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Agreement Establishes Framework for Increasing Energy Security
WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Energy and 14 other federal departments and agencies have signed an agreement to expedite the permitting and construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline which, when operational, will substantially increase domestic natural gas supply and advance the Administration's energy security policy. The agreement signals the U.S. government's commitment to expedite the federal permitting processes for the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline and establishes a project management framework for cooperation among participating agencies to reduce bureaucratic delays in construction of the pipeline and delivery of natural gas to consumers.
"We need to do all we can to increase our domestic supply of energy - including natural gas - and the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline will help us do that," Secretary Bodman said. "Alaska's North Slope is a valuable natural resource that has tremendous potential to provide a significant portion of our nation's natural gas needs to help heat homes, and build industry. I appreciate the coordinated effort of all of the federal agencies who are working together to help make the pipeline a reality."
The Federal Interagency Memorandum of Understanding for the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Project was signed by senior executives from fifteen federal organizations. It defines responsibilities related to the approval of the pipeline project and provides for streamlined regulatory and environmental processes and reviews/approvals for the giant undertaking.
The pipeline is expected to supply about 10 percent of future U.S. natural gas demand. When the Alaska pipeline is fully operational, it will carry 4 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day. Natural gas serves six of every 10 American households, about 62 million homes, and is used to generate about 16 percent of the nation's electric power. Natural gas is also indispensable as a feedstock for fertilizer and chemical manufacturers. In recent years, rising demand and limited increases in supply have resulted in high natural gas prices that affected residential and industrial users across the economy.
Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski has called a second special session of the State Legislature to begin on July 12th to consider and pass a new oil and gas tax structure, amendments to the Stranded Gas Act, and the gas pipeline contract. Once the gas transportation contract and related legislation are passed by the Alaska State Legislature, the State of Alaska will join with industry to form a corporate entity that will build the pipeline.
The Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Act, enacted on October 13, 2004, established the expedited federal review of a natural gas transportation project that would carry Alaska natural gas to the border of Alaska and Canada. In accordance with the Act, President Bush nominated former Alaska State Senator Drue Pearce as Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects. Until her confirmation, the position's temporary authority is vested with the Secretary of Energy.
The MOU was signed by the Departments of Energy, Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Council on Environmental Quality, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Inspector for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Craig Stevens, (202) 586-4940