Headlamp – The death of oil and diesel engines is greatly overexaggerated.           

The death of oil and diesel engines is greatly overexaggerated. Judging by some of the headlines we’ve seen recently, you could be forgiven for thinking petrol and diesel engines were about to be consigned to the scrap heap. Yet the reality is rather different. There is no question that the car industry is undergoing a radical change. At this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show – currently under way in the German city – the buzzword throughout the cavernous exhibition halls has been “electrification.” The day before the show, for example, Volkswagen said it would build electrified versions of every model in its range – including those sold under the Audi, Skoda, Seat and Porsche brands – by 2030. The same evening, Mercedes’ parent company Daimler said it would have electrified versions of its own models by 2022. These are undoubtedly ambitious plans – but it is important to recognize their limitations. They are not saying they will get rid of diesel or petrol cars completely. They are simply promising to make electrified versions of them available. It is also important to recognize what “electrified” actually means.

6 Arctic Icebreakers funded. The U.S. Senate on Monday passed a $692 billion defense authorization bill that included provisions to bolster missile defense systems in Alaska and approval for building up to six Arctic icebreakers. The Alaska provisions are a mark of success for the state’s lawmakers, who have long pushed for the provisions. But seeing them through to reality will require Congress to manage the full scope of appropriations bills in the coming year — something that happens rarely. Since 1976, Congress has passed all 12 appropriations bills by Oct. 1, the fiscal year deadline, only four times, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center. This year, Congress has already agreed to kick the process to December, but it is unclear if that will lead to legislative success. Though Congress struggles with appropriations, it has managed to pass the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for more than 50 years, and once again Monday. The NDAA directs the Pentagon’s budget and provides general congressional direction to the military. The House of Representatives passed a $696 billion version of the bill in July.

Satre’s sage advice. A local mine executive urged the Juneau Assembly to reconsider a resolution urging federal action on transboundary mining, and the Assembly did on Monday night. The resolution would have urged the federal government to invoke a treaty to enforce protections for Alaska resources from upstream mines in British Columbia. Recently, the borough assemblies of Sitka and Ketchikan passed a similar resolution. In 2015, the Juneau Assembly did, too. Heather Hardcastle of Salmon Without Borders said transboundary mining should be tackled at the highest levels between Ottawa and Washington. “This by no means is an anti-mining resolution,” she said. “This is a chance to get binding protections in place that only come about in an agreement between two nations.” Juneau Deputy Mayor Jerry Nankervis put the brakes on the resolution. “We were all on the Assembly provided a letter by a gentlemen in our community speaking to this resolution and what he believes to be inaccuracies in it,” Nankervis said. “And I am also concerned about the message we’re sending with this.” The letter he referred to was an email from Mike Satre, an executive with Hecla Greens Creek Mine. The email urged the Assembly to work through Gov. Walker’s efforts on transboundary mine safety at the state and provincial levels rather than trying to invoke international treaties.

Private sector prospers…in Juneau. This week, the JEDC released its annual “Economic Indicators and Outlook” report for Juneau and Southeast Alaska. It’s the annual physical for Juneau’s economy — how things are growing (or not) and how they have changed over the past year. You already know the bad news: Alaska remains in a recession, and Juneau isn’t immune. The city’s population fell last year, so did the number of jobs, and so did total wages. The report does have a silver lining. For that, you have to look at the private sector.

First Reads:

Defense bill passes US Senate with provisions for icebreakers, Alaska missile defense
Arctic Now/Alaska Dispatch News, Erica Martinson, September 19, 2017

Why switching to fully electric cars will take time
BBC News, Theo Leggett, September 19, 2017

After mining exec weighs in, Juneau Assembly holds off on boundary mine resolution
KTOO Alaska Public Media, Jacob Resneck, September 19, 2017

JEDC finds economic silver lining in Juneau’s private sector
Juneau Empire, James Brooks, September 19, 2017