Headlamp – When Hladick helping hurts; Murkowski on Climate Change

When Hladick helping hurts…The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a big part to play in some very controversial issues in Alaska and beyond, from the proposed Pebble Mine to national climate policy. The Trump administration recently appointed Chris Hladick to lead EPA Region 10. Hladick will oversee EPA’s work in Alaska, as well as in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Alaska’s Energy Desk got a chance to catch up with Hladick at the Alaska Forum on the Environment conference in Anchorage this week. In a wide-ranging interview, Hladick answered questions about the agency’s recent Pebble Mine decision, EPA’s budget and climate change. Before landing his federal post, Chris Hladick spent a lot of time at various levels of government in Alaska. Most recently, Hladick was a member of Governor Bill Walker’s cabinet, serving as commerce commissioner. Before that, he worked for the cities of Unalaska, Dillingham and Galena. Hladick thinks that experience will come in handy: “I bring to the table local knowledge of how things can actually work on the ground here in Alaska,” Hladick said. Hladick said his boss — EPA administrator Scott Pruitt — recently called him up seeking some of that local knowledge, on a hot topic for many Alaskans: the proposed Pebble Mine. “He was interested in knowing how many people the commercial fishing out there employs, as opposed to what the mine will employ. I think he went through a process in his mind of weighing all the issues together,” Hladick said.

Southeast Conference says “NO!” to Stand for Salmon. Southeast Conference speakers on Tuesday took a stance against the “Stand for Salmon” initiative, a proposed change to habitat protections which could see a statewide ballot in November. It was one of several policy stances the group of Southeast business, municipal and Alaska Native corporation leaders took on proposed changes to natural resource law at their mid-session summit. Those stances took the form of draft letters and resolutions that the influential group will forward to legislators if approved at an upcoming fall meeting. The Stand for Salmon initiative and the similar House Bill 199 both create a more stringent process for approving projects on salmon-bearing waters in Alaska. Under the initiative, any proposed project on salmon habitat would have to prove it could restore the area before receiving the go-ahead.

“Hail Shale, but deepwater oil fights back.” Penguins, Royal Dutch Shell’s (RDSa.L) latest oil and gas development in a remote corner of the British North Sea, epitomizes the new doctrine for deepwater projects — keep it cheap and simple. Shunned during the oil price crash of 2014-2016, deepwater projects are being embraced again, a challenge to the surge in onshore U.S. shale output. Penguins, the first new major deepwater project this year, will rejuvenate the 44-year-old field by drilling 8 new wells 165 meters (541 feet) underwater and connecting them to a new production vessel. Due for completion in 2021 at a cost of around $1 billion, Penguins will cost a fraction of the average of giant developments earlier this decade, producing a modest 45,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day.

From today’s Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:

MURKOWSKI PRODS REPUBLICANS ON CLIMATE CHANGE: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski challenged her party Wednesday morning to take climate change more seriously. “We have to have a better discussion about climate change and the responses to it,” the Alaska Republican said during an address at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Winter Policy Summit. “We have to not be afraid to use terms that some might say, that’s politically charged. Why is it politically charged to say climate change? I see in my state the impact we have from warming temperatures.”

  • Warming facts: Murkowski said it is “fact” that global temperatures are warming in response to man-made emissions of carbon dioxide, as most climate scientists say. The Trump administration and many Republicans downplay the impacts of climate change and say the science on the warming of the planet is imprecise. “It is a fact when we see habitats changing because temperatures are warmer,” Murkowski said. “It is fact when sea ice that is multi-year ice is no longer in place where it has historically been. Working towards our energy future, we must be reducing emissions that contribute to climate change.”
  • ‘Stop making it harder’: Murkowski said policymakers are making it more difficult to combat climate change by not acknowledging the extent of the problem. “This conversation is difficult,” Murkowski said. “We all know it’s difficult. We have to stop making it harder. Let’s stop making it harder.”
  • ‘Balance’ over dominance: Murkowski says politicians should continue to promote the use of fossil fuels, because she says removing them from the grid entirely is unrealistic and costly. But she said energy leaders should pursue “balance,” a contrast to the “dominance” agenda flouted by the Trump administration.


First Reads:

New EPA head for Alaska talks Pebble, budget cuts and climate change
Alaska Public Media, Elizabeth Harball, February 13, 2018

Stand for Salmon initiative bad for business, says Southeast Conference
Juneau Empire, Kevin Gullufsen, February 14, 2018

Hail shale, but deepwater oil fights back
Reuters, Ron Bousso, February 14, 2018