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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.

 

Federal Obstruction

9-1-14

01 September 2014 4:10am

Since it is a holiday and since most vital northern energy issues are taking another day of rest, we bring you links to issues directly and indirectly related to energy...that we normally wouldn't feature due to other priority stories, issues and editorials.  -dh

Public Employee Union Day
A lot has changed for organized labor since Labor Day was federally recognized 120 years ago.

Obama's low-income, community lending shakedown reaches $128 billion 
Bank of America and other institutions get busted for engaging in risky low-income lending, and naturally, their penalty is to engage in even more of it.

It's about the money, not the climate
Taxing energy use means taxing "greenhouse gas" emissions; primarily carbon dioxide (CO2) so that every ton of it added to the atmosphere by a power plant and any other commercial activity becomes a source of income for the nation.

Investors.com: Obama's delusional view of the economy
Is it morning in America?

 


 

Public Employee Union Day

By Rick Manning

Labor Day is the traditional last day of summer, often celebrated by final trips to the shore and followed by public pool closings and other signs that the world is battening down the hatches for colder weather.

However what most don't realize is that the day itself was originally created by organized labor to call attention to the contributions of workers.  A public relations stunt designed to provide labor unions a focal point in their never ending battle with management.

A lot has changed for organized labor since Labor Day was federally recognized 120 years ago.

The then burgeoning movement has gained massive political power and influence across the century, only to see it decline precipitously to a point where today only 6.7 percent of the private sector workforce belong to labor unions.  In fact, there are currently more union members who are public employees than in the private sector.

This transition of labor union membership from private sector to public employee dominated has massive implications for the future.

Get full story here.

 


 

Obama's low-income, community lending shakedown reaches $128 billion

By Robert Romano

$128 billion and counting.

That is Investor's Business Daily's latest tally of settlements the Obama Justice Department has extracted from the U.S. banking industry in connection with the 2008 financial crisis, as Bank of America agreed to another $17 billion in payouts over losses stemming from its 2009 acquisition of Countrywide.

Included is $5 billion as a penalty paid to the federal government itself, $300 million will be paid to the state of New York, $300 million to California, $200 million to Illinois, $75 million to Maryland, $45 to Delaware, and $23 million to Kentucky,according to the Justice Department.

Another $7 billion will go to debt forgiveness, mortgage principal cramdowns, and, of course, more low-income lending. And then, after four years, whatever is not lent into the financial abyss by Bank of America directly will be given to community organizer groups so they can do it.

You know, the ones that in part contributed to the financial crisis by coercing low-income, Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) loans from financial institutions engaged in mergers allowed under the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley financial modernization law.

The groups include the Interest on Lawyers' Trust Account, NeighborWorks of America, La Raza, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, Operation Hope, and the Mutual Housing Association of New York, an ACORN off-shoot.

So, Bank of America and other institutions get busted for engaging in risky low-income lending, and naturally, their penalty is to engage in even more of it. Similar settlements have been reached with Citibank and JP Morgan Chase, the Investor's Business Daily editorial notes, with more to come from Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo.

This is the same type of stupidity that helped contribute to the mortgage crisis in the first place.

Get full story here.

 


 

It's about the money, not the climate

By Alan Caruba

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), the Irish poet and dramatist, wrote "Pray don't talk to me about the weather. Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else."

These days, when some world leader or politician speaks of the climate — the weather is what is happening right now wherever you are — they are not talking about sunshine or rain. They are talking about a devilishly obscene way of raising money by claiming that it is humans that are threatening the climate with everything they do, from turning on the lights to driving anywhere.

That's why "global warming" was invented in the late 1980s as an immense threat to the Earth and to mankind. Never mind that Earth has routinely passed through warmer and cooler cycles for billions of years; much of which occurred before mankind emerged. And never mind that the Earth has been a distinct cooling cycle for the past seventeen years and likely to stay in it for a while. If the history of ice ages is any guide, we could literally be on the cusp of a new one.

If, however, a government can tax the use of energy, it stands to make a lot of money. That is why carbon taxes have been introduced in some nations and why the nearly useless "clean energy" options of wind and solar have been introduced even though they both require the backup of traditional coal, natural gas and nuclear energy plants because they cannot produce electricity if the wind isn't blowing and the sun is obscured by clouds.

Get full story here.

 


 

ALG Editor's Note: In the following featured editorial from Investor's Business Daily, Obama's delusions of the strength of the U.S. economy abound:

Obama's delusional view of the economy

Economy: In a speech this week, President Obama showed he's just as detached about the economy as he is about foreign affairs, offering an upbeat economic assessment that would make even Pollyanna cringe.

In a single paragraph in his speech to the American Legion on Tuesday, Obama rattled off some of his alleged domestic achievements. More jobs, booming industries, more kids graduating.

Morning in America!

But like most things Obama says that aren't flat untruths, these claims are wildly misleading. For example, the president says his policies rescued the country from what could have been another Great Depression and as a result we're now "stronger at home."

But as IBD pointed out recently, by several measures the economy is worse off than it was when the recovery started back in June 2009. Among them: median household incomes are down, poverty is up, Social Security is weaker, the national debt is far larger.

Get full story here.

Categories:

8-30-14 Another Labor Day Without Job Producing Keystone XL Pipeline

30 August 2014 1:52pm

This weekend's Consumer Energy Alliance Energy Links:

BuildKXLNow.org: Another Labor Day without Keystone XL
This coming Labor Day Weekend marks the fourth year Union construction workers will not be taking a day off from building the Keystone XL Pipeline to enjoy an end to the summer BBQ. Six years of delays are hurting, not helping, the thousands of people who will see benefits from pipeline construction. Independent and government reviews have exhaustively documented how construction would affect the U.S. economy, especially Union workers in the construction and manufacturing sectors.
 
The Energy Voice: Big Surprise for Labor Day Gas Prices
The summer season traditionally matches its intensifying outdoor temperatures with escalating gas prices, but not this year. Instead of breaking the bank at the pumps, motorists have been treated to unusually kind gas prices as the travel-heavy Labor Day holiday weekend nears. As of Aug. 25, the average price was $3.43 per gallon, the lowest average since Feb. 26, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Survey. In fact, gas prices have fallen 6.5% since the start of the summer, USA Today said.
 
Associated Press: Shell Files Revised Arctic Offshore Drilling Plan
Royal Dutch Shell PLC has filed a revised Arctic offshore drilling plan with federal regulators but says the company hasn't decided whether to return to waters off the coast of northwest Alaska in 2015.
 
The Hill: Landrieu ad highlights Gulf oil drilling fight
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) took credit in an advertisement released Thursday for ending the Obama administration’s Gulf of Mexico oil drilling moratorium that followed the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
 
Huffington Post: Obama Opened Floodgates for Offshore Fracking in Recent Gulf of Mexico Lease
In little-noticed news arising out of a recent Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas lease held by the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the floodgates have opened for Gulf offshore hydraulic fracturing ("fracking").
 
Leader Post: Inter Pipeline thrives outside Keystone spotlight
For Canadian oilsands pipeline companies, operating under the radar pays. Inter Pipeline Ltd. is leading shareholder gains among Canadian peers as it operates within the oilfriendly provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, avoiding the environmental controversies that have dogged projects from larger competitors such as TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL. Pembina Pipeline Corp., with a focus on Western Canada, hit a record high on Wednesday.
 
Rapid City Journal: Live coverage of Supreme Court hearing on Keystone XL appeal
NET Television will broadcast live the Nebraska Supreme Court’s hearing on the Thompson v. Heineman appeal over the Keystone XL pipeline’s Nebraska routes and Gov. Dave Heineman’s decision to sign legislation permitting the establishment of the route.
 
The Hill: Obama pushes green standards for everything but kitchen sink
The Obama administration is working on new efficiency standards for seemingly every appliance but the kitchen sink. Spurred by President Obama’s climate action plan, the Department of Energy is pumping out new standards for refrigerators, dishwashers, air conditioners, ceiling fans, furnaces, boilers, water heaters, lamps, and many more appliances.
 
The New York Times: A New American Oil Bonanza
Whenever overseas turmoil has pushed energy prices higher in the past, John and Beth Hughes have curbed their driving by eating at home more and shopping locally. But the current crises in Ukraine and Iraq did not stop them from making the two-hour drive to San Antonio to visit the Alamo, have a chicken fried steak lunch, and buy fish for their tank before driving home to Corpus Christi.
 
The New York Times: Resurgence in Oil and Gas Sector Spurs Merger Boom
The merger boom in the energy sector shows no signs of slowing. As energy production in the United States rises substantially, pipeline and storage companies will look to expand capacity through acquisitions, industry analysts and investors forecast.
 
Bloomberg: Sand Means Gold as U.S. Fracking Demand Booms: Chart of the Day
Shares of U.S. companies which supply sand to energy producers are surging in response to the growing use of fracking, or extracting oil and natural gas from shale formations.
 
Bloomberg: Alaska Lures Back Big Oil With Big Tax Breaks
Alaska’s oil boom times, which have propped up the state for decades, are coming to an end. In the late 1980s the state produced as much as a quarter of all U.S. crude, about 2 million barrels a day. Over the last 15 years, its daily oil production has been cut in half, to just more than 500,000 barrels. And the fracking boom has unlocked shale oil beneath Texas and North Dakota that is more profitable to extract. Rising oil prices have so far made up for Alaska’s declining production, but for a state whose budget relies on oil profits for 90 percent of its revenue, the picture is starting to look troublesome.
 
USA Today: Rail deliveries of U.S. oil continue to surge
Amid a boom in U.S. oil production, the amount of crude oil and refined petroleum products moved by rail continues to climb. There were 459,550 carloads of oil and petroleum products transported during the first seven months of this year, up 9% from the same period in 2013, according to the Association of American Railroads.
 
Associated Press: Oil industry treats fracking foes differently in Texas, Colorado
A fight over fracking is looming in Texas. Another stand-off is shaping up in Colorado. Yet drillers’ reactions couldn’t be more different. In Texas, drillers are doing their, noisy in-your-face fracking as usual. On a small farm about an hour from the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the oil industry is giving fracking a makeover, cutting back on rumbling trucks and tamping down on pollution.
 
Los Angeles Times: Fracking report clears way for California oil, gas leasing to resume
The federal government will resume oil and gas leasing in California following a report released Thursday that found little scientific evidence that fracking and similar extraction techniques are dangerous.
 
SFGate: Fracking may endanger groundwater in California
Fracking for oil in California happens at shallower depths than previously realized and could pose a risk to precious groundwater supplies, according to a federally commissioned report released Thursday.
 
Associated Press: Lafayette's fracking ban tossed
Colorado's oil and gas industry has again won another court battle against a town that banned or limited fracking. A Boulder District Court judge on Wednesday tossed out a voter-approved fracking ban in Lafayette.
 
Colorado Independent: Gas patch resident fracking concerns not going away any time soon
Coloradans living in the northern Front Range gas patch are moving forward with the movement to wrest greater control over drilling in their cities and towns, despite recent events.
The first week of August, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper pulled a rabbit out of a hat when he persuaded the main parties engaged in a heated, expensive battle over oil-and-gas drilling regulation to agree to an effective truce so that a task force could study the issue and then make recommendations to the legislature next year.
 
Associated Press: Illinois Department of Natural Resources set to release hydraulic fracturing rules Friday
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is expected to release proposed rules for high-volume oil and gas drilling to a legislative panel. Department officials say that rules to implement the state's year-old hydraulic fracturing law will be submitted to the Illinois Legislature's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules Friday.
 
Reno Gazette- Journal: State regulators allow fracking to start in Nevada
Fracking can move forward across Nevada after new regulations guiding the controversial activity were approved Thursday by state officials. Meeting in Elko, the Nevada Commission on Mineral Resources unanimously OK’d rules addressing the practice of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas.
 
The Times-Tribune: $90 billion left in Marcellus Shale, analyst says
About $90 billion of value remains in the Marcellus Shale, according to international energy, mining and metals analytical firm Wood Mackenzie. That estimate factors in the potential revenue from marketing the gas, minus development costs. The Houston-based firm expects the top 20 operators in the Marcellus to drill 25,000 wells through 2035.
 
Pittsburgh Business Times: Washington County's economy more than just Marcellus Shale
In terms of business opportunity, Washington County has more to offer than Marcellus Shale. That was the chief takeaway from the 45th installment of the Corridors of Opportunity series, a Pittsburgh Business Times event focusing on regions of the local economy.
 
Fuel Fix: Hearing to discuss Mexico’s energy impact on Texas
An energy boom is brewing across the border, and a joint legislative hearing in September will talk about the potential impact on the Rio Grande Valley. A joint hearing of the Texas House Energy Resources Committee and the House International Trade & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee will be held Sept. 26 in Edinburg.
 
UPI: Texas reviews seismic link to fracking
A Texas energy regulator said it was reviewing industry practices for hydraulic fracturing brought into question after a series of seismic events in the state.
 
Express News: Flaring: the dark side of the oil boom
The flaring of natural gas in the Eagle Ford Shale makes for spectacular images. And it is slowly killing Texas and the world. The state clearly needs to begin offering more than the illusion of regulation. This is the biggest take-away from the exhaustively reported four-part series, “Up In Flames,” in the Express-News by Jennifer Hiller and John Tedesco. The series began last Sunday.
 
Renewablesbiz: Industry group say EPA plan would cut jobs, raise power prices
The Kentucky Association of Manufacturers and other business representatives on Wednesday said proposed revisions to federal air pollution regulations could cost Kentucky billions of dollars and put tens of thousands of jobs at risk. "Many in the nation and especially here in Kentucky believe they would have a damaging effect on our industrial base and our coal-fired power plant base," Kyndle CEO Brad Schneider, who facilitated a statewide news media conference call, said.
 
The Dispatch: Feds Look To Allay Seismic Air Gun Testing Fears
With the federal government inching closer to green-lighting the use of seismic air gun testing for natural gas and oil off the mid-Atlantic coast including Ocean City, the agency that would regulate the activity last week issued a statement attempting to clear up some of the myths associated with the potential dangers.

Categories:

8-28-14 President Set To Sidestep Congress Again. Where Is The Congressional Outrage?

28 August 2014 7:07am

New York Times by Coral Davenport.  The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress.  

In preparation for this agreement, to be signed at a United Nations summit meeting in 2015 in Paris, the negotiators are meeting with diplomats from other countries to broker a deal to commit some of the world’s largest economies to enact laws to reduce their carbon pollution. But under the Constitution, a president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate


Today's Consumer Energy Alliance Energy Links:

Energy and Commerce Committee: Song Requests for Willie Nelson and Neil Young Keystone XL Concert *CEA Mention
Willie Nelson and Neil Young are headed to the Nebraska Sandhills next month to perform at concert raising awareness of the Keystone XL pipeline. In honor of the event, the Consumer Energy Alliance last week released a “playlist of songs for the artists to perform based on some of their greatest hits, but this time with a Keystone XL Pipeline twist.”
 
CNBC: Brent hovers below $103 as ample supply weighs
Brent traded sideways on Thursday, holding between $102 and $103 a barrel, as ample supply and a refinery fire in the United States that could reduce crude demand weighed on prices.
 
The Boston Globe: Labor Day gas prices at three-year low
Massachusetts drivers can cruise into Labor Day weekend knowing they will pay less for gasoline than they did a year ago — or three years ago, for that matter — due partly to a surge in US oil production that has reduced the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
 
Reuters:  U.S. State Department lawyer Benes is latest Keystone XL player to go
A U.S. State Department lawyer who played a key role in the Keystone XL pipeline review is moving on, sources said on Wednesday, the latest departure of a senior official involved with the long-delayed project. Keith Benes helped produce the government's two environmental impact reviews on Keystone, which concluded that the 1,200-mile (1,900-km) pipeline might encourage Canadian oil sands development, but would not meaningfully worsen global climate change.
 
The Denver Post: Rosen: Does Mark Udall prefer Tom Steyer pipeline to Keystone?
Coloradans have twice favored Barack Obama in presidential elections, a Democrat is governor, and Democrats dominate the legislature. You'd think Mark Udall would have clear sailing in his U.S. Senate re-election bid.

Reuters: Shell fits final module on Alberta oil sands' first carbon capture project
Shell Canada has fitted the final module at the first carbon capture and storage project in Alberta's oil sands, the company said on Wednesday, putting start-up on track for 2015.
 
Daily News: As Obama drags heels, Canada turns to China
With the rising significance of oil sales to the Canadian economy and the Obama administration’s continued blocking of plans to construct the Keystone Pipeline, Canada is moving ahead with the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, a pipeline to expedite the shipping of land-locked oil reserves in Alberta to China.
 
National Review: Krauthammer’s Take: Obama’s Climate Plan an ‘Incredibly Stupid Idea,’ But Any Agreement Would Have to Be International
On Wednesday’s Special Report, Charles Krauthammer reacted to the Obama administration’s efforts to develop a climate-change agreement among nations without the approval of Congress. Krauthammer said the idea that the Obama administration could think itself capable of shaming other countries into an international emissions restrictions was “the dumbest idea since the Russian reset.”
 
Breitbart: Obama's Climate Plan Puts Candidates 'in Front of the Firing Squad'
The Obama administration is reportedly negotiating a deal to try and lower greenhouse gas emissions by “naming and shaming” governments that don't buckle to their demands.
 
Washington Post- Bloomberg: Fracking Foes Force Some Oil Drillers to Tread Lightly: Energy
A fight over fracking is looming in Texas. Another stand-off is shaping up in Colorado. Yet drillers’ reactions couldn’t be more different. In Texas, drillers are doing their noisy in-your-face fracking as usual. Meanwhile, on a small farm about an hour from the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the oil industry is giving fracking a makeover, cutting back on rumbling trucks and tamping down on pollution.
 
Fuel Fix: Plenty of pluck left in the Marcellus, report says
The Marcellus region is now the biggest natural gas shale play in the world, and there’s still about $90 billion to be made by tapping the area’s reserves, according to a study by energy analyst group Wood Mackenzie.
 
UPI: Texas oil production up 25 percent from 2013
Texas oil production in July, the last full month for which data are available, increased more than 25 percent year-on-year, the state government said. The Railroad Commission of Texas, the state's energy agency, said crude oil production in July averaged 2.15 million barrels per day, up from the 1.68 million bpd reported in July 2013.
 
Pacific Coast Business Times: Santa Barbara chamber opposes anti-oil effort Measure P
Proponents of Santa Barbara County’s Measure P, an anti-hydraulic fracturing measure that could also shut down conventional oil and gas production, suffered a setback on Aug. 27 when the largest South Coast chamber of commerce said it opposed the November ballot initiative.”
 
Bloomberg Businessweek: Colorado Drillers Woo Fracking Foes as Texans Hang Tough
A fight over fracking is looming in Texas. Another stand-off is shaping up in Colorado. Yet drillers’ reactions couldn’t be more different. In Texas, drillers are doing their noisy in-your-face fracking as usual. Meanwhile, on a small farm about an hour from the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the oil industry is giving fracking a makeover, cutting back on rumbling trucks and tamping down on pollution.
 
Daily News: Boulder County judge strikes down Longmont fracking ban
A Boulder County District Court judge has struck down Longmont's fracking ban but said the ban can stay in place while the city considers an appeal. Judge D.D. Mallard issued the summary judgment Thursday. In the ruling, she mentioned Longmont's charter amendment clearly conflicted with the state's regulations and its interest in the efficient improvement of oil and gas deposits.
 
Associated Press:  Lafayette’s fracking ban tossed
Colorado’s oil and gas industry has again won another court battle against a town that banned or limited fracking. A Boulder District Court judge on Wednesday tossed out a voter-approved fracking ban in Lafayette. The ban was adopted last year.
 
Denver Post: Boulder District judge tosses Lafayette's fracking ban
A Boulder District judge who in July struck down Longmont's voter-approved fracking banon Wednesday tossed Lafayette's charter amendment banning all oil and gas activity in the city. Lafayette voters in November approved Ballot Measure 300, which bans all "oil and gas extraction and related activities" within the city in east Boulder County.
 
Chicago Tribune: Fracking rules to be unveiled Friday
Highly anticipated rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing in Illinois are to be unveiledFriday. Once the rules go into effect, Illinois hopes to become the center of the next oil boom. Fracking, which involves injecting fluids and chemicals at high volumes to crack open shale rock and unleash oil and natural gas, could bring bring jobs to a struggling southern Illinois economy. Ilinois also is counting on tax revenue on extracted oil and gas to fatten state and county coffers.
 
The Southern: Fracking rules will be released Friday
News of the impending release Friday of long-awaited rules needed to implement fracking drew reactions ranging from cautious optimism to outright outrage. The rules will be delivered to the Illinois Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules Friday, Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris Young confirmed Wednesday.
 
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Power Source: Williams to expand Transco pipeline system in Pennsylvania
Williams has launched an open season for users interested in capacity on its Diamond East project, an expansion of the 10,200-mile Transco interstate pipeline to allow more Marcellus Shale gas to head to the northeast. The project will create an additional 1 billion cubic feet per day of firm natural gas transportation capacity to markets in the northeastern U.S. by mid-2018, the Tulsa-based midstream company said.
 
Charleston Daily Mail: West Virginia sees shortage of truck drivers
The trucking industry is facing a driver shortage that is expected to worsen over the coming years. Jeff Foster, who runs the Boone County Truck Driving Academy in Chapmanville, said the root cause of that shortage is trucker retirement.
 
Tribune-Review: Discussion of Murrysville drilling ordinance closed to public
Task force meetings to discuss revamping the municipal drilling ordinance won't be made public, Murrysville officials said. The Marcellus shale task force was reconvened earlier this year after council decided to re-evaluate the municipal drilling ordinance after the state Supreme Court overruled portions of Act 13, the state drilling regulations
 
Charleston Daily Mail: Changes can help WV embrace gas boom, speaker says
The president of the nation’s largest holder of natural gas reserves said Wednesday that if West Virginia wants to take full advantage of the Marcellus shale, it needs to enact sound policies and invest in its people.
 
Cleveland.com: Gas riches at stake in two cases before Ohio Supreme Court
The Ohio Supreme Court took up a pair of cases recently that each address disputes over who owns mineral rights for property in an area of Ohio thought to have rich natural gas reserves.
 
Denton Record- Chronicle: Driller gets waiver for wells
A Colorado energy company claimed the city of Denton’s moratorium on new gas wells has caused it hardship and received a waiver this week to drill five gas wells on land owned by a former Dallas Cowboy.
 
San Antonio Express-News: Technology will reduce need for flaring
The Eagle Ford Shale has been an economic game changer for South Texas and has led to greater energy independence for our nation. The present oil and gas shale formations are developed with cutting-edge technology that not only sustains development but has also led to safer and cleaner operations for our industry and the communities where we operate.
 
Texas Public Radio: Texas Railroad Commission Introduces New Rules For Fracking Injection Well
A seismologist for the Texas Railroad Commission updated the Texas House Energy Resources Committee about the findings of a study on the number of earthquakes occurring near fracking injection well sites.
 
SFGate: Radio ads praise NC lawmakers for fracking votes
The energy industry is thanking several North Carolina lawmakers who supported fracking legislation with radio ads in their districts as elections approach. The American Petroleum Institute said Wednesday it began airing ads last week that run into early next month. Slightly different versions praise seven House or Senate Republicans who voted for what it calls "safe, responsible development of North Carolina energy."
 
E&E Publishing: Big wins elusive for EPA in Clean Water Act showdowns
For U.S. EPA at the Supreme Court, it's been the best of times -- and the worst. In Clean Air Act cases, EPA is on a roll. The high court last term upheld a major EPA program for air pollution that drifts across state lines. It also barely trimmed a permitting program for greenhouse gases, leaving intact most of EPA's first round of climate regulations.

Categories:

8-19-14 Today Alaskan Voters Determine Their Future!

19 August 2014 5:34am

Primary Election Day In Alaska

A Historic Day Whereupon Alaskan Voters Will Determine the Future Of Their State and Their Country!

by

Dave Harbour

​(Responses to commentary)

Alaska: Where A Deal Is A Deal?

Last Spring we wrote a four part series, here, on Alaska's oil tax history going back to forty years.  We also explored Alaska's current status as a competitive investment climate and coined a phrase: "In Alaska, Is A Deal A Deal?", and variations on that theme.

In one column, below, we explored the concept of a competitive investment climate/tax policy in an ideal world, which, on this Primary Election Day, might interest our gentle readers.


So, question: rather than just be relegated to the critics' peanut gallery, what would we be inclined to do were we to have absolute power?

Answer: We would sell oil and gas leases in the private market for the highest price.

We would loudly proclaim that, "in reliable Alaska, a deal is a deal and we put great value on protecting our reputation".  

While our constitution gives us the sovereign power of taxation, we are loathe to use that power selfishly, negatively or in ways that diminish our integrity as a respected, sovereign state.

We would endeavor to never change the tax/royalty/regulatory rules of the game affecting an investment for at least 20 years--except to moderate the impact of those burdens in response to logic and our competitive position with respect to competing markets.  

We would control the nearly insatiable appetite for increased spending beyond our means, knowing that run-away spending could force us to raise tax burdens and decrease our competitive ability to attract investment.

We would not impose any unnecessary costs (i.e. "must haves") on energy projects that diminished the maximum monetary returns; we would then be free to consider use of those maximum returns for social or capital needs of our citizens.

In this way, we would seek to not add an unnecessary and burdensome straw to the back of a project that needed every possible advantage to compete in the world energy marketplace.  

We would not risk adding one single incremental project cost that could kill a project.  

We would not flirt with disaster.

And that, Dear Reader, would lead us to become a place in the world where investors have confidence that, "a deal is a deal".  -dh

Today is a historic Alaska Primary Election Day whereupon voters will decide their own future and, more importantly, the future of their children. 

Our position has always been that high Alaska oil taxes may increase short term gains for this generation but cause a withdrawal of investment at the expense of our children’s generation.

We have written extensively on this subject (i.e. see sidebar links).  We have concluded that for this and future generations our goal should be a reliable and competitive investment climate that produces maximum natural resource and employment returns for this and future generations. 

But there are those who would skim as much as possible from our natural resource potential today no matter what ill effect that might have on future Alaskans.

Today, voters will decide whether to repeal SB 21, a reform bill passed a year and a half ago.  That bill reforms many of the most objectionable aspects of an oil & gas production tax increase passed after little debate by the Legislature and applied RETROACTIVELY nearly a decade ago.  We’ve seen over the past year of reform, how investment to keep the Alaska economic lifeline (i.e. the Trans Alaska Pipeline System {TAPS}) functional has been increasing.

Now, put yourself in the place of a legislator who supported SB 21.

It must be very hard for a politician to avoid temptation. 

Temptation to bow to constituent demands for subsidy.

Temptation to bow to business and campaign supporters for tax moderation.

Temptation to bow to economic realities and a sense of, “doing the right thing”.

Fairbanks Senator “Click” Bishop is an example of a fellow caught between a rock and a hard place.

Some of his union constituents want to repeal reform which could siphon more money into government and public utility unions that could expect to profit from taking maximum oil tax money now in spite of any effect that might have on the future.

Some of his union constituents depending on business generated jobs support reform and the effort to “Vote No On One”, the slogan for pro-SB 21 reform advocates.

Some of Bishop’s constituents are directly depending on oil company investment and jobs while some are involved with Interior Alaska, subsidized utility projects requiring huge expenditures of capital dollars from a diminishing state treasury.

So, what does Bishop do?  He supports SB 21…conditionally.  In this August 17 Op-Ed he assured his local readers that he voted for tax reform but didn’t trust investors and would make them pay dearly if they didn’t invest what he expected, though his expectation is undefined.

He says, “Here’s how my concerns were reported on the night I voted in favor of SB 21: "Bishop was cautiously optimistic the cuts would result in a change on the North Slope, but was adamant that he needs to see a ‘marked investment’ of billions of dollars per year if the industry hopes to hold onto SB 21’s changes. 'Do I trust the oil industry? No, they haven’t proven it to me yet,’ he said. ‘I’m just putting them on notice, right here and right now. They got one free pass with me tonight, and if I don’t see increased production, I’ll be the first one to file a bill to put it back on them, end of story.’ When asked when he would make that determination, he said three years."'

*     *    *

“But”, Bishop continued, “I want to stress -- the burden of proof is not on me or any other Alaskan -- it's on the industry. I want to see increased spending and I want to see increased production. So, I am on the record, just as I was on the record during my campaign and my time in the Legislature. I will take this leap of faith, but if it's not producing the promised results within three years, I will lead the charge to change it.”

“I will also note that if we have to return to ACES or something like it because the producers have not produced, I will be leading the charge for that too, including a claw-back provision to return those dollars to Alaska,” he concluded.

In short, Bishop is like other public officials who kowtow to the public in the quest for reelection by demonizing investors.  It is unfortunate that even if today's effort to repeal tax reform fails, and even if resulting industry investment is massive, the Senator's hostility will remain a matter of public record and a matter of investor concern.

We might have been more understanding had the good Senator opposed SB 21 and courageously stood by his guns or supported and defended reform because he believed the policy best for Alaska--for certain well-articulated reasons.

But Bishop's “on-the-one-hand/on-the-other-hand” rhetoric makes him appear to be unstudied, incapable of decision and far short of the wisdom required of one elected to analyze and act decisively on complex matters affecting the lives of all Alaskans, if not all Americans.  We have seen Bishop in action, like him and appreciate his best of intentions.  We don't mean to pick on the man but his attitude attracts critique.  Why would you support reform for the very investors whom you attack and threaten?

Bishop’s psychology is not unique.  In his defense, he probably does faithfully follow the diverse pressures of constituents.  He has likely chosen to be a “follower of constituent concerns” rather than a, “leader of Alaska”.  That approach might be best calculated for popularity and reelection but falls short of true leadership, diplomacy and business acumen.

Where does this leave Alaska on this historic, Primary Election Day?

We believe that should Ballot Proposition #1 fail (i.e. thus reaffirming passage of SB 21), Alaska will continue to see its investment climate attract more investment.  That investment will lengthen the life of TAPS and thus best secure economic prosperity for this and future Alaska generations.

Should Proposition #1 pass (i.e. thus repealing SB 21 and tax reform), we believe the event will be followed by investor statements indicating, “disappointment” that a well-studied plan by the Legislature and Governor to improve Alaska’s investment climate has failed through operation of a voters initiative.

We believe that under either scenario, the citizens of Alaska and the nation have big challenges to overcome.

  1.  Scenario: Initiative Fails.  Celebration will and should be muted.  Oil tax reform will continue forward.  More investment can be expected.  But investors will remain cautious for several reasons:
    1. The subjective, demanding and hostile attitude of, “invest to my satisfaction”, projected by Senator “Click” Bishop and a large percentage of other Alaskans will be calculated when future investment decisions are discounted for political variables.  Yes, tax reform is safe for the time being, but a large block of voters and elected officials remain hostile to investors—and they know it.
    2. Investors have just witnessed how Alaska’s voter initiative process can emasculate the carefully developed policy of elected officials.  While the initiative may fail today, the process remains alive and well for another day—and investors know it.
    3. With reaffirmation of tax reform, expectations will be high for the oil producers to, “make the gas pipeline/LNG project reality”.  The big producer investors have always said that a durable, reliable “fiscal regime” is required before investors commit $40 to $60 billion into marketing the 35 Tcf + of  Alaska North Slope natural gas reserves.  A decade ago, Governor Frank Murkowski developed an agreement with producers that provided ‘fiscal certainty’ for their big gas pipeline investment in return for a production tax increase.  The Legislature balked and, instead, gave investors no fiscal certainty but rope-a-doped them a tax increase that is the subject of today’s SB 21 tax reform repeal ballot question.  In short, once today is done, the North Slope producers’ gas pipeline project will be under increased scrutiny, accompanied by residual hostile attitudes which surfaced during the SB 21 debate process.  Investors, therefore, know that while production tax reform is real (at least for the time being), new challenges await them.
    4. If Alaskan leaders do not restrain their appetite for continuing, increased spending the pressure will soon build to again increase oil taxes—and, investors know that, too.
  2. Scenario: Initiative Passes.  Governor Sean Parnell (NGP Sean Parnell, No On One, Production Tax, ACES, reform, sb 21, Photo by Dave HarbourPhoto), some legislators, business leaders and oil companies will express varying degrees of disappointment.  Expect to see somewhat restrained comments by oil company taxpayers.  After all, they will once again be living under one of the worst investment climates in the free world—and their assets and operations will still fall under dominion of an unreliable taxing sovereign with regulatory muscle to boot.
    1. We believe investors will throttle back on LNG gas project planning or put the project on hold.  They will, however, be careful about their public responses knowing Alaska is capable of mobilizing further hurtful voters’ initiatives, including a natural gas ‘reserves tax’.
    2. Alaskans can expect to see some projects now being constructed, abandoned.
    3. Real estate investors will be hard hit, beginning this coming fall and winter, as producer companies engage in reductions in force and terminate or downgrade scores or hundreds of service agreements with Alaskan contractors.  New “big box” retail investors will be facing a dangerous, demographic slide.  Nonprofit organizations heavily dependent on general business donations can expect to see a dry desert appearing before their eyes, with few oases of private financial support in view, other than the occasional mirage.  Hoped for new oil and gas investment will fade away, adversely affecting the state and municipal budgets depending on income from the (i.e. discriminatory, since no other business pays it) special oil and gas property tax.
    4. Less oil, than with tax reform, will be transported down TAPS.   This will lead to an earlier shutdown, removal and restoration of the great oil conduit, than would have occurred with tax reform.  This will cause increased prices for oil shippers and their customers at Alaska refineries and on the U.S. West Coast.   The end of TAPS will end oil and gas exploration and development on the Alaska North Slope for, at least, the remainder of our generation.
    5. Finally, one has to ask: If SB 21 is repealed and the negative investment climate produces an outmigration of citizens, will massive state subsidies still be spent to produce the multitude of new energy projects now on the drawing board—in preparation for a growing population.  If so, it is likely that much of that spending will be wasted.  If not, many state employees and their contractors will also experience reductions in force.

Finally, whether the initiative passes or fails, Alaska will still have to contend with two very big challenges:

  1.  Alaska will still face the overreaching, hostile and anti-development actions of a federal government that controls most of the land in Alaska directly, and all of the state, Native and other private lands indirectly.
  2. Alaska will still have to resolve whether it wishes to encourage investors with a truly positive attitude.  Or, will we continue to reflect a small-town, suspicious and hostile attitude toward the very investors whose perseverance and treasure produced for Alaska and her citizens a 50-year age of prosperity?

Tomorrow we’ll know.  Today will be history.


Responses to above commentary:

  • Dave,
     
    My comments from the other side of Pacific (i.e. one of our Australian readers.  -dh).
     
    From a country which is normally considered more collectivist than the U.S. I find the implicit belief of the “high taxers” (including Commisar Palin) to be surprising, but like all socialists everywhere, they believe: "the economy just happens and all of its output belongs to the State other than the bit we chose to leave to you.”    A "Yes" vote will kill the Alaska LNG Project - perhaps forever (though the Producers will be too polite to say so) - and that’s a $50B project!
     
    Cheers,
    N.
  • Our email alert drawing attention to this commentary was entitled: "This Primary Election Day Will Change Alaska's History".  Our first response came from highly respected Alaskan leader, A.G.C., who replied, "Hopefully for the better, but I doubt it."
  • Dave, really good job on the editorial today.  I think you have fairly depicted either outcome, which I fervently hope is a no vote. Looking forward to seeing what you write tomorrow…  -N
  • Thanks, Dave; I voted on Saturday.  -K.E.
  • Looking at the Vote Yes on One Campaign I see the same tunnel vision that I experience on the highways every day. A driver only looks forward in the lane he occupies and comes up behind another driver, tailgating, thinking this will make the trip faster. When this doesn’t happen the driver swerves into another lane without looking to both sides and rear to see what danger may lurk. Many accidents and near accidents occur because of this behavior.  Voting Yes is exactly the same where the voter only looks at the immediate rewards and not the risks and damage to others their actions may bring. The trickle-down effect from discouraging investors will be a severe blow to Alaska’s future.

I urge all Alaskans to Vote NO on One to keep the Alaska economy moving forward now and in the future.

Ken Bauer, Operations & Sales Manager

Spill Shield Inc.

2000 W International Airport Road, D-2

Anchorage, Alaska  99502


 

 

 

 

 

Categories:

8-16-14 Open Offshore Production

16 August 2014 1:39pm

More than 125,000 US Consumers Say Open Up New Offshore Areas for Energy Production

More than 125,000 US consumers support of a robust offshore energy development program.  Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) and its partner organizations have submitted these comments to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) just before the end of the comment period on a new five-year offshore energy leasing plan. 

 

American consumers overwhelmingly support a commonsense energy policy that includes expanding access to offshore areas where responsible exploration for oil and natural gas can be done. In all,128,042 comments were garnered on behalf of CEA, including:

  • 31,325 from consumers in the Gulf Coast states
  • 41,753from consumers along the Atlantic Coast 
 

In the federal government’s current leasing program, only the western and central portions of the Gulf of Mexico and some limited areas off the Alaskan coast are available for leasing. Altogether, 87% of offshore areas have been closed off from energy development.

 

The U.S. Outer Continental Shelf has more than 6,200 active oil and gas leases covering approximately 34 million acres. These leases produce 18 percent of domestic oil production and 5 percent of domestic natural gas production. But these areas hold an estimated 89.93 billion barrels of oil and 404.52 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that have yet to be tapped.

Categories:

8-13-14 EPA's Alaska Hearings Began Yesterday

13 August 2014 8:49am

Alaska Miners Association Summary of Yesterday's Meeting

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

ADN by Lisa Demer.  The fight over the proposed Pebble Deantha Crockett, Alasaka Miners Association, EPA, Overreach, Pebble, 404B, preemptive action, rule of law, due process, Photo by Dave Harbourmine came to the Egan Center on Tuesday at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s public hearing before a crowd of hundreds, some holding salmon cutouts or wearing anti-Pebble stickers and others with red stop signs saying “Hands off Alaska.”     ***     Deantha Crockett, executive director of the Alaska Miners Association (NGP Photo), told EPA that she fields calls regularly from potential financiers wondering whether it’s safe to invest in mining here.

“And I don’t know what to say to them,” she said.

Her organization has repeatedly urged EPA to allow Pebble to move through permitting.

“I am discouraged and can only expect that our pleas for science and law will again be ignored.”

(See one of our earlier comments on EPA overreach and the Rule of Law.  If EPA gets away with violating Constitutional due process guarantees by preemptively blocking this project, it can preemptively block any federal, state, local government or private project in the nation or offshore within national waters.   Below is th Alaska Miners Association summary of yesterday's hearing.  -dh)


 

AMA Members:

 

Yesterday, EPA held its first of a series of public meetings on the Proposed Determination Pursuant to Section 404c of the Clean Water Act for the Pebble Deposit Area, in Anchorage.

The hearing lasted around five hours, with approximately 125 people signed up to testify.  Testimony began with Tom Collier, CEO of Pebble Partnership, who urged the EPA to wait for their mine plans to be submitted; and at that time, allow a lengthy public comment process and project evaluation.  State of Alaska Attorney General Mike Geraghty powerfully stated that we should not be afraid of the existing permitting process and we should not be afraid of evaluating projects through science.

From elected officials and the public at large, AMA would specifically like to thank the following members for their testimony:

Senator Cathy Giessel, Representative Pete Higgins, Alicia Amberg, Martha Anelon, Trefon Angasan, Chris Birch, Jason Brune, Bill Ellis, Howard Grey, Marleanna Hall, Mike Heatwole, Josie Hickel, Bill Jeffress, Roger Jenkins, Josh Kindred on behalf of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, Sean Magee, Rob Retherford, Rick Rogers, Randy Ruedrich, John Shively, Lorali Simon, and Dennis Stacey.  In addition, we appreciate those who stuck around for several hours but didn't get the chance to testify, including Kati Capozzi, Rebecca Logan, Rachael Petro and Andy Rogers. 

(Note: If I missed you on this list, I am responsible for the omission, and I'm truly sorry!  Please let me know if I missed you.)

I provided testimony on behalf of AMA, and noted that we have previously submitted, five different times, our concerns with the flawed assessment and the abandonment of the permitting process, and that our concerns have never been heard or addressed.  I also noted that AMA receives calls frequently about the investment climate in Alaska, and it has changed drastically and negatively as a result of this process.

We posted many quotes from these testimonies on our Facebook and Twitter pages.  You don't have to be on Facebook to view them; just click here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alaska-Miners-Association/266705696777643?ref=hl 

 

News articles: 

http://www.adn.com/article/20140812/hundreds-make-their-case-pebble-mine-epa-anchorage-hearing

http://www.alaskapublic.org/2014/08/12/epa-gets-earful-on-pebble/

 

You can still comment!

Finally, I know that a large majority of you are outside of Anchorage or could not be a part of yesterday's hearing.  You can still comment!  With our Federal Oversight Committee, we will be developing lengthy and technical comments on behalf of AMA and will submit them by the September 19 deadline.  We encourage you to do the same!  See how here: http://www2.epa.gov/bristolbay/public-involvement-bristol-bay-404c-process#comments

 

Thank you very much for your involvement in this critical issue!

Deantha Crockett
Executive Director
Alaska Miners Association
(907) 270-9234 direct
(907) 563-9229 main
(907) 317-6323 mobile
deantha@alaskaminers.org
121 W. Fireweed Lane, Suite 120
Anchorage, AK 99503

This email has been sent from a computer made of the mined minerals we depend on for everyday life.  As we communicate together, please be thankful mining makes it possible.

 

 

 


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