Jimmy Carter photo

Remarks at the Bill Signing Ceremony for the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation System

November 08, 1977

THE PRESIDENT. This joint resolution to approve the construction of the major natural gas pipeline from Alaska down through Canada to our country is a very important demonstration of our Nation's commitment to provide adequate energy supplies in the future, to protect the quality of the environment in our two nations, to work harmoniously in one of the most complicated and most expensive engineering projects ever undertaken by human beings.

I'm very proud that the House and Senate have approved the route that was chosen by ourselves and the Canadians for this major project. This will provide, when it's fully in operation, about 3.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. It's the largest single project ever undertaken for the provision of energy and, perhaps, the largest single engineering project ever undertaken of any kind.

Over a period of 25 years, which is the estimated life of this pipeline--it will probably be longer--it would save the American people more than $6 billion, compared to the alternative route assessed.

But this is just the first very minor step in what's going to be a long journey in engineering, planning, financing, designing and construction and operation of this tremendous pipeline project.

Tonight I will talk to the American people about the energy problem and the enormity of it now and in the future. This is roughly a $14 billion project. Natural gas makes up about 25 percent of our energy needs. This project, in spite of its enormous size, will provide about 5 percent of our Nation's natural gas. So, what we are talking about here, to show you the size of the energy problem and the energy industry, is about 1 percent of the energy supplies of just one nation.

I'm particularly glad that the Ambassador for Canada is here. I hope that he will relay directly to Prime Minister Trudeau my deep gratitude at the cooperative attitude that has been taken by the Canadians in working with us on this project.

I particularly want to thank the Alaskan delegation who are here, the Congress Members who have been so instrumental in the passage of this resolution. Many of them are the same Members of Congress who are now working on the energy conference committee--Senator Jackson, Congressman Udall, John Dingell, Congressmen Staggers, Roncalio, and others. I want to thank them again for their timely and very effective approval of this project.

Dr. Schlesinger, the Secretary of Energy, will now begin his detailed work along with Cecil Andrus, the administrator of the Interior Department--the Secretary- -and also other agencies of the Federal Government. So, I think, this is a good time for our country, for Canada, and for the future of the American people.

Again, I want to congratulate the Members of Congress for doing such a good job in helping to make this possible.

[At this point, the President signed H.J. Res. 621 into law.]

Now, Jim, you can go ahead and start working.

SECRETARY SCHLESINGER. I think what the President has said underscores the close relationships that we should maintain with Canada in regard to what are common problems, that this will help restore an era of good feelings between the two countries, and that this project, large as it is, is a splendid symbol of that cooperation.


SENATOR GRAVEL. I think that it's not only of benefit to the Nation but, I think, it does lay aside the differences that have arisen in the contest of where the line would go--our differences with Canada. I think if there's any nation that we have a proximity to, it's that great country. I think the gas that we've been blessed with in Alaska we've brought to market efficiently and effectively through this pipeline.

We are grateful to the leadership of the Executive, under you, Mr. President, Mr Schlesinger, and with the alacrity that the Congress acted in seeing that this resolution got to your desk as soon a possible.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you. I don' think there were any dissenting votes. I was a voice vote. I didn't hear any--

SENATOR GRAVEL. There were none.

THE PRESIDENT. Congressman Staggers?

REPRESENTATIVE STAGGERS. I'd just say that it's a red-letter day for America and our future.


SENATOR STEVENS. Mr. President, I think this is just the first of a series of transportation systems to bring Alaska's resources to what we call the South 48. We have a lot more oil and gas and we'll hopefully get on to those other areas, too, soon. So, I congratulate you. I think this is the first time that the Vice President and I have been on the same side. We both lost. He favored the Arctic route, and I favored the El Paso route. But we're both happy today. [Laughter]

OTHER SPEAKER. Mr. President, the Vice President did not lose on this issue. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I think all Americans won. Although we don't look on Canada as coming under the purview of the Foreign Relations Committee, Frank---because they are so much a part of our country--would you like to say just a word?

SENATOR CHURCH. Thank you, Mr. President. I think the route that's been chosen is the correct one. It happens that the first leg of that route will be built into my State, which may have some influence. [Laughter] But I commend you for another milestone, and I think this bill will serve the country well.


MR. McMILLIAN. It's my pleasure. This is my project. I want to thank you for choosing it, the confidence you had in us. We're going to uphold that confidence of both yourself and the Congress and do what we said to bring this energy source to you as quickly and reasonably as we can.

THE PRESIDENT. We worked very closely with Jim in preparing this, and I want to thank you for it.

MR. McMILLIAN. Thank you, sir.

REPRESENTATIVE DINGNELL. Mr. President, I just look forward to being back with you when you sign the energy bill very shortly. [Laughter]

Note: The President spoke at 1:45 p.m. at the signing ceremony in the Cabinet Room at the White House. John G. McMillian is chairman of Northwest Pipeline Corp.

As enacted, H.J. Res. 621 is Public Law 95158, approved November 8.

Jimmy Carter, Remarks at the Bill Signing Ceremony for the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation System Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242608

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