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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

8-28-13

28 August 2013 5:45am

Here is A Link For Readers To Our Latest Column In Xtra, Anchorage's Community Newspaper.  Here Is Our Unedited Submission: "Responsibility"

Another Abuse of Endangered Species Act


Relevant to our essay, above, on 'Responsibility', Canada's Globe & Mail piece by Jeffrey Jones notes the importance of tax policy to energy project investors.  We believe that all decision makers will want to take heed.  Those who support higher taxes and regulatory barriers, in essence, wish for fewer energy jobs and investment while those who seek moderate taxes and rules will create more attractive energy investment climates.   By their works ye shall know them.  D'accord?  -dh


Lisa Murkowski, Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, US Senate, IRAN, Syria, Federal Overreach, Photo by Dave HarbourNote:  We compliment Northrim Bank and www.alaskanomics.com for producing a report of Senator Lisa​ Murkowski's (NGP Photo) ​speech Monday to the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce--by Katie Bender.  We plan to provide more detailed notes on her speech tomorrow which offers other gold nuggets of interest to Alaskans, Americans at large and our Canadian friends as well.  -dh

Another Abuse Of The Endangered Species Act.

PLF.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has labeled more than 1,500 acres of private land in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, as “critical habitat” for the dusky gopher frog. This designation would force the owners to jump through so many bureaucratic hoops that they would be barred from making productive use of their property.

Dusky Gopher FrogDusky Gopher Frog.

There’s one small problem with the attempt to safeguard the frog on this land: the area isn’t suitable for the species. There aren’t any dusky gopher frogs on the property.

...the Anchorage Chamber hosted US Senator Lisa Murkowski at its weekly, Monday Forum.

Murkowski ​shared that there was a large number of high ranking visitors that we have seen in the state this month and how the visits were important to the political climate.

In August, the Chief of the US Forest Service, Administrator of the EPA, the acting Under Secretary of Commerce for NOAA, the Air Force Chief of Staff, the Commandant of the Coast Guard and the Secretary of the Interior have all visited, or will visit, Alaska and learned how their respective agencies work within the Alaskan environment.

Murkowski continued by discussing the importance of the military in regards to Alaska’s economy. Alaska has strategic military value and the Pentagon is beginning to realize the potential across the state.

She spoke in depth about economic concerns and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how each affected the State of Alaska and its residents.

Murkowski noted that even though we don’t know a specific date, we will bump up against the debt ceiling in the coming months. She feels it is important to figure out a solution to the problem before it is too late and feels that Congress can do a better job of finding ways to fix the current budget. She stated that the sequestration does not provide solutions to the problem of the $16.9 trillion debt that the US currently holds.

Murkowski agreed that the US needed healthcare reform but did not feel that the ACA addressed the true problems of needing increased access and decreasing the cost of healthcare. She believed that defunding the act was not the solution because it would leave the law on the books and would burden individuals and families. She agreed that there were good parts to the new law, including the provision to allow dependents to remain on a parent’s plan until age 26, as well as the changes to insurers being able to limit coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions. She stated that change will come when there is a reduction in cost of healthcare to individuals and families.

Murkowski wrapped up her presentation with a note that she felt that it was time for the Congress to start governing. Too much time was being spent on messaging and working to secure votes for the next election. She wanted Congress to lead the way and start to create laws that would make a difference, rather than blaming the other side for the Nation’s problems.

Murkowski is the first Alaskan born senator and the 6th to represent Alaska in Congress. She was re-elected in 2010 and holds a number of committee positions, including being a ranking member of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

 Posted by Katie Bender 


Dave Harbour's Xtra Community Newspaper Column, Week of 8-28-13.

Responsibility!

By

Dave Harbour

Teenagers hate it when people tell them to be “responsible”.  It’s another way of saying, “You should change your ways,” when one is perfectly happy with the status quo

*     *     *

For Alaskan citizens, the status quo has been pretty sweet.  We were once America’s largest oil producer.  We put a ton of dough into a Permanent Fund.  We spent more per citizen than other states.  We passed a blizzard of social and public works programs.  We repealed the state income tax on ourselves and have no state sales tax. 

With oil production falling at a 5-7% annual rate things don’t look so sweet right now.

Our oil production is down by nearly ¾ and we lag behind Texas, North Dakota and even California.

Who cares?

We should all care about oil tax and spending policy if we are involved in education, government or nonprofit work.  If we are rural residents, our subsistence way of life is supported by oil.  If we are into health, transportation, wholesale, retail or professional services, we depend on Alaska’s oil production.

The Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) is like an umbilical cord giving life to Alaska.  TAPS oil pays for ninety percent of our state government.  It directly and indirectly supports over half of our entire economy.   Yet as our production declines, our elected leaders continually increase spending.

In modern words, “This is an unsustainable situation”.  In other words, “It’s our responsibility to do something”.

Alaska has the world’s largest commercial fishing industry.  It employs nearly 80 thousand mostly seasonal workers.  But its business leaders know oil provides most support to the state budget.  Without oil paying the lion’s share of government, fishermen would shoulder responsibility for more taxes.

Alaska’s tourism industry provides over 35 thousand mostly seasonal jobs.  But its hundreds of entrepreneurs know if oil didn’t pay for state promotions, transportation infrastructure and other amenities, tourism would have to pony up more taxes.

Alaska’s 44 thousand oil industry employees support most other Alaska jobs .

Oil companies like Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) risked a lot to first discover the Swanson River field on the Kenai Peninsula in 1957… and then Prudhoe Bay in the winter of 1967-68.  Their investment into this remote, high cost area was encouraged by a low tax environment.

Following the Prudhoe Bay discovery, Alaska’s Governors and Legislature began increasing oil taxes – in fact, about a dozen tax increases, year after year.

In 1981, the Governor and Legislature created an important oil tax reform package while repealing the individual income tax.  That day, March 18, 1981, marked the first day of roughly 20 years of oil tax stability for Alaska.  No significant tax increases marred oil company investments in new exploration and production even though oil prices remained low during a large part of those two decades.

A few years ago, with oil and gas prices increasing, elected leaders decided to increase taxes again.  The tax change was called “ACES”, Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share.  It made Alaska the highest oil taxing jurisdiction in the free world.

Alaskan exploration slowed as oil exploration boomed in North Dakota, Texas, Australia and Canada.

Last Spring, lawmakers reformed ACES to make Alaska more competitive with other oil producing areas.  Since then, we have seen signs of greater oil investment in the state. 

However, some Alaskans still advocate a return to status quo with a repeal of the oil tax reform.  We can expect this issue to be widely debated in the months ahead.

How should readers think responsibly on this subject?  Here are a few credible sources that underscore the importance of tax and spending reform:

First, we rely on the University of Alaska’s Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER).  In a February 27 report to Commonwealth North, ISER ‘s Scott Goldsmith said that Alaska has $60 billion in savings (i.e. including the Permanent Fund) and $89 billion of oil assets still to be produced, for a total of $149 billion.  To manage those assets for the long run, he said the state could spend approximately $5.5 billion/year.  But he noted that the 2013 General Fund budget of $7.6 billion resulted in overspending $2.1 billion. 

Second, Alaska banks have financial and economic expertise.  These locally owned institutions also have, “skin in the game.”   Northrim’s Alaskanomica.com published a piece on August 9, a couple weeks ago, noting that the oil tax reform bill, “…allows Alaska to be globally competitive in the industry….”   The First National Bank of Alaska’s, Alaskaseconomy.org webpage, portrays Alaska’s economy as a three-legged stool.  One leg is oil, but that leg also supports the other legs indirectly.  In a link to an Anchorage Daily News Column by oil economist Roger Marks, the Bank highlights, “10 things to consider about oil taxation.”  In the column, Marks points out that high oil taxes make Alaska less competitive and hurt chances for a natural gas pipeline.

Third, our State’s Revenue Department, in last year’s “Alaska’s Oil and Gas Fiscal Regime” analysis, illustrated Alaska’s need for tax reform to compete globally for industry investment.

Fourth, Canada’s Fraser Institute surveys petroleum industry investors.  The most recent survey reveals how over 600 investor companies react to investment opportunities in nearly 150 taxing jurisdictions.  Alaska is not at the bottom of the list but ranks behind 60 areas including Oklahoma, Texas, North Dakota, Canada, Australia, Tasmania, the United Kingdom, and Norway.

Fifth, Wood Mackenzie, a leading world energy industry research firm, ranked Alaska as one of the least attractive places in North America for investment. Only New York ranked lower than Alaska.

*     *     *

Would a responsible person think that controlling Alaska’s spending and increasing our oil investment competitiveness is essential to all of our futures?

Or, should we be confident that the status quo will continue to supply all of our economic needs?

Either way, we are responsible.  History will tell how we exercised our responsibility.

-30-


Dave Harbour is Publisher of www.northerngaspipelines.com.  He is a former Chairman of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, the Alaska Council on Economic Education, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and the Hugh O’Brien Youth Foundation-Alaska.  He is also Co-Chairman of the 9th Annual Alaska Oil and Gas Congress held in Anchorage this September.

Reference notes:

  1.  ISER
  2.  Locally Owned Alaskan Bank Economic Analyses:

  3.  Alaska Department of Revenue ​

  4.  Fraser Institute

  5.  Wood Mackenzie quote

Categories:

8-23-13

23 August 2013 9:06am

Drones and Energy: Our Opinion

Alaska's Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell (NGP Photo) is Mead Treadwell, aerospace states association, lieutenant governor, us senate, Photo by Dave HarbourChairman of the Aerospace States Association.

Speaking on the subject of the threat to privacy posed by drones, the Daily Caller quoted Treadwell yesterday as saying that, "The paper we are releasing today...strikes a fine balance between protecting individual privacy rights as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment and exploiting the significant economic and humanitarian benefits of UAS technology.”  

We would observe that unrestricted use of drone audio/video could compromise the security of critical infrastructure such as power production, manufacturing, energy refineries, drilling, mining and transportation operations.  

We would also observe that Drone coverage of wide expanses of oceans and remote lands could greatly enhance exploration efforts.

In general, technology is good; but, we also think it good to always beware of unknown results created by the confluence of evolving paradigms and emerging technology.

-dh

Categories:

8-23-13

23 August 2013 5:36am

Former Energy Secretary, Spencer Abraham, nuclear, Photo by Dave Harbour, Secretary of EnergySpencer Abraham (NGP photo), gives opinion on EPA: 

"It remains to be seen how it will handle a number of issues.

"It is hard to tell how realistic it will be on issues such as fracking and renewable fuels standards, which are big questions.

"The jury is still out on whether the EPA still needs to reform its role in a way that is reasonable and that takes into account all sides of the equation, including economic growth and a strong economy."    -EnergyBiz, by Ken Silverstein


This Friday morning, Alaskans know the jury is not still out on the subject of federal overreach!

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The U.S. Forest Service plans to take a portion of the timber payments it has promised or paid out to 22 states, citing federal budget cuts.   ...

Earlier this year, (Forest Service chief, Thomas) Tidwell sent letters to 41 states, asking for the return of $17.9 mi llion in timber payments used to pay for schools, roads, search and rescue operations in rural counties and conservation projects.

"We regret having to take this action, but we have no alternative under sequestration," Tidwell said in his letter to Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, dated March 19.

Alaska was given the option of having about $826,000 the state had received or expected under the act reduced from its so-called "Title II funds," for habitat improvement and other projects, or getting a bill for the money that had already been paid out under other sections of the act. Parnell refused, saying there was no basis in law for the request.   ....

 

EPA Chief Gina McCarthy will visit Alaska to highlight climate action plan and tour Bristol Bay (Scroll down for details.)

Commentary: We caution Administrator McCarthy that American Citizens expect regulatory agencies to support and not obstruct the 'Rule of Law'.  One of the underlying principles of a country of laws, is strict adherence to 'due process'.  Here is our earlier editorial on that subject.  

We also note from this Mining News story, that Canada's leader comes North in search of economic development, jobs and national security, while America's Administration seeks ways to stop development, curtail job growth and weaken national defense.

Hopefully, Administrator McCarthy will change that pattern when she returns to Washington and decides whether to continue a strategy that emasculates "due process" or to reconsider the dangerous path her predecessor began.  

That process, creating a watershed assessment of an imaginary project as pretext for stopping a lawful permitting process on state lands, is wrong.  

No matter whether one supports a given project or not, the public interest is best served when due process is respected and decisions are made based on an objective, legal record. -dh

(See our further commentary below.)


Release Date TODAY: 08/22/2013
Contact Information: Marianne Holsman, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-1237
, holsman.marianne@epa.gov

RELEASE DATE: August 22, 2013

WHAT: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will travel to Alaska next week to highlight the President’s commitment to addressing climate change and its impact on the state.

Administrator McCarthy plans to visit the Portage Glacier near Anchorage to survey the effects of climate change on the region.

McCarthy is also scheduled to visit the Bristol Bay watershed where she will meet with tribes, industry representatives, fishermen, and other stakeholders in the area.

McCarthy will also visit Fairbanks to discuss ongoing air quality issues facing the community. More details are being finalized and will be released shortly.

EPA MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES (final times tbd):

  • Portage Glacier Tour
    When: Monday, August 26
    Where: Girdwood, Alaska

    Tour of Fairbanks 
    When: Wednesday, August 28
    Where: Fairbanks, Alaska

NOTE: Media interested in attending events should contact Marianne Holsman at 206-553-1237,holsman.marianne@epa.gov.

 


 

Our further commentary: As in this case, energy news often affects those who support and sponsor this public service web page.  

 Our position on energy related issues has been unchanged since this project began a decade ago.  We completely support responsible and lawful resource development of Alaska lands as a birthright conferred by the Constitutions of the United States and Alaska, by the Alaska Statehood Act and by the votes of the people -- which completed the compact existing between the United States and Alaska's people.

 Over and above natural resource issues themselves, as former member of a regulatory agency, your author is especially protective of the concept and practice of 'due process', as is further elaborated in these pages.  

Regardless of how one reacts to news of a given natural resources project, respect should always be given due process.  If due process can be slighted by bureaucratic will and fiat, affecting one project, it can be used to affect all projects.  Today it can affect mining while tomorrow violations of due process can affect energy, timber, commercial fishing, farming, recreation and other human endeavors.  When malpractice of due process approaches, tyranny accompanies it.  

We should all be be as prepared to guard due process as we are to defend our families against intruders.  

The principle is the same.  -dh


Today's Energy In Depth Links:

NATIONAL

Independents see problems in BLM’s proposed frac rule. Oil and Gas Journal. Our federal system has vested the states with the authority to ensure that development of energy sources is safe and responsible,” IPAA Pres. Barry Russell maintained. “Together with state regulators and local environmental groups, the US oil and gas industry has secured the great benefits of the shale revolution, while protecting the environment and strengthening local communities,” he said, adding, “The US Department of the Interior should not be in the business of undermining this progress.” NOTE: IPAA and the Western Energy Alliance’s joint comments also featured in Politico, Upstream Online, E&E News (sub req’d), and Rigzone.
 
Proposed drilling rules draw commentary. Houston Chronicle/Fuel Fix. The bureau “should recognize that states are already regulating hydraulic fracturing admirably,” said the Western Energy Alliance and Independent Petroleum Association of America, in joint comments. “The only imperative to adopt this rule is an arbitrary desire ‘to do something.’” Barry Russell, president of the association, said the extra costs would “discourage independent producers from exploring for natural gas and oil on federal lands.”
 
The Weekly Oil & Gas Follies. Forbes, EID’s David Blackmon. Even California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), a long-time booster of clean energy and climate action, is open to fracking.  But as anti-fracking activism heats up around the country, pro-fracking Dems might find themselves increasingly at odds with their base. As we near 2016, any Democrat who wants to replace Obama might have to start singing a different tune.
 
Founding Father of the Shale Boom Says the Best is Yet to Come. Wall Street Journal. Hans Helmerich, who announced this week that he is retiring as CEO of Helmerich & Payne Inc. next year, is widely credited with developing a new generation of drilling rigs that have helped make the U.S. energy boom possible.
 
Efficiency continues to be blessing and curse in oil field services. E&E News (sub. req’d). In its latest PumpingIQ market conditions assessment, Houston-based PacWest Consulting Partners says more favorable pricing in the oil patch for third-party contractors is still difficult because companies have gotten very good at performing hydraulic fractures and well completion jobs.
 
BofA, Bernstein reduce US gas price outlook, blame Marcellus Shale. Platts. Two investment firms reduced their expectations for US natural gas prices Thursday, both saying production from the Marcellus Shale is increasing the size of the glut in an already crowded market. "The Marcellus is a monster and production keeps on growing," Bank of America's commodities team said in a note to clients.
 
INTERNATIONAL

Poland's shale drive will transform Europe. The Telegraph, Column. Outsiders can only watch bemused, puzzled why an elected government that is committed to shale, and is backed by the people, cannot bring its bureaucrats to heel and draft a coherent text. One presumes that Polish democracy will prevail in the end. If so, it is a fair bet that Poland will be Continental Europe's fracking power by the early 2020s, with enormous consequences.  (More to follow...click below)

Categories:

8-13-12 Federal Overreach Summit: Day I

13 August 2013 4:12am

Steve Pratt (NGP Photo), President of Consumer Energy Alliance, provided this written comment to the members of the Citizens' Advisory Commission on Federal Areas, in response to their Federal Overreach Summit this week.


Yesterday's Federal Overreach Summit 1st Day Summary

Today we hear from Alaska's Congressional Delegation: live video streaming here by 8 a.m. Alaska Time

by

Dave Harbour

Yesterday was Day 1 of the Federal Overreach Summit, sponsored by the "Citizens Advisory Commission on Federal Areas."  We follow this matter closely, since over the last five years we have observed and reported herein on numerous instances where federal agencies have misused the law to delay or stop energy and mining projects in Alaska.  

(For a wonderful documentary about the fight for statehood and now the threat to Alaska’s economic survival, please see the video below and this three-part video, “Alaska Under Siege”, http://www.northerngaspipelines.com/content/11-13-12-alaska-under-siege.)

Last Friday, in preparation for this week's Federal Overreach Summit, we provided video documenting Washington's arrogant assault on the Alaska Statehood Compact and the economy of Alaska it was contracted to protect.  

From early morning until late afternoon, the audience received information and examples of the federal government harming Alaskans by exercising a heavy hand of overreaching federal Wes Keller, Alaska State House of Representatives, Federal Overreach Summit, Photo by Dave Harbourauthority.

State Representative Wes Keller (NGP Photo) chaired and opened the meeting.  He said that the Legislature had recently determined that the issue of 'Federal Overreaching Jurisdiction' was one of the highest priority issues in the state and that he is, "...pledged to supporting the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Alaska."  John Coghill, Alaska State Senate, Overreach Summit, Photo by Dave Harbour

Keller introduced Senator John Coghill (NGP Photo), Master of Ceremonies of the two day event.  Coghill complimented Alaska's Governor for "standing up for Alaska" when the federal government has misinterpreted or violated the law.

He introduced Governor Sean Parnell (NGP Photo), who, Sean Parnell, Governor, Alaska, Federal Government, Overreach, Photo by Dave Harbourspeaking via teleconference, reiterated his commitment to defending Alaska from federal overreach, while also urging Alaskans to engage in the process. “Alaskans know far too well what overreach looks like,” Parnell said. “Federal overreach occurs as the federal government overspends, overtaxes, overregulates, over-snoops and over-decides those things that ought to be left to individuals or their local or state representatives. The State of Alaska will continue to stand up on behalf of Alaskans, using every tool available to ensure our rights and freedoms are upheld.”  Parnell cited recent cases such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed polar bear habitat designation, other federal misuses of the Endangered Species Act, failure to hold timely lease sales or make permitting decisions, and continued delays in building a road for the residents of King Cove--a matter of life and death to local residents.

(Here is the agenda.  There were many more presenters yesterday and we will attempt to cover them all.  We also hope to post a link to the entire conference by tomorrow.  Our report will continue tomorrow....)


Steve Pratt, Consumer Energy Alliance, Federal Overreach, Overreaching Jurisdiction, rule of law, Alaska, Photo by Dave HarbourSteve Pratt (NGP Photo), President of Consumer Energy Alliance, provided this written comment to the members of the Citizens' Advisory Commission on Federal Areas, in response to their Federal Overreach Summit this week:

 

Federal Overreach Summit

State of Alaska

August 12-13, 2013

Consumer Energy Alliance Alaska is the Alaska chapter of a national organization of the same name.  CEA brings together consumers, producers, and manufacturers to engage in a meaningful dialogue about America’s energy future.  Energy development impacts everyone.  In Alaska, of primary concern is declining TAPS throughput, and federal overreach policies have contributed significantly to that decline.

Federal overreach into Alaska affairs has thwarted oil production in the state, threatening Alaska’s economic destiny, TAPS viability, and national energy security.  Article 8 of Alaska’s constitution explicitly requires the settlement of its lands and the development of its resources.

The United States federal government has failed to live up to provisions of the Statehood Act and promises to the people of the state to allow for resource development to ensure economic sustainability.  Consumers across the land – mothers, fathers, businessmen, environmentalists, educators, scientists, and all others deserve robust, responsible resource development to advance our scientific understanding of the land, its people, and its economic and cultural purpose.  Instead, much of Alaska has been declared off-limits to satisfy a narrow, greedy constituency that seeks to forbid us from using resources to benefit the lives and livelihoods of Alaskans, North Americans, and those beyond.

This greed, and failure to share Alaska’s bounty with a world hungry for resources, harms the welfare of all.  Those who have achieved ever-greater success at denying access to Alaska’s mineral resources that might help alleviate grinding poverty around the globe care not about the consequences on most of humanity since they themselves lead comfortable lives[1].  This summit should look for ways to overcome narrow self-interest to fulfill the mandates of our constitution.

Over the past two years CEA Ak has joined with the state’s bipartisan Congressional delegation, the Governor, many state elected officials and hundreds of business and social leaders of Alaska to implore the Obama Administration to avoid using administrative procedures to thwart congressional authority and responsible exploration and development in the Alaska.  We testified at numerous public hearings about the cultural, social, and economic impacts of developing various regions of the state.  Some hearing schedules were designed to avoid public input by scheduling evening sessions on Ash Wednesday, Valentine’s Day, the first day of Fur Rondy when families traditionally attend fireworks celebrations, and on days adjacent to summer holiday weekends.  When testimony overwhelmingly expressed Alaskan’s desire for development, new hearings were scheduled to seek further input.

Development of Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf, access to resources in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska, access to the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as set aside by Congress, and moving forward with the permitting process for Bristol Bay Watershed determinations are all examples of major resource issues for the state.  These deserve fair and unbiased review with respect to the impact on Alaska and the nation.  The interests of the State of Alaska, its citizens, and energy consumers throughout North America have been quashed by a minority of voices seeking to use the power of the federal government to entangle rather than enable legitimate, safe resource development.  In the case of Bristol Bay, attempts by the federal government to forbid a valid assessment of the resource potential on state lands even before a permit is applied for gives grave cause for concern about the ability of the nation as currently governed to adhere to its founding principles.

In his 1801 inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson defined “A wise and frugal Government” as one “which shall restrain men from injuring one another, [and] shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvements.”  Jefferson envisioned “A rising nation, spread over a wide and fruitful land, traversing all the seas with rich production of their industry, engaged in commerce with nations who feel power and forget right, advancing rapidly to destinies beyond the reach of mortal eye.”

Our own federal government, with respect to its own citizens, has now become what Jefferson loathed:  “a nation that feels power and forgets right.”  It is right that Alaska fulfill its destiny to use its resources for the maximum benefit of its people.  It is our birthright as a state.  Alaskans know better than anyone else how best to regulate our own pursuits of industry and improvements, and the federal government needs to step aside and allow this to happen.  The Statehood Compact has become nothing more than hollow, high sounding words, devoid of any true sanctity of contract.

The outcome of the Summit will hopefully bring us back to a place that gave rise to statehood in the first place – primacy of state control over resources, especially on state lands, and the promise of development and revenue sharing on federal lands.  The federal government needs to follow rather than usurp the directives of Congress.  Federal government overreach has found a life of its own, uncontrolled by checks and balances.

Energy consumers deserve responsible access to the resources that can unchain their lives.  The state should engage in all avenues to make that happen.

Very truly yours,

 

Steve Pratt

Executive Director

Consumer Energy Alliance Alaska

 

[1] One commenter from the Wilderness Society opined that increasing amounts of wilderness designation should be favored because that would allow her to experience vast tracks of land where she knows no other humans have trekked.  Since she has the resources to make such treks, she thought that society should honor her desire to set aside vast expanses of land for her personal recreational pursuits, irrespective of how many other lives this would adversely affect.  She thought the NPR-A would best be a national park rather than treasure trove to benefit humanity.

Categories:

8-9-13 Monday and Tuesday: Historic Days for Alaska?

09 August 2013 6:42am

ALERT...

...for our Alaska readers and friends of the State

Historic Days for Alaska: Next Monday & Tuesday

We believe that the event on Monday and Tuesday will foretell the future of Alaska.  

The Commentary below says why.  We urge all faithful Alaskans to take leave from their jobs and vacations to participate.  The commitment of our NGP readers alone could protect Alaska from the relentless overreach of our federal government and preserve the Statehood compact for future generations.  

Please reserve your space now!  -dh 

Representative Charisse Millett (NGP Photo) is one of a hand full of Alaska Charisse Millett, NPRA, ANWR, Alaska, Photo by Dave HarbourLegislators who -- like Governor Sean Parnell -- defends Alaska against federal overreach at every opportunity.  Most recently, Governor Parnell offered to assist the Federal government in assessing the oil and gas potential of the small sliver of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) that Congress designated for oil and gas exploration and production.  

The Obama Administration declined the offer, still intent in blocking Congressional intent that the small sliver (i.e. called the 1002 area) be explored.  Millet wrote a follow-up letter to the new Secretary of the Interior, urging reconsideration.  Out of respect for Representative Millett's initiative and with hope that more and more Legislators will become engaged in defending Alaska against an overreaching federal government, we reprint that letter below.


Historic Days for Alaska

Opinion By

Dave Harbour

Next Monday and Tuesday, July 12 and 13, 2013, Alaska will have convened a Federal Overreach Summit. The purpose of this commentary is to help our Alaskan readers arm themselves with background over the weekend.

*   *   *

While America's creation rested on patriots who seceded from their colonial landlord; Alaska's statehood was conceived and executed by colonists who wished to join and become a full and equal state of their national landlord.

In both cases, their noble accomplishments required a series of actions planned and executed by patriots.  

In Alaska's case, that key series of actions is often referred to as culminating in the 'Statehood Compact'.  (For a wonderful documentary about the fight for statehood and now the threat to Alaska’s economic survival, please see the video below and this three-part video, “Alaska Under Siege”, http://www.northerngaspipelines.com/content/11-13-12-alaska-under-siege.)

While more of a student of history than a historian, I find the struggle for statehood inspiring and the responsibility for protecting it, sobering.  Our 1959-era forebears achieved statehood after over a dozen attempts over the course of 50 years.  

Statehood opponents successfully lobbied Congress and presidents against Alaska statehood, clear up to its approval in 1959. Those opponents had one argument.  “Alaskans don’t have the means to make a living in that Arctic state.”

In 1955, Alaskans convened a ‘Constitutional Convention’, creating what many believed to be a “model constitution” under the leadership of Bill Egan (Note: Years later when I was writing a speech for him, the Governor said, “Beware of the vulturistic federal government”.)  

Then Richfield Oil Company’s (i.e. now, ConocoPhillips’) Bill Bishop, discovered the Swanson River Oil Field in 1957.  Armed with oil, timber, fishing and mining potential, Alaska statehood advocates now had a stronger argument.

In 1958 a new statehood bill gave Alaska about 104 million acres of the Territory along with mineral rights.  Alaska was to receive more land than any other state -- in addition to 90% of mineral revenues from federal land – to assure its government and people could make a living.    Congress passed it.  Alaskan voters supported the Statehood bill as they had their model constitution and the president signed the Alaska Statehood Proclamation on January 3, 1959.  That array of actions by the Federal Government, the Territorial Government and Alaska’s Voters to adopt a Constitution and an Alaska Statehood Act  -- complete with Federal promises to Alaskans -- is what most of us refer to as the Alaska Statehood Compact (Note: some lawyers argue that only parts of the Statehood Act itself could be called a "compact" between the federal government and the people of the state.)

A delegate to the constitutional convention, former Lt. Governor Jack Coghill, later said that the statehood bill was more than a bill; it was a ‘contract’.

Walter J Hickel, Wally Hickel, Interior Secretary, Governor, Statehood Compact, Photo by Dave HarbourOne of Alaska’s greatest statehood advocates was future governor Walter J. Hickel (NGP Photo).  When asked by Congressmen how much of the territory should be deeded over to the new state, to make it viable, Hickel remembered blurting out, “100 million acres” without knowing the exact size of the 360 million acre territory.

Anchorage Times publisher, Robert Atwood, was another volunteer statehood lobbyist.  He recalled Secretary of Interior Fred Seaton’s efforts to make sure Alaskans knew the state would receive 90% of the revenue flowing from natural resources produced from Federal lands.  On that basis, among others, voters supported statehood.  Some, since then, have argued that the 90/10 ratio is a political formula rather than part of a compact and subject to change by the federal government.

My own observation is that over the years a variety of federal initiatives have worked to neutralize the Federal obligation.  Federal actions have denied Alaskans reasonable access to the energy and other natural resources they were promised on federal and state lands.  In retrospect, the Statehood Bill language might have been more artfully stated, but Alaskans at the time knew what the deal was and voted in good faith for it.  To them, the Statehood Bill -- not parts of it and their ratification of it -- was a permanent compact.  

We now have clear evidence that the Federal government has treated Alaska like a colony, abusing its citizens at will, even compromising the rule of law as it has violated terms of the government-people compact.

In www.northerngaspipelines.com, we have written extensively on the subject of “federal obstruction”, our term for "overreach".  Here are a number of examples we and others have chronicled over the past few years:

  • April 2009Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar visited Anchorage and other cities to conduct hearings on the Minerals Management Service (MMS, now BOEM) five-year Oil & Gas leasing programs.   The 2007-12 and 2012-17 programs presented no new opportunities for exploration, only orders from the Secretary to cancel programs, conduct more studies and deny access by rejecting permit applications.
  • August 2009.  A White House Ocean Policy created by President Obama via Executive Order – without Congressional authority or funding -- would have the effect of “zoning the oceans and Great Lakes” and would even give bureaucrats authority to restrict human behavior in areas of the country touched by rivers and streams leading into the oceans and Great Lakes.  Since about ¾ of America’s coastline surrounds Alaska -- and since Alaska has about 3 million lakes, rivers and streams -- one could envision the last vestiges of free enterprise in the Last Frontier being snuffed out by bureaucratic manipulation of new ocean policy restrictions.
  • September 2009.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) visited Alaska to hear testimony on whether it should grant a Clean Air Act permit to Shell Oil.  EPA’s reluctance to approve Shell’s reasonable applications for permits to explore the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas on leases it purchased from the federal government in good faith resulted in continuous, unjustified rejections and delays in Shell’s exploration programs.
  • March 2010.  Governor Sean Parnell urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw its denial of ConocoPhillips Alaska’s reasonable permit application to construct facilities on its CD-5 Alpine Satellite Development within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.  After long delays, the Corps finally issued the permit.
  • July 2010.  The Parnell Administration vowed to fight “…Improper listings and critical habitat designations with sound science and cost data,” referring to efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to designate 187,166 square miles as a critical habitat for polar bears when the population of the bears is not declining.  It is a Federal overreach that Alaska and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation believe will cost Alaskans hundreds of millions of dollars in economic potential.
  • September 2010.  The State of Alaska sued the Secretary of the Interior in U.S. District Court to overturn the federal moratorium on offshore drilling in Alaska’s OCS, on grounds that the Obama administration violated federal law and acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner.
  • September 2010.  Alaska challenged National Park Service regulations, claiming they violate federal law, usurp state sovereignty, and infringe the liberty of Alaskans.
  • September 2010.  Alaska objected to USFWS steps to seek wilderness designations for the 1002 area within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s 19 million acres that would prevent development of up to 16 billion barrels of oil.
  • Killing Alaska's Timber Jobs and Forestry Businesses. Although the Chugach and Tongass were established as working forests with multiple use mandates, today both are being managed like national parks, despite an annual sustainable harvest level of 520 million board feet set for the Tongass under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). Over the past 20 years the forest industry has suffered repeated blows – many of them at the hands of the federal government. Federal policy changes were described in the 2012 Timber Jobs Task Force report to Governor Parnell. The Task Force found that “Federal policies and management practices fail to provide sufficient timber supply for Southeast Alaska’s timber industry” and that “Environmental groups have exerted undue influence over USFS policy and direction related to national forest management in Alaska.”  Federal policy, including the Obama administration’s reluctance to honor a settlement agreement to exempt the Tongass from  the Roadless Rule, is killing an industry that only several decades ago was a cornerstone of the Southeast Alaska economy. In 1990, 473 million board feet of timber was harvested from the Tongass National Forest, but today the annual cut has fallen to only 21 million board feet. In 1990, there were more than 4,000 jobs in the forest industry and its support sector, today there are less than 1,000. Meanwhile, approximately 94 percent of the Tongass remains closed to timber harvesting and no commercial harvests are taking place in the Chugach National Forest, the nation’s second largest.
     
  •  Last year, the Federal government's Bureau of Land Management closed half of the Federal Government Mess, National Petroleum Reserve Alaska, BLM drilling mess, hypocracyNational Petroleum Reserve Alaska to oil and gas exploration and development while it has hypocritically refused for years to clean up federal drilling debris and hazardous waste that it created in the petroleum reserve (NPR-A Photo: 'Knifeblade' Pad).  The US Fish and Wildlife Service has acted to more permanently recommend restricted access to the small sliver of land designated by Congress for oil and gas activity within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  The EPA has unreasonably and many think, illegally, used authority of the Clean Water Act to determine whether it should stop a mining project on Alaska state lands before that project has even filed a permit application or plan of development.

Next Monday and Tuesday, a distinguished group of Alaskan Commissioners will gather to evaluate the issue of federal overreaching jurisdiction and identify possible solutions--along with the state's citizens (Reserve space here).

The reason why this event is so important is that it will impact the future of every Alaskan.

Here's how.

The Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) once provided America with about 20% of its total domestic oil supply.  Alaska was the Nation's #1 oil producing state and contributed mightily to the national defense, to our balance of payments strength, to reasonable energy prices.  In addition, the pipeline produced the lion's share of Alaska's state operating budget, now 90%.  Over half of Alaska's economy depends on TAPS throughput!

Today, Alaska production falls behind that of North Dakota, Texas and even California.  TAPS throughput finds itself transporting only 1/4 its capacity and the amount of oil moving through Alaska's economic umbilical cord is decreasing at a rate of 5-7% per year.

Yet, Alaska's budget continues to grow.  We have an unfunded state employee pension liability bigger than Detroit's.

In short, Alaska is deep in debt, its annual revenue is decreasing and its annual costs continue to increase.

There are three ways to correct a dangerous and unsustainable  future.  We have to undertake some combination of increasing revenue and decreasing costs.

Both of these difficult challenges are in the laps of our elected leaders.  Decreasing costs and increasing oil and mineral production revenue from state lands are state issues.

But filling TAPS with new oil also depends on state leadership to change the federal government's policy against stonewalling natural resource projects in Alaska that could make a difference.

The federal government could work with Alaska to more reasonably develop: 1) the ANILCA 1002 area of ANWR, 2) NPR-A, and 3) OCS oil and gas resources.  All three of these huge, potential oil and gas areas could infuse TAPS with a new stream of economic health for Alaska and contribute to the viability of a natural gas pipeline project.

If the federal government persists in blocking these and other initiatives, it will contribute to pinching off the economic lifeblood of Alaska while, at the same time, violating the intent if not the actual language of the Alaska Statehood Bill and the Compact with the people of Alaska.

Alaska could once again become a ward of the federal government.  Should that happen, history will record the stark difference between the courage, creativity, leadership and determination of the 1959 generation of Alaskans and the 2013 generation.

Yes, Monday and Tuesday will be historic days for Alaska.  The will to win or the desire for complacency will struggle those days.  Some faithful Alaskans will respond to the call for sacrifice and battle to preserve the Compact.  Some will, like 'Royalists' during the Revolutionary War, support the king, and his effort to emasculate the great state of Alaska.

See you there....


Broken Promises

We invite our readers to view:

1) the 25 minute summary of the Alaska Statehood Compact below (scroll down) and how the federal government has broken its promises to the people of Alaska.

2) This more recent, documentary trilogy of how the federal government continues to abuse power and threaten the future of Alaska.

Any reader who absorbs this hours' worth of history and the associated facts is sure to be armed with objective reasons why Alaskans must make a last ditch stand right now.  Time is of the essence, to preserve the sovereignty of the state and enforce the statehood agreement which the Congress, the President and the People of Alaska memorialized via the Statehood Compact over 50 years ago.

If action is not taken now -- by this generation -- the speed at which the federal government is eroding the economy of the state will soon overpower its ability to recover.  Like Gulliver, Alaska will find itself covered with Lilliputians who have bound its great potential to the ground until it is incapable of rising again, let along moving a single muscle.

Rise up, Alaskans!  Act while you can!  Sustain the sacrifices of your forebears who achieved statehood and the rights we are now losing.  Be the generation that had the courage to combat -- not the compliant colonists who willingly accepted -- colonial rule.

-dh

 


Representative Charisse Millett's letter to DOI Secretary Sally Jewell:

July 26, 2013
 
The Honorable Sally Jewell
Secretary
United States Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
 
[RE: ANWR/ANILCA 1002(e) Exploration Plan]
 
Secretary Jewell,
 
This week the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service summarily rejected a modest exploration plan submitted by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
 
Its plan seeks to answer how much oil and natural gas really lies beneath the tiny portion of coastline set aside by congress for future oil and gas development. DNR proposes a 3‐D seismic exploration plan.
 
Here are a few points to consider on why this exploration plan makes sense:
 
• The only available seismic data on the 1002 Area was conducted about 30 years ago
using 2‐D seismic technology
• Today’s 3‐D seismic technology can provide a much clearer picture of what hydrocarbon
resources are underneath the 1002 Area
• DNR’s plan calls for exploration to be conducted in winter to minimize the impact on the
tundra and wildlife
• Governor Sean Parnell has offered to request funding from the Alaska Legislature to
subsidize part of the exploration costs
• Petroleum companies performing the work can also receive state tax credits
• The new estimate of reserves will spark a discussion on Capitol Hill and around the country about the tremendous economic and national security benefits derived from
increased domestic oil and gas production.
 
The reasons used by the Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska to reject the exploration plan were culled from a 2001 letter from the agency to a member of congress. The same congressman who has made locking up NWR and other federal lands a cornerstone of his political career.
 
The Parnell administration plans to appeal the decision to the National Director of the USFWS as soon as possible. The agency is one of the agencies you oversee so I respectfully ask that you have it take another look at the exploration plan based on its merits.
 
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. If there is any more information you and your staff could use please contact my office as your earliest convenience.
 
Sincerely,
 
Representative Charisse Millett
 
CC: Governor Sean Parnell, State of Alaska
Dan Sullivan, Commissioner, Alaska Department of Natural Resources
Daniel Ashe, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Categories:

8-6-13

06 August 2013 5:50am

This afternoon, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski released a white paper outlining the case for exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

 

Wespac Energy is presenting an LNG session this week (Invitees Only) in Anchorage: "LNG For Rural Alaska".  

Details here.

 

*     *     *

 

 

 


Lawmakers Gather In Anchorage To Consider Gas Options

Report by

Dave Harbour

​Yesterday a hundred lawmakers and staff members held the Anna fairclough, Senator, Alaska, gas, lng, Nikos Tsafos, PFC Energy, Stephen Beck, Photo by Dave Harbourfirst of a five day "2013 Gas Symposium" in Anchorage to better understand worldwide market conditions affecting natural gas and its first cousin, LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas).

Convened by Legislative Budget and Audit Chairwoman Anna Fairclough (NGP Photo with legislative consultants Nikos Tsafos-L and Stephen Beck), the Monday agenda consisted of a general overview, "covering all topics at the summary level", presented by Tsafos.  Assisting Fairclough all week with the presentations and associated "break out" sessions, the consultants are experts employed by PFC Energy.Mike Dunleavy, Alaska, Senator, Legislature, gas, LNG, Mat-Su, Palmer, Wasilla, Photo by Dave Harbour  Tsafos is the firm's Senior Manager, Global Gas, from PFC's Washington office while Beck, Senior Manager of Financial Services, flew in from the Houston office.

Legislators from throughout the state appeared, including the first few whom we noted: Senators Mike Dunleavy (NGP Photo-above-R) and Bert Stedman and Representatives Shelley Hughes (NGP Photo-L), Lindsey Holmes (NGP Photo),Lindsey Holmes, Representative, Alaska, gas, LNG, Photo by Dave Harbour Shelley Hughes, Representative, Alaska, gas, LNG, Photo by Dave HarbourAndy Josephson, Scott Kawasaki, Lance Pruitt and Dan Saddler.  The federal government's Alaska Gas Pipeline Coordinator, Larry Persily also attended along with a large number of citizens.

Calgary Herald by Chris Nelson.  Canada needs to gets its act together if it wishes to be an energy superpower in the decades to come.  

(Note: we applaud the notion that Canada must get its "act together" to face the global competitive market, complete with its global warming and pipeline ROW issues.  

Likewise, we compliment the Alaska Legislature for coming to grips with global energy competition, reflected in its earlier passage this year of oil tax reform legislation and this week's effort to better understand market conditions.  

-dh

Yesterday's overview included briefings on: global gas concepts, gas markets and macro fundamentals; shale gas impact on markets; possible Alaska LNG markets; gas strategies and portfolios of key companies; costs, economics, commercial structures, shipping and practices of pipeline and LNG projects.

For our readers in a position to attend the Symposium today, the Plenary Session begins at 9 a.m. (AST) and will investigate Global Gas Markets and Macro Fundamentals with a breakout session to follow.  The 1:15 p.m. session will consider shale gas impact on markets with its own breakout session afterward.

The public may attend, but not participate.  The Symposium is intended to update lawmakers and their staff members on gas concepts and current market conditions while the breakout sessions will likely explore Alaska's natural gas options, more specifically.  The public may also be admitted to observe the discourse occurring during breakout sessions.

Here is the rest of the week's agenda.


Wespac Energy: LNG for Rural Alaska (Note: Private seminar for invitees only, according to a company consultant.  -dh):

Agenda

LNG for Rural Alaska

August 7, 2013

10 AM to 4 PM

Meeting in Endeavor Room

Captain Cook Hotel

Anchorage, Alaska

 

  1. Introduction  (10 AM – Start time)
    1. Workshop Objectives
    2. Purpose of Workshop
    3. Advantages of LNG as alternative fuel
    4. Key considerations

 

  1. Overview of WesPac and affiliates
    1. Corporate overview
    2. WesPac small/midscale LNG focus
    3. WesPac in Alaska

 

  1. WesPac’s Alaska LNG Initiative
    1. Vision
    2. Efforts to Date
    3. Next Steps

 

  1. LNG Overview  
    1. Characteristics
    2. Sources of LNG
    3. Use of LNG
    4. LNG vs Diesel

 

  1. WesPac’s LNG Opportunity
    1. LNG Supply Availability
    2. Price Mechanism
    3. Benefits
    4. Regulatory overview

 

  1. Key Logistics
    1. Truck, rail and marine
    2. Bulk vs intermodal
    3. Key interfaces
    4. Case Studies – Examples

 

Lunch  (12 noon – 1 PM)

 

  1. Basics of Conversion and Repowering  
    1. Intro to ARB
    2. Electric conversion basics
    3. Diesel fuel vs LNG (decision tree)
    4. Case Studies – Examples

 

  1. Basics of Regasification, Storage, Distribution
    1. Intro to Primoris
    2. Regasification and storage basics
    3. Applications
    4. Diesel vs LNG  (decision tree)
    5. Case Studies – Examples

 

Coffee Break  (2:30 PM – 2:45 PM)

 

  1. State participation 
    1. State – AIDEA and AEA
    2. State Benefits

 

  1. WesPac – The Offer
    1. Turn Key solution

 

  1. Next Steps and Wrap up  (4 PM – Close Meeting)
    1. Q and A

Follow up

 

2013 Gas Symposium, Agenda, Week of August 5:

August 5th

1:00-5:00pm: Opening Plenary Session (Overview, covering all topics at summary level)- Kahtnu Room, 2nd Floor

 

August 6th

9:00-10:15am: Plenary Session, Global gas markets and macro fundamentals- Kahtnu Room, 2nd Floor

10:30am-12:00pm: Breakout Session-Tubughnenq’ Rooms , 2nd Floor

12:00-1:15pm: lunch offsite

1:15-2:15pm: Plenary Session, Impact of shale gas- Kahtnu Room, 2nd Floor

2:30-4:30pm: Break out Session- Tubughnenq’ Rooms, 2nd Floor

 

August 7th

9:00-10:15am: Plenary Session, Examination of potential markets for Alaskan LNG- Kahtnu Room, 2nd Floor

10:30am-12:00pm: Breakout Session-Tubughnenq’ Rooms , 2nd Floor

12:00-1:15pm: lunch offsite

1:15-2:15pm: Plenary Session, Gas strategies and portfolios of key companies- Kahtnu Room, 2nd Floor

2:30-4:30pm: Break out Session- Tubughnenq’ Rooms, 2nd Floor

 

August 8th

9:00-10:15am: Plenary Session, Indicative costs and economics for pipeline & LNG projects- Kahtnu Room, 2nd Floor

10:30am-12:00pm: Breakout Session-Tubughnenq’ Rooms , 2nd Floor

12:00-1:15pm: lunch offsite

1:15-2:15pm: Plenary Session, LNG and pipeline commercial structures and practices- Kahtnu Room, 2nd Floor

2:30-4:30pm: Break out Session- Tubughnenq’ Rooms, 2nd Floor

 

August 9th

9:00-10:15am: Plenary Session, LNG shipping- Kahtnu Room, 2nd Floor

10:30am-12:00pm: Breakout Session- Tubughnenq’ Room, 2nd Floor

12:00-1:15pm: lunch offsite

1:15-5:00pm: Concluding Plenary Session- Kahtnu Room, 2nd Floor

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