ExxonMobil joins TransCanada in Alaska gas pipeline project

The massive fallout over Dave Lecherman has all but obscured some other important news concerning Alaska’s governor.

TransCanada, the company chosen to manage Alaska’s natural gas pipeline project to bring the clean-burning fuel from the North Slope to the lower 48, has concluded an agreement with ExxonMobil to cooperate on the endeavor. With ExxonMobil now on board, it’s a big positive for Gov. Palin.

She has been taking considerable flak in Alaska from both the right and the left over what her critics have charged has been a lack of progress on the project. Just last week, U.S. Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat, grandstanded on the issue, only to be shot down by two of the governor’s commissioners. On the Republican side, former GOP governor Frank Murkowski, who suffered a humiliating defeat to Palin in the 2006 gubernatorial primary, had an op-ed published in the Fairbanks News-Miner June 3 in which he alleged that the gas pipeline project was “in limbo.” News of today’s agreement is a significant plus for Gov. Palin, who has made the massive endeavor a signature effort of her administration. Government and industry leaders have been trying for more than 30 years to make the pipeline a reality, but Sarah Palin is the first one who can claim to have made signigicant progress on the issue.

Some early reaction to the cooperative agreement reached by TransCanada and its new partner ExxonMobil from Gov. Sarah Palin, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Sen. Murkowski, Rep. Young and Sen. Begich here.

TransCanada’s press release is here, in PDF format. The governor’s news release is here, and a photo from the meeting in Dallas is here.

The announcement boosted ExxonMobil shares up 59 cents to $74.43 on the New York Stock Exchange, while TransCanada shares rose 75 Canadian cents to C$33.75 in Toronto.

Update: The take on this by The Anchoress is a must-read.

– JP