17 November 2006


So I was reading about the governor's press conference yesterday in which he touted the new fiscal interest findings on the gas pipeline and seemed perplexed as to why lawmakers won't just pass the thing and was shocked to read he'd made some changes:

Some of Murkowski's proposed changes:

• Taxes: Freeze oil taxes for 15 years instead of 30 years; freeze gas taxes for 25 years instead of 45 years.

• Work commitments: Incorporate a project timetable into the contract.

• Alaska hire: Require a project labor agreement that includes provisions promoting Alaska hire and establishing hiring halls in rural and urban Alaska; require an agreement with Canada on a cross-border labor agreement.

• State oversight: Give the state Legislature the right to deny contract changes affecting taxes, royalties and the pipeline route.

These are pretty substantial alterations to the contract - particularly the length of the tax freeze and the timetable - and address a lot of issues that have been raised during this debate.

My question is - do the energy companies agree? And can the governor just change the terms of the contract in response to public comment to make it seem more appealing to the public and the legislature? When did all this additional negotiation between the two sides take place that produced these changes?

Of course, unilateralism would be nothing new for this governor. It's just the energy companies and not, say, elders, city governments, or the legislature that's on the short end of the stick now.

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