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Alaskans Welcome Salazar But The Jury Is Still Out On the Federal Landlord's Motives

Edmonton Journal: Enbridge, announcing increased profits over the past three months, is also expanding its plans to move oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast.


Comment on Secretary Ken Salazar's Latest Alaska Visit

by 

Dave Harbour

Today, the Associated Press' Becky Bohrer in the Seattle Times noted...

... that, "The Obama administration is interested in seeing more oil and gas development in Alaska, both onshore and off, but it wants to make sure that any drilling is done responsibly, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (NGP Photo) said Monday."  

In virtually all of his speeches, testimony to Congress, and media conferences, Salazar has proclaimed his understanding of Alaska's natural resources potential and President Barack Obama's similar understanding.  In virtually all of the Administration's actions, the Federal power exercised here has voilated Alaska's reasonable expectations under the Statehood Compact.  Virtually every major Federal action in Alaska under the Obama-Salazar-environmental oligarchy has been damaging to Alaska's economy and people and to the people and economy of the United States.

ADN.  Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is bringing together the state attorney general and the superintendent of the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve following the controversy over how the National Park Service has enforced boating regulations in the preserve.  ... Congressman Don Young asserts "the Park Service in Alaska has become, very frankly, like, I would say, an occupied army of a free territory." He maintains the Yukon River is state water and that the Park Service has no business enforcing its rules there.

ADN.  Salazar and Obama Support Alaska Drilling, Conditionally.

Our stories detailing economic death by a thousand cuts and the cumulative effect of federal overreach.

Times-Tribune by Laura Legere (Alaska is not alone in its struggle against federal overreach).  In a recent letter sent to landowners in the Northern Tier, Chesapeake's vice president for government relations, David J. Spigelmyer, called the updated requirements enacted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on July 1 "unnecessary, time consuming and redundant."  New permitting requirements affecting natural gas pipelines in Pennsylvania have raised the ire of Chesapeake Energy, which is encouraging natural gas leaseholders to join it in protesting the rules.  

ADN Editorial: "Interior chief has a good sense of what Alaska provides."

Last week, Salazar's administration gave conditional approval for Shell Oil's Exploration Plan for next year's planned Arctic Ocean exploration activity--after several years of taking arbitrary and capricious steps to block or delay it and other Alaskan development.  Still, the permit could be denied after environmental activists finish commenting on the conditional approval...or initiate lawsuits blocking it.  Furthermore, Salazar can talk positively out of one side of his mouth as he has done for nearly three years, but then we can imagine him saying later this year, "Well, we recognize Alaska's importance and Shell's determination to drill, but it has to be done right.  The EPA still has air quality concerns.  My agency has genuine concerns about the effect of exploration and global warming on survival of the polar bear, and, besides, the environmental groups have filed lawsuits against our issuance of permits that must be fully adjudicated."  

This week Senator Mark Begich hosted a private gathering for Salazar to meet with a number of Alaskans--and from what we hear of that meeting, Alaskans spoke loudly and clearly about the need for developing resources that could sustain the life of the Trans Alaska Pipeline and support recovery of America's economy in the bargain.

We realize that our Congressional Delegation, Governor and oil industry are doing their best to be polite to Alaska's big, federal landlord, but the time is coming when folks will have to begin telling the federal bully to back off--or accept responsibility for killing Alaska's economy and depriving the state of an ability to remain a properly functioning state.

Salazar was accompanied -- as he was during the trip last fall --David Hayes, Deputy Secretary DOI, Department of Interior, Federal Coordinator by his Deputy Secretary, David Hayes (NGP Photo).

Boher reported that Hayes, heading President Barack Obama's interagency task force to coordinate permit approvals, said "...a group is gathering comments from Alaskans on ways to improve the permitting process. Staff is focused on energy projects currently 'on deck,' he said, with a goal of having federal agencies work together and not cause delays in projects by their lack of communication or coordination."  
 
Even if one takes Hayes and Salazar at their word, one notes that this interagency effort could be designed to attract Congressional funding for ending project delays, but could actually be used to enhance "communication or coordination" that serves what has been clearly proven to be the Administration's true objective of delaying development.  We note that Hayes has a lifelong history of supporting environmental agendas, not removing bureaucratic roadblocks to development.  By statute, he serves as the Department’s Chief Operating Officer and has authority over all of the Department’s bureaus and agencies, according to his official biography. "He is involved in implementing the Secretary’s priorities for the Department, including climate change, conservation of our treasured landscapes, responsible energy development on our public lands and offshore resources....  Throughout his career, Deputy Secretary Hayes has been involved in developing progressive solutions to environmental and natural resources challenges. He previously served as the Deputy Secretary and counselor to the Secretary of the Interior in the Clinton Administration. He is a former chairman of the Board of the Environmental Law Institute; he served as a Senior Fellow for the World Wildlife Fund, and was the Vice-Chair of the Board of American Rivers. Hayes was a consulting professor at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment and he has written and lectured widely in the environmental and natural resources field. esources Department at Latham and Watkins, an international law firm."
 
Hayes may not be a fox let loose in Alaska's hen house of resources, but his background certainly does not speak of one dedicated to reasonable development of natural resources.
 
Salazar came to the state on this trip at the request of Senator Lisa Murkowski and met with Governor Sean Parnell.  The AP story said that, "Parnell's spokeswoman said the governor described the meeting, which Hayes and Begich also attended as 'a very cordial discussion on a broad range of topics,' including the importance of the trans-Alaska pipeline to the state and nation and Parnell's goal of boosting oil flow through the line to one million barrels a day by 2022."  
 
Everyone is very cordial, apparently.  But citizens who pull back the curtain of courtesy can easily understand the tense nature of Alaska's relationship to this distant landlord.  Alaska's government is engaged in a variety of lawsuits designed to limit federal 'overreach' into Alaska's soverign jurisdiction.  Alaskans are right to be polite to the visiting landlord, but have good reason to be suspicious about the motives of this Interior Secretary and his Deputy.
 
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