AD Main Menu

Power  play

We don't know if G. Gordon Liddy can help to open ANWR to oil drilling.

But it's clear that the G-man can do no worse with five days in July than Arctic Power has done in 16 years with $11 million of state money.

Arctic Power has been working Congress since 1992, and has spent most of its money lobbying to open ANWR. The coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge remains closed to oil exploration.

State enthusiasm for Arctic Power's efforts has waxed and waned. In 2005, when Republicans had the White House and both houses of Congress, Arctic Power had $1.2 million in state money. The result? Victory in the House, narrow defeat in the Senate. Close doesn't count.

For fiscal year 2008, Arctic Power's state subsidy was only $120,000. For the coming year, the Legislature, blessed by billions in budget surplus, has voted $250,000, even though prospects for ANWR development are dim. All three major presidential candidates are opposed.

Can G. Gordon Liddy, broadcasting from Prudhoe Bay and Kaktovik, rouse his 1.5 million listeners to call for ANWR oil? Can Liddy move the masses, or at least enough votes in Congress, to do what neither Sen. Ted Stevens nor President George W. Bush could do?

Don't make book on it.

The Liddy play is a great gig for the G-man, who will see some of God's country. It's a public relations splash for Arctic Power; the outfit may not be opening ANWR but it can say it's doing something.

But G. Gordon Liddy? The man who masterminded (if words like "master" and "mind" fit the caper) the break-in of Democratic national headquarters in 1972, a blunder followed by more blunders, including the criminal variety, that eventually led to the only resignation of a U.S. president? This is our resource development champion?

Liddy has long since served his time in prison. Watergate debt paid. He's found his radio niche on the right and made a lucrative living at it. If corporate sponsors want to pick up the tab for Arctic Power to bring Liddy here, that's their business.

But lawmakers and the governor should make clear to Arctic Power: not a dime of state money for this show. Liddy will be preaching mostly to the choir, and the state doesn't have enough surplus to waste on the converted.

Now, if Arctic Power can get Deborah Williams, Sen. Barbara Boxer and the ghost of John Muir to do five days of radio for opening ANWR, let's talk.

BOTTOM LINE: G-man in the North? Not on the state's dime.

Focus on gas line

Leave abortion bills off upcoming session agenda

Senate President Lyda Green has asked the governor to add two abortion bills to the special session scheduled for June 3.

These are such controversial and emotion-packed issues that it would be a disservice to Alaskans to add them to such an important special session.

One of the abortion bills would require parental consent before an underage girl gets an abortion, and the other would ban so-called partial-birth abortions.

Both were passed by the House and held up in the Senate.

People can argue whether these are good bills. But we don't even need to do that. The special session was called for the Legislature to evaluate whether the state should endorse and make a $500 million investment in a proposal for a gas pipeline from the North Slope.

There will be wheelbarrows full of documents, questions so complex that they will make legislators' heads hurt, decisions that could affect the financial health of Alaska for decades to come.

The Legislature should focus solely on the gas pipeline.

Neither one of the abortion bills Sen. Green wants to bring up must be handled on an emergency basis.

The parental consent one is very like an Alaska law that was thrown out by the Alaska Supreme Court as unconstitutional. The court held it infringed on a pregnant teen's right to reproductive freedom.

It's rare for teens not to include their parents in a decision to have an abortion. An average of two teens per year at Planned Parenthood get abortions without their parents' involvement, said Clover Simon, chief executive officer.

It's just not a big problem. And occasionally, teens have good reason for keeping their parents out of the loop. Sad though it is, not every parent is someone to turn to for help.

Partial-birth abortion is already illegal in the U.S. It is not necessary for Alaska to rush in with its own version. Congress passed and U.S. Supreme Court last April endorsed the federal ban on this type of procedure.

Adding the abortion bills to the special session would change the tone and purpose of it dramatically. The Legislature had plenty of time to deal with issues such as abortion during its just-adjourned regular session.

The special session should be reserved for the gas pipeline.

BOTTOM LINE: The gas pipeline special session isn't the place to try again on business that failed to pass during the regular session.