(Juneau) - House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, released the following statement tonight upon learning of ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil's decision to close their Nikiski LNG facility sometime in the spring or summer.
Whenever we shut down an export facility in Alaska knowing that we have 35tcf of gas 800-miles away on the North Slope, and decide that it's easier to import gas, it should be cause for concern. This, at the least, should serve as a wake-up call to Alaskans.
~ Rep. Mike Chenault
"It's a terrible day for Alaska. I can only imagine what this is doing for the workers there and their families, and those on the platform. I've gone to school with, know and represent today some of the families affected by today's decision. The plant offered 30-plus jobs, with another 30-plus on the platform. Those were high-paying, family-supporting wages. Gone. It's adding insult to injury for my district because we lost the Agrium fertilizer plant three years ago as well.
"It'll be interesting to see the effect this decision has over the next days, weeks and months on the Railbelt energy grid, gas supply, exploration, and Inlet development. It's a sad day for the Inlet and our outlook. The problem now comes in the winter time when cold, dark days hit Southcentral and we can't supply gas that the plant saved as a back-stop.
"Where do we go from here? It's too early to say, but we've approached our Resources Chairmen and are examining what steps we can take as a House and Caucus to dig into this and have conversations with Conoco and Marathon, and certainly the governor, to see what can be done now - and what could've been done in the past.
"The decision today reflects a continued trend of pressure on the resource extraction industry from past administrations and legislators - even some current legislators - to score political points, which now are going to have a tremendous impact on Alaska families, our community and its economy, and the state's economic climate.
"Whenever we shut down an export facility in Alaska knowing that we have 35tcf of gas 800-miles away on the North Slope, and decide that it's easier to import gas, it should be cause for concern. This, at the least, should serve as a wake-up call to Alaskans."