Headlamp – Alaska’s Balash says “goodbye punitive rules”

Court “Seals” the deal for polar bears. An ice seal that’s the main prey of Alaska’s polar bears will receive threatened species protection. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday overturned a District Court decision and said the National Marine Fisheries Service acted properly in listing ringed seals. Ringed seals thrive in completely ice-covered Arctic waters by digging and maintaining breathing holes. Females create ice caves on sea ice and give birth to pups that are susceptible to freezing until they grow a blubber layer. The decision to list ringed seals follows closely a decision to list bearded seals because of their dependence on sea ice and a projected loss of sea ice due to climate warming. The judges said the listing decision based on climate models was proper because it’s the best available science.

8 ways to move a road. The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) will be hosting a community meeting at the Nikiski Recreation Center this evening. The meeting is an open community discussion to look at the alternatives for the proposed realignment of the Kenai Spur Highway between MP 18 and MP 21. The meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m., with an open house followed by a presentation at 7:00 p.m., to review and discuss the alternatives. The community will have the opportunity to provide feedback and offer comments. The AGDC in April 2017 provided the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with a site map of the LNG plant in Nikiski, showing locations for the three liquefaction trains, two LNG storage tanks, material offloading facility and north and south plant entrances. Following the site map, the AGDC filed a map of eight possible alternatives for relocating the Kenai Spur Highway around the LNG plant site to FERC. In December, the AGDC narrowed those possibilities down to the final two. Download ADGC’s Spur Highway reroute filing

Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat, the Native group organized to provide a unified representation and leadership of Arctic Native interests to state and federal policymaking efforts, has raised objection to the inclusion of critical subsistence whaling waters in a recently proposed gas lease draft for the Outer Continental Shelf. In a letter written to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the group voiced its opposition to the gas lease draft, which includes waters that have long been held out of such lease proposals because of their importance to subsistence whaling. Voice in particular raised concerns about the Chukchi Sea 25-mile coastal buffer, the Barrow Whaling Area and the Kaktovik Whaling Area, which it said should be preserved even in a draft. “We recognize that the balance between subsistence and resource development activities can and does occur because we have worked diligently to establish it,” Voice President Sayers Tuzroyluk Sr. said in the letter. “For this reason, we were alarmed that subsistence use areas, which are critical to northern Alaska food security and have been identified and agreed to through previous planning processes, resulting in exclusion from earlier leasing programs, were not upheld in the Option 1 of the Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program.” Voice, which formed in 2015, is a 20-member nonprofit corporation representing Alaska’s North Slope tribal councils, municipal governments, Alaska Native corporations, a regional nonprofit and the tribal college for the North Slope. Some have been critical of the group’s efforts, saying its pro-development stance was not supported universally by the region. Some have questioned surveys the group has conducted, while others have disagreed with the group’s support of the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas leasing and development.

From today’s Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:

TRUMP GUTS OBAMA-ERA METHANE RULES FOR FRACKING: The Interior Department on Monday proposed a revised version of Obama-era methane rules that favors President Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda over duplicative and punishing regulations, according to the Interior Department’s land management regulator. Goodbye ‘punitive’ rules: “In order to achieve energy dominance through responsible energy production, we need smart regulations, not punitive regulations,” said Joe Balash, assistant secretary for land and minerals management. “We believe this proposed rule strikes that balance and will allow job growth in rural America,” he said. The Obama administration in 2016 imposed strict regulations on oil and natural gas drillers that the Trump administration saw as duplicative with other federal regulations and state requirements that also regulated methane emissions.

First Reads:

Appeals Court: Arctic ringed seals are threatened species
KTUU News, Dan Joling, February 12, 2018

AGDC Hosting Community Meeting In Nikiski On Kenai Spur Reroute, Tonight
KSRM Radio Group, Jennifer Williams, February 12, 2018

Native group opposes whaling area inclusion in offshore leases
Anchorage Daily News, Carey Restino, February 12, 2018