2-23-15 We continue to wish Alaska's new governor well, but hope there's not a screw loose somewhere....
In tomorrow's posting, we'll explain why we struggle with the logic of recent public statements. -dh
Meanwhile, we urge our readers to carefully listen to Governor Bill Walker's words from his news conference last week.
Then, we suggest that our discerning readers fill in any blank spaces by absorbing Walker's message in his Saturday, Mat-Su Frontiersman Op-ed piece:
|From Sunday's Fairbanks News Miner comes this related Op-ed by Senate Resources Committee Chairman, Cathy Giessel (NGP Photo):
Walker sincerely shares the same goals as myself, my colleagues and the rest of the state: it’s high time we got our gas to market. But when it comes to how that goal is achieved, his proposed road is a funny one. (See Rhonda McBride's KTVA commentary below.)
The governor had originally on the campaign called the AK LNG Project fatally flawed, that Alaska didn’t have a big enough stake in the project. Then the governor said the backup plan was redundant, that money was being spent twice. Once in office, the governor removed three highly qualified members of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation board, and told his commissioners on the board to not sign confidentiality agreements, all in the name of transparency.
In contrast to the producer-driven AK LNG project, my intention is that ASAP be market-driven, with Alaska in control. Using existing funding, the project will explore market opportunities and financing arrangements with potential buyers of Alaska’s gas and will be designed for both in-state and export markets. Working with the buyers, the project will develop a financing plan anchored with long-term contracts for purchase of Alaska gas.
What it comes down to is this: we will work with the producers to continue to develop the AK LNG project. With ASAP, we will work with gas buyers to secure the opportunities the market offers. Whichever project is first to produce a solid plan, and conditions acceptable to the state, will get the state’s full support. Or, perhaps the two projects could be combined at some point along the way.
Given our financial situation, we can no longer afford to stand by and wait while Alaska’s future is decided in the boardrooms of international corporations that have competing global interests. (Also reference: FuelFix, Alaska Dispatch, Alaska Native News. -dh)
Governor’s actions on natural gas raise concerns for Republican majority
...the governor did an about-face on a project he had campaigned against — the Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline project, known as ASAP, or the “Small Line” — as opposed to the “Big Line,” the Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas project, which so far has been the main focus of getting North Slope gas to market for both in-state use and export.
2-20-15 Alaska Gasline Board Appointees AND More On Fairbanks Gas LNG/Transportation/Distrbution Project
Yesterday, Alaska Governor Bill Walker appointed three new board members to the AGDC (Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, aka. "ASAP").
Video: note sound volume low in beginning, becomes normal after a few minutes.
STATUS: Interior Energy Project (Government project to establish a new, natural gas LNG / transmission / distribution system for Fairbanks Alaska.)
Here is our "links page" to the IAP for quick reference.
On February 12 we had become confused about status of the multi-hundred million dollar government program to provide one Alaskan community with low cost energy.
Since a previous administration had tried and failed to make such a project financially feasible, we wondered how a different administration would use the same agency (AIDEA, Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority) to reinvent the project in a way that might serve the broad public interest.
We also include a reference to the regulatory docket, containing a full array of background information.
AGDC is the governmental corporation charged with building a small in-state gas pipeline down from the Alaska North Slope to South Central Alaska. It would serve consumers from the Interior community of Fairbanks to the largest population in the state, centered in Anchorage. The AGDC also serves as the state's representative to the larger, Alaska LNG project supported by TransCanada (i.e. of Keystone XL and Energy East fame), ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and BP. Most experts believe that only one of the projects will be built and that the AGDC project serves as a 'back up' project to serve consumers and provide smaller export volumes in case the larger project is never built.
The new AGDC board members replace three appointees of the previous Parnell administration whom Walker fired upon taking office.
During this video press conference, our readers will note that the qualification Walker most heavily counted on was the qualification of being an "Alaskan" (While the popular and provincial word, "Alaskan" refers to a fact of citizenship, it also connotes an emotional reference that, in this case, apparently substitutes for educational and professional credentials). This is an important reflection to investors, international trading entities and the federal government of the new governor's philosophy of governing.
Below is the text of yesterday's news release issued by legislative leaders whose original law created AGDC.
We will leave the video and press release record for our readers to digest. (Segments below, See the full release here....)
Thursday, February 19, 2015, Juneau, Alaska – House Speaker Mike Chenault (NGP Photo-R) and Representative Mike Hawker (NGP Photo-R-below), architects of the legislation creating the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, urged a diligent review of the qualifications of three new board members appointed today by Gov. Bill Walker. The three appointees are former state Senator Joe Paskvan, a Fairbanks lawyer; former state Senator Rick Halford of Dillingham, a retired pilot; and Hugh Short of Bethel, a businessman and former mayor.
“AGDC’s original board members, some with international pipeline expertise, were a tremendous asset to AGDC,” Hawker said. Along with directing the organization, the public members added value by serving on subcommittees along with AGDC staff on commercial, engineering, and governance topics.
AGDC is not the only state corporation/entity to require specialized expertise in board members. The Alaska Aerospace Corporation, Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, and Alaska Railroad Corporation statutes all require certain qualifications in board members.
In the case of AGDC, the presence of two cabinet-level commissioners on the board, not their designees, is designed to ensure the board as a whole considers the broader interests of the state and of all Alaskans in directing the organization.
The three fired AGDC board members were:
- Al Bolea of Big Lake, brought insights into governance and the oil and gas industry through his former roles as a BP executive; chairman of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, and CEO of Dubai Petroleum in the United Arab Emirates.
- Drue Pearce of Anchorage, brought a wealth of expertise in federal rules related to permitting, a deep history of Alaska oil and gas development, and a comprehensive understanding of Alaskans’ needs through her former roles as a state senator; the Department of Interior’s Alaska advisor; and the federal coordinator for Alaska natural gas transportation projects.
- Richard Rabinow, of Texas, brought decades of experience in major pipelines, through his former work as President and CEO of Longhorn Pipeline Partners; as President of Exxon Mobil Pipeline Company; chairman of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines; and membership on the TransAlaska Pipeline System Owners Committee. See the full release here....
Our Friday IEP Commentary:
On February 12 we had become confused about status of a revised, multi-hundred million dollar government program to provide one Alaskan community with "low cost energy".
Since a previous administration had tried and failed to make an Interior Energy Project (IEP) financially feasible (i.e. for the Interior Alaska community of Fairbanks), we wondered how a different administration would use the same agency (AIDEA, Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority) to reinvent the project in a way that might serve the broad public interest.
We were further confused about how the state could be considering such a huge new spending venture (i.e. even with funds obtained by an "Independent" public corporation of the state), when:
- it had already invested hundreds of millions of dollars into two gas pipeline projects that would flow gas right by the Fairbanks community, if built, and
- its operating budget, 90% dependent on Alaska North Slope (ANS) revenue was operating billions of dollars in the red, even before last year's 50% oil price drop, and
- its remaining savings accounts after this fiscal year will add up to approximately $9 billion, when the unfunded liability of the State's personnel retirement system is almost $10 billion, and
- when Alaska is the highest per capita debtor state in the nation, and
- Alaska is the highest per capita spending state in the nation, and
- the oil price drop is likely to guarantee a continued drop in ANS production upon which the state's government and economy are based.
Those realities pretty much beg for citizens to ask of their government, "Why are you undertaking any huge, new spending program -- no matter how well motivated it may be -- when the state simply cannot afford any new expenditures or risk?"
Since the logic defied our analysis, we sent questions to AIDEA. Some were admittedly better than others. As a former regulatory commissioner we posed some questions that may have been important, but without fully understanding all of the history and nuances. As a former oil industry executive and consultant to many of the large companies operating in the state, we asked several questions. And as a grandfather whose kids will end up inheriting the result of our state and national governmental decisions, we had questions, and still do, about the intergenerational equity of Alaska's rather cavalier, decades-old pattern of deficit spending.
So, please ignore the questions you find unhelpful and, please, feel free to send us your own questions which we will append to this commentary for reference of decision makers.
NGP February 12, 2015 Questions to AIDEA Below (slightly edited for this viewing) - AIDEA escaped answering our query and questions in this way
|Note: Yesterday we received a copy of Harvest Alaska's position, provided here for your review. Harvest seems relatively unconcerned about the transfer of LNG facilities directly to AIDEA, believing that AIDEA is bound by a sale and purchase agreement. Their greater concern probably rests with an Attorney General position to which the letter refers.|
2. Did the Administration ask AIDEA to change the focus from North Slope Gas to Cook Inlet gas? Does AIDEA believe Cook Inlet reserves -- as suggested in FNG's TA -- can now support both South Central Alaska and Interior demand? In the event that the new, Interior demand causes gas shortages or higher prices in South Central Alaska, is AIDEA comfortable with the obvious necessity of importing LNG (i.e. in the event a large ANS gas pipeline is delayed or found to be infeasible under prevailing market conditions)? How does AIDEA see the RCA process affecting its own project planning (i.e. the June 1 deadline for a final TA order)? Does AIDEA plan to involve Harvest Alaska in its planning process? Please explain.
|Since we are no longer privvy to the inner workings of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) we asked one of the most foremost regulatory attorneys for a quick summary and links. His response is here....|
4. While state statutes allow for 'self regulation' of a municipal utility, does AIDEA see any value in having a more objective third party like the RCA economically regulate the FNSB utility--other than a local elected officials and/or a board of political appointees?
13. Since GVEA will, hopefully, be a major base load customer, how has AIDEA addressed CEO Cory Borgeson's concern expressed in a Journal of Commerce interview that, "As to whether or not AIDEA should look to Cook Inlet for a gas supply, Borgeson said the low wholesale cost of North Slope gas is hard to overcome." Has AIDEA acted to respond to that concern?
RCA Re: IEP LNG Sale Process
Since we are no longer close to the RCA's regulatory process, we asked one of the state's best respected regulatory attorneys to summarize the regulatory aspects of a proposed sale of LNG assets to Harvest Alaska, a Hilcorp affiliate.
Docket U-15-002 is FNG’s application (through Tariff Advice Letter TA37-514) for approval of a LNG supply agreement (LSA) with Hilcorp’s subsidiary, Harvest Alaska. The LSA is conditional upon the AG’s approval and upon the closing of the sale of the Pt. MacKenzie liquefaction plant and related assets from Pentex (FNG’s parent company) and Titan (FNG’s sister company) to Harvest. Attached to this email is FNG’s TA and the RCA’s Order No. 1 opening the docket. The link to the RCA web site for Docket U-15-002 follows: http://rca.alaska.gov/RCAWeb/
The liquefaction plant was transferred last year from FNG to Titan for no consideration, and is now being transferred from Titan to Harvest for undisclosed consideration. FNG has not requested, nor has the RCA approved, the recent transfer of control of FNG, the transfer of the plant to Titan, or the transfer from Titan to Harvest.
AIDEA politely answered our query and questions this way:
Good Afternoon Dave,
Please see the attached public documents. These should answer your questions.
BP and Commonwealth North: Two economic reports offer "Good News for Alaska"
Commonwealth North hosted its 9th annual Alaska Assets Review on February 18. The program recognizes that as shareholders of “Alaska Inc.” the citizens of Alaska need to be informed about how the assets of their company are performing. This year Northrim Bank President and CEO Joe Beedle (NGP Photo-L) and former Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell (NGP Photo) presented the performance review. Read full report....
BP’s Annual Energy Outlook also appeared this week; it has become one of the most reliable sources on the topic of the future of energy. According to this new edition of the BP Energy Outlook 2035, global demand for energy is expected to rise by 37% from 2013 to 2035, or by an average of 1.4% a year. (Our continuing question is: with greater worldwide shale production will Alaska cultivate a competitive investment climate benefiting the marketing of its remote natural gas and oil reserves?"
Reader reaction to our Tuesday column, "If I were President....", from retired Executive Director of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, Bill Hopkins: "Dave Harbour for President! Love your executive agenda, Dave. GO, trooper!" Our readers will be relieved to know that we respectfully declined Bill's nomination. -dh
Alaska's Interior Energy Project (i.e. IEP, natural gas to Fairbanks area. Follow Legislative action.). Below we have the copy of an opinion expressed today by Ray Latchem, Alaska's longtime expert LNG entrepreneur. We believe the momentum behind Governor Bill Walker's (NGP Photo) revised IEP created during Governor Sean Parnell's (NGP Photo) administration is almost unstoppable at this point.
We do wish, however, that other creative ways of inducing the private sector to take on a similar project had not been so easily dismissed by decision makers. (See our IEP update page.) -dh
... consider adding an alternative move the governor could take that would achieve the goal of lowering energy prices in Fairbanks without costing the State a dime....
Instead of spending cash that's in short supply, make some Prudhoe Royalty gas that is abundantly available for free if someone will move it south to Fairbanks.
The Governor and legislature can do this without costing the State anything. This is how several Middle East LNG plants got started; the states made the gas available for cheap. It draws developers.
AIDEA has already spent the money to build the gravel pad for the LNG plant on the Slope. Let them contribute this to the effort. There are a couple of other improvements they could add to make it more attractive.
|Latchem raises a valid point; more demand and less supply results in higher prices. Note that South Central Alaska consumers have likely paid hundreds of millions more than necessary for Cook Inlet natural gas as the result of a short sighted and tragic 2006 decision by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska that rejected Henry Hub pricing as a basis for CI gas supply agreements. Alaska decision makers should put more emphasis on the counsel of experienced Alaskan energy players like Latchem. (Link to earlier Latchem correspondence re: IEP. -dh|
Another issue that needs discussion is Cook Inlet gas. It is trading at multiples of HH pricing. This actually costs South Central $MMs. Adding additional Interior energy loads to this market will only reinforce the gas pricing relative to competing oil, rather than gas on gas like HH. If the State encourages CI gas to go to the interior, they are in effect costing Anchorage a lot of money. When this becomes public in Anchorage, the notion of tapping Prudhoe gas for free to Fairbanks will be quite popular. Whisper this into the Governor's ear. Anybody doing anything with PB gas should be given a metal.
I didn't agree with SB23, but now that it passed and more than $15MM has been spent, they need to seek competitive bids to finish the supply chain. AIDEA should not own or operate the plant; leave that to those efficient private operators. They can provide low cost financing, the pad site, etc. things that will reduce the bid prices they receive.
The reason AIDEA should provide the financing is that none of the users in Fairbanks are willing to sign a take or pay agreement that ordinary lenders require to address the market risk associated with developing the LNG plant.
AIDEA's pad site could also host other gas development projects. Methanol production is only one. PB gas field is one of the few of its size that doesn't have a petrochemical complex.
It's time to unlock PB gas for something other than local consumption. Things happen very slowly with PB gas. It was first produced for field consumption about 1975. It took another 14 years before it was made available to Deadhorse next door. For 14 years Deadhorse ran on oil while atop 27 TCF of gas.
We put forth a plan that would have gotten PB gas to Fairbanks this year, but AIDEA selected a much larger but less experienced developer in what had to have been one of the most convoluted processes ever. The experiment failed. Now they should pick up the pieces and what's left of the money, get rid of the inexperienced consultants, ask experienced developers what type of structure would produce the most competitive price and move forward.
The solution is simple. Start with the cheapest wellhead gas price: free for so many years. This saves the Interior money and will limit the draw on the already over priced CI gas. So South Central benefits, too.
Next, use AIDEA's pad site they bought from us to be a host site for any small scale gas developments, starting with an LNG plant to supply the Interior.
I'm pretty sure the truckers don't want any help from the State, they will stand up for the opportunity to haul an extra 10 or more loads per day without any incentives. The State is providing them the road to run on, like it would provide the pad to the LNG developer.
FNG already is set up to receive LNG, but IGU and GVEA will need a receiving and storage site. GVEA purchased land in North Pole for this.
I could go on, but what's the point. Alaska still has a lot of money and the course is set to spend it. But I wonder, if (an economist) did a study that showed adding more captive demand to the CI gas supply resulted in every person in South Central paying $100 more than they would if there were fewer buyers in that market instead of more, that each of those people wouldn't prefer to tap PB gas instead.
Then (the economist) could study what happens when you actually do tap the gas like we did in 1989 when first gas was delivered to Deadhorse. Deadhorse has saved $MMs, cleaned up the air, etc. It was a completely private development.
Posted: 18 Feb 2015 06:24 PM PST
Commonwealth North hosted its 9th annual Alaska Assets Review on February 18. The program recognizes that as shareholders of “Alaska Inc.” the citizens of Alaska need to be informed about how the assets of their company are performing. This year Northrim Bank President and CEO Joe Beedle and former Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell presented the performance review.
A bit of a history lesson on the reason Alaska has the wealth of assets that it does. During the statehood debate, it was recognized that the state’s population would likely never have the critical mass to finance government through conventional means employed by other states, primarily per capita taxation. In recognition of the need for Alaska to have means to produce its own revenue, the state was granted 104 million acres of land and mineral rights to significant acreage on federal lands. From this, it was felt that Alaska could build and sustain an economy and pay for necessary government services. The annual program tracks the performance of Alaska’s assets, including natural resources, financial assets and enterprises.
The full report and presentation can be found at www.commonwealthnorth.org. A few highlights of the discussion are below.
Alaska's natural resources are abundant and a large part of Alaska's economy.
Financial assets are an important topic of discussion because of the budget issues being seen in Alaska.
The state’s enterprises are facing challenges, but are working to stay strong.
To wrap up, Alaska is challenged, but it is also well funded and well endowed. Many people are working on ways to find solutions to the state’s fiscal problems. Commonwealth North has produced a report for Alaska’s leadership. This report highlights some opportunities to work through the fiscal problems and ways to fix the budget gap. This report, Alaska’s Operating Budget: Critical Crossroads, Choices and Opportunities will be presented in Anchorage on February 25 at a lunch hosted by Commonwealth North.
Open Letter To Honorable Sally Jewell, Secretary Of Interior On Occasion Of Her Visit To Alaska
We keep hoping that the current Administration's agency appointees will place loyalty to the one appointing them secondary to the public interest and fidelity to the Constitution.
|Secretary Jewell: We especially commend for your reading the wise counsel Alaska North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower has offered to you and the Administration. Here is her February 10, 2015 Op-Ed piece in the Alaska Dispatch News. Here is a speech she gave during your Alaska tour -- just yesterday -- to the Alaska Federation of Natives that directly addresses you and your administration. -dh|
So far, we've been disappointed. Agencies have operated in lockstep with the Obama Administration's political agenda rather than what they should know to be the honest, logical, right thing to do on behalf of the national interest. (We would hope that DOI could learn to honestly respond to the public interest without having to be continually chastened by our representatives in the Congress.)
In these pages, we have carefully documented flagrant examples of federal overreach, violations of the rule of law and due process. We have illustrated the Administration's application of 'death by a thousand cuts'. We have analyzed the cumulative effect of the debilitating volume and number of federal regulations and anti-development rulings. We have shown how an insidious cabal has worked together against the public interest and witnessed political coordination between your Department and special interest parties.
Many of not most of these anti-public interest violations have occurred within the agencies and offices of the Department of Interior, but the pattern runs rampant in most if not all of the Departments and even 'independent agencies'.
Above, we have linked you to examples. Please go to the Pacific Legal Foundation's webpage to learn of other federal abuses of power. Free enterprises throughout America are suffering from an unrestrained imposition of federal power that decreases private sector productivity and freedoms while increasing proliferation of bureaucratic personnel and rules.
Below is an email we received from a pioneer Alaskan whose fortune and investment was wiped out by your Department. It is only one of many examples, as we have shown. Were you to express a little sympathy for Wally McGregor's plight at the hands of your predecessors, it wouldn't compensate him for his financial losses, but it might give him hope that perhaps help is on the way and that, perhaps, he has not also completely lost his faith in Constitutional protections.
We commend this and countless other Alaskan case histories and counsel to your consideration, not the least of which is Mayor Charlotte Brower's (Photo with publisher Dave Harbour) Op-ed piece that we covered yesterday. Please also read her speech, given yesterday, to the Alaska Federation of Natives-Kotzebue Retreat; it is directly related to your Department.
We wish for you to experience a safe and informative trip.
Below is Wally's email to a Northern Gas Pipelines reader and his painstakingly prepared case history of, "The Orange Hill Story".
Dave Harbour, Publisher, Northern Gas Pipelines
Email from Wally McGregor copied to Northern Gas Pipelines:
I have been on the front line of the opposition to the WAR ON PRIVATE PROPERTY since the passage of ANILCA in 1980 when our Orange Hill property, a “World Class Copper Deposit” was enclosed in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and the right to mine denied thereafter, as were your properties.
Over the course of the past 35 years, the National Park Service has refused to compensate for the Taking and has gone so far as to terminate a mineral appraisal, after the geologic data was disclosed to the appraiser.
As you are also aware, fighting for a Constitutional Right is enormously expensive in terms of both time and money, in my case, to no avail. To me, the Constitutional Fifth Amendment is nothing more than a piece of paper. The protection of private property rights is disregarded with impunity by the federal bureaucracy.
The attached copy of “AN UNAMBIGUOUS TAKING, THE ORANGE HILL STORY describes the ruthlessness and deviousness of the National Park management in its dealing with inholders on the issue of a private property rights.
Clearly, the disregard for private property rights is not confined to the National Park Service which imposes an enormous threat to the State of Alaska that is dependent upon its natural resources. Unless the threat is addressed and forthrightly dealt with there will be no incentive to invest in Alaska.
To me and my wife during our days of prospecting and exploration in the 60s and 70s, Alaska was ‘The Land Of Tomorrow’ The encroachment of the federal government has dimmed that concept of Alaska’s future.
Alaska Federation of Natives-Kotzebue Retreat
Remarks of NSB Mayor Charlotte E. Brower
Tuesday, February 17, 2015- 8:30 AM
Uvlaalluataq, [Acknowledge people in attendance]. It’s wonderful to be here in beautiful Kotzebue so close to where I was born and raised in Selawik. Quyanaqpak for privilege to speak to you this morning.
This past week the North Slope Borough was honored to host Kivgiq 2015. Thousands of our friends and neighbors from across Alaska, Canada and elsewhere gathered in Barrow to celebrate the messenger feast. Our theme was “kiikaa atautchikunsavaqatigiiksa- let us keep doing more together.” In many ways, this theme is reflective of the mission of AFN and I think it was especially befitting given the challenges that face Alaska Native people today.
Over the past month those of you that have been engaged in following the news have witnessed a firestorm of controversy surrounding recent decisions by the Obama Administration and the Department of the Interior relating to wilderness designations in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing areas, and development within the National Petroleum Reserve- Alaska. Those of us on the North Slope have been especially sensitive to these decisions as they have a direct impact on our people, economy and way of life. Accordingly, we have made our feelings known through press releases, opinion editorials, and other means.
But just as troubling to me as the consequences of these federal actions, are the rifts that are created between Alaska Native people who may be on different sides of the issues. We have witnessed many instances in which regions, communities and even families have been divided. And more than just being counter-productive, these divisions pose a direct threat to our people’s wellbeing.
One of the root causes of these conflicts is the strong influence that outside groups exert on Alaska Native people to further their agendas. As one example, we have witnessed numerous instances where eNGOs have entered our villages and have sought out disaffected community or tribal members who may share their ideologies and then use these same people to file lawsuits that serve their purposes. If that isn’t sufficient, these environmentalists may offer our people free trips to Washington, D.C. or other places where they can be used as props to parrot talking points and be held up to the media or the outside world in general as “Native leaders.” This is often done to undercut the messages of those of us who are actual leaders of our communities or to muddy the waters as to what are the actual thoughts and feelings of the majority of Native peoples on the issues that impact us.
Sometimes it’s our federal government that is contributing to the problem. We saw a manifestation of this during the EIS process for a proposed development project in the NPR-A, which is located near one of our villages. Despite the fact that the borough, the regional corporation, the village corporation, and the local municipal government all advocated for an alternative that they believed was the most environmentally responsible, the BLM chose its own preferred alternative which they attributed to the consultations they had with the local tribal organization. This created conflict in the impacted community and frustration for all of the entities that felt that their input was being ignored. Ultimately, BLM reversed itself and selected the alternative that the majority of our people supported. But the wounds still remain.
And there are times when we may contribute to this problem when we do not foster open lines of communication amongst our own organizations or between our neighbors and fellow Alaska Natives throughout the state. So the question may be asked- what can we do to avoid these types of divisions among us? I believe looking to our past can provide the answers for our futures.
The Inupiat have eked out an existence in some of the most inhospitable places on the Earth since the beginning of time. Our people’s survival rested on mutual cooperation and working together to overcome whatever challenges that Mother Nature could throw our way. As a testament to this legacy, our elders passed down to each generation a set of core values that were essential for our people’s survival- values that are still relevant to us today like respect for others, cooperation, and avoidance of conflict, just to name a few.
Those of us on the North Slope have recognized that our moments of greatest strength have come during the times when we stand unified as a people. We learned this lesson when we had to fight for our rights to the land that we have lived on since time immemorial during the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act negotiations or when we had to fight the federal government and the environmentalists for the right to conduct our subsistence hunts of the bowhead whale. We also know that given the challenges and obstacles that face us today, it is important for us to continue in this tradition of unity.
As a result, we held a series of meetings that included the leadership of the municipalities, Native corporations, and tribes, on the local and regional level, to discuss how we can better stand together and speak to important issues with one voice. The decision was made to form a non-profit organization called Voice of the Arctic Inupiat, or what we like to call the Inupiat Non Governmental Organization-iNGO. Our hope is that Voice of the Arctic Inupiat can provide a forum for the leadership of our local and regional tri-lateral groups to get together and discuss the issues that are impacting our communities and to come to consensus on the views that we express to the outside world. This will make it more difficult for the environmentalists, the government, or any other outside groups to divide our people and communities or to misrepresent the will of the Inupiat people on the North Slope.
On a larger scale, we hope that the Alaska Federation of Natives will work to foster dialogue between regions and Alaska Natives from across the state to make it more difficult for outside groups to cause divisions among us and to continue to promote mutual respect between people and regions so that we do not allow our own self-interests or ideologies to cause harm to others. All of us will be more effective in advocating for our own people if we stand united as one.
We would also like to challenge our federal government to rethink its concept of consultation- especially considering the unique attributes of Alaska. Alaska Native people are represented not just by tribal organizations, but also by municipal governments, and Native Corporations. Each one of these entities have unique and important perspectives on what is important for the tribal members, citizens, or shareholders that they represent. And while the legally-mandated government-to-government consultations between our federal government and tribes are important, communication and consultation with our municipal governments and Native Corporations are equally important for federal decision- makers to glean a true perspective of the needs of our people. We have seen far too many instances where the federal government has favored one group over another and this is why so many of us continue to complain about the federal government’s lack of consultation. Meaningful federal consultation must include all three entities and equal consideration must be afforded to each in order to truly understand the needs of the Alaska Native community.
A potential model for this type of consultation could be based off of the concept of the NPR-A Working Group, which was created by Secretary Salazar in the 2012 NPR-A EIS & IAP. The Working Group is comprised of representatives from municipal governments, tribes, and Native corporations and is supposed to serve as a forum for the BLM and local people to work together on land management issues that involve the NPR-A. While we still haven’t seen support for this group from the federal government materialize like we had hoped, we feel very strongly that this could be a powerful and effective tool to ensure more meaningful local input and better federal decision-making.
Without this kind of meaningful consultation, the types of federal actions we have seen of late where our potential for economic benefit is being limited will continue to viewed as paternalistic edicts from an aloof government far detached from the realities of our daily existence. And as a consequence, our self-sufficiency and quest for self-determination will be replaced by a complete dependence on the government.
Our federal government should also know that we notice it when eNGOs issue press releases touting federal actions minutes later, or in the case of the Record of Decision for the GMT-1 SEIS last week, sometimes even hours before the federal government publicly announces its own decisions. This type of collusion between our government and special interest groups does not give us confidence in the federal process and we take it as an insult when greenie groups know more about what the federal government is planning for our lands than we do. Even if we may disagree over an outcome, we deserve the respect of being consulted and informed before we read someone else’s press release.
But notwithstanding the challenges we face, we stand committed to our theme of “kiikaa atautchikunsavaqatigiiksa- let us keep doing more together”. By remembering the values of our past and by working with each other instead of against each other, we hope to create a legacy that we will be proud to pass down to our children and grandchildren. That is the essence of who we are as Alaska Native people. Quyanaqpak, Taikuu for the opportunity to speak to you!
|Personal: We join our Fairbanks friends in lamenting the passing of our dear friend, Bob Bettisworth. -dh|
As Interior Secretary Sally Jewell arrives in Alaska, North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower (NGP Photo) writes that ANWR, "...wilderness proponents ... completely ignore the plight of my people, the Iñupiat."
What Would You Do If You Were President?
On Sunday, Fox News interviewed one of the wisest combat leaders of the modern era, Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney, USAF-Retired (NGP Photo), co-author of Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the War on Terror.
In addition to his extensive combat service, McInerney served as commanding general of the Alaska Command and coordinated military efforts in support of the Exxon Valdez clean up activity. He and his tough combat team also kept a close eye and air interception assets trained on Russian bombers, continually testing Alaskan air space defenses.*
At conclusion of the Fox interview, He was asked what he would do in the face of ISIS aggression in the Middle East. With a steady, focused gaze on the interviewer, he delivered a brief, powerful and logical response. If McInerney’s words had come from the mouth of a president, all Americans would have cheered and felt a renewed sense of national pride in strong, reliable and wise presidential leadership.
Without detouring into a war policy discussion, we would paraphrase from the McInerney interview a question from the viewpoint of our energy audience: If you were president, how would you enable the U.S. to become energy independent? So we decided to have some fun today and perhaps render a national service at the same time.**
We will give our response below, then ask our U.S. readers (and Canadian or other foreign readers) for suggestions, additions and corrections, sent to this address.
Here we go:
“If I were president, I would enable the U.S. to become energy independent in these ways:”
- "I would approve the Keystone XL pipeline before going to bed tonight, based on earlier, plentiful recommendations of the Department of State; the 40 thousand jobs it will produce; the hundreds of millions of dollars it will provide to local, state and federal governments; the improved national defense capabilities created by greater energy and economic independence; and the benefits that will flow to our largest trading partner, Canada."
- "I would approve oil and gas exploration and development on a small sliver of land within the 19 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. That sliver is roughly the size of Dulles Airport within a land mass the size of the state of North Carolina – which itself is a small part of the entire state of Alaska. That land sliver has already been designated by Congress for oil and gas potential. I would approve it for mostly winter work when the migratory wildlife are not in the area."
- "I would open the entire National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to energy leasing subject to our customary stringent rules. I would not keep half of it locked up – and the other half choked with irresponsible regulatory barriers -- as the Obama administration has done."
- "I would ask of Alaska's Governor, 'We know the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) is now running at almost 3/4 empty. What can the Federal government do with its federal assets to keep TAPS operating sustainably, since for my administration this energy umbilical cord attaches the United States to the huge, future oil potential of the Arctic?'"
- "Since 3/4 of America's coastline surrounds Alaska, a state 20% the size of the entire nation and over twice as large as Texas, I would give Alaska's governor -- and Congressional Delegation -- an open invitation to suggest federal policies that improve Alaska's economy while protecting the environment and strengthening the entire nation."
- "I would massively restrict the size of many regulatory agencies, including the EPA, which has become a monster devouring the wealth of America without much to show for it -- except a ballooning bureaucracy and economic devastation wherever it rolls. I would tell the EPA it cannot preemptively disapprove projects, in violation of the rule of law. I would order the agency to lay off Hydraulic Fracturing and leave its regulation to the states, which have safely regulated it for decades."
- "I would immediately nullify Obama's overreaching and unlawful executive orders. The famous ones deal with exceptions to the Affordable Care Act and providing massive citizen benefits to illegal alien non-citizens, but also include illegal, non-Congressionally approved natural resource blocking proposals, like the Ocean Policy executive order."
- "I would work with Congress to eliminate the possibility of opaque 'sue and settle' litigation, which impoverishes the country one lawsuit at a time. I would coordinate with Congress other judicial branch reforms that would remove any financial incentives for filing frivolous environmental lawsuits that would delay or block jobs and reasonable economic development.”
- "I would form an American Energy Independence Presidential Task Force, to include a special sub-committee on Alaskan Arctic Energy and Military policies." The purpose of the Task Force would be:
- to provide the President and Congress with detailed suggestions on how America may develop a rational, long term, sustainable energy policy based upon energy self-sufficiency and support of the nation's defense.
- to assure that energy and military policy recommendations included defending and advocating for proper jurisdictional control of Arctic sea, sea bottom and trade routes.
- to complete its work within six months,
"I would ask Congress to support the resulting FINAL, sustainable energy policy of which I approve. ”
- “I would replace the White House Council on Environmental Quality with a new White House Council on Economic and Environmental Policy. Under my direct supervision, the Council will provide a steady stream of recommendations about how to reorganize Executive Branch agencies to best accommodate any FINAL, sustainable energy policy recommended by the American Energy Independence Presidential Task Force. In addition, an important role of the Council will be to review any new agency order, regulatory or statutory proposal that would affect the FINAL, sustainable energy policy adopted by the White House. Following review, the Council will make a recommendation to the President for further action. These sorts of action will include agency efforts to declare critical habitats or endangered species regulations under the ESA and similar exercises of agency powers under the CWA and CAA.”
- “I would ask the oil, gas and wind energy industries to nominate on- and off-shore areas for leasing and based on that input, as evaluated by the new White House Council on Economic and Environmental Policy, order expedited changes to the Department of Interior’s leasing programs.”
- "I would get rid of the crude oil export ban and do everything possible to arrange for U.S. energy exports to European nations dependent upon Russian energy imports."
- "I will tell our friends in the Middle East, especially the Saudis, that they cannot interfere in our domestic energy policy issues, nor can they any longer provide funding to enemies of the United States unless they are willing to lose American friendship, energy trade and military support.”
- "I will redouble efforts to coordinate energy and other international policies with our Canadian, Israeli, British, Australian and other allies."
- "I will put into place a 'US Task Force for Latin American Energy, Economic and Cultural Independence', and spend significant personal time with the Secretary of State, coordinating cooperative energy, economic development, immigration and regional defense policies with the presidents of the countries in our own hemisphere."
- "America will once again speak softly but carry a big stick. We will state our position on energy and other multilateral issues. We will clearly state the result of accommodating or opposing our reasonable requests. Based on reactions, we shall respond decisively. Our negotiations with countries that have proven to be unreliable negotiating partners in the past shall not be extended. We expect results and we will act as promised. We will never draw red lines in the sand and not enforce our positions; neither will we ever leave any American citizen, federal employee or military member to the enemy's wrath without maximum effort to save that person or those persons. Every policy we undertake will be designed to be fair, reasonable, just and serious. We shall not bargain for energy industry or other hostages but will rain negative actions on those who hold, take, threaten, mistreat or kill hostages.”
For starters, that's what we'd do for energy were we president.
Oh, and we'd make sure to always keep the good counsel of competent Americans like LTG McInerney very close to us.
Unlike certain unsavory White House guests entertained by the previous administration, I would hope to have distinguished Americans like McInerney, Franklin Graham, Greta Van Susteren, Steve Forbes, Harris Faulkner, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Alveda King, as regular visitors to the Oval Office.
(Now, Dear Reader, let's have your additions, corrections or suggestions! -dh)
*Your author had the honor of serving on LTG McInerney's Civilian Advisory Board over 2 decades ago with great friends and important figures in Alaskan history like Governor Walter J. Hickel, Publisher Bob Atwood, aviation pioneer Bill Brooks, and community leaders Sharon Anderson, Ernie Hall and Al Fleetwood.
**We would also like to ask: "What else would you do if you were President, to secure the country’s future?" The imagination rings with the President's other executive actions, EPA overreach, Fast and Furious, Federal suing of sovereign states, IRS illegal targeting, media spying, etc., but will leave that exercise to our non-energy colleagues.)
Robert Dillon of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee writes today about Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's Alaska visit.
He comments that Jewell,"is in Anchorage today preparing to host a press conference in a couple of hours on her trip to the Arctic communities of Kotzebue and Kivalina. While the secretary will undoubtedly focus her remarks on climate, I wanted to share the opinion piece below from North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower (NGP Photo). Ms. Brower, an Inupiaq Eskimo from Barrow, provides a unique counterpoint to Secretary Jewell’s efforts to lock up Alaska as if it was one big national park. Ms. Brower writes about the prosperity and economic opportunity that responsible oil production has brought to some of Alaska’s most remote communities and how this administration’s policies are endangering the future Alaskans are attempting to build for their children. -Dillon
ANWR worshippers fail to consider the Iñupiat (AK Dispatch/Opinion)
The Iñupiat Eskimo lived on Alaska’s North Slope for countless generations -- unknown to the outside world. Our culture, social structure and our survival depended on our ability to utilize the abundant resources that bless our region.
Over time, we found our lifestyle threatened when the thirst for resources drove others to our corner of globe, first for whales and later for oil.
Today, we are under assault by people who seek another resource -- wilderness. And just like those who came before them, they threaten the health of our communities, our culture and our way of life. President Obama’s announcement to seek wilderness designations throughout the entire Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, represents the latest salvo by the powerful environmental lobby to obtain their El Dorado. Read the rest of the Op-Ed here....
Charlotte Brower is mayor of the North Slope Borough.
The Alaska LNG Project provided draft environmental and socioeconomic reports to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is responsible for conducting the environmental review of the project. www.ferc.gov.
US/Canadian Pipelines And A Call For Market Freedom
Free enterprise, like water, always seeks a way out of containment in a natural quest for liberation.
In recent months, we have reported extensively on President Obama's improper (i.e. and totally rational, if one is a no growth advocate) blocking of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline.
|Town Hall Op-ed by David Holt (NGP Photo), President, Consumer Energy Alliance.
In less than a decade, the one-time feeble U.S. energy sector has accomplished a record-breaking 180-degree turnaround thanks to advancements in new technologies. In fact, at the current rate, the nation is likely to hit production marks not seen since the 1970s.
As such, we now live in a more energy self-sufficient nation, one that is inching closer every day to energy independence.
(We might add to Holt's commentary that the rapid growth of the U.S. toward energy independence is largely the result of exploration and production on private lands. The federal government, as we have demonstrated in these pages, has seemingly done everything possible to block oil, gas, coal and mining activity on private as well as federal lands. -dh)
That project would grant Alberta's oil sands crude oil transit into the free market and provide tens of thousands of jobs in the bargain.
In Canada, political forces in Eastern provinces are attempting to block TransCanada's Energy East project -- another way to liberate oil sands crude.
Canadian officials led by Alberta Premier Jim Prentice (NGP Photo) are putting up a valiant fight against both Canadian and American, political, pipeline roadblocks.
Alaskans are understandably interested in TransCanada's fortunes because the company is a major player in the effort to liberate Alaska North Slope gas -- in today's low oil & gas price market -- by transporting it via pipeline and LNG tankers to Asian markets.
(Meanwhile, some Alaska politicians are seeking to force -- through loans and subsidies -- a gas distribution system into existence whether the underlying feasibility is solid or squishy. But we digress....)
With all the head winds Alberta oil sands crude faces, it is still desperately seeking freedom.
Yesterday, we reminded readers of a concept we reported on two years ago: freeing Alberta crude via shipment through an Alaskan port--in absence of the most obvious transportation routes and modes.
Today, we see Northwest Territories (NWT) Premier Bob McLeod (NGP Photo) is renewing his desire to see Alberta crude head North, rather than South or West, to find freedom via Arctic transport into the world market.
All of this market chatter should convince other elected leaders (i.e. as it has convinced the more enlightened Premiers of NWT and Alberta) that if they truly wish their economies to be strong and if they wish to see jobs created -- other than legions of government employed bureaucrats and regulators that ultimately burden a country -- they should quit trying to contain, delay and over regulate the free market.
If politicians simply can't resist the attraction of manipulating the free market, let them provide incentives to enable its success -- not tons of new regulations and restrictions that limit market freedom.
If our leaders don't begin to respect the wasted resource of a dammed up market, they can expect to see the free market trying to invent more and more ways of liberating natural resources, even though the resulting project(s):
- may be less profitable,
- provide fewer jobs,
- contribute fewer national and local taxes, and
- be much delayed and possibly abandoned or left in a state of bankruptcy.
Holt Op-ed here, and below:
Even Amidst Low Oil Prices, Staying the Course Will Ultimately Benefit Consumers, Producers
2/11/2015 12:01:00 AM - David Holt
In less than a decade, the one-time feeble U.S. energy sector has accomplished a record-breaking 180-degree turnaround thanks to advancements in new technologies. In fact, at the current rate, the nation is likely to hit production marks not seen since the 1970s.
As such, we now live in a more energy self-sufficient nation, one that is inching closer every day to energy independence. While we utilize roughly 25 percent of the world’s oil on a daily basis, about 40 percent of the petroleum we consume is imported, down from 60 percent not too long ago.
Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) has advocated for years that if the U.S. continues to develop and explore new energy opportunities in economically and environmentally friendly ways, production would not only escalate, but the economy would also strengthen, as would job growth. Most important, consumers would keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets – and much of that has indeed unfolded.
With oil prices hovering around the $50 mark recently, gas prices have plunged, much to the delight of motorists. Lower oil prices have also been a welcome sigh of relief for other parts of the economy, because when American consumers spend less filling their tanks, they spend more elsewhere, like dining out, shopping, and going on vacations that were once on hold.
But we also know that our emergence in the shale industry has had massive geopolitical consequences. The reduction in the cost of oil is not just an American phenomenon – it’s a worldwide event. Prices are down around the globe for an assortment of reasons – reduced demand and increased supply top the list – and the U.S. fracking as played a large role in this pendulum swing, upping supply and lowering prices.
It has certainly rocked the boat at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which has seen its influence on the global oil marketplace weaken dramatically. For the first time in decades, the whims of the OPEC oil cartel are of little consequence to Americans. In response, OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, decided late last year not to cut production, keeping prices low. Their thinking is this: Since shale production – which has grown to 4 million barrels a day – is more costly than regular extraction, keeping oil prices low will eventually drive out U.S. shale producers.
It’s a strategic – and expensive – attempt by the Saudis and OPEC to reclaim its market share from the U.S. Saudi Arabia is willing will have its first budget deficit since 2011 and the largest in its history. The billions the kingdom has in reserve are expected to help ease the burden of this short-term pain.
This means that the U.S., even in the face of low crude prices, must continue it years-long winning streak in the global energy sector by diversifying their energy resources and increasing, not decreasing, access to natural resources. While we also start expanding market opportunities for those resources.
Make no mistake: Numerous onshore and offshore resources remain untapped, like an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Arctic waters off Alaska. These resources, and countless more, could heat every home in America for more than 30 years. It would also generate billions in additional revenue, create jobs nationwide, and reduce costs for households across the country.
What goes down must come back up, oil prices included. While crude prices have fallen more than 50 percent since June, causing many American producers to second guess their plans to drill and explore additional resources onshore and off, the drop is temporarily, as prices are still expected to rise later this year.
When they do, we need to make sure that our energy policies and markets are still at the head of the line worldwide, just as they are today. By staying the course and continuing to promote an all of the above energy approach in the U.S., we can help to support the nation’s future economic growth, job creation, self-sufficiency, and national security.