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2/15/2017
Gas line head vows openness

By BECKY BOHRER

Associated Press

JUNEAU — The president of a state-sponsored gas pipeline corporation on Tuesday pledged greater openness with Alaska lawmakers, many of whom have grown increasingly skeptical about the major project the corporation is trying to advance.

The emphasis on more transparency comes as the corporation has taken the lead on the proposed liquefied natural gas mega-project in which it was once a partner with the North Slope’s major energy companies.

Appearing before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday, Keith Meyer, president of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., expressed continued optimism about the project.

Meyer said a prior confidentiality agreement the agency operated under was restrictive. He said only commercially proprietary information should be restricted by confidentiality.

If the agency lacks in openness going forward, “you will have one person to blame. And that’s me, sitting across from you,” he told lawmakers.

Legislators have at times expressed frustration with the lack of information they have received from the corporation and its efforts. The project remains in an early stage, with no guarantee that it will be built.

Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, said lawmakers have felt shut out from knowledge about what could be an economically important project for Alaska.

“With transparency and knowledge, this Legislature will be by your side if the economics work on this project,” he told Meyer. “Without transparency and knowledge, we will fight you every step of the way.”

Meyer said his organization plans to operate using existing funds over the next year. But he expressed interest in the corporation acquiring a liquefied natural gas plant that ConocoPhillips plans to sell. He did not know where the money for that might come.

While not critical to the pipeline project, the plant is an attractive asset that would help, among other things, with the state’s goal of delivering natural gas to Alaska communities, like Fairbanks, he said.

He said he thought it would be good if the state had control of that asset. If the state has no interest in providing funding, “the most we can hope to be is a voice in a group, not a controlling member,” he said.

Meyer also was questioned about an agency sponsorship for the Iditarod sled dog race.

He said Asian companies will visit Alaska around the time of the event for an Alaska liquefied natural gas summit.

The sponsorship fits in with the timing of that event as well as the agency’s desire to promote itself in Alaska communities, he said.

Meyer said much of the summit, including the race sponsorship, will be funded by outside sources.