Photo: triciaward

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In her speech at the Republican National Convention last week, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin touted her role in moving forward a plan for a natural-gas pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope to the Lower 48. The GOP veep candidate declared, “That pipeline, when the last section is laid and its valves are opened, will lead America one step farther away from dependence on dangerous foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart.” She failed to mention, however, that the project is far from a done deal. It so far exists only on paper, and federal approvals are years out. In addition, Palin is in a bit of a catch-22: She gained a reputation for standing up to Big Oil when she stridently criticized the former governor’s pipeline plan as a handout to Exxon Mobil, BP, and ConocoPhillips — but she must gain the cooperation of those companies, which have development rights to much of the North Slope, in order to make the pipeline operational. Meanwhile, BP and Conoco have announced plans to move forward with their own separate pipeline. Realistically, only one pipeline will be built; whatever form that will take, there will assuredly be much political and regulatory wrangling to come.

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