PUBLISHED: 4:43 PM on Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Legislators may not wrap up TransCanada license until mid-July
Consultants to the Legislature presented observations on the proposed contract to TransCanada Corp. Wednesday, June 4, and are to continue Thursday, June 5. The state administration and TransCanada begin their presentations Friday and continue through Tuesday. Legislators are meeting in special session in Juneau on a proposed state license to the Canadian pipeline company.

Lawmakers are planning extensive use of roundtable discussions during to resolve conflicting testimony. The House Rules Committee indicated Wednesday morning that the AGIA license bill, HB 3001, was assigned to a subcommittee that included Speaker John Harris as chairman, Reps. Ralph Samuels and Beth Kerttula.

Harris also said he did not assign the bill to the House Finance Committee because it requires no immediate spending. The $500 million fiscal note, while substantial, is "hollow."

All legislators are attending Juneau presentations on the license, however, in the Terry Miller state office building next to the capitol.

Lawmakers go on the road to Fairbanks next Thursday, Friday and Saturday an return to Anchorage the week after. Other road shows are planned in Kenai, the Mat-Su and Barrow. House Speaker John Harris says he thinks it may be early July before legislators return to Juneau to begin their final deliberations.

All of this could take 45 days, which means a second special session would be called after 30 days.

Two hearings planned in Anchorage June 16 and 17 will cover regulatory issues and Point Thomson gas. House Majority Leader Ralph Samuels said new information is expected on "Regulatory Day, " June 16, which will include a senior Federal Energy Regulatory Commission representative, the Department of Energy, Regulatory Commission of Alaska and possibly a spokesperson for Canadian regulatory agencies, although the Canadian National Energy Board declined the Legislature's invitation.

Samuels also said time will likely be made available if ConocoPhillips or other Alaska producers wish to testify. Rules Chairman John Coghill said the producers' comments would help lawmakers understand the credibility of the TransCanada proposal.

House Speaker John Harris also said TransCanada has no leverage to convince North Slope producers to ship their gas on its proposed pipeline. Whether the state would apply its leverage is up to the administration.

In a related development, Sen. Charlie Huggins said during the June 4 hearings that he would pursue a contract with TransCanada that would go along with the license. Huggins said his goal is to avoid future misunderstandings or litigation by clarifying the binding requirements imposed on the state as well as TransCanada from its proposal. He added that a contract would be necessary to get his vote for the license.