
The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, charged with finding a way forward after planned North Slope liquefaction plant contractor MWH left the project, will have the latitude with the bill’s passage to look at Cook Inlet as a potential source of gas for Fairbanks and North Pole.
The timing of the action on the bill — fewer than 24 hours after the House and Senate made progress toward resolution on the state budget — supports the contention of those who suspected the energy project was being held as a bargaining chip in budget negotiations.
While it’s somewhat reassuring to know the Legislature was supportive of the project despite letting Interior residents watching the bill twist in the wind for a week, it’s also dismaying our state’s lawmakers — or at least the Legislature’s majority leadership — aren’t sufficiently supportive to consider such an important piece of legislation on its merits, choosing instead to hold it hostage until a deal on the budget was reached.