The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) is lobbying legislators to keep funding for the state’s natural gas project, Alaska LNG. As lawmakers struggle to reach agreement on a budget this week, $50 million for the project has become a controversial component.

In a last ditch effort to persuade lawmakers, members of AGDC’s Board of Directors flew to Juneau Tuesday. They urged the legislature not to pull funding for AKLNG — as it piques federal interest.

“This is the first time in my career that I’ve seen leaders of countries coming together to support a project in Alaska,” said Dave Cruz, Chairman of AGDC’s Board of Directors, in an interview Tuesday — adding that President Trump and Chinese President, Xi Jinping, discussed AKLNG at a meeting in April.

Last month, the Trump administration announced a new trade deal with China, aimed at increasing the export of U.S. liquefied natural gas. That, coupled with President Trump’s roll-out of a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan — has Cruz optimistic that some federal funding might come down the pipe for an Alaska gas pipeline.

“I think that the potential is there,” Cruz said. “It’s in the best interest of the United States, you know, this works for trade imbalances, it works for a large infrastructure project and you have a proven track record for over forty years delivering LNG to Japan.”

But, enthusiasm for AKLNG is waning in Juneau. Lawmakers have become increasingly skeptical of paying into the project after the state’s three oil company partners pulled out last year. Keeping the project going this year will cost them $50 million.

It’s money the Senate is wary of spending.

“It’s great that the Feds are so interested in the project. At the same time, we here in the state, have to make sure that we’re managing the finances appropriately and that we’re maintaining that industry on our North Slope,” said Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage) Chair of the Resources Committee.

The House is more willing to keep funding through next year.

“This project is very challenged, you know, the gas line can be a great project, it can bring in a lot of money, but, at current gas prices, it probably won’t,” said Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage), Vice-Chair of the Finance Committee. “So, we’ve decided to give the governor one more year to move the project to a resting place.”

Meanwhile, Cruz says AGDC has more meetings planned in Washington D.C., with heads of Asian countries and the Federal Government — in hopes that Alaska’s decades-long dream of a gas pipeline might finally take shape.

If completed, AKLNG would be one of the most expensive projects of its kind in North America. The total price tag is between $45 – 65 billion.

The House was scheduled to take up funding for the project as part of the state capital budget Tuesday, but that vote was canceled.

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