What does the state’s proposed natural gas pipeline have to do with the Iditarod? That’s one of the questions members of the Senate Finance Committee had Tuesday for the agency marketing the mega-billion dollar project. Lawmakers are demanding more transparency from the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC), which now leads the Alaska liquefied natural gasline (AKLNG) project after the three oil giants — ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and BP — left the project in December.

Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, told AGDC there’s been resentment building because lawmakers don’t know where money for the project is going.

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

Some of the spending included in AGDC’s presentation to the committee Tuesday came as a surprise, including $50,000 the corporation is paying to sponsor the Iditarod. Meyer said it is part of a larger event to attract potential gas buyers from Asia to Alaska.

“We’re going to have at least 10 companies come up,” Meyer explained “To me that’s pretty efficient to have them come up here instead of us having to go back and forth, but it also lets them see Alaska unified.”

“I’ll leave that to the people of Alaska to decide if that was a good investment or not, but understand your trying to move a project forward that benefits Alaskans,” Sen. Anna MacKinnon, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said in response.

There’s now $102 million left in state funding for the AKLNG project that has not been used yet. AGDC wants to spend it all next year for marketing and federal regulatory work. But as lawmakers struggle to come up with $3 billion for services like schools and health care, they’ll likely have to turn to state savings. So they’d rather save money on this project, if possible. 

“There are people that I represent that are asking us to kill the project,” MacKinnon told Meyer.

AGDC says a gasline could bring in billions of dollars each year, if it can find the right buyers.

“All we really ask for is a chance, you know,” Meyer told committee members. “We’re in the lead now, let us demonstrate how we lead this project. And part of the leadership of this project is the transparency.”

The corporation is also recommending the state buy ConocoPhillips’ LNG facility in Nikiski. Meyer said the cost of that asset would be in the millions of dollars range, depending on how high other competitors bid next month. Meyer says AGDC will not use current funding for the AKLNG project to make a bid, but may end up asking lawmakers for money later. Bids for the facility are due on March 17.

KTVA 11’s Liz Raines can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter

The post State gas pipeline agency spends $50,000 on Iditarod sponsorship appeared first on KTVA 11.