Alaskanomics, by Caroline Huntley
Posted: 16 Dec 2014 08:39 AM PST
Governor Bill Walker (NGP Photo) discussed his FY2016 (July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016) budget proposal at yesterday’s Anchorage Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Having been in the office only two weeks, Governor Walker submitted a $5.3 billion operating budget developed by his predecessor, former Governor Sean Parnell. Walker has not endorsed this budget and his administration is working on its own version. The Walker administration did announce a capital budget of $106 million, pared down from the $220 million capital budget Parnell submitted. With oil prices lower than expected, Walker hopes the decrease in the capital budget will help stretch the state’s dollar and weather a projected $3.5 billion budget deficit for FY2015. Even with the lower capital budget, the state is looking at a similar budget deficit for FY2016, assuming oil prices remain low. Walker, however, pointed out oil prices do swing and is optimistic about the future of Alaska and the opportunities ahead. “We live in one of the most resource-rich states and one of the wealthiest countries in the world,” said Walker. “We don’t have a resource problem. We have a distribution problem. We need a distribution system in place to get our resources to Alaskans and the world market.”
Governor Walker’s team will spend the next few weeks reviewing all capital projects and the operating budget before submitting its final revisions by February 18. At the luncheon, Walker requested the public’s involvement during the budget process. The administration plans to solicit public input on ways to prioritize spending, cut waste and address any inefficiencies as it puts budget plans together.
“I’m confident that together, we Alaskans can manage our way through it,” Governor Walker said. “We need to develop a smart plan so that our children and grandchildren can have stability 30 years from now. We want a plan in place that will not just get us over the hump now, but provide a strong future for decades to come.”
Writing for the Alaska Dispatch, Lisa Deemer writes, "President Obama on Tuesday declared Bristol Bay “a beautiful natural wonder” and designated its salmon-rich waters indefinitely off limits for oil and gas leasing.
"Environmentalists say the move provides significant protection not just for the iconic Bristol Bay sockeye salmon, but for crab, herring, halibut and groundfish, including the lucrative pollock fishery. And salmon returning to the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers pass through the waters that had been considered for drilling."
Significant growth in the global middle class, expansion of emerging economies and an additional 2 billion people in the world will contribute to a 35 percent increase in energy demand by 2040, according to a new report released today by ExxonMobil.
As demand increases, the world will continue to become more efficient in its energy use, according to the 2015Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040. Without efficiency gains across economies worldwide, energy demand from 2010 to 2040 would be headed toward a 140 percent increase instead of the 35 percent forecast in the report.
ExxonMobil’s Outlook for Energy projects that carbon-based fuels will continue to meet about three quarters of global energy needs through 2040, which is consistent with all credible projections, including those made by the International Energy Agency.