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Northern Gas Pipelines is your public service 1-stop-shop for Alaska and Canadian Arctic energy commentary, news, history, projects and people. It is informal and rich with new information, updated daily. Here is the most timely and complete Arctic gas pipeline and northern energy archive available anywhere—used by media, academia, government and industry officials throughout the world. Northern Gas Pipelines may be the oldest Alaska blog; we invite readers to suggest others existing before 2001.

 

Coastal Management

7-13-13 National Ocean Policy Council Update

13 July 2013 3:53am

Here is your important National Ocean Policy Council Monthly Report:

I. Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body Announces Public Webinar, Membership Roster
II. U.S. House Of Representatives Passes Two Bills With National Ocean Policy Provisions
III. Great Lakes Boating Magazine Addresses NOP, Calls NOPC “The Voice of Boaters”
IV. Petition Cites NOP As Justification For Protection Of 81 Species Under ESA
V. NRC Report Calls For National Sustainability Policy, Cites NOP As Model


I. Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body Announces Public Webinar, Membership Roster
 
In an email announcement, the federal, state, and tribal co-leads for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body (RPB) disclosed that the Mid-Atlantic RPB will hold a public webinar from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, August 1 to “provide an update about our progress and plans going forward, as well as future opportunities for public input.”  
 
Under the National Ocean Policy, the Mid-Atlantic RPB is tasked with developing a Coastal and Marine Spatial Plan for Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.  
 
The announcement states that “input during this webinar will help us plan for an inaugural, in-person public meeting in the fall of 2013.”  According to the email, since April, the RPB “has been developing operational and administrative processes, as well as identifying opportunities to engage stakeholders throughout the ocean planning process.” 
 
The announcement further notes that the RPB “will implement a transparent regional planning process and we welcome stakeholder collaboration and input,” and concludes by noting that the RPB “look[s] forward to working collaboratively to advance successful ocean planning in the Mid-Atlantic region.”
 
Additional information about the webinar, including the agenda and log-in details, will be available here in the coming weeks.
 
The Mid-Atlantic RPB has also released a membership roster.  The RPB includes 9 federal members (and 4 federal alternates) representing the following entities:
 
U.S. Navy (Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff);
U.S. Navy (DOD);
National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA);
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Interior Dept.);
Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (Energy Dept.);
Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA);
Maritime Administration (Transportation Dept.);
Environmental Protection Agency; and
U.S. Coast Guard (Homeland Security Dept.)
 
The RPB also includes 12 state members (2 each from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania), 6 state alternates, 1 Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council representative (who also represents Virginia), 1 tribal member, and 1 tribal alternate. 


II. U.S. House Of Representatives Passes Two Bills With National Ocean Policy Provisions
 
In a 227-198 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed H.R. 2609 (Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014), which would provide FY 2014 funding for federal entities including the Department of Energy (DOE) and Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). 
 
The legislation includes a provision that would prohibit funds appropriated under the bill from being used to implement the National Ocean Policy Executive Order.  This provision was incorporated through an amendment offered on the House Floor by Rep. Bill Flores that was agreed to by voice vote shortly before the overall bill was passed. 
 
DOE is a member of the National Ocean Council, and DOE officials have been identified to serve on Regional Planning Bodies tasked with developing Coastal and Marine Spatial Plans for regions including the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico.  USACE is also involved with Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning and participates in National Ocean Policy initiatives.
 
On Thursday, in a 216-208 vote the U.S. House of Representatives also passed H.R. 2642 (Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, also known as the “Farm Bill”).  This legislation includes a provision in Section 11326 that requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General to submit a report to Congress within 90 days detailing all USDA activities engaged in and resources expended in furtherance of the National Ocean Policy to date, as well as any FY 2014 budget requests that would be used to support National Ocean Policy implementation.
 
The provision also includes six findings, including the following:

  • “Despite repeated Congressional requests, the National Ocean Council, which is charged with overseeing implementation of the policy, has still not provided a complete accounting of Federal activities under the policy and resources expended and allocated in furtherance of implementation of the policy.”
  •  “The continued economic and budgetary challenges of the United States underscore the necessity for sound, transparent, and practical Federal policies

III. Great Lakes Boating Magazine Addresses NOP, Calls NOPC “The Voice of Boaters”
 
The August 2013 issue of Great Lakes Boating includes an editorial that addresses the National Ocean Policy and refers to the National Ocean Policy Coalition as “the voice of boaters.”
 
The editorial notes in particular that the National Ocean Policy “lacks input from the biggest users of the Great Lakes, recreational boaters and sportsfishermen,” and that “[t]he only organization speaking out for these users is the National Ocean Policy Coalition…, of which the Great Lakes Boating Federation is both a member and ardent supporter.”
 
Among other things, the editorial outlines concerns with the policy’s requirements to establish Regional Planning Bodies, develop a coastal and marine spatial plan for the Great Lakes, and institute ecosystem-based management.  
 
Writing that the policy could have a “serious impact” on Great Lakes recreational activities and that “users want to have a say in how it’s decided,” the editorial states that there are no means of providing advice to the National Ocean Council (NOC) because the only formal advisory body to the NOC (Ocean Research Advisory Panel) does not include Great Lakes representation. 
 
The editorial also says that the National Ocean Policy Final Implementation Plan does not adequately acknowledge the “economic engine” that is generated by Great Lakes recreational boating and fishing activities, and urges recreational boaters to contact federal, state, and local officials and communicate to them that “this new federal effort to manage, ‘protect,’ and zone the Great Lakes region is harmful to Great Lakes recreational interests, and that proceeding forward without them is simply not right or just.”


IV. Petition Cites NOP As Justification For Protection Of 81 Species Under ESA
 
WildEarth Guardians earlier this week announced the filing of a petition with theNational Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for the protection of 81 “imperiled” marine species and species subpopulations under the Endangered Species Act.  The announcement says that the petition is part of an effort to “jumpstart the protection of our oceans.”
 
WildEarth Guardians states that the IUCN findings represent “the best available science,” and that “[o]ur oceans and the species that call them home are facing unprecedented threats from fishing, ocean acidification, pollution from toxic runoff and dumping of waste at sea.”
 
The announcement also notes “[r]ecognizing the decline of ocean health,” the National Ocean Policy Executive Order was issued in July 2010 “requiring agencies, including NMFS, to ‘protect, maintain, and restore the health and biological diversity of ocean…ecosystems,’ and to ‘use the best available science and knowledge to inform decisions affecting the ocean.’”  The announcement states that the petition “seeks to compel NMFS to live up to this mandate.”
 
WildEarth Guardians General Council Jay Tuchton said that the Obama Administration “acknowledges our oceans’ health is rapidly declining, even issuing an executive order instructing all agencies to do all they can to protect the ocean.”  Tuchton adds that the petition “is an effort to press NMFS to take concrete action in keeping with the President’s direction,” and that if NMFS “won’t take action in situations as dire as those faced by these critically imperiled species, it signals the Agency doesn’t really want to do anything but talk about declining ocean health.”
 
Of the 81 species proposed for protection, according to information contained in the petition, the following four are known to occur in waters under U.S. jurisdiction, among other places.
 
In a section on “The Obama Administration’s Policy Of Increasing Protection Of Marine Environments,” the petition discusses findings in the 2010 Census of Marine Life, as well as the National Ocean Policy Executive Order.  Statements of note regarding the National Ocean Policy include the following:

  • The Secretary of Commerce “is required to abide by the policy set forth in this executive order, namely he or she must ‘protect, maintain, and restore the health and biological diversity of ocean…’ and to ‘use the best available science and knowledge to inform decisions affecting the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes, and enhance humanity’s capacity to understand, respond, and adapt to a changing global environment’”
  • “One clear way for the Secretary to comply with this obligation is to use his or her authority under the ESA to protect marine biodiversity”
  • “The dire threats to the health of the oceans and marine species are clearly understood by the President and those threats were included in the policy decisions that led to Executive Order 13,547”
  • The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force and President Obama through the Executive Order “have recognized the extreme threats to the ocean biodiversity and the need to combat those threats wherever they occur…the need to follow the ‘precautionary approach’ when dealing with threats to the oceans and the need to set a new course for improved stewardship of the ocean”
  • The Secretary “should follow this direction from the President by recognizing the weight of the science, listing the petitioned species and subpopulations under the ESA, and thus provide them with the protection that they need in order to stop their slide towards extinction”

V. NRC Report Calls For National Sustainability Policy, Cites NOP As Model
 
The National Research Council recently released a study on “Sustainability for the Nation: Resource Connection and Governance Linkages” that is intended to provide a framework for policymakers and regulators to assess the “consequences, tradeoffs, and synergies of policy issues involving a systems approach to long-term sustainability and decisions on sustainability-oriented programs.” 
 
Among other things, the study recommends the development of a National Sustainability Policy that provides clear guidance to executive agencies on addressing governance linkages on complex sustainability problems and informs national policy on sustainability.
 
The report specifically states that creating a National Sustainability Policy by Executive Order and incorporating an implementation framework would “substantially enhance the nation’s capacity to address many of the governance challenges” it faces.  It also says that it could “significantly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of complex initiatives involving multiple federal agencies, state, regional, and local governments, and non governmental stakeholders,” and would address environmental, economic, and societal issues and support human well-being.
 
The report cites several “models” for the development of a National Sustainability Policy, including the National Ocean Policy.  According to the report, the National Ocean Policy “speaks to the need for connections similar to those required for sustainability in that it establishes a national framework to address a cross-governance challenge, and then engages stakeholders in regular meetings and other interactions designed to stimulate cooperative action.”  It concludes that the National Ocean Policy is a “good model for addressing sustainability linkages.”
 
An event that will serve as the “launch” for this new report will take place from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm PST on Wednesday, July 24 at the University of California, Davis.  The event will also be accessible via webcast.  Webcast registration is available here.


 

National Ocean Policy Coalition Quick Links


National Ocean Policy Coalition Quick Links

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4-17-13 - More Evidence The Administration Usurps Congressional Authority

17 April 2013 8:15am

Calgary Herald by Sherri Zickefoose.  An anti-oil pipeline art show is being sent packing from City Hall’s atrium after officials yanked the group’s permit over price tags and politics.


Yesterday we editorialized on how the Administration's persistent effort to create a new ocean Drilling Permit Approval Delays, Federal Overreachzoning bureaucracy defies Congressional authority.  Over the last several years, we have documented many instances of this Administration's effort to overreach its authority and expand its jurisdiction and control over the American public.  One of the effects is to diminish jobs, economic recovery and tax/royalty revenue from domestic production on federal lands.  Below, we bring readers more contemporaneous examples of federal obstacles to reinvigorating America's economy.   We were worried yesterday that Congress fiddles while the Administration usurps its authority.  While we stand on that statement (i.e. wishing for a more robust effort to confront Constitutional violations), we do commend a couple of particularly courageous patriots (among a few others), who are trying to hold back the tide of federal overreach: Congressman Doc Hastings and Senator Lisa Murkowski.  -dh


Yesterday, HouseDoc Hastings, Chairman, House Resources, Washington, federal overreach, drilling delay Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (NGP Photo) said, “This final implementation plan raises more questions than answers and provides even less information on what the Obama Administration will impose under the guise of a National Ocean Policy. What is certain is that this policy represents a significant step towards the mandatory zoning of our oceans and is a backdoor attempt to control the way inland, coastal and ocean activities are managed. If implemented, it will inflict red tape and economic damage both onshore and offshore across a wide-range of activities including agriculture, fishing, construction, manufacturing, mining, oil and natural gas, and renewable energy.


Late yesterday we received this message from the National Ocean Policy Council.  We appreciate the diplomacy of their statement but believe that they and all Americans should be demanding that the President rescind the Ocean Zoning effort rather than simply reflecting their collective 'concerns'.  -dh  

NOPC said, "Following an initial review of the National Ocean Policy Final Implementation Plan released earlier today, significant questions and concerns remain about whether continued implementation of this initiative will adversely impact commercial and recreational activities across the United States."

Today, Hastings said, "Today we'll hear the story of two very different methods for energy production here in the United States.   (Photo-l)

The energy production that occurs on state and private lands, and the energy production that occurs on federal lands.  Energy production on state and private lands is flourishing - creating new jobs and thriving, healthy economies. These lands are the epicenter of the energy renaissance we're currently experiencing. On these lands oil and natural gas production has increased dramatically since 2007. The restrictions on these lands are not as onerous, and as a result, the average time to get a drilling permit approved is only 12 -15 days.

Contrast that with federal lands. There the average time to get a drilling permit approved is 307 days. That is nearly double the 154 days the process took in 2005. Regulatory hurdles, long delays, and policies that keep federal lands under lock-and-key have become all too common. As a result, federal oil and natural gas production has declined.

Yesterday, amid a Senate Energy Senator Lisa Murkowski, federal overreach, us forest service, multiple useCommittee hearing on the Forest Service's So-Called Multiple Use Mission and Budget, Senator Lisa Murkowski (NGP Photo) said, "“Our national forests are increasingly being managed like national parks – areas in which no timber harvesting is permitted,” Murkowski said. “The Forest Service must return to its multiple-use mission. The economic viability of hundreds of communities located next to national forests depends on the responsible production of our timber resources.” 
 Meanwhile, yesterday in Washington, the Administration took heat from another quarter, as Water Power Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock said: “The administration’s testimony makes it clear that we can expect ... increasingly severe government-induced shortages, higher and higher electricity and water prices, massive taxpayer subsidies to politically well-connected and favored industries, and a permanently declining quality of life for our children, who will be required to stretch and ration every drop of water and every watt of electricity in their bleak and dimly lit homes.  
 
“I believe that this Subcommittee will seek a different path," McClintock added, "one that leads to a new era of clean, cheap and abundant hydro-electricity; great new reservoirs to store water in wet years to assure abundance in dry ones; a future in which families can enjoy the prosperity that abundant water and electricity provides and the quality of life that comes from that prosperity.”

Two Visions of the Arctic

by

Mary Barr 

Former State Senator Drue Pearce sees the Arctic as an opportunity for growth and commerce.  The National Marine Fisheries Service (NFWS) sees the Arctic as a place to be protected, where development must be restricted, to preserve marine mammals and a subsistence lifestyle.  
 
Drue Pearce, Arctic Commission, EIS, Alaska, Federal Coordinator, Alaska State Senate President, Photo by Dave HarbourThese opposing opinions were both on display Thursday April 11th, when the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club hosted Drue Pearce (NGP Photo) as their luncheon speaker, and NOAA in the person of Jolie Harrison from National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) took public testimony on the supplemental draft EIS on the Effects Of Oil And Gas Activities In The Arctic.
 
The portion of the supplemental draft EIS being heard concerned the effect of noise pollution from seismic surveys and drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, on marine mammals and subsistence fishing.  The apparent conclusion was that any impact on marine mammals or their habitat must be negligible or mitigated. And any development must be strictly regulated.
 
In the opinion of Senator Pearce, the Arctic is an area of opportunity.  Fifteen years ago, Canada turned management of their federal lands over to the governing body of the Northwest Territories, a devolution as she termed it, and the NW Territories are beginning to experience a boom.  She stated that with the glut of oil and gas the lower 48 states are currently experiencing, Alaska cannot rely solely on our natural resources to see us into the future.  She urged us to see and to promote Alaska as the Gateway to the Arctic, to find a new path forward and to become more involved in the Arctic Council.

 

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8-30-12 Murkowski Lauds Feds For Shell Decision

30 August 2012 7:31am

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski's (NGP Photo) office this morning U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Shell Decision, BSEE, Chukchi, Beaufort, Arctic OCS, Photo by  released the following comment regarding a decision by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) to allow Shell to conduct preparatory work in the Chukchi Sea this summer.  “Today’s decision is a positive step that will allow Shell to begin necessary preparatory work, while maintaining the highest environmental standards to ensure the protection of the Arctic,” Murkowski said. “While we would all like to see a discovery this summer, the most important thing is for Shell to continue to make progress and demonstrate once again that Arctic drilling can be done safely.”  Thursday’s BSEE announcement will allow Shell to build a mudline cellar and install pre-drilling infrastructure in the Chukchi Sea before the Coast Guard gives final approval of its containment vessel.  “While many environmental activists continue to cast doubt on Arctic production, we know from experience that development can be carried out safely – more than 100 wells have been drilled in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas since the 1970s,” said Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  The Arctic waters off Alaska’s northern coast contain an Senator Mark Begich, Chukchi, Salazar, Shell approval, Photo by Dave Harbourestimated 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the federal government.     *      NGP received another statement from U.S. Senator Mark Begich (NGP Photo) this afternoon. -dh  "U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today released the following statement after Interior Sec. Ken Salazar announced a permit is being issued to Shell for limited preparatory activities in relation to the company’s exploration plan in the Chukchi Sea:  'I am pleased to see the Interior Department recognizes the importance of moving ahead with exploratory drilling this summer.  'Today’s decision shows flexibility while not sacrificing safety. This allows us to get one step closer to understanding and moving forward on the energy potential of the Arctic.'"


Calgary Herald, by James Wood.  Finance Minister Doug Horner said even with ongoing price volatility, the government's finances aren't about to run off the rails.


Commentary: Yesterday we commended two Legislators for consistently defending Alaska's constitution and natural resource economic base against federal overreach.  Most recently, they urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue a timely Record of Decision on the Point Thomson Project.  Today, we note that DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan (NGP Photo)  and North Slope Mayor Charlotte Brower dispatched a similar message, found in this letter, and released a memorandum of understanding encouraging inhanced collaboration between the State and Borough.  Cheers for all.  But the Point Thomson ball is still in the Feds' court and we harbor no illusions that the Corps' overlords will be more supportive now than in the past, in allowing just and reasonable adjudication of Alaska natural resource issues.   -dh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commentary (Note that we are always open to additions or corrections and rebuttals):

  • Today the Alaska Dispatch continued what can be expected (based on its commentary over the last year) to grow into its own media blitz against reform of Alaska's predatory oil and gas tax regime.
  • Yesterday, the Alaska Dispatch provided a news report/commentary piece covering results of a Coastal Management Ballot Initiative that could have dealt a mortal blow to natural resource development in Alaska, and ultimately to the State's economy.  Below is our review of that piece:
Commentary:  We have great admiration for the amazing progress and communication contributions of the Alaska Dispatch but grow more and more disappointed with its criticism of the way Alaska makes a living--resource development.  We would also prefer that news reports be objective and that editorials be separated from news reports and properly labeled--lest they be thought of a propagandistic.  
 
Yesterday's Alaska Dispatch report on Tuesday's election was thorough but somewhat one-sided and wandered from factual reporting to editorializing on behalf of what appeared to be its own special interest favorites.  
 
We have openly editorialized here about how yesterday's vote on Proposition 2 would challenge Alaska's Constitution by usurping roles of the Legislative and Administrative branches of government.  We have always tried to identify our opinion as commentary and never as factual reporting.  
 
The Dispatch writers first name major business supporters for defeat of Proposition 2 (as if they were demons), make short shrift of the special interests supporting the proposition -- and their consistently anti-resource development views -- then conclude, editorially, that "In the end, it would appear that the money may have won out."  
 
The editorial/news writers quote an environmental spokesman but not one representing the successful "No on 2" effort.  They conveniently ignore the history of the issue, namely that the a coastal management program passed the House with stunning bipartisan support, was stopped by the Senate and a new, unworkable version recreated in the form of Proposition 2 after the Legislature adjourned.  Finally, the editorial/news writers do not admit even the shred of possibility that the folks who voted 'No' (i.e. the majority) could have been persuaded by the merits and not by advertising money.   
 
We hope for consistency's -- if not integrity's -- sake that had the supporters of Proposition 2 won and raised more money than opponents, the Dispatch writers would have commented that the proposition won not on the merits, but because, 'it would appear that the money may have won out'.   -dh 
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