Monday, September 08, 2008

Palin's gas pipeline power play: Wasilla rink redux?

Alaska political gadfly Andrew Halcro, who ran for governor as an independent against Sarah Palin, has the goods on Palin's inept attempts to strong-arm the oil companies into developing a major Alaska gas field (Point Thomson) on terms that are not economically viable. (Building the proposed gas pipeline across Alaska is not viable without developing Point Thomson.) Having stonewalled the Exxon et al and rejected their offer to go to mediation over the terms of development, Palin is now requesting (demanding?) a meeting with oil company heads. Question: what kinds of pressure and/or bribery will the national Republican machine employ to get the oil chiefs to deal and hand Palin a real or apparent victory, enabling her to boast that she got the oil companies to end forty years of stalling and start developing? (According to Halcro, gas prices did not rise high enough to consider building the pipeline until 2002).

Palin's dealings with the oil companies seem to recall her dealings with the developer who bought the land on which she wanted to develop Wasilla's hockey rink: refuse to negotiate in good faith, litigate, attempt to create "facts on the ground" by moving forward without resolving the conflict, then continue to litigate. The result: Wasilla has paid over $1.3 million in legal fees, interest and inflated land prices for land the town could have had for $126,0000, had it accepted the Nature Conservancy's initial offer.

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