Alaska News

Amanda Coyne: Big Oil wants Alaska to sign onto new gas pipeline deal

Many lawmakers spent the week sitting on committees, soothed by the drone of shaved-to-within-an-inch-of-their-lives oil company executives telling us how best to get our natural gas to market. They're there to help, they assured lawmakers. Just sign on the dotted line, they all but said. Think what a 48-inch line will do for the state, they said.

Chair of House Resources Rep. Eric Feige's all like: a big pipe for a big man! Sen. Lesil McGuire's like, I love big projects! Rep. Geran Tarr is worried that the pipeline might be built out of genetically modified material, and no doubt when it's her turn, Rep. Lora Reinbold will be worried that gays, with same-sex benefits, will work on it.

That was a joke, but seriously, we all share gas line fatigue. But this proposed legislation begins to set the terms for one of the biggest projects in the world, certainly in the history of Alaska. And with it comes a big, thick, complicated contract, negotiated by DNR Commissioner Joe Balash, Revenue Commissioner Angela Rodell and Mike Pawlowski, aka "Fish."

God love 'em but none of the three have any experience with this kind of contract. And with few exceptions -- among them Reps. Peggy Wilson, Mike Hawker and Eric Feige -- lawmakers appear to be abdicating their responsibility to ask questions to the gods in charge of passing gas.

Democrats could be helping. But apparently "gas line" doesn't fire up the base like "oil tax repeal" does. Besides, they waved the white flag when Sen. Bill Wielechowski, perhaps borrowing a term from Sen. Hollis French, said passage of the gas line bill was a "fait accompli."

And while the oilies soothed our legislators, there were several social do's. On Wednesday in Juneau, more than 50 women gathered at the Annual Women in Resources shindig. Among them: Commerce Commissioner Susan Bell; and Reps. Peggy Wilson, Tammy Wilson, Lynn Gattis and Lindsey Holmes. Wendy Lindskoog from the Alaska Railroad, Deantha Crockett from the Alaska Miners Association and Kara Moriarty from AOGA were also there.

If you're wondering where the men in resources meet, look no further than those who are testifying in the resource committees.


Also on Wednesday, it was the Alaska Children's Trust fundraiser, to which, if you're invited, you dare not not go.

For one, it was hosted by first lady Sandy Parnell at the Governor's Mansion.

Second, the mission of the trust is to stomp out childhood abuse. And finally, Diane Kaplan is the chair and Laurie Herman helped organize it, both of whom are capable of dragging people along by the ear, even, or especially, big men with big pipe dreams.

ConocoPhillips gave $15,000. Princess Cruises, Providence Alaska Medical Center, the Alaska Cruise Association, Old Harbor Native Corp., Greens Creek mine and BP all gave $1,000 each.

Although I was invited to neither event, all is not bleak on the social front. I was invited to a reception to celebrate the imminent opening of the Rustic Goat, the new Kaladi Brothers restaurant on Northern Lights in the Turnagain neighborhood. I stayed long enough to chat with John Woodbury, owner of Coast magazine, developer Jon Rubini and Mayor Dan Sullivan, to bask in the glow of KTUU anchor Rebecca Palsha's smile and to scope out the corner into which I will pitch my tent and stack my books. Forever.

Also, Edna Devries, the Savior-invoking Palmer city councilwoman who's running for the new state Senate seat that's opened up in the Valley, joined Twitter this week and followed me. As of Wednesday, I was one of three who followed her back. The other two? The Bible Prophecy Blog and Sarah Palin News.

Since Edna brought her up: "Inside Edition" traveled to Wasilla to help Palin celebrate a half-century birthday on Tuesday and helped plug her new reality show on the Sportsman Channel. Apparently she'll roam the country, calling attention to herself and probably to her political action committee SarahPAC, established to help right-minded candidates. In 2013, the PAC donated a total of $10,000 to two of them. It spent $1.2 million on things like travel, consultants and speech writing. All of which, including the speeches, go to making Palin more money.

Nobody can ever accuse Palin of being a woman without resources.

Rep. Charisse Millett also turned 50 on Tuesday. Word is that her birthday party drained human resources from the Producer Council's Juneau get-together, and that the council was upset that more people didn't show -- to say nothing of the fact that their biggest member, the Pebble Mine Partnership, is on the way out. But apparently a handful of lobbyists are still on retainer, perhaps to give it a smooth and loving send-off.

After all, love is in the air. Just ask Senate candidate Dan Sullivan, who's running a radio ad on the subject. In the ad, he tells us how he fell in love with his wife, Julie, on first sight, and he fell in love with Alaska at first sight. "And, as my Marine Corps brothers know, I fight for the things I love," he says in the ad.

Show me a better political line for airing on St. Valentine's weekend, and I'll buy your stock in Pebble.

Senate candidate Mead Treadwell's campaign got love at a Republican Party district meeting in Fairbanks when his supporters swept the elections of officers and delegates. Initially some were wondering if the coup didn't somehow involve Joe Miller. Then word came through the tundra telegraph that it was only Treadwell, whom you can distract from a coup with an international treaty.

And finally: Everyone loves you if you if you stay around long enough. A Washington Post reporter got to interview Don Young in his office, where he was regaled with stories about cigars, bathrooms and strangling bears with his own hands. His goal, said our favorite representative, is to stay in office until he's 90. That's another 10 years, maybe long enough to figure out what's in the gas line contract.

Independent journalist Amanda Coyne writes about Alaska politics on her blog