Tag Archives: North Slope

Alaska’s North Slope Mapped for Polar Bears Habitat

Alaskan habitat mapped for polar bears.

Alaskan habitat mapped for polar bears.

A vast swath of icy sea, barrier islands and coastal land on Alaska’s oil-rich North Slope will be granted special protection because of its importance to the threatened polar bear, under a proposal released this week by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The agency proposes that 518,000 sq km of coastline and shallow Arctic Ocean waters be designated as critical habitat, a status of heightened protection afforded under the Endangered Species Act.

The area, which would be the largest ever designated for an Endangered Species Act-listed population, overlaps the territory with the largest existing oil fields in the United States where companies operate and plan to explore more.

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Todd Palin Resigns BP Oil Production Operator Job

Todd Palin, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's husband, holds their son Trig at the governor's picnic in Anchorage, Alaska. Todd Palin resigned as a production operator for oil giant BP PLC effective Sept. 18. 2009 to spend time with his family.

Todd Palin, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's husband, holds Trig Palin at the governor's picnic in Anchorage, Alaska on July 25, 2009. Todd Palin resigned as a production operator for oil giant BP PLC effective Sept. 18. 2009 to spend time with his family.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The husband of former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has quit his oil field job on the North Slope.

Todd Palin’s resignation as a production operator for oil giant BP PLC comes almost two months after his wife stepped down as Alaska governor and shortly before the release of her highly anticipated memoir in a deal rumored to be worth millions.

“Todd loved his union job on the Slope and hopes to return,” Meghan Stapleton, Sarah Palin’s personal spokeswoman, said in an e-mail Friday. “For now, he is spending time with his family.”

The resignation was effective Sept. 18, according to BP spokesman Steve Rinehart.

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With Sarah Palin Resigning, Rural Alaskans Have Hope in Gov. Parnell

Of Yup’ik ancestry, Myron Naneng serves the peoples of the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta as President of the Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP).

Of Yup’ik ancestry, Myron Naneng serves the peoples of the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta as President of the Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP).

Known as one of Gov. Sarah Palin’s harshest critics in rural Alaska, Myron Naneng wondered if some honest-to-goodness ribbing would come his way in the aftermath of Palin’s stunning resignation announcement earlier this month.

“Many people have jokingly asked if I (should) take credit for the resignation,” said Naneng, president of the Association of Village Council Presidents. “From people on the street to other locations (around Western Alaska), I haven’t heard any desire for (Palin) to stay on.”

Palin announced July 3 she would step down as governor and hand the reigns to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell on July 26. Palin said she did it because ethics complaints and politically-ambitious state lawmakers would keep her administration from getting any work done.

The news sent political and pop culture tremors around the globe. A few days after the announcement, Naneng talked from his Bethel office about his reaction and that of rural Alaska.

“Should I say hallelujah?” Naneng said. “What’s there to be broken up about?”

Poverty, high energy costs, and concerns about access to fish and game are the issues constantly swirling around residents in remote portions of the country’s largest state.

Naneng and AVCP recently organized a media tour of Western Alaska villages to showcase the lack of subsistence and commercial fishing in the area, days after Marshall fishermen defied authorities and illegally caught 100 king salmon.

“We didn’t call it a protest,” Naneng said. “It was fishing for food.”

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Inheriting Palin’s Pipeline Ambitions

Gov. Sarah Palin, center, awards a state license for development of her natural gas pipeline initiative to Canadian pipeline builder TransCanada last December. As Ms. Palin steps down, Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell (to Ms. Palin’s right above), will inherit the program.

Gov. Sarah Palin, center, awards a state license for development of her natural gas pipeline initiative to Canadian pipeline builder TransCanada last December. As Ms. Palin steps down, Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell (to Ms. Palin’s right above), will inherit the program.

In the wake of Sarah Palin’s surprise announcement to step down as Alaska governor, questions linger over her signature energy initiative: the construction of a natural gas pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope to markets in Canada and the Lower 48.

Ms. Palin campaigned for governor with a pledge to completely rethink the state’s approach to the megaproject – instead of negotiating directly with the three major North Slope producers, Ms. Palin promised to essentially put the project out to bid.

As governor, she did just that, offering a suite of incentives (including $500 million in seed money) in exchange for certain commitments meant to protect the state’s interests. State lawmakers approved her Alaska Gasline Inducement Act in 2007, and last year awarded a state license under A.G.I.A. to Canadian pipeline builder TransCanada.

Exxon Mobil has since teamed up with TransCanada, and BP and ConocoPhillips are pursuing their own pipeline project separately.

But there’s no assurance that either line will ever get built.

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Palin Pipe Dreams

Note: On July 26, Sarah Palin resigned as Alaska governor, citing concerns that ongoing ethical investigations and her decision not to seek a second term would limit her effectiveness in office. What she did (or didn’t do) to promote the development of a $40 billion gas pipeline will be a crucial part of her short history in office. This story, which was first published on March 17, delved into the long and complicated history of a pipeline that doesn’t exist.

Sarah Palin at Lake Lucille in Wasilla, Alaska, in 2008.

Sarah Palin at Lake Lucille in Wasilla, Alaska, in 2008.

For more than 30 years, a natural-gas pipeline had been the great white whale of Alaskan resource development. Tens of millions of dollars had been spent in the quest for it. The names of collapsed consortiums and failed legislative initiatives littered the tundra like the bleached horns of long-dead caribou. Then, last summer, Sarah Palin said she had harpooned the whale.

“I fought to bring about the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history,” Palin said at the Republican convention. “And when that deal was struck, we began a nearly $40 billion natural-gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence.”

During the vice-presidential debate, she said it again: “We’re building a nearly $40 billion natural-gas pipeline, which is North America’s largest and most expensive infrastructure project ever.”

And to Katie Couric, she said, “We should have started 10 years ago, but better late than never.”

To many outside of Alaska, it may therefore come as a surprise to learn that not only does such a pipeline not exist, but—even as Alaska’s deep winter darkness gives way to the first light of spring—the prospect that it will be built within Sarah Palin’s lifetime grows dimmer by the day. ( View a slideshow hitting the highlights of Governor Palin’s travels.)

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Palin to Unveil Power Plan for Alaska Railbelt

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Gov. Sarah Palin has high hopes for a multibillion dollar natural gas pipeline. One of her other legacies could be shaping the systems that let most Alaskans flip on a light switch.

Palin by the end of the month will propose a bill taking the first steps toward forming a state corporation to oversee power generation in the Railbelt, home to 65 percent of Alaska’s population.

Projected population growth along Alaska's Southern Railbelt.

Projected population growth along Alaska's Southern Railbelt.

The Railbelt is named for areas touched by tracks of the Alaska Railroad: Anchorage, Fairbanks, the Mat-Su and the Kenai Peninsula. Six independent utilities now power the region. An $800,000 state study overseen by the Alaska Energy Authority suggests it’s time for a more efficient management model.

The best hope for future affordable rates, according to the study, is a centralized authority with the financial muscle to build efficient power plants, coordinate power generation between all facilities and send electricity over a reliable power grid.

“It isn’t really a new idea,” says Joe Balash, Palin’s energy adviser. “It’s just time.”

A transition would be complex. The six utilities – Golden Valley Electric Association in Fairbanks, Matanuska Electric Association, Chugach Electric Association, Anchorage Municipal Light & Power, the City of Seward and Homer Electric Association – operate under a variety of state and federal rules. They have long-term obligations for purchasing fuel and paying off debt. They operate with their own elected or appointed boards and their first allegiance is to their own customers.

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Palin Returns to a Changed Alaska

Homecoming Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, her office adorned with banners and balloons, went to work in Anchorage Nov. 7 for the first time since joining the GOP presidential ticket.

Homecoming Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, her office adorned with banners and balloons, went to work in Anchorage Nov. 7 for the first time since joining the GOP presidential ticket.

Alaska has changed while Governor Sarah Palin was gone on the presidential campaign trail over the past two months.  The state’s oil driven economy has been hurt by the global financial meltdown and many Alaskans have gotten to know another, darker side of their governor, in stark contrast to the “maverick” hockey mom turned politican who took on the “good old boys” and big oil companies.  The Christian Science Monitor presents an in-depth look at the new political landscape Gov. Palin now faces in Alaska.

When she left Alaska in August to run as the Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin was a much-loved governor with approval ratings near 90 percent; a record for pursuing centrist, bipartisan policies; and a reputation as a corruption-fighter.

Her home state was awash in money, thanks to record oil prices, and residents were set to get big checks in the form of dividends from the Alaska Permanent Fund and a state tax rebate. The economic future seemed secure, with Governor Palin advancing the case for a big, new, natural-gas pipeline.

What a difference a couple of months make.

Upon her return to Alaska Nov. 5, Palin’s nonpartisan reputation is in shreds, a side effect of her role as chief attacker of Democratic rival Barack Obama. Damaged, too, is her image as ethics reformer, with questions lingering over an abuse-of-power scandal involving a feud against her sister’s ex-husband, alleged circumvention of public-records laws, concerns about state payments for her children’s travel and nights spent in her own home, and even how she acquired the haute-couture wardrobe she sported on the campaign trail.

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