Lindsay Williams alerts us that Alaska Senate Resources Committee Chairman Cathy Giessel (NGP Photo) will hold a hearing Monday morning from 8-8:50 a.m. on SB 138 Gas Pipeline, AGDC, Oil & Gas Production Tax.
Globe & Mail. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was again rebuffed in his bid to press U.S. President Barack Obama to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline when he raised the issue during a North American leaders’ summit in Toluca, Mexico. *** Globe & Mail.
Tracts of land that had been set aside for reindeer grazing in Canada’s North have instead been offered up by the Conservative government for oil and gas exploration, newly released documents show. (Comment: As we in Alaska have learned, oil development and caribou herd growth are compatible. -dh)
KETCHIKAN, Alaska, Senate Energy Committee – One day after sharing her concerns that the recently-announced 'Special Representative for the Arctic' position represents mere "window dressing" on Arctic engagement, Senator Lisa Murkowski (NGP Photo) called on Secretary John Kerry to meet with her and provide more information about the nature of the position -- and why he is declining to name an official to a full Ambassador position.
With Senator Murkowski having recently delivered the Keynote Address at the Global Arctic Symposium and planning to participate in this weekend's Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (SCPAR) and meet with the Chair of the Arctic Council, she wants to be assured that the Obama Administration is truly raising the profile of its Arctic agenda.
In a letter to Secretary Kerry (attached), Murkowski writes:
“I am also pleased that the position will be filled by a high level individual of substantial stature and expertise. I am gravely concerned, however, that the Special Representative will not be on par with our Arctic partners at international bilateral and multilateral events, nor will it have the authority within the U.S. Government to direct resources to the Far North and I welcome the opportunity to engage with you on these issues.”
When the State Department announced its plans to name a 'Special Representative to the Arctic,' Murkowski first vocalized these concerns -- given that 7 of the 8 Arctic nations (and non-Arctic nations like Thailand) have appointed full Ambassadors -- since the United States should not relegate its Arctic involvement given the global attention and investment in the region.
Calgary Herald by James Wood. As Canada presses the Obama administration to approve the Keystone XL project, the Alberta government has spent more than $2 million on U.S. lobbyists since 2008 on key issues such as the oil pipeline — although the flow of provincial money has dried up this year.
Bakken News: A year of records - 02/23/2014 It's hard to talk about North Dakota oil production these days without talking about setting records, and December production was no exception. But the record is not of the type people are used to seeing as a decline in output in December marks the largest single drop in average daily production in....
Houston Chronicle/AP by Becky Bohrer.
Federal agencies are ready to work on an Alaska liquefied natural gas project but don't want another false start, state lawmakers were told Wednesday.
In testimony submitted to the Senate Finance Committee, Larry Persily (NGP Photo), the federal coordinator of Alaska gas pipeline projects, said agencies would like to know a project has a real shot at making it this time.
Persily said this time could well be different than past efforts, like the proposed gas line ...
Deputy Revenue Commissioner Mike Pawlowski said AGDCis not just about the in-state line and ...
Sen. Hollis French (NGP Photo), D-Anchorage, asked whether the bill, which references the oil tax law, will have any impact on ....
The Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) recently released its FY 2015 update estimating how much Alaska’s state government can afford to spend from the unrestricted General Fund (UGF) in the coming fiscal year. In this year’s report, author Scott Goldsmith (NGP Photo) estimates that the state can afford to spend about $5 billion from the UGF in FY15.
Guest Commentary On Oil Tax Reform
Alaska will sit at a critical crossroads when it is time to vote in this year’s primary election on the question of whether to repeal recently passed oil tax reform aimed at increasing North Slope oil production and investment for new oil.
I grew up in Ketchikan and have spent almost my whole life working in resource related industries. I started working in fishery supply and aviation to put myself through college and much of my adult life has been spent in the state’s maritime and tourism industries in Southeast Alaska.
Oil tax reform is delivering even more good news for Alaska. BP will increase its capital investment in Alaska by 25 percent to $1.2 billion this year, Janet Weiss (NGP Photo), president of BP Alaska, told the Anchorage Chamber Feb. 10.
Next door at Kuparuk, ConocoPhillips Alaska has submitted permit applications for a viscous oil development targeting the West Sak reservoir, the company said in a statement released Feb. 18.
All resource industries require stable fiscal climates, robust infrastructure and quality transportation systems to thrive. When resource industries in Southeast Alaska are booming local economies thrive -- providing jobs and helping keep local taxes low.
There is a radio ad playing now across the state that says, in effect, that we all are in the oil industry. In Alaska, a truer statement was never made, no matter how far removed Alaskans are from the oil fields on the North Slope. We are all impacted by the industry’s success.
When the Legislature passed oil tax reform to rectify the problems with the old oil tax system, it took a strong step forward in securing the state’s long-term economic future.
The old tax system contained a provision that was punitive as it ratcheted tax rates so high it made Alaska unattractive to the oil industry to increase investment here. As a result, investment went elsewhere, while North Slope oil production continued an average 6-8 percent annual decline.
Why does it matter to Southeast Alaska that oil in our pipeline is only about one-fourth of its capacity?
Because even though it may not feel like it in Southeast, Alaska’s economy is fueled by oil production. Oil revenues to the state are based on production, and the State of Alaska gets 90 cents of every unrestricted general fund dollar it spends - from oil revenues. The industry is responsible, directly or indirectly, for about one-third of all jobs and about one-half of Alaska’s entire economy according to a university study. It is the state’s biggest private economic partner.
Alaskans need a healthy, vibrant oil industry for long-term, sustainable state budgets, economic growth and to maintain the quality of life Alaskans enjoy.
Oil production decline is a serious matter for every Alaskan, and to generate more production, the state needs to attract more investment, but that was not occurring under the old tax regime. Investment increased elsewhere. In fact, among the other oil producing states in the U.S., as of 2012, all had shown increases or were flat with the previous year. Alaska was the only state to decline. Punitive taxes drove away new investment. None of that is good for Alaskans or our economy.
The good news is the new oil tax system is working. We are already seeing increased investment on the North Slope as companies position themselves to work under an improved business climate created by tax reform.
Southeast Alaska residents, in my view, would be wrong to vote to repeal the new tax reform and return the state to the old tax, which has a proven track record of failure - failure to attract increased investments, and failure to increase oil production that come along with more investment. Already, the Southeast Alaska Conference, the largest economic development membership group in Southeast, has endorsed a “No” vote on the repeal measure because of the harm passage would inflict on our state economy.
We are at the crossroads. We must take the right path for the long-term. Join me in learning more at www.foraksfuture.com.
(We received the commentary above from a group advocating defeat of the referendum proposal to repeal last year's passage of SB 21, oil tax reform. We took a similar editorial position soon after repeal advocates announced their intent to repeal the new law. We have long said that tax reform is a huge incentive for gas pipeline success and that repeal of tax reform will lead to a dark new era of energy investment in Alaska. The author of this piece, Bob Berto, is a statewide co-chair of a group advocating defeat of the referendum. He is a small businessman involved in tourism and maritime services. Berto is a lifelong Southeast Alaskan and lives in Ketchikan. -dh)
(We found this way to support building of the Keystone Pipeline and encourage readers to review the website. -dh)
Alert the Federal Government You Support Building the Keystone XL Pipeline
|Today we'll be attending a CWN debate.
Be it resolved: The State of Alaska should take an ownership stake in a North Slope gas pipeline project.
The award - winning Seawolves will debate both sides of the issue followed by a vote of the audience.
More to follow....
Thousands of construction workers are waiting on President Obama to green light the final 875 mile leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Once they build it over 830,000 barrels of crude oil will be shipped each day to Gulf Coast refiners where it will be made into gasoline, diesel heating oil and jet fuel.
Top 5 Reasons to Build the Keystone XL Pipeline
- Over 40,000 jobs will be supported.
- 830,000 barrels a day of North American crude oil pumped into U.S. refineries.
- Pipelines are the safest way to transport energy resources.
- 43% reduction in overseas crude oil imports.
- Will help reduce gasoline prices.
Now in its second decade, the Inuvik Petroleum Show or “IPS” takes place every June in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Host to over 500 participants including delegates and exhibitors from across Canada and beyond , this three day tradeshow and conference is a must-attend event for the oil and gas sector. (NGP Photo: author chaired 2002 oil & gas presentation. Don't miss local restaurant specialties, surf and turf: musk ox and char! The nighttime sing-alongs in lounges and friendly locals will make the trip memorable!)
|North Slope Borough and ConocoPhillips develop Alaska North Slope emergency response transportation process to safeguard village residents. (Photo: NSB Mayor, Charlotte Brower)|
Supporting Both Academic Freedom and The Right to Criticize Academic Activists
Last Thursday, University of Alaska - Fairbanks (UAF) Chancellor Brian Rogers (NGP Photo) addressed members of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance in Anchorage on the subject of the University's Fairbanks coal fired power plant. (We have an interesting personal story to tell here for readers who may be interested.)
Following the presentation, a member asked Rogers about the policy of professors signing a controversial letter/petition "applauding" the EPA's assessment of a proposed Pebble mine project (here) -- while identifying themselves with the University (For those interested, we explain the controversy here). Rogers said that of the many who claimed a University of Alaska relationship, less than half were actual university professors. The rest had honorary titles or persons who might have taught a class one time and one signer who was not affiliated with the University at all.
We have written extensively on the subject of the Pebble project's constitutional right to file for permits to operate on state leased lands--and the catastrophic effect on the public interest were activist organizations and federal agencies to preempt that project before it is availed the guaranteed right of due process. We think the rule of law evaporates if due process can be denied in this case and that determined activism will have precedent for stopping all natural resource, construction, agricultural, industrial, or housing projects anywhere in America. We also believe the EPA, with support from its supporters, has attacked the Constitution and Sovereignty of the State of Alaska by denying due process to a project lawfully granted leases on Alaska state lands. And, we think that a citizen can personally oppose the Pebble project for any reason but strongly support our call to protect "due process".
- Integrity. Having served as a university vice president, a high school and university English teacher; a regulatory commission chairman; a spokesman for oil, gas, mining and pipeline companies; an Army officer and a Washington Post newspaper delivery boy, I would never have thought of hiding behind some supposed, "Free Speech" defense while trumpeting a political viewpoint and pretending to represent my employer. Professors, like others, who use their official affiliations to give credence to their personal, political convictions have deviated from science and fact into the world of politics--at the expense of their own reputations and that of the institution(s) they presume to represent. On the other hand, we respect the integrity of some signers of the attached letter who represented themselves as retired or who did not otherwise use current state or university titles to enhance the impact of their petition signature. While we may oppose their politics, we do not criticize those who exercised their freedom of speech to sign the political petition--only those who seek to enhance their importance at the expense of their claimed affiliation. (I have to insert that it seems really amazing how some Academics can so blithely create a double standard. When one of them publishes a research paper, the "Academy" is expected to "peer review" it, to vigorously test it for scientific validity. But when a politician writes a letter on an environmental subject, a professor who works every day demanding peer review of scientific methodology, doesn't hesitate to sign his or her name ... even while invoking the unapproved use of his institution's name ... even when he or she has a degree totally unrelated to the letter/petition subject ... and even when he or she has not necessarily ever studied the topic in greater detail than skimming the contents of the biased letter/petition. In my farewell remarks before the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, I identified this same difficulty with other 'professionals', like regulators.)
- What's a governor to do? Some suggest that university systems throughout the country are heavily influenced by leftist professors. In fairness, others deny the allegation. In any case, one observes that money motivates much human action, including the actions of professors. Accordingly, one almost always finds it useful to "follow the money". If, as UAF professors have testified, Alaska Arctic OCS oil, gas and other human development should be suspended for a decade or so, until they get funding to complete a base line inventory of Arctic coastal and ocean ecology, one sees at least one motivation for professorial researchers who oppose development. It takes a great deal of money to prove or disprove the thesis that development should be permitted. One can, therefore, sympathize with excellent university leaders going back to Dr. William Wood, and more recently, Brian Rogers, Generals Mark Hamilton and Tom Case and Pat Gamble. How do they keep peace in the academic family and run an institution by taking a stand against activist professors who advocate under cover of university titles -- and who, presumably, are inculcating their own version of "Science" to impressionable students? Furthermore, the University of Alaska some years has leveraged about $6 in research grants from outside sources for every $1 of Alaska budget contributions. This has brought in hundreds of millions of dollars to the Alaska university systems and those benefiting from them. This gives incentive to professors to support federal government and private granting agencies politically. It gives perverse incentives to administrators to support professors who bring home the grant bacon. In turn, Legislators' constituents and campaigns are partly funded by such activity. And, what's a Governor to do?
- What we can do? We note that several of the letter/petition signers profess to represent Alaska's private university, Alaska Pacific University (APU). APU thrives on private contributions, particularly those originating from natural resource extractive industries and those affiliated or doing business with them. We note that if University of Alaska and Alaska Pacific University professor advocates named in the letter/petition got their way, there would be no money in Alaska to support either a public or a private university. Therefore, truly, we also observe that while we do not oppose a professor's right to speak against Alaska's economic survival, we do not have to pay for his or her right to do so. What can we do? We can tell the public and private institutions when they come calling for donations that we do not support their anti-development activist professors whether they officially or unofficially represent the institution. We can say, "Not this year". We can suggest to Legislators and the Governor when university lobbyists go to Juneau that we do not want to give them funding for research that produces armies of Academics intent on destroying the economy. We can say, "Not this year". Lastly, we can be a little more courageous about telling it like it is. All of us have the freedom of speech. If someone or some institution is contributing to the economic death of Alaska, each one of us has the right if not the responsibility to object. Right?
Personal comment: During the Great Eastern Blackout of 2003 your author was taking courses at the University of Michigan in Lansing on principles of utility and pipeline, economics and regulation. On the late afternoon of August 14, classmates (NGP Photo, 8-8-03) were walking from the parking garage to our graduation dinner/ceremony when the lights all over town began going dark as the sun began to recede. Everywhere ... except where we were, in the middle of the University Campus. Ironically, a day or two earlier, campus guides had taken us on a University tour, including a detailed briefing of the University's coal fired power plant. The University was quite comfortable with having this facility on campus because as our guide said, "we can use the grid in an emergency, but if the grid has an emergency, we remain independently powered." So on the related question of whether or not the University of Alaska should maintain an ageing coal fired powered plant on its far north Fairbanks campus, we would say: "the rationale for doing so is compelling, especially in view of the fact that the Campus is close to a nearly infinite supply of coal!" -dh
Q. Why is it so controversial for University of Alaska and Alaska Pacific University Professors to 1) sign this attached letter/petition, and 2) to do so while using their own university titles, presumably without permission from their universities to do so?
A. The letter/petition is controversial because professors advocating the EPA position are supporting a major violation of the American Constitution and of the rule of law; because they are doing so with the presumed support of the institution whose name they boldly use without approval; and, as Alaska educational service providers, the unlawful practice they condone erodes the economy of Alaska upon which their own and other great and small institutions and enterprises survive.
As we have explained, we support the Constitution's guarantee of free speech. We further support the freedom of all citizens, including professors, to 'petition their government'. We also agree that, citizens have the right to personally support and/or express opinions for or against projects, such as the proposed Pebble Mine in Southwestern Alaska.
However, we also embrace other, traditional principles:
- When an institution depending on public financing, permits activities designed to harm the public, the public has the freedom to withdraw financing of that institution.
- When employees act against the interests of the employer or taxpayers, they may be censured or dismissed if they use unapproved titles, resources, time and affiliations of the employer.
- When America's rule of law is threatened, all Americans are threatened and those threatening it, even while engaged in the act of speaking freely are subject to criticism and censure.
- With freedom comes responsibility.
- Those endangering the public interest must be willing to accept responsibility for loss of public support.
Note: Some of Alaska's most influential leaders whose businesses and eleemosynary activity would be harmed by liberal and/or misguided professorial activism serve on the Alaska Pacific University Board of Trustees and the University of Alaska Board of Regents. We sympathize with these public spirited, well intended citizens -- many of whom are dear and respected friends -- who also face difficult challenges when overseeing the policies of their institutions.
"I will observe a caution that I have for my colleagues regarding NARUC and urge them to watch the organization closely. Look, the job of regulatory commissioners is to carefully adjudicate proceedings based on a legal record with an absence of tainting, tarnish, bias. But somehow, when finding themselves in a public setting like a national organization, commissioners are sometimes led or tempted by a siren call of some group of Commissioners that wants the rest to take political positions based, not on a record, but on the emotional issue du jour. And that is inappropriate in my view. NARUC--just like a local Commission--ought to be taking positions based on a record even though it is a modified record."
News Miner by Jeff Richardson. Gov. Sean Parnell l(NGP Photo) said the that the fate of Flint Hills refinery has been a daily “front and center” concern for his administration since the company announced plans to halt fuel production. Parnell, speaking at a News-Miner editorial board meeting on Friday, said .... (More here)