House Bill 4: Wrong for Alaska
This session, members of the Alaska State Legislature are considering House Bill 4 (HB 4). Sponsored by Reps. Mike Chenault and Mike Hawker, HB 4 at first glance may appear to advance plans for a viable gas line. In reality, HB 4 is a dangerous diversion that draws attention and resources away from the gas pipeline that Alaska truly needs and voters approved more than a decade ago.
Sponsors claim HB 4 “empowers the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) to lead Alaska into a natural gas future.” In reality, it pays lip service to getting gas to Alaskans—while continuing to pit the best interest of Alaskans against those of corporate shareholders. Here’s what HB 4 really does:
- Appropriates $400 million to advance a pipeline plan that offers gas only to Alaska's Railbelt communities. (This in addition to the $500 million already pledged to explore the AGIA pipeline.)
- Exempts AGDC from public records laws, removing any responsibility to operate with transparency and public oversight.
- Limits judicial review of AGDC activities—a restriction that the state Legislative Affairs Agency's Division of Legal and Research Services has stated creates a “power conflict between the legislative and judicial branches” that could land the state in court.
- Consolidates the gas pipeline decision-making process entirely into AGDC, removing the checks and balances that should be provided by the governor and the legislature.
- Ignores the energy needs of communities outside the “Railbelt” area that comprises Fairbanks and Southcentral Alaska.
- Focuses on promoting only the Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline (ASAP), a gas line that is designed to be low-volume, leaving valuable gas liquids (propane, butane, etc.) on the North Slope, and for which financing will be borne entirely by state government and in-state consumers. ASAP does not generate any significant revenues that can finance its own construction or contribute to future state general fund program requirements.
HB 4 is a diversion masquerading as a solution. Lawmakers know Alaskans are hungry for real action on a gas line now, and HB 4 is designed to make voters feel like Juneau is doing something—anything—to get Alaska’s gas flowing. But in reality, HB 4 sacrifices our long-term energy and fiscal future for short-term political gain. Only one multibillion-dollar gas line will be built in Alaska in the next 20 years. If we allow the ASAP line to be the chosen project, we lose the promise of the gas line plan Alaskans approved in 2002—the gas line that generates revenue, creates jobs, and provides affordable energy for Alaskans all over the state.
Tell your legislators: Don’t sell us out. Defeat House Bill 4.