Headlamp – Pruitt tries to redefine environmentalism; Walker approves Pt. Thomson plan.

Governor Walker’s present to Exxon. Gov. Bill Walker’s administration has approved a plan to possibly expand a massive gas field east of Prudhoe Bay. The Point Thomson gas field currently produces a diesel-like fluid. But it’s sitting on a giant natural gas reserve that is a crucial part of the state-led gasline project. In a press release, Walker said the Point Thomson field expansion adds momentum to the state’s Alaska LNG project. But, it has been a struggle to get the field developed. The state’s fight with the field’s operator, ExxonMobil stretched out into a years-long legal battle that was settled in 2012. That settlement laid out a legal plan for developing the field. After the field came online last year, Exxon released a plan that included upping natural gas production from the field and potentially arranging to pipe it to Prudhoe Bay if the state’s gasline project had not been approved by 2019.

“All aboard?” Alaska Gov. Bill Walker wants to advance a proposal for commuter rail service between Anchorage and the Mat-Su — a project that’s eluded planners even after being studied and talked about for decades. Walker tucked a $4.5 million earmark for the project into his capital budget proposal, which he released earlier this month. The budget, if approved by the Legislature, would transfer that cash from pots of money previously set aside for Glenn Highway repairs and the proposed bridge from Anchorage across the Knik Arm. To proponents, rail service offers an alternative to the sometimes-treacherous drive between Anchorage and the Mat-Su — and it’s an increasingly appealing proposition given the Mat-Su’s booming population.

China’s market still growing. China’s imports of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. jumped last month as the country snatched up a record volume of the fuel to meet surging demand for heating and industrial use. Shipments from the U.S. totaled 407,325 metric tons in November, up from nothing the same month a year earlier and 57 percent from October, placing one of the world’s newest LNG sellers as the third-biggest supplier to China, behind stalwarts Australia and Qatar. “U.S. exports are ramping rapidly up, while China is the fastest growing importer,” said Kerry Anne Shanks, a Singapore-based analyst at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “LNG trade between the two countries will continue to grow.”

Pruitt wants “Environmental stewardship, not prohibition.” When it comes to environmentalism, Scott Pruitt thinks environmentalists have it all wrong. The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Trump has been on a quest to redefine the mission of the agency and, in the process, redefine what it means to be a guardian of the environment. Pruitt, the former Republican attorney general of Oklahoma, has said in recent public appearances and interviews that environmentalism ought to mean using natural resources like fossil fuels and agricultural products to their fullest potential, while being mindful of their impact. It’s meant as a sharp contrast, and perhaps a direct conservative challenge, to the established environmentalism of the last few decades, which has been largely dominated by the left. Green activists have long fought to reduce the use of fossil fuels, noting their impact on climate change and air quality.

First Reads:

State approves ExxonMobil’s expansion plan for Point Thomson, ending months-long fight
Alaska Public Media, Rashah McChesney, December 26, 2017

Alaska Gov. Walker eyes dormant Mat-Su-to-Anchorage commuter rail plan
Anchorage Daily News, Nathanial Herz, December 26, 2017

U.S. Gas Sales to China Boom as Buyers Seek to Avoid Pinch
Bloomberg, Jing Yang and Stephen Stapczynski, December 25, 2017

EPA’s Pruitt: Bring back ‘true environmentalism’
The Hill, Timothy Cama, December 27, 2017