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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.

 

Commentary

4-15-14 Alaskanomics

15 April 2014 7:38am

 

Joe Balash, Natural Resources, Commissioner, Alaska, ACES, AGIA, Palin, Photo by Dave HarbourKTUU.  In this year’s legislative push to approve an all-Alaska natural gas pipeline, the driving force has been state Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Balash (NGP Photo).

"It's kind of like a big boulder," Balash said. "Once you get it moving, you want to keep it moving."

Alaska Economic Update: Interest Rates, by Katie Bender.  As readers review this, consider the effect of interest rate increases on Alaska state budget debt, on the cost of debt to fund state projects and on the effect of higher interest rates on the metrics of capital purchases for a gas pipeline, a bridge or a hydroelectric dam -- and on future inflation.  -dh

...since the end of 2012 interest rates for all maturities longer than one year have risen.  The 10 year bond is highlighted.  It rose 1.26% in 2013.  Expectations are for rates to continue to rise as the Fed tapers it’s purchasing of longer maturity bonds and mortgage backed securities now that the unemployment rate has hit their target goal of 7%.  At 6.5% they have signaled that they would start pushing the overnight Fed Funds rate up, which would create separation on the left side of the graph.  It has remained at the historically low 0% - 0.25% target rate since December of 2008.  This is unprecedented accommodative monetary policy for an extended period of time.  It is likely that any rate Fed Funds rate increase would come at a slow and measured pace.

Interest Rates Graph

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4-11-14 LNG Jobs For Alaskans In BC?

10 April 2014 5:39pm

Joe Beedle, Northrim, Alaska, Economics, Oil and Gas, Dena'ina, Photo by Dave HarbourNorthrim Bank and its President, Joseph Beedle (NGP Photo), hosted a packed house economic briefing yesterday at the Dena'ina Convention Center in Anchorage featuring Economists Mark Edwards and Bill Conerly.  We'll have more for readers by Monday.  -dh

Opportunity For Alaskans In Canada?

Petroleum News: British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, supported by a delegation of top cabinet ministers and petroleum leaders, has persuaded the Canadian government to declare that the LNG sector is a potential “nation-builder” which could create 100,000 jobs.

Although the accord signed in Ottawa earlier in April is non-binding, it includes a commitment to promote the active use of temporary foreign workers, TFW, which could ease one of the deepest concerns among investors in the industry.

 


CBC News.  Comment: The Northwest Territories government hopes to bury a high speed, 1,100 km fiber-optic cable from Fort Simpson to Inuvik.  

It proposes using the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline route and much of the pipeline filing data to justify a light, environmental review.

What is the practical difference between cleared rights of way, using the same real estate, for a buried gas pipeline or fiber cable?  We are sure that this question will arise during the permitting process and that the answer will not be very satisfying to Inuvik citizens, small businesses and aboriginal corporations that, for two generations, fought for and failed to have approved the routing for a Mackenzie Valley Gas Pipeline.  

Countless hopes, dreams, and lives of every NWT and YT resident were affected by the loss of the pipelines' opportunities--one way or another.  

Hopefully, an easier permitting process awaits a buried cable using the same right of way.

Perhaps the lessons of gas pipeline failure and fiber-optic cable success will not be lost on more logical, future decision makers.  -dh

The Publisher and the Professor Opine: You Decide!

SitNews, Ketchikan Alaska. Reprint of Dave Harbour's editorial, "Does Alaska's Pension Liability Threaten Gas Pipeline Viability?"  (Original here).  See reader comment and our response below:


Reader Comment:  A highly accomplished university professor, a friend for over 20 years, sent this comment in response to the above editorial on Alaska's underfunded pension program, which we are delighted to bring to you below, along with a response.

Dave: As usual a sound analysis of the underfunded pension liability.  

However, I read that you suggest that we return various spending or taxing to the Median levels of other states.  That point is where 50% of the states would lie above and 50% below.  

Would those states above the median in spending and taxing be obviously thwarting business growth and profit?  I doubt it.  

Stability is probably the key in my mind.  Also, corporate America charges us more or it cost us more to acquire those goods and services.  Kids who depend of “welfare” to eat, go to school on a bus, or get health care don’t eat 50% of the meal, ride halfway there or only get kinda well.  And if our “bureaucracy” is more expensive, I am not surprised.  

I wonder if you checked to see how much higher engineers, doctors, accountants, oil execs, etc. earn compared to those in “median states”.  I suspect they would howl in indignation if you suggested that they all get less.

But your analysis of the problems created by the underfunded pension liability is well stated and I wish we had more leaders in our legislature who understood the realities of our financial system as well as you.

Professor B.

(Note: I don’t think we pay our bureaucracy enough.  We ask someone making $100k to negotiate with and regulate industries and executives making millions, with staffers and lawyers making outrageous salaries as well.  And maybe if we paid the Legislators more, we could find some independent minds who could work in everyone’s best interest, including the oil industry.)


 

Harbour's response to the Good Professor's comment above.

We appreciate the good professor's two observations: his compliment for our view on the underfunded pension liability of the state; and, his thoughtful comment on why the remedies to Alaska's unsustainable budget which we offered are, in his opinion, wrong.

This is why we followed our recommendations for solving Alaska's fiscal challenges, with the further acknowledgement that, "Of course, there are as many suggestions as there are people with opinions."

Professor B. did not offer his own suggestions for solving Alaska's fiscal challenges; he only attacked our recommendations.

His further comment was that Alaska should spend more money on executive salaries so that those who "negotiate with and regulate" industry could, presumably, more ably do so.

The beauty of a oil & gas lease sale is that the private market produces for Alaska the highest value for a natural resource that the market will pay.  The highest.  

Most of our current investment climate problems occur as a result of changing the rules of the game for investors after a lease sale has taken place.  Politicians are tempted to greed once they see that an investor is profiting from a lease sale bid that he had first put at risk.  They are tempted to relieve the investor of the profit "reward" earned by the lease sale investment, subsequent exploration, capital investment and development (i.e. because the investor is 'greedy, makes outrageous salaries, etc.').  The point of investor success is where the good Professor would hire high priced bureaucrats to extract even more from investors than their own due diligence had determined valid at the time of the lease sale.

This is why we have always held that Alaska should spend within its means -- so that the temptation to change the rules for investors is not exacerbated by a desperate need for cash to cover undisciplined spending. 

If Alaska, as we have editorialized, becomes a state where "a deal is a deal", then decision makers will spend and tax with prudence and restraint.  Life will be simpler.  The need to demonize investors will diminish as will the temptation to discriminate against them.  Since lawmakers won't tolerate rule changes after investor commitments have been made, there will be no need for a new cadre of highly compensated bureaucrats to "negotiate and regulate" in ways that extract more from investors than they themselves thought prudent when investment decisions were made.

The good professor argues for 'stability' for government beneficiaries.  While beneficiaries of taxpayers (i.e. including educators) will always want the guarantee of stable taxpayer income, it is easy to forget that those who risk their own money tend to invest more and more confidently when they work in a 'stable' tax and regulatory climate.  

We appreciate reader comments, especially from those who are highly educated and thoughtful about the issues -- and, especially when they disagree with us.  It gives us a chance to reevaluate our own logic and conclusions.

In this case, we emerge from the additional thought and dialog more convinced than ever that Alaska's real secret to a bountiful future is learning to treat investors as we wish to be treated when we are considering a personal investment.

Hold a lease sale for natural resources to VOLUNTARILY extract the highest value from investors that a competitive bidding process will yield.  Then, try to MINIMALLY interfere with -- and even safeguard -- the metrics upon which an investor based the lease sale bid, for the life of the project.

It is the Golden Rule applied in a different way than we normally do ... but the principle is the same.  And it is that principle that will most likely lead to sufficient investor confidence for a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline investment to be made.

That is why, for years, industry has told the state and its residents that big investments require assurance of "Fiscal Clarity".

Rejection of the Golden Rule of treating others as we would wish to be treated can only lead to a life of misery and greed...and a lower likelihood of significant investments.  

Can anyone dispute that this enduring principle applies to states as well as it does to families and individuals?  -dh

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4-10-14 Hostility Toward Alaska's Major Investors

10 April 2014 2:40am

COMMENTARY: "Alaska Should Never Become Like Hostile Argentina!

In this video of yesterday's Senate Resources Committee meeting a minority senator (i.e. Hollis French {NGP Hollis French, Senator, Alaska, Photo by Dave HarbourPhoto} of Anchorage) proposes that witnesses be required to testify under oath.  This unprecedented (or at least rare) action is sure to further convince investors that Alaska is a risky place to do business.  Some might say, "Well, we have the statutory right to interview witnesses under oath."  Our concern with that clever response is, "Fine, then why not interview all witnesses under oath?  Why just interview major investors under oath; why not interview major beneficiaries of state spending to testify under oath?"  In short, treating the oil industry witnesses differently than education, union, health care, municipal and non profit witnesses contributes to an atmosphere of hostility and discriminatory treatment.  Hostility toward investors cannot encourage investment.  The only question is how much damage such hostility will reap on investment decisions.  The answer to that question, unfortunately, is that we will never know how it would have been the other way.  We do know that after Cathy Giessel, Senate Resources Committee, Alaska, oil, Photo by Dave Harbourone Alaskan investor's experience in Argentina, investors will be all the more wary now about hostile rhetoric that always precedes increases in tax and regulatory burdens -- and even expropriation of property.  We compliment Committee Chair Cathy Giessel (NGP Photo) on her smooth handling of a difficult situation.  -dh


Globe & Mail by Jeffrey Jones.  CALGARY'S STRONG ENERGY SECTOR!

Washington Times / AP by Becky Bohrer.  The House Rules Committee on Tuesday advanced legislation that would allow out-of-state residents to serve on the board of directors of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.


Office of the Alaska Gas Pipeline Federal Coordinator, by Bill White.  (Comment: An analysis issued yesterday that could bode well for an Alaska gas pipeline/LNG project -- if the state of Alaska can convince investors of its new-found reliability as a stable fiscal regime.  -dh)

Anxiety is rising in the liquefied natural gas business over the slow rollout of North American LNG export projects. Anxiety about supply. Anxiety about pricing.

The worry was simmering at the big Gastech Conference & Exhibition held March 24-27 in Goyang, South Korea, as LNG buyers and sellers fretted that the world's constrained supply could last beyond the next few years.

"Despite all the rhetoric and hubris that our industry generated, LNG will be shorter for longer than most people are imagining," said Martin Houston, a recently retired chief operating officer of the U.K.'s BG Group, a global LNG supplier.

More....

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4-8-14 What Do Underfunded Pensions Have To Do With An Alaska Gas Pipeline?

08 April 2014 9:07am

Remember this announcement, 5 years ago today?  ANCHORAGE, April 8, 2008 - BP [NYSE: BP] and ConocoPhillips [NYSE: COP] today announced they have combined resources to start Denali - The Alaska Gas Pipeline. The pipeline will move approximately four billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to markets, and will be the largest private sector construction project ever built in North America. The project combines the financial strength, arctic experience and technical resources of two of the most capable and experienced companies in the world.


Globe & Mail.  The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported last week that Canadian oil exports to the United States are the highest in at least four decades. 

Today, CongressmanDoc Hastings, ESA, Photo by Dave Harbour Doc Hastings' (NGP Photo) House Natural Resources Committee held a Full Committee legislative hearing on four straightforward bills to update the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the 21st century and improve species recovery.   This effort works in the favor of Alaska's and America's economy without diminishing reasonable support for protecting truly endangered species.  -dh


Does Alaska's Pension Liability Threaten Gas Pipeline Viability?

(See SitNews Ketchikan Reprint)

by

Dave Harbour

Alaska spends more than it takes in.  To that extent must investors worry about when -- and not if -- the next tax proposal will creep over the horizon toward THEM.  

Below is the link to an Op-Ed wherein mayors (i.e. whose own retirements are at risk with underfunded pension liabilities) urge lawmakers to support the Governor's proposal to reduce the $12 billion unfunded pension liability by $3 billion.

Bill Corbus, Juneau, State Spending, Mine, Electric Utility, Photo by Dave HarbourToday's Juneau Empire Op-Ed.  See long-time Alaskan utility and natural resource expert, Bill Corbus' (NGP Photo) related opinion.  -dh

To do that, lawmakers will have to remove $3 billion from state savings accounts at a time when their deficit spending level requires use of depleting savings.

Oil production from Prudhoe Bay is declining, upon which 90% of state spending is based.  Oil revenue could continue its dramatic, annual production decline putting more reliance on savings accounts to balance an unsustainable state budget.

See Alyeska Pipeline Service Company President Tom Barrett, Alyeska Pipeline, oil, taxes, production, TAPS, Photo by Dave HarbourTom Barrett's (NGP photo) response to yesterday's Alaska state revenue forecast.  We believe that better than projected production decline rates are due to the passage a year ago of SB 21, which reformed Alaska's oil production tax.  -dh

Paying off the entire pension liability is impossible since Alaska doesn't have $12 billion in total savings available.  (4-10-14 Note: See "Understanding Alaska's Budget".  Some might say we have over $20 billion in savings available; but since political reality prevents expenditure of most of these sources for "government pension fund liabilities," they should not all be considered available.) 

Gas pipeline investors have to be wondering, "If I commit to a portion of a $40 - 60 billion gas pipeline/LNG export project and the state continues running out of money, how safe is my investment from predatory tax policy?"

Alaska has a track record of taxing for more than it needs to operate and, to add insult to injury, taxing the oil industry retroactively.  It has built the highest cost per capita bureaucracy in the nation.  Now, in the face of rising costs and diminished revenues it is urging oil companies to invest in a mega gas pipeline project so that revenue from that project a decade from now can fund the state's spending appetite.

Link to our reports and commentary on LNG competition, here.

Energy advisor, Keith Kohl, says in his communique today that, " Like us, Canada's National Energy Board has approved seven LNG export license applications — but unlike us, the first project slated to start tapping the Asian LNG markets as early as next year."

Meanwhile, dozens of pending LNG export projects in the the US and Canada are all romancing the same Asian energy consumers.  Experienced observers know that profit margins will likely be thinner than they hope for.  Asian utility managers are not stupid.  They will want the lowest possible "ship or pay" cost for LNG energy in return for their own "take or pay", long-term financial commitments.  (Some good, Lower 48 researchers are excited about Alaska's prospects, but may not be fully aware of investor concerns or competitive pressures from other export projects that we have covered in these pages.  -dh)

The LNG project that offers the lowest, competitive price to an Asian utility in return for a 20-year, firm contract, cannot afford to risk company solvency on "assurances" that Alaska will not create new energy taxes out of thin air and even apply them retroactively--thus altering project metrics and risk.  The risk that the contracted delivery price of LNG to an Asian market could be lower than the cost of delivering the LNG -- under a "ship or pay" arrangement, may be an unacceptable risk to a responsible investor.

So the final question that any gas pipeline investor might be asking now is, "Can Alaska assure my company that today's gas pipeline investment is safe from future tax increases when unfunded pension liabilities, run-away budgets and diminishing oil production pose a dreadful danger in spite of Joe Griffith, In-state gas, gas pipeline, electric utility, MEA, CEA, Photo by Dave Harbour, ANGDA, CWNany politician's soothing assurances and best intentions?"  

As our friend, utility manager Joe Griffith (NGP Photo), has often said, "Hope is not a strategy."  We all hope for conditions that will enable sustainable budgets and projects to supply both the jobs and the financial resources of the future.  But hope alone will not achieve that goal.  

What then is an answer to this Gordian knot of intertwining politics and energy policy?  Cut public spending to be consistent with income.  Cut welfare/entitlement spending to be consistent with median welfare spending of all other states.  Business taxes should not exceed median of business taxes in other states.  Institute new taxes only on new investment, not on prior investment.  Never tax retroactively.  Cut tax and regulatory burdens to essential and responsible needs.  Avoid state investment into private sector projects--which always involves politicians risking "Other Peoples' Money".  Of course, there are as many suggestions as there are people with opinions.

So is some combination of these and other responsible remedies too difficult?  

If workable solutions are "too difficult" they will not be undertaken and undisciplined, unsustainable economic policies will ultimately result in involuntary compliance with economic realities.

Parents warn children that this is called, "learning the hard way".            

   


​Fairbanks News Miner, by Mayors John Eberhart, Luke Hopkins and Bryce Ward​.  

Gov. Sean Parnell’s budget includes a $3 billion line item to reduce the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and Teachers Retirement System (TRS) unfunded liability, which is about $12 billion. The mayors of Alaska, through the Alaska Conference of Mayors and the Alaska Municipal League, fully support the governor’s initiative to stop the can from being kicked down the road.

The state has attempted to make inroads in regard to this huge liability, but so far hasn’t had success. Every year the deficit has increased. The governor has stepped forward to address this issue in a responsible way.


Comment: Yesterday, April 7, 2014 the Alaska Department of Revenue issued its Spring 2014 Revenue Forecast.  We believe it provides a brighter outlook for a future, sustainable economy, if decision makers continue to support the sort of tax reform to which the increased production may be Tom Barrett, Alyeska Pipeline, TAPS, state revenue forecast, alaska, throughput, tax policy, Photo by Dave Harbourlargely attributed.  But for future years, a sustainable economy based almost entirely on the back of one industry needs serious, objective attention and problem solving.

Note that the forecast includes improved North Slope production and projects a lower decline than has been anticipated.   The following is from the office of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company President Tom Barrett (NGP Photo).  -dh

Barrett issued the following statement this morning:

“The Department of Revenue’s forecast is great news for TAPS.  This much needed upward shift in throughput is critical, because moving less oil through TAPS creates significant challenges for the men and women who work to keep the pipeline operating safely and reliably. Every barrel in TAPS counts and the prospect of thousands of additional barrels moving down the line is welcome news.” 

“We understand that Alaska depends on us to safely deliver the oil that funds so many state services.  That’s why Alyeska and the TAPS Owners have aggressively pursued solutions to declining flow.  But, as I have often said, ‘the best and most direct solution for TAPS is more oil.’”

“I applaud the Governor and the Legislature for fostering an environment that encourages more development.  The forecast reflects that the investments being made by the producers should pay off soon for Alaska.  That’s good news for TAPS and for everyone in the state.”

More information about the challenges of declining throughput is available at http://www.alyeska-pipe.com/TAPS/PipelineOperations/LowFlowOperations

About Alyeska Pipeline

For more than 36 years, Alyeska has operated the 800-mile Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), safely moving oil from Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope of Alaska south to the Port of Valdez, the northernmost ice-free port in the United States. The pipeline traverses three mountain ranges, permafrost regions and 34 major rivers and streams. Alyeska personnel work in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Valdez and at pump stations and response facilities all along the pipeline. They also operate the Ship Escort/Response Vessel System (SERVS) for Prince William Sound. Alyeska was created to construct, operate, and maintain TAPS for owner companies which today are BP Pipelines (Alaska), ConocoPhillips Transportation Alaska, ExxonMobil Pipeline Company and Unocal Pipeline Company

For more information, visit http://www.alyeska-pipe.com or follow Alyeska on Facebook or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AlyeskaPipeline

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4-7-14

07 April 2014 10:21am

WILD CANADA: This spectacular four-part series on the wildlife and the wild lands of Canada reveals a Canada that few have seen before. 


This morning, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (NGP Photo) ...Lisa Murkowski, Pebble, rule of law, Rio Tinto, Northern Dynasty, Photo by Dave Harbour

Rebecca Logan, SB 21, Senate Resources, Alaska oil taxes, Photo by Dave Harbour, Alaska Support Industry AllianceThis afternoon at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, readers may watch a legislative hearing (i.e. live streaming) in Juneau before the Senate Resources Committee.  One of the Doug Smith, Little Red Services, SB 21, oil taxes, Alaska investment climate, Photo by Dave Harbouritems heard will be "Updates From The Field", including testimony concerning Alaska's tax and investment climate by Alaska Support Industry Alliance representatives, Rebecca Logan and Doug Smith (See photos). 

 ... commented on Rio Tinto's divestment of its interest in the Pebble Partnership.  

Her position is consistent with the view we have expressed over that last two years that EPA's potential, preemptive action is a gross violation of the rule of law and creates a dangerous precedent for any oil and gas, mining, commercial fishing, agricultural, construction or other public works project.

*   *   *

Here is Governor Sean Parnell's statement, released Sean Parnell, Rio Tinto, Northern Dynasty, Pebble, Rule of Law, preemptive, EPA, Photo by Dave Harbourearly this afternoon:  Governor Sean Parnell (NGP Photo) today released the following statement after learning of Rio Tinto’s decision to divest its 19 percent ownership stake in Northern Dynasty Minerals and the Pebble copper and gold project.  “It’s disheartening to see a company like Rio Tinto take its business elsewhere as a result of the current federal regulatory environment,” Governor Parnell said. “Even more troubling is the EPA’s efforts to preemptively veto a project before any proposal has been submitted and before a public permitting process has even commenced. Mining provides thousands of jobs for Alaskans and is a critical sector of our state’s economy. Looking ahead, for Alaska to compete globally for investment dollars, it will require a fairer and more stable regulatory process than what the federal government currently pursues.”

*     *     *    

The EPA's unrelenting ardor is aptly demonstrated by Administrator McCarthy's speech tonight to the US Water Alliance in Washington, National Geographic Headquarters Grosvenor Auditorium, 6 p.m.  She will discuss EPA’s continued efforts to "safeguard our waterways" (if not our economy -dh), including the Agency’s recent landmark proposal to clarify protections for the nation’s streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.  -dh


Peninsula Clarion/AP by Becky Bohrer.   The House Resources Committee version of a bill to advance a major liquefied natural gas project was starting to take shape Saturday, as members dug into a thick stack of proposed changes.  The committee, with a reputation for finely parsing language, was making slow but steady progress in an amendment process that began Friday. The panel planned to resume work Sunday, after making a slight dent in the stack after hours of meeting Saturday.


From Robert Dillon, Senate Energy Committee Staff.  The U.S. Energy Information Administration today released the first part of its Annual Energy Outlook for 2014. Under the EIA’s high-resource case for U.S. oil production – that is, a scenario where oil production sees sustained production increases over the next 25 years – net imports drop to zero:

“In the High Oil and Gas Resource case, growth in tight oil production continues for a longer period of time than projected in the Reference case. Domestic crude oil production increases to nearly 13 MMbbl/d before 2035 in the High Oil and Gas Resource case, and net U.S. oil imports decline through 2036 and remain at or near zero from 2037 through 2040.” – EIA.gov/forecasts.


U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today released the following statement on Rio Tinto’s decision to divest its 19-percent shareholder interest in Northern Dynasty Minerals and the Pebble gold, copper, and molybdenum prospect in Southwest Alaska:

“I appreciate the way Rio Tinto is handling this decision. Instead of simply divesting, it has committed to investing in the education of Bristol Bay’s next generation. This will help ensure that local residents have the skills to get or create the kind of jobs that will allow them to provide for their families.

“I understand that many mining companies are reevaluating their project portfolios right now, but I’m concerned by what else may have prompted this decision. If we want to attract investment to our state and our economy, we need a regulatory system at the federal level that is predictable enough to allow responsible development to go forward – at least to the permitting stage, and without the threat of a preemptive veto from the EPA hanging over it."  

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3-25-14 A Frontal Attack On States' Rights

26 March 2014 6:03am

OP-Ed by Joseph Cafariello.  The EU’s 28 member states have mandated that the European Commission come up with a plan within three months to outline ways in which Europe can satisfy its energy needs without continued reliance on Russia.  (Energy Nation says, "Tell Congress To Increase LNG Exports"; Photo: Map of Ukraine gas pipelines bringing gas from Russia to the EU states.)


U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, yesterday called the proposed EPA wetlands rule unfair, unwise and unnecessary.’  (Murkowski also opposes EPA rule.)
Lisa Murkowsk, LNG Exports, Photo by Dave HarbourU.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (NGP Photo), yesterday called on the Obama administration to expand U.S. energy exports and unshackle the nation’s energy policies to spur economic activity and improve its geopolitical standing.​
Obama Administration selective enforcement of wildlife laws re: Energy.  Hearing today.  See letter.

Comment: A careful reading of this "Monuments" Op-Ed analysis -- released today -- would lead one to believe that Alaska is the poster child for massive federal government land ownership.  We believe this analysis demonstrates why the huge monument designations in the state should be found to be illegal.

Proclaiming vast land areas in Alaska to have massive restrictions under the Antiquities Act has removed multiple use and access to millions of acres that do not conform to the "historical" and "cultural" guidelines by which they were designated.  

Lastly, the Alaska Statehood Act was based in large measure on Alaskans' ability to make a living from the natural resources of the state.  While this concept referred more specifically to the 104.5 million acres specifically allocated to the state, Alaskans had traditionally survived and subsisted in part on use of what were, following statehood, multiple use federal lands.  

To, thus, restrict land access and use in the 49th state and elsewhere by presidential fiat, without approval either of Congress or the citizens of the affected state, is a gross misuse of the power to designate "National Monuments" under the Antiquities Act and a frontal attack on States' Rights.  -dh

OP-ED: Give the American People a Voice in the National Monument Process

Roll Call Op-Ed by Reps. Rob Bishop (UT-01) and Steve Daines (MT-At Large)  

March 25, 2014

The Antiquities Act was established in 1906 as a way for the president to single-handedly create new national monuments. The law provides the president with the express authority to proclaim “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” as national monuments, “the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

Today, the new era of national monuments consist of vast swaths of vacant federal land, not specific structures or landmarks.

The Antiquities Act followed on the heels of Westward Expansion, which brought looting and vandalism upon antiquities found on public land throughout newer states and former territories. The environmental laws and protections we have today, such as the National Historic Preservation Act, were not yet in existence, and the president needed a way to expeditiously protect federal lands under imminent threat. The very first national monument was established just three months after the law was enacted. President Theodore Roosevelt designated 1,152 acres in Wyoming as the Devils Tower National Monument. In the 108 years since, the law has been used a total of 137 times by 15 presidents.

While the intended purpose of the Antiquities Act is to protect artifacts of cultural and historic significance, it has been used over the past 108 years as a political arrow in the quiver of many presidents. The act has allowed both Democratic and Republican presidents to work outside of the transparent public process that all other individuals and federal agencies must follow. This is one of the law’s major flaws.

We don’t disagree that many of the spaces and places protected over the last century are worthy of national monument designations. However, not all of these designations were made with public involvement or widespread local support. Federal designations have too great of an impact on local communities for them to be made without the involvement of those closest to the ground. If the proposed designation has widespread support at the local level, presidents shouldn’t have a problem moving the designation through a public process.

In Congress, our committees and subcommittees hear from expert witnesses and local officials as part of legislative review. If the committee review process is positive, bills are more likely to move through the system. If committee reviews go badly, bills are rightfully stalled until the sticking points are addressed. Presidents are not subjected to these same checks and balances when it comes to the Antiquities Act. They are not required to engage the public throughout the process.

Like Congress, the president ought to formally be required to consider the input of local communities and states prior to declaring new national monuments. The inequity of unilateral action lends itself to heavy political influence and pressure from special interests. This is why we are supporting the Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act, which would require the application of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) to future national monument designations.

Though NEPA is another law largely in need of reform, public participation is at the core of its process, and by making this a requirement of future monument declarations we can ensure that those on the ground have a say in the process. The American people deserve to have input on new policies and laws that will affect their communities and livelihoods. The legislation importantly gives everyone a voice in the process, not just those who happen to have the ear of the president.

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