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Sarah Palin emails: State redacts emails concerning oil leases

“Privileged or Personal Material Redacted.” Those are the words atop several blank pages in email exchanges from Dec. 27, 2007, concerning an oil field in Alaska that then-Gov. Sarah Palin wanted to see developed.

The redaction suggests that Alaska officials have been leaning heavily on their right to prohibit the public from seeing emails on certain sensitive topics.

The exchanges concern a proposed news release on the Point Thomson energy and gas field -- and the governor’s suggested changes to the release.

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Although the release is redacted, it probably concerned efforts by the state to push energy companies to drill on Point Thomson, an oil and natural gas field on Alaska’s northeastern slope. Exxon Mobil and other companies had leased the field decades earlier but had not begun exploration.

On Dec. 27, news reports in the Alaska media said the Palin administration was threatening to withdraw leases unless the firms became active. Critics had complained at the time that Exxon Mobil and other companies were holding the leases as investments rather than developing them, and providing income to the state and impetus for energy pipeline development.

Under Palin and her predecessor, former Gov. Frank Murkowski, the state threatened to revoke the leases unless the oil companies became active. By the end of Palin’s term, Exxon had begun work on two exploration sites within the field.

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