Headlamp – Repeal, then replace…the Clean Power Plan. Runoff in Kenai Mayor’s Race.

Repeal, then replace. The EPA will propose repealing the Clean Power Plan this week, then through a separate process look to replace it. Reuters obtained a copy of the yet-to-be issued proposal. There had been some questions over whether EPA would straight out repeal the Obama-era climate rules for power plants, or propose a replacement rule. Now it appears clear that they will do both. The Clean Power Plan was the signature climate rule of the Obama administration. It was challenged in court by 27 states and hundreds of industry groups as a far-reaching rule that violated the Clean Air Act.

Long-awaited Pebble Mine plans bring economic opportunity. This week, Pebble Limited Partnership is expected to publicly unveil the outline for a plan to mine the copper and gold deposit northwest of Iliamna. Those who have been briefed say the company’s plans call for a much smaller mine than discussed before, and appear to address many of the concerns raised by Bristol Bay residents and fishermen, environmentalists and the EPA. As a region, the Bristol Bay watershed has largely opposed Pebble, perhaps in increasing numbers, for the past decade. Much of the effort focused on pushing President Obama’s EPA to finalize preemptive Section 404(c) Clean Water Act restrictions that would have blocked permitting of Pebble Mine’s dredge and fill activities. Pebble filed several lawsuits, alleging in one that EPA and anti-mine activists were colluding to reach a predetermined outcome. That lawsuit found traction in the court of U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland, who agreed to an injunction against further EPA effort until the case was resolved. President Trump’s EPA agreed to settle the lawsuit with Pebble, allowing the company to enter into a normal permitting process as defined by the National Environmental Policy Act. A caveat was added that the company must file for permits within 30 months. Ahead of CEO Tom Collier’s presentation of Pebble’s plans to the Resource Development Council in Anchorage Thursday morning, the company has been briefing some stakeholders ahead of time. Nathan Hill, the manager of the Lake and Peninsula Borough, has seen the 150-plus slide PowerPoint presentation with the company’s estimates about the size and scope of the project, and what it will mean for nearby communities.

It’s not just about mining… TAPS, dams, roads, Alaska LNG would be impacted. The future of Pebble Mine, the Susitna dam and any trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline may be determined by an obscure clause of the Alaska Constitution. On Tuesday, attorneys representing Stand for Salmon and the State of Alaska delivered oral arguments to Anchorage Superior Court Judge Mark Rindner. For little more than an hour, they explained why (or why not) Rindner should override Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, who last month ruled that a proposed pro-fisheries ballot measure is unconstitutional. “The question that I’m grappling with is, is this a (measure) that so limits the legislative body … that in effect it is an appropriation?” Rindner said. Article XI, Section 7 of the constitution states in part that an “initiative shall not be used to … make or repeal appropriations.” Stand for Salmon’s eight-page initiative is a sweeping measure to overhaul the rules for permitting construction projects that affect salmon-bearing streams. (By default, all bodies of water would be considered salmon-bearing.)

Trump tax plan – leaving renewables out…The prospects for a broad tax reform with lower corporate rates has excited business leaders and boosted the stock market — except for renewable energy. Tax reform “will make renewables more expensive,” Keith Martin, a partner at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, said in an interview Tuesday at Infocast’s Solar Connect conference in San Diego. The reasons: reducing corporate taxes would threaten a key source of clean-power financing. A broad reform of the tax code may also lead to pricier debt for new power plants and lower savings from depreciation. And some developers are concerned about the future of two critical U.S. tax credits. President Donald Trump campaigned on tax reform, and the S&P 500 Index has gained 18 percent since the election, while the Bloomberg Global Large Solar Energy index of 16 companies has slumped 13 percent. The framework the White House proposed Sept. 27 “would disrupt the economics of clean energy projects as a consequence of making profound changes to the U.S. tax code,” according to a research report Monday from Daniel Shurey, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Headed for a runoff in Kenai Mayor’s Race. Charlie Pierce and Linda Hutchings are headed to a runoff election in the race for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor, according to unofficial results of Tuesday’s election. Not counting absentee ballots, Pierce emerged in the lead after the polls closed Tuesday night, leading Hutchings and Dale Bagley for the seat. The unofficial results show Pierce taking about 39 percent of the vote, Hutchings with about 31 percent and Bagley with about 28 percent. The runoff election will be Oct. 24. Hutchings carried the majority in the city of Homer and the surrounding areas, while Pierce carried most of the central peninsula and the unincorporated communities. Bagley carried Soldotna, Seldovia and Seward and a few other areas. Under borough code, the winner of the mayoral race has to receive at least 50 percent of the popular vote to win outright. Otherwise, the two top candidates will face off in a runoff election.

First Reads:

Bristol Bay braces for long awaited Pebble Mine plans
Alaska Public Media, Dave Bendinger, October 3, 2017

Mines, roads and more may hinge on constitutional clause
Juneau Empire, James Brooks, October 4, 2017

Trump EPA to propose repealing Obama’s climate regulation: document
Reuters, Valerie Volocovici, October 3, 2017

U.S. Tax Reform Would Leave Renewable Energy Out in the Cold
Bloomberg, Brian Eckhouse, October 3, 2017

Pierce, Hutchings headed to runoff
Peninsula Clarion, Elizabeth Earl, October 3, 2017