New boom just like old boom?   Leave a comment

Like Craig Medred I lived through the TAPS construction, but unlike him, I am on board with building the gas line because of the long-term economic benefits to the state and its residents. Medred was brand-new to Alaska at the start of TAPS, which means he doesn’t remember what it was like to live in the poorest state in the union. My parents lived through that and, though the TAPS construction was hard to live through, they were glad for the economic benefits it brought to the state. It meant my brother could come home for the Outside because there were jobs here now.

I’m looking at that for my kids now. They can’t stay if there are no jobs. This is a wonderful place to live, but it costs to live here and you have to be able to make a living. We need an economy. Oil is tied up in government regulation and oil companies sitting on leases they refuse to produce (partially because of government regulation). We had the good sense to create a law that says if the gasline is built, the leasees must produce the gas. Alaska needs to diversify our economy, but that is difficult for individuals to do when you don’t own your subsurface mineral rights. Gas could be a tool to making that happen because it’s availability instate will lower electrical generation and space heating costs. We’ve seen what low-cost natural gas can do to a community in Alaska. Anchorage has greatly benefited from a sweetheart deal for Cook Inlet gas.

We shouldn’t take the potential social effects lightly. One of the downsides to waiting 40 years to build the second pipeline is that the people who lived through the first construction and learned the lessons from it are retiring out of state or dying. The longer we wait, the more likely we are to be unable to deal with the social effects simply because there’s no wisdom of experience left. The social costs are less when there are wise veterans left to guide you through it.

The final factor is that it is likely Alaska will never be in a fiscal position to build the gasline if we don’t do it now. Once they start taxing Alaskan incomes, we will see a loss of population and businesses. If oil remains low priced, the State’s economic power will diminish. We’re headed back toward being the poorest state in the union if we don’t invest in our future while we can.

 

Thirty-six years ago, the late Joe McGinnis authored a best-selling book about Alaska titled “Going to Extremes.” It went to extremes. Widely popular outside the 49th state, it was not …

Source: New boom just like old boom?

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Posted August 12, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

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