U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (NGP Photo) office this morning U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Shell Decision, BSEE, Chukchi, Beaufort, Arctic OCS, Photo by  released the following comment regarding a decision by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) to allow Shell to conduct preparatory work in the Chukchi Sea this summer.  “Today’s decision is a positive step that will allow Shell to begin necessary preparatory work, while maintaining the highest environmental standards to ensure the protection of the Arctic,” Murkowski said. “While we would all like to see a discovery this summer, the most important thing is for Shell to continue to make progress and demonstrate once again that Arctic drilling can be done safely.”  Thursday’s BSEE announcement will allow Shell to build a mudline cellar and install pre-drilling infrastructure in the Chukchi Sea before the Coast Guard gives final approval of its containment vessel.  “While many environmental activists continue to cast doubt on Arctic production, we know from experience that development can be carried out safely – more than 100 wells have been drilled in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas since the 1970s,” said Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  The Arctic waters off Alaska’s northern coast contain an Senator Mark Begich, Chukchi, Salazar, Shell approval, Photo by Dave Harbourestimated 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the federal government.     *      NGP received another statement from U.S. Senator Mark Begich (NGP Photo) this afternoon. -dh  "U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today released the following statement after Interior Sec. Ken Salazar announced a permit is being issued to Shell for limited preparatory activities in relation to the company’s exploration plan in the Chukchi Sea:  ‘I am pleased to see the Interior Department recognizes the importance of moving ahead with exploratory drilling this summer.  ‘Today’s decision shows flexibility while not sacrificing safety. This allows us to get one step closer to understanding and moving forward on the energy potential of the Arctic.’"

Calgary Herald, by James Wood.  Finance Minister Doug Horner said even with ongoing price volatility, the government’s finances aren’t about to run off the rails.

Commentary: Yesterday we commended two Legislators for consistently defending Alaska’s constitution and natural resource economic base against federal overreach.  Most recently, they urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue a timely Record of Decision on the Point Thomson Project.  Today, we note that DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan (NGP Photo)  and North Slope Mayor Charlotte Brower dispatched a similar message, found in this letter, and released a memorandum of understanding encouraging inhanced collaboration between the State and Borough.  Cheers for all.  But the Point Thomson ball is still in the Feds’ court and we harbor no illusions that the Corps’ overlords will be more supportive now than in the past, in allowing just and reasonable adjudication of Alaska natural resource issues.   -dh









Commentary (Note that we are always open to additions or corrections and rebuttals):

  • Today the Alaska Dispatch continued what can be expected (based on its commentary over the last year) to grow into its own media blitz against reform of Alaska’s predatory oil and gas tax regime.
  • Yesterday, the Alaska Dispatch provided a news report/commentary piece covering results of a Coastal Management Ballot Initiative that could have dealt a mortal blow to natural resource development in Alaska, and ultimately to the State’s economy.  Below is our review of that piece:
Commentary:  We have great admiration for the amazing progress and communication contributions of the Alaska Dispatch but grow more and more disappointed with its criticism of the way Alaska makes a living–resource development.  We would also prefer that news reports be objective and that editorials be separated from news reports and properly labeled–lest they be thought of a propagandistic.  
Yesterday’s Alaska Dispatch report on Tuesday’s election was thorough but somewhat one-sided and wandered from factual reporting to editorializing on behalf of what appeared to be its own special interest favorites.  
We have openly editorialized here about how yesterday’s vote on Proposition 2 would challenge Alaska’s Constitution by usurping roles of the Legislative and Administrative branches of government.  We have always tried to identify our opinion as commentary and never as factual reporting.  
The Dispatch writers first name major business supporters for defeat of Proposition 2 (as if they were demons), make short shrift of the special interests supporting the proposition — and their consistently anti-resource development views — then conclude, editorially, that "In the end, it would appear that the money may have won out."  
The editorial/news writers quote an environmental spokesman but not one representing the successful "No on 2" effort.  They conveniently ignore the history of the issue, namely that the a coastal management program passed the House with stunning bipartisan support, was stopped by the Senate and a new, unworkable version recreated in the form of Proposition 2 after the Legislature adjourned.  Finally, the editorial/news writers do not admit even the shred of possibility that the folks who voted ‘No’ (i.e. the majority) could have been persuaded by the merits and not by advertising money.   
We hope for consistency’s — if not integrity’s — sake that had the supporters of Proposition 2 won and raised more money than opponents, the Dispatch writers would have commented that the proposition won not on the merits, but because, ‘it would appear that the money may have won out’.   -dh