Alaska Special Session Unlikely; Gasline Plans Stalled Once Again

Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski most likely won't call another special session of the legislature this month to try and move the proposed natural gas pipeline forward, essentially leaving the issue to his successor.

Murkowski lost in the gubernatorial primary in August, and he will leave office Dec. 4. Following his defeat, he urged the state legislature to meet one more time in a special session to complete a fiscal contract for the proposed $25 billion gasline with the North Slope's largest producers, BP plc, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil Corp. (see Daily GPI, Aug. 24).

According to the Anchorage Daily News, the decision to abandon plans for another special session is tied to three things: Murkowski's loss, BP's shutdown of part of its Prudhoe Bay oilfield and the raid last week by federal agents of lawmakers' offices in an investigation of alleged ties to an oilfield services company (see Daily GPI, Sept. 5).

Murkowski Chief of Staff Jim Clark, Alaska Revenue Commissioner Bill Corbus and other officials on Murkowski's gas negotiating team apparently met with several state senators Wednesday in Anchorage. However, Clark told the Daily News that the discussions were not centered on calling a special session but rather on how to prepare the results of the past two years of pipeline negotiations for the next governor.

"We described to them that we're going to work to finish it so we have a package to hand off to the next administration," Clark told the newspaper. "It's important that we leave a road map as a transition for the next administration that comes in." Clark said, "Obviously things can change, but that's essentially it."

The negotiations are likely to be left in the hands of Republican nominee Sarah Palin or former Gov. Tony Knowles, the Democratic nominee, who will face off in a general election Nov. 7.

Copyright 2006 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.

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