Empire Editorial: Time to buy out TransCanada

  • Friday, October 30, 2015 1:03am
  • Opinion

The Alaska Legislature should be congratulated for a good week of work. Saturday will mark one week since lawmakers convened in special session to consider whether to buy out TransCanada, the state’s partner in the natural gas line megaproject known as AKLNG.

Every day since Saturday has seen at least one hearing on the topic, and most have featured more than one.

Now, it’s time to finish and go home.

The case has been solidly made that the state of Alaska should take a direct 25 percent share in AKLNG. It clearly makes no financial sense for the state to effectively borrow money at 7.1 percent interest from TransCanada when it can do so much more cheaply from the open market.

Furthermore, this week’s hearings have provided a good vetting of the gas pipeline idea as a whole. The Senate Finance Committee in particular should be commended for a thorough wire-brushing of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, the state-owned agency that will be in charge of Alaska’s share of AKLNG.

The $45 billion to $65 billion pipeline (and associated plants) promise to do for Alaska in the 21st century what the trans-Alaska oil pipeline did in the 20th.

With the Obama administration having blocked oil exploration in the Arctic, we must rely on our resources to advance our state’s future. AKLNG offers the best hope to that end.

This past week has not been without moments of political rancor, some unintentionally hilarious.

At one point during a House Finance Committee hearing, a handful of Republican representatives grilled a state employee, asking her why the Legislature was in special session if the state commissioner of Natural Resources had the ability to approve the buyout on his own.

Nevermind the fact that approving the buyout would have left the state with no way to pay for it.

Or the fact that the last time Gov. Bill Walker’s administration tried to do something on its own — with Medicaid expansion — some of those same legislators promptly sued him for it.

By and large, however, legislators have done their jobs well. We’re now convinced that buying out TransCanada is the right thing to do and that the state is positioned to pursue a gas pipeline project.

Furthermore, we believe the Legislature has served as a good watchdog thus far, and while the AGDC may have stumbled during some hearings, we trust that the issues revealed by the Legislature’s questioning will soon be resolved and the state will be better off for it.

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