STATEMENT OF STEPHEN E. WHITESELL, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, PARK PLANNING, FACILITIES AND LANDS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE CONCERNING S. 302, A BILL TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO ISSUE RIGHT-OF-WAY PERMITS FOR A NATURAL GAS TRANSMISSION PIPELINE IN NONWILDERNESS AREAS WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF DENALI NATIONAL PARK, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify and provide the views of the National Park Service (NPS) on S. 302, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to issue right-of-way permits for a natural gas transmission pipeline in nonwilderness areas within the boundary of Denali National Park, and for other purposes.
The Department has no objection to the bill as written.
The potential owners and operators of such a pipeline have not, at this time, determined whether such a line carrying natural gas to south-central Alaska is financially feasible, nor have they determined the best route for a pipeline. This legislation provides flexibility for the backers of a proposed pipeline, and provides assurance to the NPS that the National Environmental Policy Act analysis will be completed before any permit for work in the park would be issued by the Secretary.
The legislation also provides authority for the Secretary to permit distribution lines and related equipment within the park for the purpose of providing a natural gas supply to the park. We support this provision, but remind the committee that at this time no decisions have been made about the financial or engineering feasibility, nor the exact configuration of equipment needed to facilitate tapping the larger line to allow local use of natural gas in or near Denali National Park.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify and we would welcome any questions you or other members may have.