Below is an excerpt from my weekly column in the Anchorage Daily News. Coming soon: a few tidbits that I wasn’t able to include in the column:
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.
Read the rest here.
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org