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8-13-12 Federal Overreach Summit: Day I

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.

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