Remembering our birth as a state: Alaska entered the Union 59 years ago, starting a new life.  News-Miner opinion: It was 59 years ago this week that the U.S. flag took in a 49th state — ours.

Caribou on oil industry gravel pad. Five feet above the mosquito infested tundra decreases mosquito caused mortality among spring-born calves. -dh

Porcupine caribou herd numbers highest in monitoring history The Porcupine caribou herd, whose range includes the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, has grown to the highest number seen since monitoring started back in the 1970s.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Private sector can build bridge to better economic future.  How many special sessions in one year does it take for the Legislature come up with a plan to stem Alaska’s economic decline?

Economist: Alaska job losses expected to moderate.  The state labor department expects continued job losses in Alaska this year but at a more moderate level than earlier in the recession.

Alaska will lose fewer jobs this year than it did in 2017, state predicts.  Alaska is expected to continue losing jobs in 2018 for the third year in a row, but the losses appear to be tapering, according to a new economic forecast.

Trans-Alaska Pipeline System shipped more oil in 2017, Alyeska says.  The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System transported more oil in 2017 than it did in 2016, marking the second consecutive year of increased oil production…

Alaska jobs forecast for 2018 improves from awful to bad.  Alaska’s most significant recession since the oil bust of the 1980s appears to be abating.

Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Interior. Northern Gas Pipelines photo by Dave Harbour.

Trump: US Will Be Energy Superpower!

The Washington Times, by Ben Wolfgang

In a massive rollback of the Obama administration’s energy policy, President Trump’s Interior Department on Thursday released a draft proposal that would open nearly all of the nation’s coastal waters to offshore drilling, sparking yet another battle with environmental groups and states that say they’ll fight the plan at every turn.

On a conference call with reporters, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the blueprint would open 25 of 26 planning areas off America’s coasts to drilling. Waters off the West and East coasts, in the Gulf of Mexico, and off Alaska’s shores will be opened to oil exploration; only one area, the North Aleutians Basin near Alaska, will be left alone.

“We’re going to become the strongest energy superpower,” Mr. Zinke said in explaining the five-year plan, which would stretch from 2019 through 2024.

In total, about 90 percent of total U.S. offshore acreage could now be opened for drilling, if the draft plan goes into effect. By contrast, the Obama administration had cordoned off about 94 percent of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf as part of its broader effort to limit fossil fuel development, especially on federal lands and waters.

Mr. Zinke said the vast difference in approaches to offshore drilling has financial ramifications. In 2008, the Interior Department pulled in $18 billion in offshore drilling leases. By 2016, that had fallen to just $2.6 billion.

“We can do better,” the secretary said.

But the plan is already encountering resistance from environmental groups and, more importantly, from state leaders.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, said he wants his state’s offshore waters taken out of the proposal.

“I have already asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration,” he said, as quoted by several Florida media outlets.

State officials in Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, California and elsewhere have raised objections to oil exploration off their coasts, setting up a potential clash between the White House and state governments.

Meanwhile, environmental groups say the proposals is just the latest in a series of steps taken by the Trump administration to turn over America’s lands and waters to the fossil fuels industry.

“If the Interior Department’s five-year oil and gas leasing plan moves forward, extractive companies will have access to drill off nearly every coast in the United States. This puts coastal communities and economies, marine wildlife, public health, and the climate at an unimaginable risk,” said Mary Sweeters, a climate campaigner with the leading environmental group Greenpeace. “For federal agencies and government officials to greenlight more oil and gas development while our communities are still recovering from massive fires, devastating droughts, and destructive superstorms is immoral and reckless.”

Mr. Zinke said the proposal will be open for the next 60 days, and that he’s willing to meet with anyone, including governors, who has concerns. He also said he’s open to a one-on-one meeting with Mr. Scott to discuss Florida’s specific concerns.

“Florida is going to have a say,” the secretary said.

 Click to Read More  

John Callahan, BOEM. Northern Gas Pipelines photo by Dave Harbour.

John Callahan of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management notes that the Department of the Interior Headquarters today sent out a news release announcing the new draft 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.  The link is here:

U.S. Representative Rob Bishop, courtesy Civil Services.

Chairman Rob Bishop (U.S. House of Representatives Resources Committee), today said of the Department of the Interior’s Draft Proposed National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program:

“The previous administration’s approach to offshore development started from the premise of considering ‘as little as possible.’ The Trump administration starts from the premise of considering ‘as much as possible.’ American energy dominance will only be achieved by taking the latter approach. I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to responsibly develop American energy, spur job growth and maximize revenues to the benefit of taxpayers.”

Here’s the useful background:

 Today, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) released a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report highlighting the failure of federal agencies during the previous administration to provide efficient, effective and transparent permitting for seismic research in America’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).  Chairman Bishop, who requested the report in March 2016, issued the following statement:

“Seismic research is vital to unlocking energy potential off our coasts, and federal red tape is standing in the way. GAO’s report highlights the bureaucratic dysfunction, lack of transparency and blatant abuses of discretion that has stalled greater exploration and development. Congress has an obligation to take corrective action, and with the passage of the SECURE American Energy Act, we will.”

Click here to read the full report.  


The Offshore Continental Shelf Lands Act states “the outer Continental Shelf is a vital national resource reserve held by the Federal Government for the public, which should be made available for expeditious and orderly development, subject to environmental safeguards, in a manner which is consistent with the maintenance of competition and other national needs.”

Unfortunately, the current federal regulatory process to permit scientific exploratory activity is riddled with bureaucratic delays, leaving little incentive for companies to move forward on the prospect of energy development in the OCS.  For example, incidental harassment authorization permit applications the National Marine Fisheries Service received in mid-2014 are still in review, over one thousand days after the applications were first submitted.

In March 2016, Chairman Bishop sent a letter to the GAO with concerns about the consistency, timeliness and transparency of seismic permitting approvals, and requested detailed information on related processes.

According to GAO’s report, federal agencies permitting related research “do not analyze their review time frames, a practice that is inconsistent with federal standards for internal control.” Further, federal agencies will remain “unable to determine whether they are meeting their statutory review time frame of 120 days.”  

H.R. 4239, the bipartisan Secure American Energy Act, reduces delays in seismic research by authorizing entities to avoid duplicative regulation and related delays.