Alaska lawmakers officially convened in Juneau January 17th. During their weekly legislative update with KYUK news this morning, Senator Lyman Hoffman and Representative Bob Herron, both of Bethel, said large issues this session will be energy and a gas line.
Herron, who is on the House Resources Committee, says it’s unlikely there’s going to be a line to Western Alaska soon, but a gas line could help the region in other ways. “The important thing for Western Alaska in my opinion is build a line somewhere and the collateral benefit will help us,” he said.
Herron says the region will benefit from revenue the state earns from oil sales as well as the lower costs of energy to other Alaskans. He’s hopeful that a gas line would eventually allow for cheaper energy delivered directly to the region.
Hoffman says while the Gas Line is a major priority in the House, the Senate is concerned with general “affordable energy to Alaskans”. “It’s one thing to look at the Gasline and we may get benefits from it 10 years from now, but people are suffering today, and that is the problem,” said Hoffman.
Hoffman, who is again in the powerful position of Senate Finance Co-Chair, says he supports a Gasline, but he wants to see more energy benefits to rural Alaska from the $110 barrel of oil that the State is seeing. Hoffman says the State is getting rich with an anticipated $20 Billion dollars savings account this year. But what’s good for the state coffers is hardest on rural Alaskans.
“You know, people are spending 60 percent of their disposable income in Western and Northern Alaska on energy, and people in Anchorage are spending less than 10 percent,” Hoffman said. “That is the problem and we need to see if we can address that this year. And I think that the Senate is interested in trying to do that and hopefully we can bring the House along.”
Hoffman and Herron were speaking during their first legislative update with KYUK. They will be doing weekly updates every Wednesday morning during the English newscast.