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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.  -dh

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5-29-15 Economic Death Spirals and More....

29 May 2015 10:52am

Economic Death Spirals: Part I


Dave Harbour

Economic Death Spirals are never pleasant and can vary in impact.  As a former utility regulator, I was always on the lookout for potential utility death spirals, for their impact could bankrupt utility investors, make utility rates unaffordable for consumers and/or threaten the lives of those dependent on life sustaining heat, light, water and sanitary services. 

A utility death spiral can strike when rates become too high for consumers to afford.  In such a case, fewer consumers can pay for the service.  As customers leave the utility or use less of its service, overall utility costs increase because they are borne by an increasingly smaller number of remaining customers.  Ultimately, there could be a very few customers paying such a high price that the utility and its investors have to call it quits.  The utility death spiral is one form of economic, “death spiral”.

Having become acquainted with the tragic consequences of potential and some actual economic death spirals, I now apply the concept to a variety of personal and public policy situations—some of which will be of value to our Alaskan and Canadian readers coping with big energy projects.

The Traditional Utility Death Spiral

An honest regulator today must be very frustrated.   By 'honest' we mean public servants committed to just and reasonable adjudication of utility rates based on facts and evidence in the record before them...not on personal political instincts or outside pressure.  

The concept of "global warming" became de rigueur, beginning about two decades ago, then morphed into "global climate change" when in more recent years science could not sustain the theory of "warming".

I'll explain.

It is hard for ordinary, hardworking citizens to believe but we have shown in these pages that "climate change" is a political technique for defeating capitalism and organizing communities to achieve power.

To use climate change to achieve power and defeat capitalism, the manipulators -- the strategic planners pulling the strings -- have perverted the rule of law in a number of areas which we have also reviewed in these pages. 

But today, we'll address the manipulation of the utility regulatory process. 

Here is the general, trustworthy, reliable process of utility regulation with which I became familiar as a regulator. 

A regulatory utility agency is created by the Legislature with quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative powers.

In its quasi-judicial role, it adjudicates utility rates, assuring that they are 'just and reasonable' for consumers and give utilities the 'opportunity but not the guarantee of achieving a fair return of and on their investments.'  Final decisions are adjudicated in private to assure a candid internal debate of merits and of the record but are subject to appeal both by the agency then by the judicial system.

In its quasi-legislative role, it may be given the power to promulgate regulations, rules established consistent with statutes passed by the Legislature.  Regulations have the force of law but are created after a proposal is submitted for public review, public comment is considered.  The overall record is generally adjudicated and voted on in public.

The regulator may grant a utility a monopoly service area in return for having its operations regulated by the agency.  That agency will issue a certificate of public convenience and necessity in return for the utility’s commitment to provide dependable service within its certificated area.  The regulatory entity then monitors operations and hears complaints and adjudicates requests for consumer rate increases – using a “just and reasonable” standard. 

In short, regulation of the monopoly utility becomes the surrogate or replacement for a competitive market.  (Note: in the case of utilities, most people wouldn’t want telephone poles constructed by six different companies, or six sets of sewer pipes or water pipes or natural gas distribution pipelines or six garbage collection companies serving various neighborhood customers at 5 a.m., six days a week.) 

Most customers would rather have a government regulated utility monopoly, overseen to assure that the rates for the service are, “just and reasonable,” as if there were a competitive marketplace.

In the case of regulated utilities that are privately owned, the regulator decides whether costs were ‘prudently incurred’ and then has to decide using the ‘just and reasonable’ standard whether the rate payers should be charged the additional monthly rate, or whether investors, or shareholders, should ‘eat’ the increase. 

But another regulatory principle is this: while assuring that the proposed rate increase is just and reasonable, it does so from both the perspective of the utility and the rate payer.  That is, if costs are high but prudently incurred, the regulatory should also be mindful that the utility investors should be protected as well, for it is in the consumers’ interest and in the general public interest to assure that utility investors have the opportunity – but not the guarantee – of making a reasonable return on their investment.

To not be as mindful of a just and reasonable utility cost increase could be to jeopardize the financial ability of the utility to survive. 

More coming....






































Dave Harbour, publisher of Northern Gas Pipelines, is a former Chairman of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and a Commissioner Emeritus of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).  He served as NARUC's official representative to the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission.  Harbour is past Chairman of the Alaska Council on Economic Education, former Chairman of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, and past President of the American Bald Eagle Foundation.  He is Chairman Emeritus of the Alaska Oil & Gas Congress.



5-28-15 Murkowski Cheers LNG Export Approval ... Urges Repeal of Oil Export Ban

28 May 2015 8:43am

Comment: We remind our Canadian and U.S. readers that with so much North American oil and gas existing and potential production and with so many more LNG export projects than the market can accommodate, any major news such as the Alaska LNG export approval today affects investors, jobs, treasuries and economies in both countries.  -dh

US SENATOR LISA MURKOWSKI, Approve Alaska LNG Exports, Approve Repeal of Oil Export Ban, Photo by Dave HarbourBREAKING NEWS TODAY!  U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today cheered the Department of Energy’s approval of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export license for Alaska’s massive North Slope natural gas resources.  READ ENTIRE STATEMENT HERE.... 

Robert Dillon, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, lift crude oil export ban, Lisa Murkowski, Photo by Dave HarbourOur friend, Robert Dillon (NGP Photo), of Senator Lisa Murkowski's Energy and Natural Resources Committee writes this morning of the article below: "From this morning’s edition of The Hill: “Ending the export ban creates a global market for U.S. oil that will increase production and stabilize prices. The U.S. once dominated the energy markets, with the right policies it can do so again.” 

The Hill by Dr. Merrill Matthews.  Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), along with 10 other Senate cosponsors, have introduced the Energy Supply Distribution Act (S. 1312), whose primary purpose is to end the 40-year ban on exporting U.S. crude oil.

Congress passed a crude oil export ban in 1975 as an understandable, if ineffective, response to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ efforts to use access to crude oil as a political weapon.

OPEC’s decision to cut back oil production left the U.S. with higher gas prices and often long gas lines.  For one of the first times Americans felt the helplessness that comes when foreign countries had us at their mercy.

U.S. oil production had already been declining, having reached its peak in 1970 with an average of 9,637 million barrels of oil per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  By 1975 production had declined by 1.3 million barrels a day.  (Read entire article here....)                                          

Washington, D.C.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today cheered the Department of Energy’s approval of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export license for Alaska’s massive North Slope natural gas resources. 

“Receiving the conditional license to export LNG to non-free trade agreement countries is a major milestone for the Alaska LNG project and great news for Alaska,” Murkowski said. “With federal permission in place, those working on the project have the ability to begin selling Alaska gas in the Asian markets. With this project comes good jobs and a stronger economy and I’m excited to see Alaska at the forefront of LNG exports.”

Department of Energy (DOE) officials announced the license approval Thursday morning in Anchorage at a roundtable on the federal permitting process hosted by Murkowski.

The license, which would allow exports of up to 2.55 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day for 30 years, is conditional on final regulatory approval of the project by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The Alaska LNG Project is currently in the pre-filing process at FERC.

The Alaska LNG Project is a partnership between the state of Alaska, the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and the pipeline company TransCanada.

Murkowski noted that DOE’s 30-year authorization – a full decade longer than typical – was justified by the size and scope of the Alaska LNG Project, which could cost as much as $60 billion.

“The volume of 2.55 BCF a day and the length of this authorization are necessary to support a project of this size and scope,” Murkowski said.

Alaska has 35 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves on the North Slope, and the potential for 200 trillion cubic feet more both onshore and offshore of Alaska’s northern coast. Alaska also has a 44-year history of shipping LNG from Cook Inlet to Asia from Nikiski.

“I have always indicated that coordination at the federal level will be key to the success of an Alaska LNG project. When the prospects for Alaska gas changed from an overland pipeline to an LNG project, the federal tools changed.” Murkowski said. “FERC has the ability to be the lead agency for permitting and play a coordinating role for federal agencies. Further, the Department of the Interior leads an interagency working group established through executive order to support major Alaska projects and can supplement FERC’s lead on an Alaska LNG Project.”

As chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Interior and Environmental Appropriations Subcommittee, Murkowski has oversight authority over the federal agencies involved in permitting an export project, including DOE and FERC, and is well positioned to ensure the project continues to advance.




5-27-15 Meetings For Our Readers

27 May 2015 5:33am

Larry Persily, gas pipeline route, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Photo by Dave HarbourAlaska LNG Reviews Pipeline Route With Government Agencies, by Larry Persily (NGP Photo) on behalf of the Kenai Peninsula Borough


Petroleum News: Canada's Mackenzie Gas Project Still Breathing!


Chuck Becker, Alaska's Diplomat, Energy Advocate, World Affairs Coucil, Alaska Support Industry Alliance, Photo by Dave HarbourToday: funeral services for our longtime friend, energy advocate and "Alaska's Diplomat", Chuck Becker (NGP Photo).

Tomorrow: the big LNG meeting in Anchorage, open to media and the public.

Next Week

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) will hold its 2015 EIA Energy Conference on June 15 and 16 at the Renaissance Downtown Hotel in Washington, DC. The EIA Energy Conference has become a premier forum for addressing energy issues in the United States and worldwide. This event provides a unique opportunity to meet and network with fellow energy experts and decision makers.

Last year more than 900 thought leaders from industry, government, and academia attended the 2014 EIA Energy Conference. Participants discussed current and future challenges facing domestic and international energy markets and policymakers.

In the coming months, EIA will post additional information regarding the 2015 EIA Energy Conference, including confirmed keynote speakers, topic session participants, and a complete conference schedule. To be added to the mailing list to receive conference updates and additional information, email EIA at conference@eia.gov or follow EIA on Facebook and Twitter.

Keynote speakers include:

U.S. Secretary of Energy


Secretary of Energy


Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Continental Resources

Executive Chairman
BNSF Railway Company


Co-Founder & CTO
Tesla Motors


United States Senator 
North Dakota

Session topics include:

  • Effects of changing world oil prices: production, economy, and geopolitics
  • North American energy markets
  • The role of emerging energy storage technologies in electricity markets
  • Natural gas: domestic and global markets
  • Greenhouse gas emissions: power and methane
  • Developments in hydrocarbon gas liquids markets
  • Electric distribution markets in the 21st century
  • Energy by rail and water
  • Energy infrastructure needs and options
  • Residential and commercial energy consumption

Mackenzie Gas Project still breathing - 05/24/2015  In danger of becoming the answer to a trivia question, Canada's Mackenzie Gas Project is not yet ready to fade into history. Since gaining Canadian government approval four years ago, along with obtaining a National Energy Board Certificate of Convenience and Necessity, the Arctic gas venture has re....

Alaska LNG Reviews Pipeline Route With Government Agencies
By Larry Persily lpersily@kpb.us
May 26, 2015
(This update, provided by the Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor’s office, is part of an ongoing effort to help keep the public informed about the Alaska LNG project.)
Alaska is vast, with a lot of open ground, but it seems like transportation projects in the state — be it roads, railroads or pipelines — can’t help but cross over or under each other while traversing the same natural corridors.
Preliminary plans for the proposed 800-mile North Slope natural gas pipeline south to Cook Inlet show it would cross the trans-Alaska oil pipeline 12 times, the Dalton Highway 22 times, the Parks Highway 12 times, Alaska Railroad tracks four times, and the Elliott and Kenai Spur highways one time each.
And don’t forget the natural transportation routes. The line would cross the Nenana River in four locations. Just once for the Yukon River. All told, the mid-May 2015 version of the proposed pipeline route includes 446 waterbody crossings. Some are rivers, some creeks, some smaller than that. Some are much larger, such as almost 30 miles across Cook Inlet.
More than two dozen Alaska LNG team members and contractors met with 60 federal, state and municipal agency personnel May 12 in Anchorage to discuss the project’s latest revisions to the proposed natural gas pipeline route from the North Slope to Nikiski on the Kenai Peninsula.
The project teams reported they have made multiple adjustments to the pipeline route since filing the first draft route with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in February 2015. It’s all about finding the best path for the pipeline to move North Slope gas 800 miles across the state to reach the liquefaction plant in Nikiski. The project is in undergoing engineering and design, working toward a late-summer 2016 FERC application. The federal agency regulates LNG plant construction and operations, and will prepare the project’s environmental impact statement.
While seeking feedback from government regulatory agencies at the all-day session May 12, the Alaska LNG team listed the optimal engineering criteria for pipeline route selection: stable ground, good drainage, and flat or gentle slopes. “We try to stay on the high ground every place we can,” a team leader said. All the while, the team is aiming for the shortest distance between two points while avoiding — as much as possible — fault lines, wetlands, frost-heave soils, power lines, fiber optic cables, visual impacts, cultural sites and private land.
The pipeline execution team reported they would like to keep the 42-inch-diameter, high-pressure gas line at least 200 feet away from the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, particularly to allow gas line construction equipment to maneuver a safe distance from the aboveground oil line. But some pinch points will require closer spacing.
“In many cases, the oil line (built in the mid-1970s) picked the best spot, and we have to pick the next best spot,” a team member said. The challenge is to find the preferred route within the constraints of geology, terrain and environmental considerations.
Several stretches along the route are still under review, with project teams working to find the best way to manage geological, environmental and historic preservation issues.
One example is the effort to find the best place to cross from the west to the east side of the Nenana River in the area where the Parks Highway, Alaska Railroad and a steep canyon all come together, about 120 highway miles south of Fairbanks near the entrance to Denali National Park and Preserve. This is near where the Moody Bridge crosses 174 feet above the canyon floor. No surprise, the span also is known as “Windy Bridge.” The Alaska LNG team would prefer to stay away from steep, failing slopes, keep outside of the national park, and run the line east of the tourist commercial area known as “Glitter Gulch.”
“We’ve got some additional work to do … the answer is still in front of us,” a team member said at the routing workshop. While at the same time working to minimize impacts on highway traffic during construction, especially during the busy summer season, and preserving the scenic views along the highway and at viewpoints that are so important to visitors — and Alaskans.
The Alaska LNG pipeline execution team is working with their counterparts at the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. during the route selection, sharing information in an effort to avoid duplication of efforts as the two projects look for the best way past problem areas. The state corporation is designing a smaller-volume pipeline project as a backup for Alaskans to consider if the producer-led Alaska LNG project does not move forward.
Alaska LNG teams include staff assigned by all four commercial partners in the effort: North Slope oil and gas producers ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips, and pipeline partner TransCanada. The state of Alaska would also be an investor in Alaska LNG. 
Another area still under review by the pipeline team is Atigun Pass, the highest point on the route at 4,739 feet above sea level in the Brooks Range. The pass is about 175 miles south of the start of the pipeline at the gas treatment plant proposed for Prudhoe Bay. The intent is to thread the gas line over the pass, while keeping a safe distance from the Dalton Highway, the oil line and steep slopes.
Crossing the Yukon River, about 180 miles south of Atigun Pass, also needs more ground sleuthing, the team reported, particularly geophysical and geotechnical studies to learn every possible detail of ground and subsurface conditions. As of mid-May, the team was assessing the option of directional drilling and pulling the pipe underneath the river, at a point west of the existing oil pipeline bridge and downstream from deep shoreside bluffs. But that could change as the team learns more, and a bridge crossing is an option.
Horizontal drilling and pulling pipe also would be used to run the line beneath highway and river crossings along the route, along with possible open cuts and burying the pipe.
Although most of the gas line would be buried, several sections of the route would need to be above ground, much like the oil line. Such construction, with the pipeline supported on horizontal steel beams between two vertical columns, would allow the line to span fault lines, staying out of harm’s way.
The most serious earthquake risk is the Denali Fault, which crosses the Parks Highway near Cantwell, just 35 miles south of where the gas line crosses the Nenana River near Denali National Park. A 7.9-magnitude earthquake in 2002 tested the oil pipeline, which crosses the fault about 130 miles to the east of the gas line route. The oil pipe survived the quake, thanks to its elevated support structure.
Other aboveground stretches for the gas pipeline would include the 60-some miles between the Point Thomson gas field and the gas treatment plant at Prudhoe Bay, where gas from both fields would be cleaned of carbon dioxide and other impurities. The first draft routing submitted to FERC in February indicated the line would be buried in this area, but the team reported at the May 12 workshop that it had decided aboveground construction is a better option to avoid drainage problems of surface and subsurface water flowing north to the Beaufort Sea.
Along with Atigun Pass, the Yukon River and Glitter Gulch, another area still under review by the pipeline team is the Deshka River crossing, about 65 miles north of where the line would enter Cook Inlet for its final stretch to Nikiski.
Field crews have found multiple cultural sites along the river, with its rich history of subsistence fishing. Historic-use sites along the Deshka are so plentiful the area looks like it “could have been a subdivision,” a pipeline team member said. Alaska LNG is working with its cultural team and the State Historic Preservation Office to find the best river-crossing location.
Another routing question raised in Alaska LNG’s February filing with FERC is where the pipeline should cross Cook Inlet to reach Nikiski. For now, the project is focusing on what it calls the western route, running the pipeline on the west side of Cook Inlet until Milepost 764 from Prudhoe Bay, then going underwater for almost 29 miles, coming up on the east side of the inlet just 7 miles or so to the liquefaction plant site in Nikiski’s industrial area.
On its west side approach, the line would stay away from the Beluga power plant, ENSTAR natural gas line, and drilling pads and access roads. A barge landing would be built on the west side to bring in equipment and supplies, just as a barge landing would be built on the east side for the same purpose — including delivery of the huge modules that would become the liquefaction plant.
On the west side, the team is looking at a couple of sites about a mile apart for the pipeline to enter the water, considering shoreline terrain and how far the buried pipe would have to run before reaching water deep enough (30-foot depth) for pipe-laying barge access.
For landfall on the east side of Cook Inlet, the line would likely come up at a location called Boulder Point, though the team is also looking at another spot just a couple of miles farther up the Kenai Peninsula coast (near Seneva Lake) with lower bluffs at tidewater. Just as with the west side location, the shortest distance to deep water is a consideration.
An alternate path across Cook Inlet, called the eastern route, is not now under active review, team members said at the May 12 meeting. That route would have the pipeline veer east after the Deshka River, cross the Susitna River and come to Port MacKenzie across the inlet from Anchorage. From there, the line would run through Upper Cook Inlet to the Kenai Peninsula, several miles northeast of the preferred crossing route.
Onshore problems with the eastern route, team members told regulatory agencies, include crossing through an old artillery range with unexploded ordinance and proximity to power lines and tower guy wires. Offshore, the concerns are numerous: submarine cables in the pipeline’s path; sharp turns in the route needed to avoid the dredged channel for Anchorage port traffic; critical feeding habitat of endangered beluga whales; and scouring along the seabed that could undermine the pipeline.
In gathering data for the Cook Inlet crossing, the project teams have learned a lot about the currents and siltation, and will be surveying for obstacles and mapping the seabed this summer as route-selection work continues.
The teams reported May 12 that currents along the preferred crossing route run 6 knots at the surface and 4 knots on the bottom. Water depth along the route would be 140 feet at the deepest point; generally about half that for most of the route.
To cross Cook Inlet, the pipeline would be lowered from barges to the sea floor. Each heavily concrete-coated section of 40-foot-long, 42-inch-diameter pipeline would weigh 33 tons — the pipeline’s weight would keep it in place on the bottom.
Alaska LNG contractors have a busy 2015 summer field season planned of soils testing, borehole drilling, stream surveys, wetlands mapping, geophysical work, cultural resource surveys and other data gathering as the project works toward submitting its next round of draft environmental reports to FERC in the first quarter of 2016.
The summer work will include “ground truthing” data obtained by LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), which maps out surface data and details with an airborne laser. Teams will walk the ground to verify LiDAR data at more than 100 sites along the pipeline route, particularly looking at slope stability and geophysical hazards.
Additional Alaska LNG workshops for government agencies are planned for June, August and September to cover in more detail route selections and construction methods for waterbody crossings, wetlands and Cook Inlet, along with the dredging that would be required to bring in construction barges.

5-26-15 Big LNG Meeting In Anchorage This Week

26 May 2015 8:34am

Big LNG Meeting In Anchorage This Week

Lisa Murkowski, DOE, Export Permit, LNG, Dave Harbour PhotoU.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (NGP Photo), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, will host a roundtable discussion in Anchorage on Thursday on the federal processes for permitting an Alaska liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project. We invite you to join us.
The event will include a public discussion between senior energy officials from the relevant federal agencies about key federal permits, processes and opportunities related to an LNG export project in Alaska. 
Attendees will include Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Director of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects Ann Miles, Department of Interior Chief of Staff Tommy Beaudreau, and Department of Energy Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Oil and Natural Gas Paula Gant.
What: Roundtable on the federal government’s role in permitting an Alaska LNG project
When: Thursday, May 28 at 9 a.m. Alaska Standard Time. Doors open at 8:30am.
Where: Wilda Marston Theatre, 3600 Denali Street, Anchorage
Currently, the Alaska LNG Project has a pending application for a conditional license to export LNG to non-free trade agreement nations before the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and has initiated the pre-filing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
The roundtable is open to the public and the media.

5-26-15 With Approval Of So Many At Home And Abroad, We Name Chuck Becker: "Alaska's Diplomat"

25 May 2015 6:32am

Chuck Becker, Export Council, World Affairs, Alaska Support Industry Alliance, Photo by Dave HarbourPoint of Personal Privilege: Scroll Down For An Update On, "Alaska's Diplomat", Our Friend, Chuck Becker 

Lisa Murkowski, Dave Harbour PhotoU.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (NGP Photo), Friday issued the following statement in response to a letter that 18 Senate Democrats sent to Interior Secretary Jewell, calling on the Obama administration to stop energy production in the Arctic. This comes after the administration approved plans for Shell to drill in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea this summer.

“Today’s attempt to block energy production in Alaska ignores the facts. For more than 30 years, Alaska has demonstrated its safe record of responsible oil and natural gas development in the Arctic. Even the Obama administration agrees this project can move along safely,” Murkowski said. “Right now, the United States can either choose to responsibly develop its resources under its superior standards or let countries like Russia lead the way. We can either choose to produce our own resources or return to the costly days of buying them from abroad. When it comes to realizing the benefits of energy production, I’ll always put Alaska and our nation first.”

The Democrats’ letter opposes increased energy production in the Arctic and is in contrast to the Obama administration, which approved Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic this summer. This week, U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Abigail Ross Hopper told Platts that new Arctic energy development could be carried out safely.

Hopper echoed President Obama’s recent comments that Alaska energy production is good for our nation. He said, “I would rather us – with all the safeguards and standards that we have – be producing our oil and gas, rather than importing it, which is bad for our people, but is also potentially purchased from places that have much lower environmental standards than we do.”

Alaska has a long history of safe and responsible oil and natural gas production in the Arctic. Some 35 wells have been drilled in Alaska’s Arctic waters since the 1980s. The Northstar field in the Beaufort Sea has produced 150 million barrels of oil since 2001.

Studies show that increased leasing and development in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas and in Cook Inlet could, by 2035, create nearly 840,000 jobs and raise more than $200 billion in revenue for the government.

We wrote about the passing of our dear friend, Chuck Becker, last week, here and here.  We cannot think of Chuck without a new title magically appearing under his signature block, "Alaska's Diplomat".

Chuck Becker's Life Was An Ode To Joy (Note: European Anthem Music Is A Free Download) from Dave Harbour on Vimeo.

Here is more information about this week's Celebration of Chuck's life, included in an obituary prepared by Chuck's loving wife, Micky and family.

We also include for Chuck's many friends among our readers, a video that the family has distributed.

On this memorial day, we shall long remember those who have fallen in defense of our Nation and Chuck, who served the nation with distinction in so many ways.



5-22-15 EPA Broke The Law When It Preemptively Attacked the Pebble Project.

22 May 2015 6:31am

Many friends of
"Alaska's Diplomat", Chuck Becker, have commented on the important life he led, including his energy industry understanding.  (Note: we will remove or edit any comments at the request of commenters.  -dh)

Canada's Fraser Institute analyzes how US loss of freedom affects economic recovery...and wonders how Alberta's new government will affect energy industry vitality.

 EPA's Pebble Blame Game

Wall Street Journal
(Write "Pebble" and/or "Federal Overreach" and/or "Rule of Law" in our NGP Google search engine, upper right.  You will find our many references, like this one, to the Pebble project.  We are grateful to the Wall Street Journal and Ms. Strassel for these excerpts and for airing this matter so well in today's issue.  We also appreciate alert readers like Dan Kish in Washington D.C. for alerting us first thing.  -dh)



May 21, 2015 7:24 p.m. ET

Government agencies have a certain descending order of excuses....  (Subscribe and read full WSJ article here.)

The EPA has a problem: its pre-emptive veto of the Pebble Mine, a proposed project in southwest Alaska. The law says that Pebble gets to apply for permits, and the Army Corps of Engineers gets to give thumbs up or down. The EPA, a law unto itself, instead last year blocked the proposal before applications were even filed. The agency claims .... (More....)

This column reported a week ago on EPA documents that tell a very different story. They reveal the existence of an internal EPA “options paper” that make clear the agency opposed the mine on ideological grounds and had already decided to veto it in the spring of 2010—well before it did any “science.” Emails showed an EPA biologist, Phil North..., (More....)

None of this looks good, and in a nearby letter EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran is already bringing up semantics. According to the EPA—and other environmental groups now picking up the same line—the agency didn’t “veto” the project, but ....

In a conversation with me last week, Mr. McLerran also turned to the “underlings did it” excuse. Asked about the options paper ....  It is a preliminary document, done by lower level staff.”

On June 7, 2010, Michael Szerlog, manager in the EPA region’s aquatics resources unit.... The message mentions Mr. McLerran....  (More....)

On June 15Kendra Tyler, special assistant in Mr. McLerran’s office, wrote to EPA staff: “I know that Dennis would like a briefing on the options paper soon . . .” On June 30, Mr. North emailed colleagues to explain that: “The only time the RA [Regional Administrator] is available to discuss the options paper before he visits Bristol Bay is Thursday . . . ” Later that day, Matthew Magorrian, also in the regional office, told a big group of EPA employees that “DM already has draft of options paper.”

...the list of EPA employees who make up the core group discussing the options paper are not a bunch of low-level chemists and permit writers. ...Mike Bussell, then the director of the EPA’s Office of Water and Watersheds in Seattle; David Allnutt, then acting regional counsel; Linda Anderson-Carnahan, then acting associate director of environmental cleanup; Tami Fordham, then policy adviser. Mr. McLerran says no “key decision makers” saw the options paper. ... (More....)

Several of those included in these email chains would go on to take active roles in performing the EPA’s “watershed assessment” of the mine project. Ms. Fordham is listed as a contributor, as is an EPA officer named Richard Parkin. ... Mr. McLerran says “key decision makers” decided to perform three years of “science” on Pebble. But it turns out those doing the science were those who had already decided to block the mine.

The EPA offered this statement on Thursday: “It is a normal part of EPA’s deliberative decision making....” (More....)

The EPA is worried because it is getting blowback that goes beyond public disapproval of its abuse of power. In November a court ordered ....  The agency is right to be worried; its Pebble veto is a scandal.  (More....)

Fraser Institute lends understanding to Canadian and US economies and energy industries.  Here are recent reports:


Here is how we memorialized the passing yesterday morning of our great friend, Chuck Becker.  Because of his work ethic, kindness, patience, diligence and patriotic labor in support of Alaska and the nation, we discovered the breadth and depth of the public comments made on various web pages.  We are delighted to assemble these for the convenience of friends and family so that they might live on in our Northern Gas Pipeline archives:

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