Murkowski Gets Air Force Pledge to Work With Fairbanks on Coal-to-Liquid Project

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A top Air Force official has told U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, that the service will work with Fairbanks officials over their concerns that a proposed coal-to-liquids facility near Eielson Air Force Base is off on the wrong foot.
At a Senate Military Construction Subcommittee hearing earlier this week, Murkowski told an Air Force deputy assistant secretary that Fairbanks North Star Borough officials do not believe that project feasibility studies are on the right track.
“The community leaders don’t feel that the Air Force has been listening to their concerns, and the concern is that they will go forward, spend $10 million on studies that may have very little value,” Murkowski said.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations Kathleen Ferguson said the service was “absolutely” committed to working with the community and that Air Force officials and community leaders had met earlier this month on the matter.
Ferguson said the “purpose of the meeting was really to provide them with an update as to where the Air Force was and, to be quite honest, it was hard for the Air Force to get started on this. It was an unusual earmark. We weren’t quite sure how to work it, how to work it with the community, so I think that’s why there was some delay in beginning to talk to the community.”
Ferguson said the Air Force was conducting three feasibility studies, including a mission capability analysis on how a coal-to-liquid plant would work alongside the existing missions or potential future missions at Eielson.
“Those (studies) will all come together mid to late summer, July-August time frame,” Ferguson told Murkowski.
Ferguson said there was another meeting this week, followed by a “meeting in late July, early August that talks the results of the preliminary studies and helps to map out a way forward.”
Murkowski said the community’s concerns were “fair and legitimate” and urged continued “coordination and collaboration” between both parties.