Monday, June 8, 2009

Jindal and Palin Wasting Their Time

I've been following the events around the proposed gas pipeline from the northern slope of Alaska to Alberta (to connect to US pipelines), the rights to which have been given to TransCanada Corp. It's getting a little testy in Alaska. Maybe it's the midnight sun - June 21 is coming quickly - but there is lots of back and forth about the Alaskan Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA), which was supposed to incentivize a private company to build a huge international pipeline to offload Alaskan gas to the Lower 48.

Lately, Sen. Mark Begich and former Gov. Frank Murkowski have criticized the lack of progress on the project (another article from Anchorage and yet another from Fairbanks with more explanation). Gov. Sarah Palin has defended the project with odd comments saying things like, she’s "proud of her gas line team, which works hard without seeing publicity or grandstanding." The project is her baby, replacing a lengthy negotiated solution to bring the stranded gas on the Northern Slope to market (that coincidentally was proposed by Murkowski, whom Palin beat for the job a couple of years ago), but as noted here before a new Alaskan pipeline would face lots of competition in the Lower 48 from shale plays like the Haynesville Shale and LNG imports.

What Gov. Palin should be doing is beating the drum for the use of natural gas in this country. Clearly she has intentions on national office in 2012 and the AGIA is one of her cornerstone projects. If she truly wants to see it succeed and create a political track record around something other than her wardrobe or her experience as to why teaching teens abstinence only is a joke, she should get behind the Pickens Plan and other promoters of natural gas. Alaska can build all the pipelines it wants, but there is no point to it if the market for natural gas in the Lower 48 is not nurtured and grown. She should be driving a CNG car and inviting T. Boone Pickens for elk burgers cooked with Alaskan natural gas. That way she could bring home the moose bacon for the state and promote a better energy solution for the nation. That's a success that would shine on her resume and make everyone forget the debacle in 2008.

That brings me to Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. He's so busy running for president in 2012 that he forgot he has a state to run. While he is grandstanding about inconsequential crap and traveling all over the country for fundraisers, he is missing a huge opportunity to promote natural gas on the national stage. If he wants to be president in 2012 he needs to stop spouting talking points and start spewing forth on the benefits of natural gas. The Haynesville Shale could be the biggest energy boost to the state in more than a generation, but where is the governor in promoting it?

The bottom line is that both Palin and Jindal come from two of the country's largest natural gas producing states but neither is doing much to stimulate the market for its use. This is the time for them to get behind the NAT GAS Act (HR 1835) and get involved in the discussions regarding carbon legislation. If they want to prove their mettle for the highest job in the land they need to do something real and both have the opportunity sitting in front of them.

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