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Harold Heinze, CEO of the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority — the state-chartered corporation that has been advocating the Glennallen-to-Palmer pipeline route — said the Parks Highway route does not seem to make as much economic sense, but the Members of Congress may not have known that when they wrote their letter in late 2005. “In that timeline, [the letter] is absolutely correct,” Heinze said, since the state did need to consider both routes. “I might differ with it tremendously today,” he added, because he believes the superiority of the Glennallen pipeline seems clear.
Heinze encouraged the Energy Department to include in its analysis the challenges the Parks Highway line would have getting approval from Congress to cross into the Denali National Park, and he provided a copy of an e-mail reply he received indicating that the department “did ask the report’s authors to ‘beef up’ the section dealing with this issue.”
ENSTAR spokesman Curtis Thayer said the pipeline issue “was started before Ben Stevens was on the board. ... Ben had nothing ever to do with any of this.” Thayer said that by his recollection, Ben Stevens had been to the ENSTAR Alaska offices only once since joining the SEMCO board in 2004.
Thayer pointed out that the state has been looking for more natural gas for the population centers around Anchorage for years, and ENSTAR, as the primary natural gas company in the state, probably will be involved no matter where such a pipeline is built.
“We have an interest in building such a line — but it will take a lot of partners,” Thayer said.
Ben Stevens could not be reached for comment on this story, and several calls to his attorney were unreturned.