Lisa Murkowski, Dave Harbour Photo, oil export ban repealSenator Lisa Murkowski pushes to end oil export ban

Yesterday's Port of Seattle Testimony: News, our commentary below…

..and more: Denny Westneat's Seattle Times Commentary, West Seattle Blog, AP Story by Gene Johnson, and Video

Commentary.  We watched a "clash of energy philosophies" at yesterday's hearing online.

We drew three main conclusions:

1.  Alaska witnesses.  Many testified.  All but one (i.e. a Mat-su area environmentalist who criticized Alaska's position on natural resource development) represented themselves professionally, presenting actual facts and history relating to the century-old relationship between Seattle and Alaska.  

They also carefully briefed the commissioners on the importance of Shell's exploration, potential sustainability of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) and TAPS' impact on Washington state jobs and economic impact.  

Alaska North Slope (ANS) Native leaders discussed the importance of properly developing oil in concert with subsistence and lifestyle values–and their successful history of working both with the oil industry and the Seattle Seaport.  

Rick Rogers, RDC,Terminal 5, Shell, Resource Development Council for Alaska, Dave Harbour PhotoHere is the testimony of Rick Rogers (NGP Photo), Executive Director of Resource Development Council for Alaska  (RDC).  He focuses on the economic "ties that bind" Alaska and Seattle together and the importance of the sanctity of contract law.  A unique group, RDC represents forestry, commercial fishing, mining and other natural resource interests other than oil and gas.

Cathy Giessel, Alaska Senate, Seattle, Terminal 5, Shell, Foss, Dave Harbour PhotoWe were particularly impressed with the calm and effective presentation Alaska State Senate Resources Committee Chairman Cathy Giessel (NGP Photo) made as first witness.  Her diplomatic but firm recommendation that the Seattle Port respect its agreement to provide dockside support to Shell and its contractor Foss Maritime, set a positive tone for the whole day–and reflected credit on Alaska's government.

Paul Fuhs, North Slope, Port, Seattle Seaport, Shell, Foss, Terminal 5, Dave Harbour PhotoAnother distinguished Alaskan, Paul Fuhs (Quoted in the Times article), spoke as a former mayor and current port manager, focusing on the credibility of the Port's decision process.

We believe the Seattle Times reporters featured his words, in part, because of his own credible testimony.

2.  Anti Shell, anti fossil fuel witnesses were not credible but emotional pleas sometimes win debates.

The activist crowd represented several national and international environmentally extreme groups along with well intended but highly emotional local residents who focused on emotional techniques to generate support.

Some stood rather than delivered prepared presentations seated at the witness box.

Some sang an anti-oil song.

Some snapped their fingers after their friends testified.

Some applauded when the Chair asked that all witnesses be heard without interruption.

Some held up anti-oil signs as they testified.

Some brought children.

Some were foreign national environmentalists advocating more activism.

A socialist advocated denying Shell lease space, taxing the company and using the cash to create "green jobs" to replace all the carbon producing jobs that would be supposedly lost by refusing to allow the Seattle port to service Shell's fleet.

3.  Education.  The hearing should have been a 'wake up call' both for Alaska and the natural resource extraction industries in general.

It is apparent that many school teachers from K-12 through University worship at the "Global Warming Altar".

We detect this trend from having carefully listened to the words of local witnesses.

We support an atmosphere wherein parents and teachers encourage their children to engage in honest debate on all issues.  

By our own observation — confirmed by this hearing — we are concerned that the religion of global warming takes no prisoners, does not tolerate debate, demeans and demonizes all opposition, believes the end justifies all means including violation of laws.

This growing new attitude of intolerant environmental activism seems to have spread like a viral gospel through the neighborhoods and politics of Seattle.

One indication of the virility of the environmental gospel is Monday's action by the Seattle city council.

It passed a resolution opposing Seaport services for Shell.  It used embarrassingly flimsy rational that appeared to reflect much of the same emotional sentiment expressed by the environmental activists on Tuesday. 

All of these anti free enterprise, anti fossil fuel allies seem to have been studying the same talking points and drinking the same Kool-Aid from the same communion table.

Religions have in common that they place the state of faith above worldly facts.

Let us propose this concept to our own faithful readers:

The gospel of global warming places faith in a theme that historical climatic cycles of warming and cooling are now man-caused, in spite of other evidence.  

They have faith that what is man-caused can be man-controlled.  

They believe that regardless of whether the rest of the world acts, America should act to eliminate use of fossil fuels in spite of economic, national security or even unintended negative environmental impacts.  

And, they are willing to use tax, regulatory and even criminal means to achieve that end.  

And, they don't mind proclaiming that if they can use political pressure to stop Shell from using Seattle port facilities, this will somehow reduce carbon emissions.  

But Shell will look for Arctic oil or not, depending on Federal permits.  If the company doesn't find Arctic oil, the worldwide demand for oil will set a price that will provide the incentive to find it somewhere else…as America, Seattle and Alaska lose jobs and economic growth from our own domestic production.

We have observed natural resource hearings for 4 decades.  Never has such a pervasive, activist, elitist, anti-civilization mentality so effectively pervaded our society.  

If our civilization is to continue, our well-grounded public and private leaders need to wake up and undertake communication programs designed to better articulate the facets of free-enterprise, wealth creation, natural resource development, freedom and history to community members–young and old.

Such a new education movement could well begin in Seattle, anchor tenant of America's "Left Coast".

For every new generation of citizens and their elected leaders need to be reminded of how America became great because of wealth producing natural resources.

Our future generations of citizens also need to be taught how a country's greatness — and perhaps its existence — can fast disappear without the means to sustain a desirable way of life.


Seattle Times by Coral Garnick.  Hal Bernton, Paige Cornwell, Evan Bush, and Daniel Beekman contributed to this story.  

Shell Oil says its offshore oil rigs will arrive shortly on Seattle’s waterfront to prepare for drilling in Alaska, despite a Port of Seattle resolution Tuesday asking it to delay while the Port challenges a city ruling aimed at keeping the rigs out.

“Rig movement will commence in the days to come,” said Shell spokesman Curtis Smith in an email.

Paul Fuhs (NGP Photo), executive director of the North Slope Port Authority in Alaska, said before the meeting that rescinding the lease with Foss would be the equivalent of Alaskans telling Washington to “just shut down your Boeing plant and solve global warming with that.”

“Regardless of what the city (of Seattle) does, they cannot stop Shell from drilling this season,” said Fuhs, of the North Slope Port Authority. “The real damage that’s being done is to the credibility of the Port.”


Samples of the two types of witnesses: Resource Development Council for Alaska and A Gaggle of Grannies (a.k.a. "Raging Grannies")












Here is an excellent, blow-by-blow of the entire meeting as published on the WEST SEATTLE BLOG.

12:58 PM: Just as Seattle port commissioners are about to start their meeting on the controversial Terminal 5 lease to Foss/Shell, we received ….

1:05 PM: The meeting has begun. Commissioner Stephanie Bowman is leading it; her co-president Courtney Gregoire is absent “for health reasons.” Bowman urges civility, saying her 70-year-old mom is in the front row so if you’re rude to the commission, you’re rude to her mom. This will start with public comment, and #1 is the one elected official Bowman has mentioned as being here – Alaska State Senator Cathy Giessel, who chairs….

#2 – a speaker who says he’s from a faith-based community: “Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing….

#3 – Anthony Edwardson from Barrow, AK, chair of Arctic Inupiat Offshore, “asking the commission to honor (the lease). … We have partnered with Shell to be sure….

#21 – Zoe Buckley Lennox, an Australian who was one of the six Greenpeace activists who boarded the Polar Pioneer in the middle of the North Pacific, gets up to speak and gets an ovation of sorts ….

#31 – The Raging Grannies are speaking now, and the photographers are rushing to the front of the room. “We are imagining a future where people ….  

Read the whole, nicely written blog here.  

Seattle Times Commentary by Denny Westneat: "A state mostly run by liberal Democrats for years continues to dodge the tough work required for the economy to grow greener."

The other day I was watching video footage of one of Seattle’s emerging leaders, City Councilman Mike O’Brien, as he was training to be a “kayaktivist” in opposing Shell Oil’s drilling rigs ….

He said something designed to be a rallying cry, but ….

“We’re protesting the idea of Arctic drilling … the idea that Shell Oil is going to bring its drilling fleet into Seattle and tie us up in their shenanigans up in Alaska,” O’Brien said to Q13 News. “We don’t want ….

But we’re already tied up in their shenanigans. The reality is Seattle is probably as hooked on Arctic crude ….For going on 40 years, Arctic crude has literally fueled the prosperous growth in….

Read Denny’s entire, well constructed commentary here.

U.S. Sens Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., along with 11 of their Senate colleagues today introduced the Energy Supply and Distribution Act of 2015 (S.1312). This bipartisan legislation would modernize federal energy policy by ending the outdated ban on crude oil exports.

Murkowski and Heitkamp were joined by Sens. Hoeven, R-N.D., Barrasso, R-Wyo., McCain, R-Ariz., Corker, R-Tenn., Alexander, R-Tenn., Risch, R-Idaho, Flake, R-Ariz., Capito, R-W.Va., Inhofe, R-Okla., Rubio, R-Fla., and Lankford, R-Okla. as cosponsors representing six committee Chairmen.

“America’s energy landscape has changed dramatically since the export ban was put in place in the 1970s. We have moved from energy scarcity to energy abundance. Unfortunately, our energy policies have not kept pace,” Sen. Murkowski said. “This legislation builds from bipartisan ideas, linking energy security and infrastructure to expanding exports and helping our allies. Our nation has an opportunity to embrace its role as a global energy powerhouse, sending a signal to the world that we are open for business and will stand by our friends in need.”


“The 1970s-era ban on exporting American crude oil is as outdated as the typewriters on which the policy was written. It’s past time for an upgrade,” said Sen. Heitkamp. “Senator Murkowski and I are working to change the trajectory – by doing away with this nonsensical, out-of-date ban on U.S. crude exports, we can fully harness our resources here at home, level the playing field in the global energy market, and support our energy security by making sure our allies get energy resources from us instead of volatile regions. In the coming days, I’ll introduce complementary legislation that will hopefully be combined with this bill to make sure our legislation to lift the ban is as strong and comprehensive as possible.”


“Lifting the decades-old law banning U.S. producers from selling their product on the world market will help produce more energy, grow our economy and create more jobs, both in North Dakota and across the nation,” Sen. Hoeven said. “In addition, according to the Energy Information Administration, removing the ban will increase the supply of oil on the world market, bringing the price of crude down globally, which will bring down the price of gasoline and other fuels for consumers.”


“For generations, Americans have been subject to the whims of OPEC and its impact on the world oil market. Americans pay more at the pump whenever the world’s supply decreases —whether that is a result of events close to home or decisions made on another continent,” Sen. Barrasso said. “Ending the ban on exporting crude oil will allow American producers to add to global oil supplies and help stabilize the world oil market. American exports will help us keep gasoline prices affordable while undermining the influence of oil-rich countries that don’t share our values or our interests.”


“Lifting this outdated ban to expand markets for U.S. oil products will provide economic and strategic benefits for our country,” Sen. Corker said. “Increasing U.S. supply on the world market will contribute to lower and more stable prices for American consumers, while giving our allies and partners alternatives to oil from places like Russia and the Middle East.”


“Today, America is in the midst of an energy boom, topping Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s leading oil producer. With this surge in production projected to continue, and U.S. refineries unable to process it all, producers should be permitted to sell it abroad,” Sen. Risch said. “A responsible update to our crude oil export policy, which this legislation represents, will be good for the economy and for American interests abroad.” 


“It’s high time for the U.S. to reconsider policies that only serve to artificially constrain market access. I am pleased to join Sen. Murkowski in pushing for an end to the oil export ban,” Sen. Flake said.


“With the U.S. producing more energy than ever before, now is the time to lift the current ban on U.S. oil exports. The sooner Congress updates these outdated policies, the sooner American workers can start experiencing the benefits of an energy-driven economy,” Sen. Capito said.


“I am proud to support Chairman Murkowski's bill to lift the oil export ban. When producers can export everything from gasoline to jet fuel, it only makes sense that unrefined products should be exported too,” Sen. Inhofe said. “This bill would help provide energy security for our allies in Europe and Asia, as well as support job creation in the United States by encouraging greater production. Leading studies also show that this policy change will lower gasoline prices at the pump. This is the right thing to do – both for ourselves and our allies abroad.”


“Energy development has been a valuable part of the American economy for decades, even while unnecessary barriers have restrained its’ growth and limited jobs,” Sen. Lankford said. “The energy industry has been a bright spot through a recession, and its potential, specifically in the area of crude oil exports, is tremendous. This bipartisan Energy Supply and Distribution Act of 2015 is important for growing our economy, creating good-paying jobs, and unleashing a robust recovery. We actually have the capacity to produce enough resources to be a net exporter, yet are unable to do so due to an antiquated and outdated ban. We should take every advantage to export both our resources and our values to nations around the world.”


Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has long supported ending the outdated ban on American crude oil exports. In March, the Senate energy panel held a hearing to examine the benefits of ending this outdated energy policy. Murkowski released a reportedly last year calling for the liberalization of America’s energy trade policies. The legislation introduced by Murkowski and Heitkamp and cosponsored by 11 of their Senate colleagues, furthers Murkowski’s commitment to modernizing America’s energy policies.


More information on S. 1312, the Energy Supply and Distribution Act, is available on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee website.