Palin Overstates Progress on Pipeline Project

Project may never be built, but will still cost taxpayers $500M
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2008 10:50 AM CDT
In this Aug. 10, 2006 file photo, a worker uses a rope mop to clean up oil in tundra grass from a leak from an oil transit line at the Prudhoe Bay oil field on Alaska's North Slope.   (AP Photo/Al Grillo, file)
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(Newser) – On the campaign trail, Sarah Palin has been touting her role in brokering a deal for a $40-billion natural gas pipeline in Alaska that, she says will "help lead America to energy independence." But the New York Times, investigating the status of the project, finds that the Alaska governor has overstated "both the progress that has been made and the certainty of success," and that some supporters, on closer inspection, have turned against the deal.

Palin deserves credit for succeeding, unlike her predecessors, in attracting developers to the project, the Times notes. But the deal, which will take years to win federal approval, gives the company the option to drop out even if it wins approval, and the state is liable for $500 million in start-up expenses even if it's never built. Some Alaskan legislators now say the state gave away too much leverage with too little guarantee. "There is no requirement to lift one shovel of dirt or lay down one inch of steel," says one Republican state senator. Another calls it "a very expensive risk."