TODAY, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2231, the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act, with a bipartisan vote of 235-186.  This legislation, sponsored by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, would expand OCS energy production in order to create new American jobs, lower energy prices, grow our economy, and strengthen America’s national security.
 
LAST NIGHT: US House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings joined Fox Business to discuss expanding energy development in HR 2231 and President Obama's war on coal.  
 



John Minge, BP America, BP Exploration (Alaska), Inc., Photo by Dave HarbourYesterday former BP Exploration (Alaska), Inc., president John Mingé (NGP Photo), provided this statement in response to what he believes to be a Gulf of Mexico clean up "…settlement misinterpretation which is allowing trial lawyers to file fictitious or inflated claims that could ultimately cost billions of dollars."  Mingé now serves as Chairman and President of BP America, Inc., in Houston.  According to Paul Barrett's Bloomberg Businessweek article, one lawyer seeking money for clients says, "The craziest thing about the settlement, is that you can be compensated for losses that are UNRELATED to the spill.”    We are concerned that such unrestrained greed will add more and more costs to energy production at the expense of business and family consumers everywhere.  What a country.  -dh

See Katie Bender's RDC Report on one of our favorite websites: Alaskanomics.com!


Our RDC column yesterday attracted a number of comments.

Scott Thorson, Alaska taxes, competitive investment climate, Photo by Dave HarbourThis comment, from an Alaska small business owner, Scott Thorson (NGP Photo), deals with other factors affecting Alaska's ability to compete for investment.

We agree with Scott on his observations.  

The only reason we didn't enumerate them in yesterday's column–along with Alaska's other competitive disadvantages–was that these pages for a decade have been replete with such references.

We wish to thank Scott for identifying them and once again bringing them to the attention of fellow readers.                      -dh

Dave:  
 
I get your e-mail updates, and although not 100% of the time, more times than not I click to your site to read.  The write up you did regarding the RDC Annual Meeting was really good.  I have only a couple of things I would like to add for your consideration.
 
First, you are 100% correct, Alaska is … dependent on the oil & gas business.  Our entire economy (both private sector & government sector) depends on a healthy and growing oil & gas industry.  Unless people in Alaska want to pay extremely high taxes this dependence will have to continue…. 
 
Logically, the numbers don’t add up.  Alaskans can’t afford the government they have without oil & gas under any scenario I can conjure up.  Without a viable economy, hardly anyone will have jobs, except of course for government employees ….
 
The real story is that, at least in my opinion, even under the new tax rates, Alaska is still at a HUGE competitive disadvantage.
 
As you know, we are a long way from the market, so transportation is very expensive for our oil.
 
Second, the cost of operating in the Arctic is far higher than in other oil provinces in North America.
 
Third, federal oversight is another huge cost that many other locations do not have to deal with at the level we have to. 
 
All these elements add to the cost of getting our oil to the refinery and ultimately to the market….
 
The bean counters are a key element in making the decisions about where investments will be made.  They really don’t care how cool we Alaskans are and how good our quality of life is here. To them it is where they can get the best return on a dollar they invest. 
 
The total cost to produce a barrel of oil in Alaska is far higher (even with our new tax rates) than it is anywhere else in North America, as it is when compared to most of the places they produce in the world.
 
The new tax rates are about the best we could expect politically, in the real world, but in my view it is not enough to create a real oil boom such as the one I have seen in North Dakota and Texas.
 
Keep up the good work …. 

 

Scott Thorson

Alaska Journal of Commerce Op Ed by David Holt (NGP Photo), David Holt, Consumer Energy Alliance, RDC, Alaska, Photo by Dave Harbourone of yesterday's speakers at the annual meeting of the Resource Development Council for Alaska (RDC).  

As the Alaska Resource Development Council meets in Anchorage, many are asking: “Why won’t the federal government allow Alaskans to tap these prodigious resources and keep Alaska’s economy growing?”

In just the past few years, the Obama Administration has moved forward on new plans and regulations that could limit or prevent energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, and the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. If it’s not additional red-tape cutting off access, opposition groups increasingly use litigation to seek to stall or derail development plans.
 
Why these resources are being kept off-line is certainly perplexing. Nearly every Alaskan understands how significantly oil and natural gas development benefits the state’s economy. Revenues from production have kept the state’s budget in the black for decades and the industry generates or supports nearly one-third of Alaskan jobs.  
 
While most Alaskans have been up-in-arms about the Alaskan energy shutout, the rest of the United States has remained either silent or unaware. It’s not a stretch to think that Lower 48 disinterest could be the reason, or even a catalyst, for these restrictive federal policies.  (More)

 Chairman Hastings: Republican Plan Unlocks American Energy Resources, Creates American Jobs

Offshore energy production has steadily declined under the Obama Administration and it’s time to reverse that trend.”
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Congressman Doc Hastings, Photo by Dave HarbourNatural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (NGP Photo) delivered the following floor statement yesterday in support of H.R. 2231, the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act:  Click here to Watch
 
“Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 2231, the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act.
 
Unlike the President’s plan we heard this week, which is to impose new energy taxes and federal red-tape that will increase energy prices and cost American jobs, this Republican plan will expand access to our own U.S. energy resources in order to lower energy prices and increase American jobs.
 
Gas prices have nearly doubled since President Obama took office.  The national average today remains above $3.50 per gallon, compared to $1.89 when he took office.  We shouldn’t have to accept potentially $4 a gallon gas prices, especially when we have resources here at home.  Higher gas prices force many to have to make tough budgeting choices.  For small businesses, it may be the difference between hiring more workers or having to let some go.  For families, it may be the difference between replacing a worn out household appliance, or making do with makeshift repairs.  This is why access to afford energy is so vital. 
 
58% Expect Obama's New EPA Regulations to Increase Energy Costs.    
For decades, most of our nation’s offshore areas were under moratoria – preventing any offshore development.  All of that changed in the summer of 2008 when outrageously high gas prices made our nation’s energy struggles a regular topic of conversation around the dinner table of American families.  Later that year, Congress and then-President Bush lifted those moratoria with the hopes of fostering an era of increased American energy production.
 
President Obama came into office with a tremendous opportunity.  For the first time in more than a generation he had the ability to open new offshore areas to oil and natural gas production. Sadly, instead, he went out of his way to shut down this opportunity by putting forward a five-year offshore leasing plan that locks-up 85 percent of our offshore areas.  The plan includes no-new drilling, which results in no-new American jobs.  In fact, it includes the lowest number of lease sales ever offered in an offshore lease plan –a record worse than even President Jimmy Carter’s.
 
Mr. Chairman, we must do better.  That’s why we are here today to consider the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act.  This legislation puts us back on the right path – one that will open new areas to drilling, one that will create 1.2 million American jobs, one that will lower energy prices and one that will generate $1.5 billion in new revenue.  But it’s not only energy jobs that will be created – its associated industries like manufacturing, boating, transportation, and service industries like hotels and restaurants that will all benefit.
 
This legislation requires the Administration to implement a new five-year leasing plan that includes areas with the most oil and natural gas resources – such as the Mid-Atlantic, Alaska and Southern California.  This is not a drill everywhere plan, but rather a drill-smart plan that focuses on those areas where the greatest potential lies.
 
It would also require specific lease sales to be held off the coasts of South Carolina and Virginia – the latter of which was originally scheduled to take place in 2011 but was canceled by the Obama Administration.  There is bipartisan support in favor of the Virginia lease sale, but the Obama Administration canceled it and punted any future sales until after 2017.
 
The bill also establishes a fair and equitable revenue sharing program with all coastal states that have drilling off their coasts – much like what Gulf States currently receive.  Revenue sharing will create new incentives for opening offshore areas to drilling.  Again, more American energy production equates to more jobs and a stronger economy.
 
Finally, the bill includes reforms to further enhance the accountability, efficiency, safety and ethical standards of offshore energy operations.   These reforms will allow for the robust production of our Nation’s offshore energy resources, while ensuring that all activity is conducted with proper oversight.  
 
Offshore energy production has steadily declined under the Obama Administration and it’s time to reverse that trend.  H.R. 2231 will remove government barriers that are currently blocking access to our American energy resources.  It will safely and responsibly unlock our energy and allow us to create over a million new American jobs.
 
I urge my colleagues to support the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act and reserve the balance of my time.”