Frank Murkowski (R), Alaska's former U.S. Senator and first-term governor, recently lost his Republican primary race to Sarah Palin. Palin is the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. This November, Palin will face off against former governor and U.S. senator Tony Knowles (D). Murkowski will be leaving the state with many controversial environmental developments in stalemate. State and national environmental groups filed a lawsuit on 16 August 2006 against the state of Alaska over the "Road to Nowhere" proposed by Gov. Murkowski. The road would be built through a roadless area north of Juneau and end in a wilderness area. The lawsuit contends that road building plans do not account for sensitive wildlife areas such as bald eagle nesting sites. Both Palin and Knowles do not agree with Murkowski's aggressive transportation plans throughout the state, and would most likely halt construction of many planned roads/bridges.

Gov. Murkowski reinstated the controversial Aerial Wolf and Bear Gunning program to increase predator control throughout the state. On 24 August, Defenders of Wildlife and Alaska Wildlife Alliance filed suit against the State of Alaska for designing the aerial gunning program without "the sound use of science". Both Palin and Knowles are supportive of "the best available science" to addressing future predator-control issues in the state, but have been unclear as to how they would each proceed on the matter.

Murkowski's greatest legacy is a natural gas pipeline contract that would bring additional revenue to the state. The pipeline is still years from being built, but the pending contract gives sole priority to BP (British Petroleum), Exxon-Mobil, and Conoco-Philips. The state welcomes the pipeline contract, but many people feel the contract should be available to all potential bidders, not just the three large oil companies now present in the state. Given the recent oil spills reported by BP, people now question whether the pipeline would be safe if run by one of these companies. Both Palin and Knowles would like to refine the original contract to include a provision for open-bidding, so every interested company has an opportunity to compete for the pipeline contract.

 


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