(NGP Photos, Left to right: Governor Bill Walker, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Dan Sullivan, Congressman Don Young)
REPORT ALERT: Federal Government Makes Economic War On Alaska and All American Consumers
While Alaskans have a right to be outraged that their statehood birthright and economic future are now threatened, AMERICAN CONSUMERS EVERYWHERE will feel the pain as this Administration continues to violate the spirit and fact of due process and threatens the very rule of law protecting every citizen.
Today, Robert Dillon of Senator Lisa Murkowski's Energy Committee office dispatched a somewhat unprecedented weekend news release reflecting an immediate and unified response to an imperial, federal action.
Signed by Governor Bill Walker and the entire Alaska Congressional Delegation, the SUNDAY announcement read: "Obama, Jewell Declaring War on Alaska’s Future!"
It should be called, "Obama's Sunday War On Alaska".
Today, the President took took careful aim then leveled a surprise, Sunday punch on the state of Alaska, the Congress and all American consumers — while announcing more attacks are coming.
According to a Sunday press release, the Obama administration plans to manage a strip of land on Alaska's already protected northern coast Refuge as wilderness while recommending to Congress that the designation become law.
Long managed as a restricted use Wildlife Range, in 1980 Congress enacted the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) which converted the Arctic National Wildlife Range into the more restricted "Refuge" status.
|Our friend and senior energy analyst, James Halloran (NGP Photo), was moved this weekend as well to comment on the President's Sunday Alaska announcement. He is one American that most Alaskans would agree, "knows what he is talking about". Read more….|
That law then went on to include a "no more" clause requiring that the federal government not ever again by administrative action designate Alaska wilderness without an act of Congress.
ANILCA also expressed the clear will of Congress that the approximately 5% of the 19 million acre ANWR, called the "coastal plain", be specifically available for oil and gas development upon further action by Congress.
Thus, the intent of Congress could not have been clearer that 1) no future administration could outlaw coastal plain energy development and 2) that the administration was not free to establish more Alaskan wilderness areas by fiat.
This matter of reasonable access to federal as well as state lands is critical for a couple reasons dealing with the Alaska Statehood Act passed by Congress in 1958 and signed into law by President Eisenhower in 1959. The Act was created by what is commonly thought of as a 'compact' involving a 1) plebiscite of Alaska's citizens, 2) approval of Alaska's constitution and 3) approval by Congress and the President. The Statehood Act narrowly passed based on the conviction that Alaska could make a living from its natural resources. The state constitution was based on the economic expectation of resource development. Finally, the vote of citizens could not have occurred without the expectation of access to state lands in addition to state sharing of revenue derived from resource development of federal lands.
Adding more insult too injury, last week the President issued an executive order affecting the Arctic, knowing that Alaska is America's only Arctic state. Alaska is adjacent to perhaps as much as 20% of the world's remaining oil and gas reserves. While Canada and Russia along with the half-dozen other Arctic nations are seeking to establish and hold jurisdiction over this wealth, the US executive order focuses mainly on the administration's key, domestic pre-occupation: global warming. Thus, Alaskans are afraid of a federal government that created this new executive order:
- on top of a previous, executive order requiring the zoning of human behavior on America's ocean areas,
- on top of EPA overreach and lawlessness that we have documented,
- on top of improper use of the Endangered Species Act, which we have documented, etc.,
Our readers can therefore understand why Alaskans now feel deeply betrayed by the federal government (Hear the late Governor and former Interior Secretary Walter Hickel describe federal abuses, NGP Photo). Alaskans' livelihoods were dependent on resource development from the very birth of their state. Since 1959, thousands of additional federal laws, regulations and rulings have deeply diluted the ability of the state to financially survive. We have documented in this webpage a litany of federal abuses that even erode due process protections of the U.S. Constitution, the underpinning of the Alaska statehood compact and the very concept of America's reliance on, "Rule of Law". We feel like the bystander watching a sly cook slowly raising the temperature of a pot of water containing hapless citizens of a former, pioneering state.
It should not also be forgotten that a state 1/5th the size of the nation is not only full of natural beauty, but also with energy, strategic minerals, rare earth elements, fish, timber, and tourism related resources that have and could continue to provide untold wealth to the citizens of the country without materially affecting the natural wonders.
So here we are on this lovely weekend, after church and expecting a quiet walk, when we and the world hear that the White House, without warning, has declared economic war on Alaska by violating the will of Congress imbedded in ANILCA on top of the continuing pattern of abusive authoritarianism.
Alaska's Governor, two U.S. Senators and lone member of the House of Representatives all reacted bitterly to the administrative action today.
We can certainly expect more announcements and news conferences from Alaska officials in the days ahead.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JANUARY 25, 2015
ROBERT DILLON (202) 224 6977 (MURKOWSKI) MIKE ANDERSON (202) 223 7132 (SULLIVAN) MATT SHUCKEROW (202) 412 8533 (YOUNG) GRACE JANG (907) 957 9451 (WALKER)
Obama, Jewell Declaring War on Alaska’s Future
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Alaska’s Congressional Delegation and Gov. Bill Walker today denounced President Obama and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for launching an unprecedented assault on Alaska that will have long-lasting effects on the state’s economy and the nation’s energy security.
In coordination with the White House, Secretary Jewell will announce this week – starting today – that she will lock up millions of acres of the nation’s richest oil and natural gas prospects on the Arctic coastal plain and move to block development of Alaska’s offshore resources. The administration is also weighing additional actions in the near future that would prevent new production in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
“What’s coming is a stunning attack on our sovereignty and our ability to develop a strong economy that allows us, our children and our grandchildren to thrive,” Sen. Murkowski said. “It’s clear this administration does not care about us, and sees us as nothing but a territory. The promises made to us at statehood, and since then, mean absolutely nothing to them. I cannot understand why this administration is willing to negotiate with Iran, but not Alaska. But we will not be run over like this. We will fight back with every resource at our disposal.”
“This outrageous action confirms what most Alaskans have feared – that the Obama administration’s war against Alaska families and the middle class would only intensify under the final two years of President Obama’s tenure. But Alaskans have been in tough battles before. We will defeat their lawless attempt to designate ANWR as a wilderness, as well as their ultimate goal of making Alaska one big national park. This decision disregards the rule of law and our constitution and specifically ignores many promises made to Alaska in ANICLA. It is just one more example of President Obama thumbing his nose at the citizens of a sovereign state – and will put Alaska and America’s energy security in serious jeopardy,” Sen. Sullivan said. “I stand united with Sen. Murkowski, Congressman Young, Governor Walker and the members of the Alaska State Legislature to vigilantly safeguard and defend our fellow Alaskans’ interests, and I pledge to do everything in my power to fight back against this assault on Alaska’s economic future.”
“This callously planned and politically motivated attack on Alaska by the Obama administration is akin to spitting in our faces and telling us it’s raining outside. As if on command from the most extreme environmentalist elements, this president and his team of D.C. bureaucrats believe they alone know what’s best for Alaska, but this brazen assault on our state and our people will do the complete opposite,” Rep. Young said. “Every time the president undermines the law of the land, he breaks his oath of office and weakens the nation we love. This latest move, in clear violation of ANILCA’s 'no more' clause, and despite the fierce opposition of every Alaska statewide elected official and the vast majority of our people, demonstrates that the Imperial Presidency of Barack Obama knows no bounds. Simply put, this wholesale land grab, this widespread attack on our people and our way of life, is disgusting.”
The Interior Department plans to immediately begin managing the 1.5 million acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness – adding to the 18 million acres of ANWR already designated wilderness. This management status will prohibit even motorized access to the coastal plain.
Gov. Walker was outraged by the Obama administration’s actions at a time when the state is drawing down more than $10 million from savings every day due to low oil prices and declining production despite having more than 40 billion barrels of untapped resources, mostly in federal areas where oil and gas activity is blocked or restricted.
“Having just given to Alaskans the State of the State and State of the Budget addresses, it’s clear that our fiscal challenges in both the short and long term would benefit significantly from increased oil production,” Gov. Walker said. “This action by the federal government is a major setback toward reaching that goal. Therefore, I will consider accelerating the options available to us to increase oil exploration and production on state-owned lands. This further underscores the need for Alaska to become a participant in the infrastructure development for the benefit of all North Slope participants and the residents of Alaska.”
Wilderness status would permanently place off-limits the United States’ most promising onshore oil prospect and severely restrict access for subsistence hunters and other uses of the area. Under the terms of the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), additional wilderness designations are barred in Alaska without the express approval of Congress.
Secretary Jewell also said that President Obama plans to indefinitely withdraw areas in the offshore Arctic from oil and gas leasing in the new five-year plan being released later this week, which will effectively ban development in large swaths of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. It is unclear how these new restrictions will affect areas already under lease by Shell, ConocoPhillips and Statoil.
Sen. Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, which together have oversight of the Interior Department’s underlying legislative authority, nominations, and budget.
“These decisions simply cannot be allowed to stand,” Sen. Murkowski said. “I have tried to work with this administration – even though they’ve made it extremely difficult every step of the way – but those days are officially over. We are left with no choice but to hit back as hard as we can.”
For further information, please contact Robert Dillon at 202.224.6977 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit our website at http://energy.senate.gov/public/
James Haloran. We try to stay away from political commentary in this corner, as there are a huge number of political blogs and news sources that cover that front ad nauseum. Also, the points at which politics falls tangentially against the Energy world can usually be dealt with generically; one does not have to name specific entities or given parties, since neither party holds the copyright on stupidity when it comes to Energy matters.
Occasionally, however, some politician or party requires some comment. Today the Narcissist-in Chief has proposed to extend further designation of major parts of the Alaska Natural Wildlife Refuge as wilderness area. He will need congressional approval to do this, which is unlikely to happen with a Republican congress. But he is also planning to rework the rules of the Interior Department in such a way that future development will be almost impossible. This will include offshore drilling in Alaska.
We could spend a lot of words analyzing this move, but let us try to do it an few bullet points.
- As for the danger to wildlife in northernmost Alaska, the caribou herd size has fluctuated in recent years, but none of the fluctuation has had anything to do with oil and gas production in Prudhoe Bay. The herd size actually rose dramatically in the first few years after oil began flowing in 1974, and is still much larger than it was at that time. The threat to wildlife argument is just smoke.
- There are already sizeable roadblocks to production from ANWR. It is estimated that it could take as long as 13-15 years to develop a major amount of ANWR production, counting permitting, exploration, development, and especially litigation from such groups as the NRDC. The only reason Prudhoe Bay got developed when it did was the Native Claims Settlement Act (1973) precluded environmental litigation; all claims were to arbitrated through the Interior Department. No surprise that almost no claims appeared, since the lawyers could not figure out a way to profit from arbitration. Such a preclusion is unlikely to happen again, since the Democratic Party is a majority-owned subsidiary of the tort lawyers.
- If it becomes designated a wilderness area, there is no way congress could ever find the backbone to reverse it. As we noted, such a designation is unlikely, but Obama’s minions will set up such a rule-making process as to make it de facto a wilderness region.
- To save this is for “future generations” is also baloney. Besides the fact that the region gets almost no visitors, it would get no more (or fewer) if it were a wilderness area, given the severe restrictions on even using a chain saw in such a designated area. As one site about travel there says: “ANWR isn’t like a national park: Visitors will not find hiking trails, facilities or visitor centers. Snow covers the refuge nine months of the year and air travel is the only way in or out, making the remote refuge seem like the last frontier. Visiting the park requires advance planning and understanding of survival techniques.” Also, the Alaska North Slope is notorious for a massive quantity of large, voracious mosquitoes.
Few people understand the size and nature of the area involved. To put in perspective, we generally describe it this way in presentations:
- ANWR is about the size of the State of Ohio (see the maps below), most of which is glorious mountains and river-filled valleys. None of this mountain area is conducive to drilling, nor is it likely to have much oil and gas that would be commercial. In any event, it is essentially already off limits.
- Following this analogy, the ANWR Coastal Plain bordering the Beaufort Sea is roughly akin to the six counties in Ohio that border on Lake Erie, in terms of location and size. It is a fairly small part of ANWR, just as these are six counties in Ohio out of 88 in total, and not terribly scenic. It is roughly akin to a desert on which millions (billions?) of huge mosquitoes swarm every summer.
- Diving down one step further, the foot print of the infrastructure needed to develop oil in the Coastal Plain area would probably fit into the area from Public Square in Cleveland out to E. 55th Street, although it would be spread out over a larger area. Thus we are talking of a footprint of perhaps 30 square miles (very much on the high side), counting pipelines if all the equipment is pushed together, out of 30,136 square miles total for ANWR. This is 1/10 of 1% of the space, below inconsequential.
In the meantime, throughput through the Alaska Pipeline continues to dwindle. From its high of 2 million bpd, it is now operating at about 550,000 bpd. The pipeline is uneconomic below 350,000 bpd, and at some point more oil will have to be sourced, or the US will lose a major source of its daily oil. Given the lead time it will take to develop alternative sources, the proposed benching of any consideration of ANWR by the Socialist-in-Chief is particularly curious. This is akin to the curious timing of the lifeline Obama extended to Cuba at the time just when it became apparent Venezuela could no longer give aid to the communist island.
This occurs at the same time Obama tries to take credit for the growth of oil production in the US during his reign, even as access to federal lands has been cut, and regulations have gotten more onerous. When confronted about this contradiction on one of the talk shows this morning, one of Obama’s minions, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, said that the administration takes the hit for things that do not work even if (it believes) it had nothing to do with it, why not take credit when something works?
Of course this proposal is just part of a process to gin up the base for the 2016 election, but the American public is being used as the juniper berries.
There are 726 days left. God help the United States of America
The Hill. Obama proposes more protections against drilling in Alaska refuge
By Timothy Cama – 01/25/15 12:01 PM EST
President Obama will ask Congress to enact further protection’s for the remote wilderness area in Alaska’s northern reaches in an effort to stop any potential oil or natural gas drilling there.
Alaska’s all-Republican congressional delegation immediate lambasted the plan as a “war on Alaska’s future.”
Obama announced the proposal in a video from Air Force One on his trip to India. More….http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/230664-obama-proposes-more-protections-against-drilling-in-alaska-refuge
James R. Halloran
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