Friday, Aug. 29, 2008

Pipeline Dreams

On August 27, Palin signed a bill to give a Canadian company a license and $500 million in government subsidies to build a pipeline connecting natural gas fields in Alaska's North Slope with existing infrastructure in Canada and to the continental U.S. Alaskans have been pushing for years for construction of the pipeline, which, according to gas companies, could provide 7% of all fuel used in the U.S. Major fuel companies operating in the state — including BP and ConocoPhillips — oppose the plan, however, saying they want to build their own line. Construction could begin as early as next year, but the pipeline wouldn't be completed until at least 2017 and still faces considerable hurdles — including its massive cost, estimated to be at least $30 billion, which could stymie the plan if fuel prices continue to drop. Palin also supports natural-gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — which McCain has opposed — but Palin is not roundly loved by the energy industry. With Democratic support, last fall she raised taxes on oil company profits.