Headlamp – Greenpeace: Illegal and Irresponsible. Give me Liberty!

Congressional Western Caucus in Alaska. Rep. Don Young has spent the week guiding some of his fellow Republican members of Congress around some of Alaska’s natural resources, and the group said they’re ready to act to make drilling and mining more accessible in Alaska. Young and four other members of the congressional Western Caucus joined with representatives of oil, gas, timber, fish, Alaska Native corporations and other industries in Anchorage on Thursday to discuss just what Congress could do to encourage more production in Alaska.

foggy islandGive me liberty!! The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) today announced a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzing the possible environmental impacts of the activities proposed in an offshore oil and gas development and production plan (DPP) submitted to BOEM by Hilcorp Alaska LLC. on Sept. 18, 2015. In its DPP, Hilcorp proposes to build a small artificial gravel island in the shallow (19 feet) federal waters of the Beaufort Sea, about 20 miles east of Prudhoe Bay. To be located about five miles off the coast in Foggy Island Bay, the 9-acre site would be similar in nature to the four oil- and gas-producing artificial islands currently operating in the area’s state waters (Spy Island, Northstar Island, Endicott Island, and Oooguruk Island).

A rose by any other name. The National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) is a region in the Arctic bigger than many U.S. states. But it’s flown under the radar for years, unlike a different chunk of federal land located just to the east: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). That’s likely to change. A series of promising oil discoveries and a recent move by the Trump administration mean this vast, remote area is about to get a lot more controversial. In the 1920s, President Warren G. Harding set aside NPR-A specifically for its oil potential. Today, the federal government manages the petroleum reserve as a “multiple use” area — a place with room for both habitat and oil drilling. But Melanie Smith, director of conservation science with Audubon Alaska, thinks the name is misleading.

Greenpeace: Illegal and irresponsible. Norwegian coast guards stopped Greenpeace from protesting at a site of the country’s northernmost exploration well drilled by Statoil, the environmentalist group said on Thursday. A number of activists entered a 500-meter safety perimeter around Songa Enabler rig with rubber boats and kayaks on Thursday, seeking to stop the drilling of the Korpfjell well, situated more than 400 kilometers from the mainland. Statoil said entering the safety zone was “illegal and irresponsible,” and it called the police to intervene. The coast guards reacted to the call shortly. “The Arctic Sunrise is currently being towed away from the drilling site, to the mainland in Tromsoe, Northern Norway,” Greenpeace said in a statement late on Thursday. There were 35 activists and crew members on board, it added. Norwegian police said Greenpeace activists were ordered to leave as they were disturbing the oil drilling, in violation of Norwegian interests according to the Petroleum Act.

A familiar name. Ben Stevens, the former Republican Alaska Senate president who federal authorities investigated for political corruption, says he’s thinking about running for governor in next year’s election. “I’ve lived through a few storms in my life, and I think I know what it takes to survive and I know what it takes to move into the future,” Stevens said in a phone interview Thursday. “Alaska’s facing some difficult times, and we’re just contemplating whether we can make a contribution or not in a public position,” he said, using the third person “we” instead of “I.” “When we make a decision, people will know.”

Muni gas tax proposed. A 10-cent per gallon gasoline tax in Anchorage was proposed to members of the assembly Thursday afternoon during a meeting at City Hall. The proposal was submitted by the chairman of the Budget Advisory Commission, a group of citizens that provides advice to the assembly and the school board. Al Tamagni, chairman of the commission, said the proposal calls for property taxes to be offset by the amount of revenue raised by the gasoline tax. Tamagni also said the proposed tax would generate about $14-million a year and the commission is recommending that 100 percent of that be used for property tax relief. The tax would also apply to diesel fuel sales. The proposal was made Thursday to the Budget & Finance Committee of the Anchorage Assembly.

Big Borough Ballot. Kenai Peninsula Borough voters will have a hefty ballot to go through at the Oct. 3 regular election. With five Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly seats up for grabs and the borough mayor’s seat coming open, the borough administration and the majority of the assembly will change after Oct. 3.

Seward City ballot set. The ballots haven’t been cast, but the names that will appear on the upcoming General Election have been penciled in. A total of seven candidates filed their intentions with the Seward City Clerk earlier this week to seek spots on the Seward City Council in the upcoming election. Among those filing for seats on the city council are two incumbents, Sue McClure and Deborah Altermatt. A longtime political figure, McClure is a former member of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly and was elected to the city Like McClure, Altermatt is no stranger to the local government scene. Before being elected to the city council in 2015, she served nine years on the Port and Commerce Advisory Board. Three newcomers, Jeremy Horn, Suzanne Towsley and Katie Cornwell, will also be on the ballot.  Two noticeable absences from the filing period were Mayor Jean Bardarson and Vice-Mayor Marianna Kiel.

First Reads:

Congressmen hear pitches on how to open up Alaska’s natural resources
Alaska Dispatch News, Erica Martinson, August 17, 2017

BOEM Publishes Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Hilcorp Liberty Oil and Gas Project in Beaufort Sea
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Press Release, August 17, 2017

There’s a new Arctic drilling battle brewing…and it’s not in ANWR
KTOO Public Media, Elizabeth Harball, August 17, 2017

Norway authorities stop Greenpeace protests at Arctic well
Arctic Now/Reuters, Nerijus Adomaitis, August 18, 2017

Ben Stevens, former Alaska Senate president once investigated for corruption, ponders bid for governor
Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, August 17, 2017

10-cent per gallon gas tax in Anchorage proposed
KTUU, Mike Ross, August 17, 2017

A look at the borough assembly and mayor races
Peninsula Clarion, Elizabeth Earl, August 17, 2017

Seven file for spots on October city ballot
Seward Phoenix Log, Tommy Wells, August 17, 2017