A True Alaska Statesman

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Dan Fagan (R) with Dave Harbour

Dan Fagan (R) with Dave Harbour

Alaska is full of wonderful, smart, and competent leaders who care deeply about our state. But few match the wisdom, historical knowledge, and peaceful temperament of Dave Harbour. Harbour is in every sense of the word a true statesman.

Mr. Harbour’s accomplishments throughout the years are too many to mention. He currently publishes the very insightful Northern Gas Pipelines website. In it he explains very clearly why Alaska Gov. Bill Walker’s tendency to prefer state ownership of energy projects over the private sector is flawed.

Mr. Harbour writes…

“Both with regard to the Alaska LNG and the Interior Alaska Energy projects, government ownership / management is virtually impossible to properly control.

Why?  Because a part-time legislative body, via its funding power, determines how the state is organized, usually once per year.

Compare a government-owned enterprise operating with that constraint to a private company that can deal with temporal challenges on a hourly, daily, weekly, monthly basis without having to deal with hundreds of politicians, lobbyists, special interest groups and constituents–and all of the meetings / hearings attendant thereto–not to mention “public meetings laws”.

Government owning and managing equity in one of the largest capital projects in world history requires that decisions and coordination be exercised every day by full-time bureaucrats whose missions may have been set into legislative concrete months ago by part-time legislators.

While legislators are part-time, that does not mean they lack dedication or good intent.

Rather, our readers should appreciate the impossibility of running a complex, technical, competitive multi-billion dollar energy transportation business by having a legislative session adopt a budget by rigid law, accompanied by legislative intent, when it is complicated by bureaucratic turf battles after the legislative session concludes.

This is why controlling the means, allocation and distribution of production in a socialist society has a failed track record throughout history.

Only private enterprises, operating as freely as possible FROM political/government interference, can be trusted to provide citizens with the maximum benefit of natural resource wealth production in their state.

So, what to do now?  We are deeply respectful of the honest due diligence now being undertaken by Alaska’s legislature.  Thankfully, we see a great union of bipartisan, good-faith effort to identify honest answers.

If the legislature decides that it must terminate the relationship with TransCanada Corporation (TC) for financial reasons (i.e. better interest rates), we will not be inclined to second guess that action even though it requires more government interference and control of the project — for the time being.

However, we hope government ownership of any Alaska energy and/or transportation project is TEMPORARY.

Going forward, we believe that Alaska’s elected leaders will be more familiar with the horrific processes and unintended consequences unleashed by government ownership.

We hope the decision makers will create a way for the state to quickly remove itself from public ownership of the Alaska LNG project and substitute a private owner — to join the existing producer owners — that is equally agile, experienced, expert and dedicated to make a profit for its shareholders.

In this way, Alaska will be able to maximize natural resource benefit to the citizens of the state; for by taking tax revenue and royalty revenue in value (RIV) it will eliminate costly and wasteful bureaucratic interference and receive a relatively simply managed revenue stream.

A side benefit of this evolution from bureaucratic inefficiency to private enterprise simplicity is that political struggles among the executive branch, legislators, and all manner of lobbyists and special interest stakeholders will be minimized as political life in Alaska returns to a more normal, though still challenging, pace.”

10 comments for “A true Alaska statesman”

  1. John Norman
    November 1, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    Dave Harbour has presented a point of view deserving of serious thought.
    His commentary is both insightful and enlightening. Every Alaska should read it.

    Thank you Dan for spotting and recognizing it as an example of public service at its best.

  2. Bill Gee
    October 30, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Well stated Dan and well written Dave.

  3. October 29, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    Thank you, Darlene. I believe that most legislators are on my Northern Gas Pipelines email alert list and received the story this morning before Dan’s thoughtful message went out. Hope you and John are building toward another wonderful Seldovia Christmas. Dave

  4. October 29, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    Great column, Dave. Can you send it to all the legislators?

  5. October 29, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    Good read.. Didn’t know you had the website Dave! Checking it out now..

  6. October 29, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Dave has a real handle on this. I enjoyed his thoughts.

  7. October 29, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    I like Dave Harbour

  8. October 29, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Thank you, Dan. Well said—and I agree with your assessment about Dave Harbour and the service he is providing. Also, as a longtime legislator and other elected official, I take no offense at his assessment of what elected officials in public office go through.