Murkowski promotes gas line, rail link to Canada
The Associated Press
(Published November 8, 2000)
Fairbanks -- Sen. Frank Murkowski is back at home
in Alaska, where he's touting the construction of
a trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline.
A gas line also could help spur development of a
railroad linking Alaska to Canada and the Lower 48,
The Alaska Republican made the comments Monday while
talking with reporters and speaking with students
and faculty at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Murkowski also addressed opening the coastal plain
of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
If the North Slope's natural gas deposits are commercialized,
then petrochemicals for such uses as plastics could
be developed from gas liquids in Alaska and shipped
on the railroad, Murkowski said.
Fairbanks could be the location for that kind of
petrochemical plant, he said.
"That potentially could affect dramatically the
tonnage anticipated for a rail connection to the Canadian
system," Murkowski said. "It's another consideration
as you look at the economics."
A rail connection to Canada would require 1,150
miles of new track. It would run from Eielson Air
Force Base at North Pole to Fort St. John or Fort
Nelson in British Columbia.
A railroad would help tap Alaska and Canada mineral
and timber resources, he said.
Alaska Railroad representatives have estimated the
cost of building the railroad extension at $1 million
to $2 million per mile, which could put the price
tag of the project at between $1.15 billion and $2.3
Murkowski is pushing legislation through Congress
that would create a joint U.S.-Canada commission to
study the feasibility of a rail line to Canada.
The senator also envisions laying rail to Northwest
Alaska, which he said could provide access to the
extremely high quality coal of Point Lay on the Bering