Alaska editorial: New administration should stick with current pipeline deal

Posted: Thursday, August 31, 2006

This editorial appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:

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Alaska doesn't hold all of the cards when it comes to a natural gasline.

The Murkowski administration and three of the largest oil companies negotiated a deal leading to construction of a gasline. Talks took place over the past two-plus years.

Then the administration introduced a gas/oil tax measure to the Legislature this past session that it had negotiated. The measure provides an incentive for the companies to invest in the gasline.

After the regular session and two special sessions, the Legislature passed the measure only days before the primary election this week. A contract will go before the Legislature next.

Of course, during the primary campaign, the current administration's opponents announced they would handle the gasline differently than the incumbent. They had to; they had to come across as an alternative or different from the current governor. Most of the challengers stated they would start over.

But will the oil companies?

That is the multi-billion-dollar question.

The state, under new leadership after incumbent Murkowski's defeat by a Republican challenger in the primary, could walk away from Murkowski's proposed deal or start over.

But, if the state under a new administration attempts to renegotiate with the oil companies, what makes it believe it can come up with a better deal?

It might be a different deal, but it might not be better. Are Alaskans willing to take that chance?

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