To meet demand for rural power, communities can look to nuclear energy
CNN, Lisa Murkowski and Jay Faison, June 8, 2018
In 1994, the Clinton administration shut down a small sodium reactor that had operated without incident at Idaho National Laboratory for 30 years. This small reactor was termed “walk-away safe” because when the liquid sodium coolant got too hot, it expanded and shut itself down. Now, entrepreneurs are bringing it back from the dead. These sodium and other advanced microreactors could be a godsend for those in Alaska communities who spend up to half of their annual income on energy. Costs are so high in some remote Alaskan villages that mothers have had to choose between heating their homes and buying formula for their babies, a burden that most of the US cannot fathom and a choice that families should not have to make.
Our Take: As noted in the Senate Majority press release, for Alaska, that could mean the opportunity to reliably replace costly diesel fuel with emission-free nuclear, lowering costs that will empower small communities and boost their economic development.
Alaska credit rating receives stable outlook
KTVA, Steve Quinn, June 13, 2018
A major credit rating agency last week raised Alaska’s outlook from negative to stable, citing changes in how it will use Permanent Fund earnings to cover some of the state’s operating budget. On Wednesday, Gov. Bill Walker signed the legislation – Senate Bill 26 – which allows the state to use a portion of the fund’s overall market value for state spending. This change drove Standard & Poor Global Ratings to raise its outlook but not the AA rating, which determines Alaska’s creditworthiness. “The outlook revision to stable reflects recent fiscal reforms that recognize the state’s vast Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account (ERA) as unrestricted general fund revenue with provisions for its use,’ the June 8 S&P report said.
Our Take: STOP SPENDING! While Governor Walker declares victory for the economy, “This is independent confirmation of something we already knew: Alaska’s economy has turned the corner,” Headlamp would point out that finding a new source of revenue to feed a bloated state government isn’t a victory for the private sector. The incentive to reduce the size and scope of government has been removed and use of the earnings reserve account could lead to much larger budgets in the future.
Republicans propose penalties for states that oppose offshore drilling
The Hill, Luis Sanchez, June 13, 2018
House Republicans unveiled a draft proposal this week that would place fines on states that block offshore gas and oil drilling. The Republican draft proposal, first reported by The Washington Post, will be discussed at the Natural Resources Committee on Thursday. It would allow states to disapprove of offshore drilling for gas and oil in half of its lease blocks without facing any penalties. However, states with proposed lease sales that disapprove of drilling in more than 50 percent of the blocks would have to pay a fee equal to at least one-tenth the estimated revenue the government would have made if it had leased the blocks.
Our Take: A new take on state’s rights? State’s responsibilities? If you deny the federal government their opportunity to make revenue from lease sales in your state – you can pay a fine.
Committee Seeks Information from Defense Department on Impact of Environmental Litigation on Military Readiness
House Committee on Natural Resources, June 14, 2018
Today, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Defense Secretary James Mattis requesting information about foreign entities using U.S.-based 501(c) organizations as proxies in environmental litigation against the United States or to influence domestic environmental and natural resources laws.
Our Take: AK HEADLAMP is sufficiently terrified when thinking about foreign adversaries using U.S. based organizations to engage in environmental “lawfare.” Adding to our fear? The letter specifies China, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council- all players in Alaska.
Salmon initiative risks Alaska’s economic future
Juneau Empire, Jack Rafusea, June 13, 2018
A niece of mine and her husband have owned a restaurant in Homer for at least 20 years. I worked on energy policy at the White House before and during the Arab Oil Embargo. After that, I often worked on Unocal projects that took me to Alaska; I’ve spent decades on issues involving Alaska’s energy sector. I know that investments in Alaskan oil and gas reserves have helped sustain the economy and meet the nation’s energy demand. I know the business, and like most in Alaska, I believe in the vital role energy has played, and must continue to play in the state’s future.
Our Take: This former energy advisor for the White House during the Arab Oil Embargo does a great job detailing the threat to Alaska’s economy from wealthy outside investors. “It’s never a good sign when single-minded big-money activists from elsewhere want to dictate regulatory policy in a state where they’ve never lived, let alone visited.” Get the facts before you vote. Stand for Alaska.