Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 7:41 PM on Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Legislators did their part on gas line; now it's up to you to write

For much of this year Kachemak City resident and council member Dave Weber has been drumming up support for a gas line from Anchor Point to Homer and out East End Road.

The Legislature heard Weber and plenty of others from around the southern Kenai Peninsula — $10.1 million has been included in the capital budget passed by both the Alaska House and Senate and now sits on the governor's desk.

Weber isn't taking anything for granted, however. In a recent e-mail to Senate President Gary Stevens, Weber asked: "Is there anything that the citizens of Homer and Kachemak City can do to ensure the Governor does not veto this project?"

Stevens' answer: "Now that the project has made it through the Senate and House, it is up to the Governor, sometime in the next 20 days, to decide if he wants to veto this needed and necessary pipeline. I think the Governor should hear from you and others about how the line will impact you. You've got plenty of time, but I'd suggest getting to him in the next 7 to 10 days. We got the project in the budget, now it's up to you to keep it."

Too often, citizens are content to let their elected officials do all the heavy lifting. They limit their role in government to going to the polls and complaining if things don't go their way. The gas line offers a good example of where more citizen involvement can help make a difference. Let the governor know you support the project and why.

Gov. Parnell had good reason to veto the funds last year: The project wasn't on anyone's priority list. This year is different. It ranked No. 1 or No. 2 on the capital projects wish list for the Kenai Peninsula Borough, the City of Homer and Kachemak City. The governor needs to know, however, that citizens support what is arguably the biggest economic development project to hit the southern peninsula in a long, long time.

While the gas pipeline should not replace efforts to use renewable energy, natural gas does provide a valuable transition between the use of more expensive fossil fuels and other sources of energy.

With fuel prices skyrocketing out of control, residents and businesses need some financial relief. And they need it now, not later.

So write to the governor at: Gov. Sean Parnell, P. O. Box 110001, Juneau, AK 99811-0001 or e-mail governor@alaska.gov.

The gas pipeline isn't the only noteworthy project in the budget for the southern peninsula. Greater Homer area projects received almost $32 million, including $9 million for the solid waste transfer facility and $15 million to boost Bradley Lake's hydroelectric output by diverting Battle Creek, as well as funds for improvements for the cruise ship dock, money to build a fire station and equipment building on Diamond Ridge, money for Ninilchik fairground improvements and other projects.

These aren't pork. They're necessary infrastructure projects, economic development projects and safety projects that deserve Gov. Parnell's approval. Our thanks to Kenai Peninsula legislators, particularly Sen. Stevens and Rep. Paul Seaton, for their work in looking after their constituents' best interests.