FAIRBANKS, Ak - The Alaska State Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 23 today, legislation that provides a funding package for a natural gas trucking project.
All 20 members of the senate voted in approval, however, Democrat Hollis French of Anchorage said it was a big investment for a state that hasn't been good at picking winning projects.
The legislation sailed through Senate committees over the past few weeks, enjoying all around support from lawmakers from all over the state.
The house version of the bill, HB 74 hasn't been as fortunate and has been stuck in the Labor and Commerce Committee.
Earlier this week, chairman Representative Kurt Olson of Soldotna, a Republican, chided backers of the project because no one provided testimony at Monday's hearing.
Today, however, at a second scheduled hearing, supporters of the trucking project came out in force.
Chairman of the newly created Interior Alaska Natural Gas Utility, Bob Schefchik says the turn out has been great so far. "Right now it's fantastic to see everybody from, you can see labor, you can see bankers, you can see people from utilities," he said. "Everybody in the community has clearly come out. The chairperson of the committee mentioned the phones and the email have rung off the hook all day, so they understand that Fairbanks is speaking out."
Local business owner and community advocate, West Madden believes energy is not just a localized issue. "You know, energy affects us all," Madden stated. "I think energy also affects the decisions that are being made by the Department of Defense, you know, when the size up Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base, so it's really all encompassing. It is the number one issue that we have to deal with here in the Interior and it's an Alaskan issue."