Saturday, January 30, 2010

Stray Dogs and Pipelines

Sarah Palin's newest Facebook post is great, but since you've more than likely already seen it, I'll lead with some pipeline news:

TransCanada Corp. on Friday filed with regulators hundreds of pages of new information describing how it plans to obtain commitments for natural gas to fill its proposed multibillion-dollar North Slope pipeline.

The new documents show that building the pipeline could be nearly twice as expensive as TransCanada, a Canadian pipeline company, predicted three years ago. However, the new estimates -- ranging from $26 billion to $41 billion -- are within the range that has been used by state officials for the project, which many see as critical to Alaska's future economy.

The documents also reveal that the company is trying to sweeten the deal for potential shippers -- including oil producers BP, Conoco Phillips and Exxon Mobil. TransCanada says it is reducing the amount it will charge to ship the gas by $500 million per year for 25 years, or $12.5 billion. That's possibly good news for people in Alaska: lower shipping costs translate to higher royalties and tax revenue for the state and larger profits for the producers.

Despite the monumental risks of building the long-sought pipeline -- including its huge expense and new competition from shale gas producers in the Lower 48 -- TransCanada officials said Friday their project remains competitive and gas can begin flowing by 2020.

TransCanada touted its Friday actions as historic: It's the first time a company has filed detailed plans seeking federal permission to hold what is called an "open season" and seek gas commitments for the North Slope pipeline.

But TransCanada has a big competitor: In April, Denali, the pipeline company created by BP and Conoco Phillips, also plans to file the documents required to hold an open season. Both companies' plans must be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. TransCanada's open season is expected to begin in May and end in July. Denali's would begin around July and run for 90 days.

Not unlike TransCanada, the North Slope oil producers have stayed cautiously optimistic about the gas line.

"We want to find a way to move (the gas). It really matters," said Steve Rinehart, BP's spokesman in Alaska.

He said his company will carefully review the TransCanada and Denali proposals during the two open seasons.....

It's still too early to tell, but things are moving along slowly. I just hope the federal government doesn't get any ideas about sabotaging it to make Palin look bad. Larry Persily is in there, after all.

Anyway, on to Palin's Facebook post:

Obamacare = Stray Dog, So Says President -

What am I missing, folks? We’re called obstructionists and made to feel uninformed in the Obamacare debate as we point out this is not a patient-driven, market-oriented approach to health care cost challenges. We’ve been saying for months that this is government takeover of our personal choices of insurers and doctors. We’re called liars when claiming that this is all about government mandates and control of up to a sixth of our economy.

And yet, shockingly, the president admitted yesterday exactly what we’ve been saying: that his Democrats and lobbyists have crafted bills that in fact will prevent us from keeping our current insurance and/or choosing our own doctor. He said:

The last thing I will say, though -- let me say this about health care and the health care debate, because I think it also bears on a whole lot of other issues.

If you look at the package that we’ve presented -- and there’s some stray cats and dogs that got in there that we were eliminating, we were in the process of eliminating.

For example, we said from the start that it was going to be important for us to be consistent in saying to people if you can have your -- if you want to keep the health insurance you got, you can keep it, that you’re not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decision making. And I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge.

Thanks to Tom Bevan at RCP for spotting this. The president’s statement is shocking, enlightening, and in an odd and unfortunate way also encouraging. Folks, this admission tells us we’re not off-base and we need to stay vigilant so we’re not missing anything else in this scheme. This trillion-dollar government takeover of our health care system is full of “stray dogs and cats” (the president’s words, not mine), and that’s what we’ve been saying all along.

Commonsense conservatives have better ideas on how to start tackling rising health care costs. Reps. Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, Eric Cantor, John Boehner, and others have offered solutions. I commend their efforts to counter the White House’s attempt to ram Obamacare through as these Congressmen seek bipartisan, sensible solutions. I implore them to speak louder because we’re listening, and we’re counting on them!

- Sarah Palin

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