Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pipeline giant to file gas line application

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ANCHORAGE - A Midwest energy giant has emerged as the first company to officially commit interest in building a natural gas pipeline on the North Slope.

MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. and its partners plan to submit an application to the state this fall, CEO David L. Sokol told Petroleum News, though he wouldn't identify the partners.

The company is the parent of Kern River Gas Transmission Co., which has served as MidAmerican's lead for the Alaska gas line project.

Earlier this week, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin pushed the application deadline back from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30.

Two developments drove this change, said Nan Thompson, a member of Palin's energy team: More companies began to inquire about the project, and the state received feedback calling for additional time to prepare a complete application.

Palin has said she thinks the line will one day ship trillions of cubic feet of reserves to market. Applications became available July 3, not long after Palin signed the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act into law.

AGIA has been touted strongly by Palin, who succeeded in getting it passed at the end of the 2007 legislative session despite intense criticism from oil giants BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil.

Sokol said plans for his company's application will move forward unless producers are implicated in the FBI investigations of several Alaska state and federal lawmakers, which he said would negatively affect the project.

"Our intention is to file under AGIA, but whether we do depends on the circumstances between now and the filing date," he said. "The unfortunate corruption scandals involving the oil and gas industry in Alaska that have been published in the press - we just don't know where it will stop."

Juneau woman accused of assault

JUNEAU - A 37-year-old woman was accused of punching and assaulting her former roommate in a home on Douglas last week. Police stopped her on Douglas Highway.

Lesley Ann Rhodes was arrested on charges of felony domestic violence assault and driving while intoxicated. She was lodged without bail at Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

Police were notified at 2:50 a.m. Thursday that a 38-year-old woman was assaulted in her home. An investigation revealed that the woman's former roommate had punched her and tried to strangle her.

Police suspect foul play in disappearance

ANCHORAGE - More than a week after friends last saw Mindy Schloss, her car has been found inconspicuously parked near Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, police said.

The discovery has led police to "strongly suspect foul play" in the disappearance of Schloss, a 52-year-old nurse. Schloss, last seen Friday, missed a scheduled flight from Anchorage to Fairbanks on Sunday. She has failed to show up for several appointments since then.

Friends say that is unlike Schloss, who they describe as responsible to a fault.

Failing to show up for engagements and staying away for days on end are completely out of character, they told police.

"It alarms us that someone who's of a mature age, who's responsible enough to set a clock by," has gone missing, said police spokesman Lt. Paul Honeman.

Jurors undecided in Lawson murder trial

ANCHORAGE - Jurors in the murder trial of Michael Lawson, 49, were at an impasse late Friday and were to resume deliberations next week.

They returned empty-handed to the courtroom in mid-afternoon, saying they were unable to reach a consensus on three of the eight counts Lawson is facing in the 2003 killing of Bethany Correira, a college student in Anchorage.

They did not specify which three counts caused the deadlock.

Charges against Lawson include murder, kidnapping, arson and evidence tampering.

If the jury is hung, the case would be decided at another trial, by another jury. It is their case to decide, Judge John Suddock told jurors.

He sent them back to continue deliberating until they were sure they could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Lawson is accused of killing Correira, 21, in 2003. She had just moved to Anchorage from Talkeetna to attend college.

State prosecutors claimed Lawson deliberately murdered Correira after she unwittingly walked in on a drug deal at the apartment building in Bootlegger's Cove where they both worked.

Defense attorney Mike Moberly said the prosecution's evidence, while accurate, is circumstantial and cannot prove that Lawson intentionally killed Correira.

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