Judge backs Alaska elections division in disputed recount
Dan Joling, AP, December 21, 2018
The Alaska Division of Elections properly recounted votes in a state House race decided by one vote, a Superior Court judge decided Thursday. The Alaska Supreme Court named Judge Eric Aarseth as a special master to prepare a report on the recount appeal by Democrat Kathryn Dodge. The recount showed her losing by one vote to Republican Bart LeBon in a race for a seat from Fairbanks in the Alaska House. Aarseth will turn in a written report Friday and the state Supreme Court will have the final say after a hearing next month. Aarseth from the bench after a hearing Thursday said elections officials followed the law as set up by legislators.
Trump Unveils Proposal For Oil And Gas Drilling In ANWR
Michael Bastasch, The Daily Caller, December 20, 2018
The Trump administration on Thursday put forward a draft proposal to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas exploration while at the same time protecting the region’s iconic wildlife. The proposal comes nearly one year after President Donald Trump signed GOP-led tax cuts into law. The bill also ordered the Interior Department to open ANWR’s coastal plain, or 1002 Area, to oil and gas leases. “We have undertaken a rigorous review here,” Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Joe Balash said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. Balash said they worked with dozens of scientists and other experts to craft “a rather robust document.”
Our Take: From our Congressional delegation and our Governor:
“One year ago, Congress directed the Department of the Interior to open the Coastal Plain for responsible energy development, and today marks a major step forward to making this a reality,” Murkowski said. “I appreciate the extensive time and attention the Department has dedicated to gather and consider feedback from all Alaskans, particularly the Inupiat and other stakeholders in the Alaska Native community. This input and cooperation will ensure we build a strong leasing program that helps us realize our tremendous energy potential without harming our environment or way of life.”
“I appreciate all the hard work and diligence the Department of Interior undertook to produce this draft Environmental Impact Statement in line with Congress’s statutory mandate from last year’s tax bill,” Sullivan said. “I am particularly pleased to see the serious and necessary considerations for the porcupine caribou that migrate through the region, as well as the abundant level of stakeholder input — including from the Alaska Natives in the area, the vast majority of whom support responsible drilling in the 1002. This Draft EIS brings us that much closer to unleashing America’s energy potential, filling up the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, boosting our economy, and providing good jobs for Alaskans, all while protecting the ecosystem in ANWR’s 1002 as we’ve done on the rest of Alaska’s North Slope for over 40 years.”
“I’ve fought for a long time to open the 1002 Area for oil and gas development, and this is a critical step toward reaching that goal. I want to thank Secretary Zinke and Assistant Secretary Balash for their hard work in producing this draft EIS and look forward to continuing to work with DOI in 2019 to complete the assessment process,” Young said. “Opening the 1002 Area will allow Alaska to be a leader in energy development so we can continue the Trump Administration’s efforts to make our country energy independent.”
“This is a significant milestone in Alaska’s long journey to responsibly explore and develop the 1002 area in ANWR,” Dunleavy said. “The potential oil discovered will spur new jobs and investments for generations to come, extending the life of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.”
Donlin Gold signs major wetland mitigation agreement
Krysti Shallenberger, Alaska’s Energy Desk, December 20, 2018
Donlin Gold has signed an agreement with the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority to protect some of the trust’s wetlands in the Cook Inlet area. The company is trying to develop one of the biggest gold mines in the world in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The mine, if built, would disturb 2,800 acres of wetlands. Because Donlin can’t restore all of those wetlands, it is required to protect wetlands somewhere else. This agreement is a big deal for the company if it develops the project. “Basically what this does (is) we purchase the conservation easement on a portion of the Chuitna River — I think we’re talking 2,000 acres — so that restricts its use from any kind of development, so it protects that habitat,” said Kurt Parkan, spokesperson for Donlin Gold.