Palin confident of gas-line plan

Governor tries to ease concerns that project 'slipped considerably'

Posted: Sunday, February 11, 2007

Gov. Sarah Palin has a simple message for federal lawmakers concerned about meaningful movement toward building a natural gas pipeline: All is well.

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Palin said Friday that she has had to ease concerns of federal energy regulators and lawmakers over a recent report to Congress that claimed progress toward the multi-billion dollar project has "slipped considerably."

The federal report said the prospects for a pipeline are "more remote than last year," when former Gov. Frank Murkowski got three producers to agree a fiscal contract but failed to convince lawmakers, who felt terms gave too much to oil companies.

"We are further along today with that project than Murkowski was," she said in a 40-minute interview with The Associated Press. "That proposed plan was never going to get us a gas pipeline.

"His plan was terms of an agreement laid out that helped the producers get locked-in oil and gas tax rates for many years, but there were no benchmarks that would have assured a gas line at the end of the line," Palin said in a wide-ranging interview.

Since taking office two months ago, Palin has made the gas line a top priority, meeting immediately with 12 companies interested in delivering 35 trillion cubic feet of proved natural gas resources to a nation watching the reliance on imports grow.

Palin will personally deliver her positive message to federal authorities in a few weeks while attending a state governor's conference in the Lower 48.

She offered no specific timetable for delivering new legislation to state lawmakers outlining terms for natural gas pipeline contract negotiations, but said the House and Senate will have plenty of time to review her plans. Friday was the 25th day of the 121-day session.

"We are going to get this thing rolled out in enough time for them to have good, deliberative debate and discussion on this in order for it to be passed this session," she said. "They are ready for it."

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