Paul Jenkins says in his OP-Ed today that, “Without sensible oil tax reform, without more production, Alaskans will have to live with one eye on Alaska North Slope crude oil prices day to day and worry about the national and international vagaries and happenstance that drive them.”
“Alaska Is Being Assaulted: Let Me Count the Ways”
Beginning today in Point Lay, Alaska and ending on May 24 in Anchorage, the BLM is holding hearings to seek public comment on the future of the Nation’s Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A).
First created in 1923 as the Naval Petroleum Reserve Number 4, the area contains significant oil and gas resources. The area was renamed in 1976 and management responsibilities transferred from the Department of the Navy to the Interior Department (DOI).
The BLM has created a Draft Integrated Activity Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (IAP/EIS) which contains four alternatives for NPR-A’s future. Alternatives A, B, and C embrace various levels of restricted access and activity while Alternative D would allow planning for natural resource development, including environmental safeguards.
Some of our newer readers may say of our title, “Isn’t this a little bit of an overreaction? Assaulted? After all, we’re just seeing routine regulatory processes, some hearings and a comment period. It occurs during every administration.”
We who have watched the actions of Alaska’s Washington overlords for the past three+ years have compelling evidence that, a) not one major natural resource decision from Washington has reasonably supported the sustainability of Alaska’s economy, and b) the pattern of the Obama administration’s regulation of Alaska activities has also been harmful to America’s economy, national job creation, economic recovery, national defense, the balance of payments and energy security.
Let us count the ways that calculating minds in the Federal capital are sapping the strength from America’s largest, most well-endowed state:
1. The NPR-A is an area the size of Maine, managed by the DOI’s Bureau of Land Management(BLM). The only significant environmental damage done in the area was perpetrated by the Federal government which has yet to clean up evidence of its own drilling activity, decades old. Similar violations committed by private companies would have surely result in heavy fines. Yet Washington at a time of financial and energy and employment crisis has resisted responsible development of NPR-A. NPR-A is, for heaven’s sake, a NATIONAL PETROLEUM RESERVE, yet the current proceeding could result in shutting in much or all of the NPR-A’s future potential to supply domestic energy to our country.
2. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the DOI’sUS Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), is the size of North Carolina and mostly inaccessible wilderness. Federal law permits oil and gas development on a small sliver on the coast (i.e. “1002 area”), with Congressional approval. Exploration would occur in the winter when migratory species are absent. In the adjacent Prudhoe Bay area, a different caribou herd has thrived and more than quadrupled, due partly to human protections. Though Congress once granted approval for ANWR coastal plain development, President Clinton vetoed the bill in 1995. The current Administration has not recommended Congressional approval and continues to consider making that coastal sliver, off limits. Alaska has objected to USFWS steps to seek wilderness designations for the 1002 area within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s 19 million acres that would prevent development of up to 16 billion barrels of oil.
3. Alaska has vast oil and gas potential in the shallow water OCS areas of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, managed by the DOI’sBureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The current Administration has continually delayed providing necessary approvals for exploration. It has used crafty, passive-aggressive techniques wherein one agency will play ‘good cop’ and another will be the ‘bad cop’ that denies a permit. Again, this summer season, companies are poised to explore the leases for which they paid the Federal government billions. There is no assurance that a combination of Federal obstruction and/or environmental lawsuits will not further delay this important work.
4. The White House, via an Ocean Policy Executive Order that evades Congressional oversight and budget approval, has embarked on a two year crusade by the Council on Environmental Quality(CEQ) to put a huge matrix of regulatory controls over the nation’s oceans, the waterways feeding them and the inland areas affecting those waterways. This process would further erode states’ rights and citizen freedom by laying a new net of federal control over already well-regulated water and land activity.
5. Washington is designating an area over half the size of Texas as critical habitat for Alaska’s polar bears, whose population is stable if not increasing. This initiative could stop or limit otherwise legal, reasonable and logical human activity in a state twice the size of Texas with a total population (722,000) smaller than Fort Worth. The Parnell Administration has vowed to fight “…Improper listings and critical habitat designations with sound science and cost data,” referring to efforts by DOI’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to designate 187,166 square miles as a critical habitat for polar bears—an action Alaska and the Arctic Slope Regional Native Corporation believe will cost Alaskans hundreds of millions of dollars in economic potential.
6. The State of Alaska sued the Secretary of the Interior in U.S. District Court to overturn the federal moratorium on offshore drilling in Alaska’s OCS, on grounds that the Obama administration violated federal law and acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner.
7. Alaska challengedDOI’s National Park Service regulations, claiming they violate federal law, usurp state sovereignty, and infringe the liberty of Alaskans.
8. The State of Alaska petitioned The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to remove the eastern distinct population segment (DPS) of Steller sea lions from the list of species protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). NMFS is an agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Commerce (DOC).
But in the spirit of ‘one-step-at-a-time’ we now focus on the NPR-A challenge and repeat our council to respond to the call to comment and to appear at the public meetings. It is especially important that elected officials comment and verbally testify, as federal agencies frequently show deference to those of our readers elected to represent the rest of us.
Yes, federal actions seem contrived to wear down ordinary citizens and company analysts as well. We seem to be on the receiving end every month of one initiative after the other to close down reasonable free enterprise and build up a bureaucratic oligarchy to enforce the multiplying array of costly and largely unnecessary regulations.
But we cannot give up. If we stop appearing and commenting, the forces seeking to shut down commerce and our very way of life will own the preponderance of the legal record of these proceedings. So, we take another deep breath, make another committment to comment, and work toward a better day.
2.We often repeat here our allegiance to factual content and urge our readers to provide us with specific suggestions for word changes in any of our news reports or editorials wherein facts are stated. Thank you! -dh
We congratulate the Alaska Miners Association for the noble service which has resulted in the following recognition from Alaska’s Governor and Legislature:
Legislature Honors Bob Hoekzema
Senator Cathy Giessel presented a Citation to Mr. Robert Hoekzema (NGP Photo), Alaska Miners Association at the Alaska Miners Association Anchorage Branch Breakfast on May 11, 2012, for his efforts and commitment in establishing open communication with the Alaska Miners Association Small Scale Miners Committee and the regulators for the State and Federal Agency in the State of Alaska.
The Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management presented the committee with the 2011 Hardrock Miner Committee Outreach and Economic Security Award October 17, 2011.
Governor Proclaims “Mining Day”
Senator Cathy Giessel presented a 2nd Mining Day Proclamation to the Alaska Miners Association (AMA) last Friday (May 11, 2012) at the weekly AMA meeting in Anchorage. To receive this Proclamation was Deantha Crockett, Incoming Executive Director of the Alaska Miners Association and Jim Duffield (NGP Photo). This act commemorates and represents the passing in Congress the General Mining Law of 1872 of the United States.
Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell (NGP Photo-L) presented . Steve Borell (NGP lower Photo), past Executive Director of the Alaska Miners Association, the original Proclamation on May 10, 2011 at the Resource Development Council’s Annual Lunch.