Lest We Forget....
ADN/AP by Dan Joling. Royal Dutch Shell halted drilling in the Chukchi Sea on Monday -- one day after it began -- because of sea ice moving toward the company's drill ship off Alaska. Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith (NPG Photo) said drilling was stopped as a precautionary measure in accordance with its ice management plan.
Governor to Sign Legacy Well Resolution Wednesday. Governor Sean Parnell is scheduled to sign House Joint Resolution 29, the NPR-A Legacy Wells resolution this Wednesday morning in Anchorage. HJR 29 urges the federal Bureau of Land Management to live up to its mission statement and clean up more than a hundred petroleum wells drilled by the federal government in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Some wells are actually leaking natural gas and the drill sites are covered with trash that can damage the arctic environment. The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Charisse Millett during the 2012 legislative session and was passed unanimously by the house and senate. Millett also testified to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this summer to try and bring national attention to the problem and to get BLM to finally put an aggressive remediation plan in place.
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 10, 2012 - For the third time during the Obama Administration, gasoline prices are closing in on a national average of $4.00 per gallon, although many across the country are already paying much more. Since President Obama took office, gasoline prices have more than doubled from $1.84 per gallon to a painful $3.90 per gallon as of September 10, 2012.
Feds say Chukchi Approval is part of their, "...all-of-the-above energy strategy to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production. ... Under the permit..., Shell will be allowed to begin certain preparatory activities in the Chukchi Sea that will increase overall safety." BSEE inspectors will be present on the Noble Discoverer to provide continuous oversight and monitoring of all approved activities. BSEE safety experts have already conducted thorough and comprehensive inspections of the drillship and Shell’s response equipment. (ADN Story Here).
Many Current Events Are Connected In Ways That Affect Economies and Energy Investments In Arctic Alaska and Canada
Current Event #1, Beringia Agreement. We wrote about this issue on Friday (Scroll down or click here). We have remained concerned over the weekend that our Federal government will announce what one news organization referred to as a 'low level agreement' between Russia and the United States that would, "unite protected federal lands," in the two countries. Our concern arises from lack of transparency in the process. What does the draft agreement say? How would it affect future natural resource policy in the area (i.e. Red Dog Mine, Chukchi and Beaufort Exploration)? Why does the U.S. Senate not have a copy of this draft? Does the Senate or does it not plan to vote to ratify the agreement which is truly a treaty no matter how one parses it--not just a "low level agreement"? Having spoken with Alaska Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, we know of his long-held hopes of improving cooperation between the nations. We also know from the letter sent Friday that Governor Sean Parnell (NGP Photo) is concerned about the precise direction this international treaty could take and how it might hurt job creation and other Arctic development. We hope that Alaska's Congressional Delegation is alert to this issue and continues to be concerned about and fighting against the depth and breadth and frequency of federal overreach exhibited by this Administration.
Current Event #2. The 17th Annual meeting of the Russian American Pacific Partnership (RAPP) will convene in Tacoma a little over a week from now, September 19-20 in Tacoma. Among expected participants are our own Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell. We see no indication that the formal agenda includes the Beringia issue. However, one cannot but surmise that one of the self-imposed pressures for the Obama Administration to complete the Russian agreement this week could be its desire to announce the news next week in Tacoma.
Current Event #3, Federal Overreach. Senator Lisa Murkowski has raised awareness of this Administration's overreaching authority in this video. Alaska and Russia share the Arctic with their neighbors and have families that straddle the border (i.e. a term we borrow from a good friend). Many feel strongly that the Beringia Heritage program benefits all participants. But the Presidents of America and Russia are working quietly on this 'agreement' that neither Alaska's Governor nor Congress will likely see before it is consummated. This may be the way business is done in Russia, but it is an alien way of conducting the public's business in America. This flagrant end-run around Congress and Alaska's Governor is but the latest example of Federal overreach that challenges Constitutional authority. (We have begun counting the ways the feds have overreached their authority).
Current Event #4, Arctic Jurisdiction and Sovereignty. Three years ago, the U.S. Coast Guard and a whole flotilla of well-heeled federal agency department heads descended on Anchorage. The flotilla wasn't here to plan Alaska's defense or assert Arctic Sovereignty. It was the new, "Ocean Policy Task Force". Members were here on a non-Congressionally approved or funded trip to hold a hearing on the President's executive order requiring the creation of a new "Ocean Policy". The new regulatory regime would, in effect, establish a huge new bureaucracy to zone and control ocean use, including all of the watersheds flowing into the oceans and their adjacent lands--in effect, the whole country. Thus, the new bureaucracy would duplicate and overlap and overlay most or many other regulatory regimes currently in existence--an extreme environmentalist's fantasy world. We editorialized then that while our leaders were attempting to establish new controls over American commerce and human behavior, the Canadian leadership was at the same moment in the Arctic defending its jurisdiction there. America's naive and inexperienced leaders are not keeping their eyes on the ball. They are consumed day and night with shutting down free enterprise and resource development as their Russian and Canadian counterparts are carefully moving their Arctic chessboard pieces into place. Our competitor-neighbors are preparing to assert control over the most promising new energy province in the world. As Nero was said to have fiddled while Rome burned, so might it be remembered that Barack and Hillary danced and dithered about Beringia as America lost control of its own Arctic frontier. (See how Canada is forging ahead in its conquest of Arctic sovereignty. *** Canada Yahoo. Prime Minister Stephen Harper will visit Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunivat and northern Manitoba this week for his seventh northern tour. The annual tour has become a key part of Harper government's foreign policy — Harper uses it to assert Canadian presence in the area. Buoyed by the region's potential natural resource riches, Russia, the United States, and the EU are all in disagreement with Canada on Arctic boundaries, and particularly about control of the Northwest Passage — a water route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. While the Harper government doesn't foresee a military threat in the Arctic , they have made it clear that 'Arctic sovereignty' would be a focus of their government.
ADN by Lisa Demer. "Today marks the culmination of Shell's six-year effort to explore for potentially significant oil and gas reserves, which are believed to lie under Alaska's Outer Continental Shelf," the company said in a statement. ... "Happy, happy, happy," said Pete Slaiby (NGP Photo), Shell's vice president for Alaska. He gave a series of interviews Saturday to reporters from around the country following Shell's difficulties and progress. "This is such a big deal," he said. "It is opening up potentially a new chapter in Alaska's oil and gas story."
Bureaucrats Plan to Execute the Beringia Treaty This Month Without Senate Ratification As the Congress Ignores Another Erosion of Its Constitutional Responsibility
According to our reliable Wikipedia source, "A treaty is an express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an international agreement, protocol, covenant, convention or exchange of letters, among other terms. Regardless of terminology, all of these forms of agreements are, under international law, equally considered treaties and the rules are the same." Properly following the treaty process is part of America's adherence to the "rule of law".
The United States Park Service, an arm of Secretary Ken Salazar's Department of Interior (DOI), is being employed -- along with Secretary Hillary Clinton's State Department -- to create additional use restrictions in the Arctic via an illegal international treaty that Russian and Obama Administration officials may approve as soon as this month.
|Map Source Here|
Alaska's Lieutenant Governor, Mead Treadwell, and various non-profits have attended Bringia meetings, so the idea of the U.S. and Russia doing something to honor their historical and geographical relationship in the ancient "Asia-Alaska Land Bridge" area is not new. And, we are aware that Treadwell has also kept a wary eye on the whole proceeding, alert to Alaska and U.S. interests. But, to date, the public has not seen a copy of a pending agreement and the U.S. Senate is not preparing for ratification--even though "...the issue is a priority at the highest levels."
Our reliable source again notes that, "In the US, the treaty power is a coordinated effort between the Executive branch and the Senate. The President may form and negotiate a treaty, but the treaty must be advised and consented to by a two-thirds vote in the Senate." An administration that does not observe the rule of law applying to treaty ratification acts illegally and debases America's rule of law.
We have documented herein how DOI and sister agencies have expertly executed President Obama's restrictive environmental agenda of closing public lands to multiple use, closing natural resource access to public lands, blocking access to lawfully issued natural resource leases using regulatory, legal and political obstructionist techniques.
The Beringia agreement -- while begun under earlier Administrations -- is yet another layer of regulatory malaise this Administration will employ to smother the economic and job recovery of America. It will violate our treaty ratification process and set America up via Park Service and/or State Department rules to enforce American compliance while the Russians may or may not be willing now and in the future to help enforce treaty provisions on their side of the fence. It will very comfortably augment the current Administration's effort to impose further restrictions on ANWR and NPR-A, to establish critical habitat for species whose numbers are growing and to create a new omnibus zoning plan for restricting access to and use of oceans surrounding America--and the watersheads feeding the oceans.
We wonder just what blocked access to natural resources, ocean transport limitations, or emasculated national defense capabilities to which this Administration might be committing America. It's all in the hands of these unelected bureaucrats, guided by Salazar and Clinton at Obama's direction with advice and consent -- we can be confident -- from a few, well connected, special interest, environmental allies which together make up the Government-Enviroextremist Cabal.
Shame on Congress in general and the Senate leadership in particular for letting this matter move so far ahead, so far under their radar! Where are the press conferences? Where in the Congressional Record is news or the language of this proposed treaty? Where is a well publicized hearing schedule to attract comment on the treaty language? Could this agreement affect existing jobs and/or operations (i.e. Red Dog mine)? As the Administration seeks to block access through NPR-A for a Chukchi and/or Beaufort Sea oil pipeline is it now planning to block the ability to move any discovered oil by ocean transport? Why didn't the State Department seek the State of Alaska's formal advice and consent?
A saving grace may be in the form of a rumor we hear that Russian governmental and Yupik leaders along with some Alaska Natives, Alaska's state government and others are 'pushing back' on the Beringia treaty. But with or without Congressional approval or budgetary support, Secretary Salazar's Park Service and Secretary Clinton's State Department are spending agency time and money trying to accomplish the Beringia goal before the end of this month, before the national elections in November.
We hope wiser minds will mobilize and stop this newest Administration assault on the State of Alaska, on national security and sovereignty, on the U.S. economy, on the freedom of Americans, on the treaty ratification process and on the reputation of America's "rule of law".
ADN by Lisa Demer. A Norwegian oil and gas company is delaying plans to explore for oil offshore in the Alaska Arctic until at least 2015 because of concerns about regulatory challenges faced by rival and sometimes partner Shell Oil Co., according to a company spokesman. The decision by Statoil came in August, before federal regulators decided to allow Shell to drill in the Chukchi Sea, but that development doesn't change things, said Jim Schwartz, a Houston-based spokesman for Statoil. "The bottom line is, in light of the significant uncertainty regarding Alaska offshore exploration, we've decided to take what we believe is a prudent step of observing the outcome of Shell's efforts before finalizing our own exploration decision time frame," Schwartz said.
Calgary Herald by Dan Healing. CALGARY - The first carbon capture and storage facility attached to an Alberta oilsands operation has be Sanctioning of the $1.35-billion project announced Wednesday also saves Alberta and federal governments the embarrassment they suffered after TransAlta Corp. and its parters decided in April to abandon the $1.4-billion Pioneer CCS project on economic grounds despite nearly $800 million in taxpayer support. “We want to show and demonstrate environmental leadership in the oilsands,” John Abbott, Shell executive vice-president of heavy oil, told reporters after the announcement at the Telus Spark science centre in Calgary.
Alaska Dispatch by Laurel Andrews. An agreement between Russia and the United States, expected to be reached by the end of the week, would create a common protected area in the Beringia region, where Native people share familial ties, hunting quotas and a common language. Federal officials at high levels of government hope these common roots can strengthen the overall relationship between the two countries. Beringia is the area where the land bridge connecting what is now Siberia and Alaska existed 10,000 to 25,000 years ago. (Note: we will have more to say about this later. -dh)
We are sad to report Anchorage power outages resulting from 100mph winds. We will upload new reports when possible.
Thank you for your patience....
Calgary Herald by Shiela Pratt. After a bumpy ride this summer, Enbridge will face a tough grilling this week on its $6 billion Northern Gateway project as public hearings enter their final phase in which interveners can challenge the company’s evidence. Enbridge will square off with unions and First Nations while big oilsands players, including MEG Energy, Cenovus, Suncor, Nexen and Total appear in a joint witness panel. The Alberta government is also prepared to appear for the “questioning” phase of the federal Joint Review Panel hearings to examine the economic benefits of the proposed $6-billion pipeline project to carry Alberta bitumen to Kitimat on the coast of British Columbia for export to China. Critics like the Alberta Federation of Labour will argue Canada’s refining industry will shrink — with a loss of 8,000 jobs expected — if the pipeline project goes ahead and diverts bitumen feedstock to China. Opponents will also argue there is plenty of room in existing pipelines to handle growing bitumen exports. Enbridge, however, is “ very confident” going into the hearings as it will finally have a chance to respond to critics, says spokesperson Ivan Giesbrecht, noting the company will speak Tuesday.
Calgary Herald by Kelly Cryderman. Even if oil and gas markets jump upwards this year, Finance Minister Doug Horner said the province must still grapple with the predicament of how to cash in on higher world oil prices for Alberta’s bargain-basement bitumen. One day after projecting a daunting deficit as high as $3 billion this year, Horner said the price differential Alberta producers receive for their oil is not going to shrink as fast as commodity markets could rise in the coming months.
ADN by Sean Cockerham. The Obama administration has cleared another hurdle for Shell to drill in Alaska's Arctic waters -- the second in as many days -- changing the company's air pollution limits so its drill ship can operate in the Chukchi Sea. Shell told the Environmental Protection Agency in June that the company was able to meet overall air quality standards. But it said a set of generators on the drilling rig Noble Discoverer fell short of the specific requirements for nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions. The EPA now has agreed to allow the drill ship to go ahead and operate in Arctic waters while the agency decides how to handle Shell's request for a revised permit. Shell praised the decision Friday as a reasonable accommodation that will let it get to work while still limiting its emissions. (Commentary: We have testified to the EPA that, "There are several score if not hundreds of requirements in rejection after rejection. I submit to you that most normal Americans would read your many, many, many seemingly picky reasons for rejection and say to you in a big voice, 'Can you possibly be serious?' "One asks, 'Isn’t this entire process discriminating, picky, harassing and endangering our country’s national defense and economic survival?' "Today you are seeking comment on Shell’s Air Quality Permit Application for the Chukchi operations of the Frontier Discoverer and I am sure you are getting plenty of support for delay from certain anti-domestic energy advocates. But I would ask any member of the public who hears me to consider the cumulative effect of what you and your comrades in other departments are accomplishing....")