From today’s Wall Street Journal:
Her work is widely credited with forcing BP and ConocoPhillips to start work on another pipeline project, called Denali. The companies spent $40 million this summer on preliminary field work and hope to have a working pipeline built by 2013. Many industry observers believe the two projects will ultimately be combined.
The companies say their interest in building a gas pipeline predates Gov. Palin’s administration.
Les Gara, a Democratic state representative from Anchorage, says credit for the revived company interest in building the pipeline should go to market forces. "More than anyone’s work, it’s the price of gas that is making this pipeline go ahead," he says.
Others believe Ms. Palin is the main reason the pipeline is moving forward. "The gas pipeline was such a muddle when she arrived that I thought to myself that this will never be built," says Steve Cowper, Alaska’s Democratic governor from 1986 to 1990. . . .
Gov. Palin showed an independent streak in the first weeks of her term by appointing Tom Irwin to be the natural resources commissioner. Mr. Irwin was fired in 2005 after he wrote a memo saying Gov. Murkowski was going too easy on oil companies in earlier pipeline negotiations. Six top staff members resigned in protest, an incident called the "Thursday Afternoon Massacre."
"She is not pro- or con-big companies," says Mr. Irwin. "Gov. Palin didn’t submit to the force and control of the large companies. She forced [them] into a fair, open competitive process."
Mr. Irwin says he has been impressed with Gov. Palin’s integrity since 2004. She resigned from her job as chairwoman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in protest against Randy Ruedrich, a fellow commissioner and state Republican Party chairman.
"She was unsettled and unhappy that he was conducting party business on state time," says Joe Balash, Gov. Palin’s special assistant. Mr. Reudrich was later fined $12,000 for violating state ethics laws.