Alaska editorial: Gas line deal should be decided by voters

Posted: Tuesday, August 08, 2006

This editorial appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:

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It's up to Alaskans to act. The Alaska Legislature won't.

Gov. Frank Murkowski has asked the Legislature to work with him toward building a natural gas line. He honestly negotiated with the oil companies that would partner with the state in the gas line. He painstakingly walked legislators through the proposed deal with the companies. And, he called legislators into not one, but two special sessions in an attempt to get them to work with him to finalize the deal.

Legislators are either not moving ahead with the proposal because they think they have a better one, are delaying in hopes of having a new governor to deal with after the November election, or are infatuated with the power they have to muck it up and just want to use it.

If lawmakers will handle the deal with this governor the way they have, then they will follow suit with the next one, whether it's Murkowski again or someone new.

Alaskans might as well take control now.

State Sen. Ben Stevens trusts Alaskans and proposes a statewide vote on the natural gas contract. After half a year of fiddle-faddling around, he doesn't believe the Legislature will act.

Gov. Murkowski supports Stevens' proposal. He isn't seeing any forward action by lawmakers.

It's time to move ahead. Alaskans will get educated on the contract if they haven't already; there's been plenty of information publicized. Then, Alaskans will act.

Whatever the outcome, Murkowski and Stevens trust the electorate. Let's see if the lawmakers in our districts believe in Alaskans. They can get the contract on the November ballot.

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