Dave Harbour

Maybe history teaches that political pipedreams don’t work so well.

Would it not be wise to learn from our past?

Would it not be logical to offer support and not hostile dictates to private sector investors — for a change — so that they might realistically conform energy exploration, production, development, transportation, marketing and distribution hopes to the realism of private sector expertise, science-based planning, decision-making agility, competition-inspired efficiency, volatile market conditions and the harsh taskmaster of profitability?

Should not fiscally responsible, honest collection of lease-sale-agreed-to bonuses and royalties and guardianship of stable, stable, stable tax structures be the hallmark of governments to whom a “deal is a deal“?

Yes, Alaska’s elected leaders now face an unprecedented fiscal crisis.  Yet during this crisis they are distracted by uneconomic gas pipeline/LNG transportation and distribution schemes.  1) Even if an Ak-LNG project occurred on schedule, it would not be in time nor would it provide the revenue to make Alaska’s bloated government sustainable.  2)  In previous editorials we have identified the ways in which a politically/bureaucratically owned mega project could not out deliver a privately controlled project.  3) Alaska has a horrible track record with attempts to own traditionally private businesses.  Couldn’t Alaska’s leaders learn much, by reviewing what history has shown does and does not work?

Our friends across the border in Canada are similarly enmeshed in a chaotic web of energy politics whose Mackenzie Valley Pipeline history lessons could also augur well for their prosperity.

The 9-11 lesson applied to energy issues.

The main job of guardians at the gates of our economies is defend their citizens from all kinds of attacks on their constitutional freedoms.  This job includes securing their people from terrorists, as we learned on 9-11.  The guardians must be disciplined and not let shiney objects, like gas pipeline policies, distract them from their major mission of protecting citizens’ freedom.

Terrorists are enemies with strange motives.  Some terrorists destroy people and structures.  Other terrorists use dangerous, anti-social and illegal tactics to destroy energy project plans along with the jobs, futures, hopes, dreams and prosperity that accompany the keystone of North American economies: the production and sustained-yield management of God-given natural resources.  (We hasten to distinguish terror tactics from peaceful protest activity.)

The people-killing and project-killing terrorists, in general, share one goal: destroy the old way of freedom and its leadership structure as the means to an end of accumulating power over the majority of citizens and their natural resource treasures.

Let’s think critically about what is necessary to protect our way of life and the freedoms our state and federal Constitutions should still be guaranteeing…

…lest we forget, and lose everything.

A Related Thought: Patience and Pipedreams

The propensity of human nature is, “I want it now and I will get it now”.

However, had one of the 1970s/80s/90s/2000s-era Arctic Gas projects been built as politicians wished, great companies could have gone bankrupt due to changing market conditions and evolving technology.  The Arctic gas resource would surely have lost value.  The superior use of natural gas (i.e. at that time) to provide enhanced Prudhoe Bay oil recovery proved to be the very best outcome for Alaska and her citizens.  Providence was more powerful than political pipeline schemes in those cases, thank God.

This is another reason for politicians to subject their propensity to “get it now for constituents”, to a more humble recognition that sometimes the best policy is being patient and waiting for the right time.

Maybe Providence plans for Arctic gas to be used now.  But maybe it is to be better used by a future generation.   Either way, government should be acting in the role of a consistent royalty/tax beneficiary, a reasonable regulator and a supporter of such investor enterprises.



Tony Knowles - Copyright_Dave_Harbour_2011_1539 (545)

Governor Tony Knowles. NGP Stock Photo By Dave Harbour

Frank Murkowski by Dave Harbour - 11-8-06 7-31-2009 6-20-18 AM 1371x1763

Governor Frank Murkowski, NGP File Photo By Dave Harbour

Sarah Palin, NGP File photo by Dave Harbour

Sarah Palin, NGP File photo by Dave Harbour

Sept. 8, 2006 — Former Gov. Tony Knowles, the Democratic candidate for governor, said Thursday he wants to see new proposals for a gas pipeline within two months of his taking office. Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate, said she would reject the law Gov. Frank Murkowski used to negotiate his pipeline contract, introduce a substitute, then welcome all pipeline proposals.