Politics & Government

Alaska Gov. Parnell is seeking unified gasline

Gov. Sean Parnell said Thursday he's not going to negotiate with the oil companies over how much the state taxes natural gas until they unite behind a gas pipeline project and can prove they need the help in order for construction to start.

Parnell told a Resource Development Council gathering in Anchorage that "once they've come together on a project, then come talk to me" about taxes.

There are two competing proposals for a multibillion-dollar natural gas pipeline to the Lower 48. The state is tied under the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act to the effort led by the pipeline firm TransCanada Corp. and backed by Exxon Mobil, while Conoco Phillips and BP are engaged in a rival project called Denali.

Parnell, who became governor just over a month ago when Sarah Palin resigned, made public some of his oil and gas plans to the Resource Development Council and in a discussion later Thursday with reporters. Like Palin, he endorses offshore development in federal waters on Alaska's Outer Continental Shelf, a controversy that has the North Slope Borough, Eskimo whalers and environmental groups on the other side. Parnell focused his speech to the development council on that issue, saying it would be a big priority for him.

"I will personally lead the charge in pursuit of OCS exploration and development," said Parnell, who sent a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Thursday in support of a federal leasing program.

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