Sarah Palin claimed that she bucked three big oil companies and the Alaskan political machine to ensure that a critical pipeline would get built. Is that fact, or is it resumé-padding? The Washington Post reviewed the records, and its editorial board concluded that Palin did exactly what she said:
Ms. Palin’s predecessor as governor, Republican Frank H. Murkowski, attempted to negotiate a deal with the three oil companies that control the North Slope gas, Exxon Mobil, BP and Conoco Phillips. His plan would have awarded the companies a long-term tax freeze in return for relatively weak commitments to actually build the pipeline. But even though Vice President Cheney and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) lobbied hard for Mr. Murkowski’s approach, Alaska’s public and legislature balked, viewing the proposal as stacked in favor of the Big Three oil companies. Ms. Palin rode criticism of Mr. Murkowski’s deal to victory over him in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary and then to the governor’s office later that year. She reversed Mr. Murkowski’s strategy, asking the legislature to pass a law setting criteria for a deal, then throwing the project open to companies other than the Big Three. The result was a commitment by an experienced pipeline company, TransCanada, to build the project, which may take 10 years, in return for $500 million in state seed money derived from Alaska’s recent oil windfall.
The oil companies still control the gas. So, if TransCanada actually gets all the necessary permits, assembles financing and builds the pipeline, the Big Three will have to be persuaded, years from now, to ship their gas through it on reasonable terms. Meanwhile, BP and Conoco Phillips have announced plans to build a pipeline of their own without the state’s backing — a sign that the political and economic wrangling over this immense and risky project is far from over. But it is also a sign that Ms. Palin’s outflanking of the oil companies injected some competition and urgency into a process that was previously stalled. Perhaps her Democratic opponent for the governorship in 2006, who campaigned on similar ideas, would have achieved these results. Nevertheless, Ms. Palin actually did.
Once again, we have an example of Palin’s willingness to take on her own party to do what’s right for Alaska — and in this case, the entire US. Rather than being some clone of Dick Cheney, as Democrats have begun to deride her, she opposed Cheney on this plan and beat the man who supported it. She opted for a free-market approach and became a tough negotiator, getting a much better commitment to build the pipeline and generate massive new revenues for Alaskans.
As the Post points out, that doesn’t just benefit the 49th state, either. Without that pipeline as a reality, the increasing demand for the cleaner natural gas in the lower 48 would have forced us to start locking into contracts with foreign suppliers, shipping liquified natural gas (LNG) overseas to us. Not only would that increase existing security risks, it would also extend our dependence on foreign energy sources. Palin’s actions helped ensure that we use our own resources and keep American wealth in the US.
This underscores Palin’s experience as an executive, something the opposing ticket lacks entirely, as well as her bona fides on reform and independent thought. She understands energy policy better than any of the other three principals in this election, having dealt with it as Alaska’s bread and butter. She won an election on it, and delivered.
What have Obama and Biden done, again?