Alaska Gasline corporation in retrograde

Relic: Image from of then Mayor Sarah Palin, Gov. Jay Hammond, Gov. Walter J. Hickel, and Sen. Rick Halford.
Photographic relic: Image from of then-Mayor Sarah Palin, Gov. Jay Hammond, Gov. Walter J. Hickel, and Sen. Rick Halford.


An Alaska Journal of Commerce editorial this week has a devastating breakdown of how the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation has devolved into the old Alaska Gasline Port Authority.

And of that old relic, nothing good can result.

Within the span of 18 months, Gov. Bill Walker has deconstructed AGDC. It was a complete overthrow, methodically pursued month after month, until it was unrecognizable. No longer a partnership, it has become a state-run project. What can possibly go wrong?

Read here what may be the most important piece you read about Alaska government this year. In fact, cut it out and tape it to your refrigerator door because in it, there’s a good bit of prophecy.

The Alaska Gasline, AK LNG, is on the brink of joining other state-financed, state-run projects boondoggles that ran into monumental hurdles and met with spectacular failures, because government is just not very good at business. Government is not entrepreneurial. Government wastes money better Paris Hilton on Rodeo Drive.

In the 1970s, when the state was bathing in oodles of oil dollars, the State of Alaska launched the Delta Barley Project, (Delta 1 and Delta 2), as well as the Seward grain terminal and associated rail and port projects. It was a project that cost more than $200 million in today’s dollars and even involved a revolving loan fund. The project was a bust and became the poster child for misbegotten pipe dreams with too much money and too little sense.

The Seward Grain Terminal made Valdez jealous, so it built its own terminal at a cost of $30 million, according to this story by Amanda Coyne.

Projects such as the Alaska Seafood International fish processing facility, and the Alaska Petrochemical Company were added to the list of public investment gone south.

Whenever the State of Alaska has tried to take over projects that belong in the private sector, proponents are seduced by the idea that if they just pour more money into it, a project will become viable.

bill and security
Gov. Walker

On top of that, the AK-LNG project has, as its champion, a man who is fundamentally obsessed, a leader who believes he has far superior skills and analytical abilities than the average citizen or captains of industry.

Gov. Bill Walker intends to spend the amount that is in our Alaska Permanent Fund to build a gasline for a market that does not exist, and that no one predicts will exist for perhaps 20 years.

As Andrew Jensen writes in the Alaska Journal of Commerce, “Walker’s Quixotic quest to build the gasline himself gives him a chance to be the state’s first living boondoggle.”

The only rational solution for the Legislature, at this juncture, may be to put the gasline corporation on ice. As in, pull the funding.