Headlamp – The fight to open ANWR continues; unemployment rises.

Note: Governor Walker is holding a press conference at 12:30 today to discuss the special session and there is some indication a crime bill may be added to the call. Watch via livestream at 12:30.

Up is usually good – unless it’s unemployment rates. Alaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.2 percent in August, up two-tenths of a percentage point from July. The comparable national rate was 4.4 percent. August employment was down by an estimated 1.4 percent, or 4,800 jobs, compared to August 2016. Preliminary estimates show job losses spread across most industries, although the losses remain concentrated in industries closely tied to oil or oil revenue. Oil and gas led employment losses (-1,000 jobs), followed by construction (-1,000), professional and business services (-800), manufacturing (-600), and state government (-600). Health care, local government, and federal government were all up slightly over August 2016 levels. Headlamp would like to remind readers that oil and gas and construction jobs are among the highest paying in our state and the ones suffering the greatest losses.

Perry doesn’t want to touch SPR. Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the United States shouldn’t sell off its emergency crude oil supply to boost the federal budget, breaking with the White House. Perry was asked at a Friday press conference if Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, both of which harmed Gulf Coast infrastructure, have led him to reassess a Trump administration proposal to sell off portions of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), a component of the White House’s May budget proposal. “I think this is a good example of why we need a SPR,” Perry said at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “I didn’t write that budget.” he said. “I’m a big believer that it makes sense for us to have a Strategic Petroleum Reserve.”

Red Team/Blue Team. The Trump administration is looking to create a “red team” to challenge the accepted science on climate change and the impact of carbon dioxide emissions on the Earth’s temperature, but there is no timeline on when that exercise will occur even though it is “very important,” according to Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt. The EPA administrator sat down with the Washington Examiner for an interview that included discussion of the proposed red team-blue team process that he says will open up a dialogue over the science behind global warming to see what is true and what is not. “The red team-blue team is still being evaluated,” Pruitt said. “I think it’s very, very important. I think the American people deserve an open, honest dialogue about what do we know, what don’t we know with respect to CO2 and its impact.”

 Is resource nationalism good for the US? Canadian miner Eldorado Gold Corp’s threat this week to freeze investments in Greece after years of frustrating and costly permit delays highlighted the risks the industry faces when it strays away from mining-friendly countries. After moving into higher-risk countries in recent years to mine new deposits, companies are being forced to seek safe havens during a rise in so-called resource nationalism and other political headwinds. From Indonesia and Tanzania to South Africa and Zambia, governments are demanding greater control over mineral riches as metals prices rise, often seeking higher royalty payments. In Eldorado’s case, the company faces a leftist-led Greek government that publicly backs investment but has powerful insiders that oppose privately owned mining projects.

On the rise? Oil ended higher Thursday for a fourth consecutive session, with the U.S. benchmark settling at a more-than-six-week high on expectations for stronger demand and efforts by major producers to maintain a cap on crude output. October West Texas Intermediate oil CLV7, -0.28% on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 59 cents, or 1.2%, to settle at $49.89 a barrel after hitting a session high of $50.50. Prices settled at their highest since July 31, which was also the last day they finished above $50, FactSet data show.

VOICE calls for economic development and the opening of ANWR. Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat (VOICE) announced its support for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling. The board of directors passed the resolution last week officially backing safe and responsible development in the refuge – specifically the 1002 coastal plain area that represents eight percent of the total ANWR acreage. With this announcement, VOICE joins the Governor, the Alaska delegation, the leadership of the North Slope Borough, the majority of Arctic Slope village leadership and the overwhelming majority of Alaskans in calling for resource production in a small portion of the Arctic refuge. “The VOICE organization and the villages it represents strongly support economic development in the region,” said John Hopson, Jr., mayor of Wainwright, Alaska and vice chairman of Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat.

First Reads:

Unemployment Rate at 7.2 Percent in August
Alaska Department of Labor, Press Release, September 15, 2017

Bolstered by Trump, Big Oil Resumes Its 40-Year Quest to Drill in an Arctic Wildlife Refuge
Fortune, Bob Reiss, September 14, 2017

Perry rejects calls to sell off emergency oil reserve
The Hill, Devin Henry, September 15, 2017

EPA evaluating ‘red teams’ to challengclimate science despite hurricanes
The Washington Examiner, John Siciliano, September 15, 2017

Gold miners seek safety as political risks rise
Arctic Now/Reuters, Nicole Mordant, September 15, 2017

Oil extends win streak to 4 days, finishes at 6-week high
Market Watch, Myra P. Saefong and William Watts, September 14, 2017

VOICE passes resolution supporting ANWR development
VOICE Press Release, September 8, 2017