Headlamp – Revenue sharing for Alaska. Big support for Hilcorp and the Liberty project.

Overwhelming support for Hilcorp and the Liberty project. The oil and gas company Hilcorp wants to build a gravel island in shallow waters in the Beaufort Sea, east of Prudhoe Bay. The Liberty project would be similar to several gravel islands built to produce oil in nearby state waters. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, held its last hearing in Anchorage, on Tuesday, asking the public to weigh in as it prepares its environmental impact statement. Many of the speakers were from industry or trade groups, who all argued in favor of the project. “The Liberty Project represents a positive step towards perpetuation of the oil and gas industry in Alaska by curtailing oil production decline at this crucial time in Alaska’s history,” Bob Stinson said. He’s with Price Gregory, a company that constructs pipelines. Most of the speakers echoed Stinson, saying the Liberty project would give a much-needed boost to the trans-Alaska pipeline. The pipeline is now running at about 500,000 barrels per day. Hilcorp plans to produce up to 70,000 barrels per day from Liberty. Headlamp thanks Stinson, the other Alliance board members and numerous Alaskans who showed up to support Alaska’s economy and Alaskan jobs.

Big wheels keep on turning. The Dakota Access pipeline can continue operating during a new federal review of the project’s environmental impact, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said he would not vacate a previous permit while federal regulators conduct a new environmental review into the 1,170-mile pipeline. Boasberg in June ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers’ review of the project was inadequate before it granted the permits necessary to build the pipeline, which transports oil near Native American reservations in North Dakota on its way to Illinois. But in a 28-page ruling issued Wednesday, he said the deficiencies in that review “are not fundamental or incurable flaws” and that the corps has such a “significant possibility of justifying its prior determinations” that the pipeline can continue operating.

ASTRO Act and revenue sharing for Alaska. Today’s hearing was a slam dunk by the House Natural Resources Committee. Not only did the Committee bring in experts and stakeholders with their own unique offshore perspectives to the hearing, the Committee took a bold step in introducing the forward thinking ASTRO Act. By opening up the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue sharing to Alaska and the mid- and south-Atlantic states and requiring that a significant percentage of those funds go to coastal communities, the ASTRO Act will ensure that states with offshore potential will have a fair share of offshore benefits. In addition, the bill will ensure that the federal government is living up to the spirit and the intention of Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) by preventing unilateral executive withdrawals of offshore areas, giving more flexibility to the Secretary of the Interior in developing lease sales, throwing out the outdated Arctic drilling rule and analyzing the relationship between the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

ANSEP gets kids excited about STEM. Dozens of middle school students from rural communities are spending time in Anchorage for an academy focusing on science, technology, engineering and math. The idea is to foster students’ interests in those areas early on. Yosty Storms, ANSEP regional director, said they want students to get on a path toward a career while they’re young. “At this age we just wanna expose them to what’s out there, there’s a lot they could choose to do, but we really want to engage them with STEM early on,” Storms said. Students assembled computers on Wednesday and get to keep them if they complete Algebra 1 before high school and maintain “C” grades or better in math and science classes.

AccuWeather in charge of climate research. President Donald Trump has nominated the CEO of AccuWeather to run the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a key agency in conducting climate research and assessing climate change. Barry Myers has served since 2007 as CEO of AccuWeather, a media company in State College, Pennsylvania, that provides worldwide weather predictions. He graduated from Penn State with a degree in business and received a law degree from Boston University, but has no science training. In a news release, the White House called him “one of the world’s leading authorities on the use of weather information.” Trump has nominated him to serve as the Commerce Department’s undersecretary for oceans and atmosphere, which oversees NOAA. At AccuWeather, Myers has led a global expansion of the company. His significant private-sector experience fits with many of the other high-profile Trump administration appointees.

First Reads:

Judge will not shut down Dakota Access pipeline during new review
The Hill, Devin Henry, October 11, 2017

Op/Ed: ASTRO Act Shoots For the Stars
The Marine Link, Randall Luthi, October 11, 2017

Industry, environmental groups speak out as Hilcorp paves the way for drilling in federal Arctic waters
Alaska Public Media, Elizabeth Harball, October 11, 2017

Students build computers at ANSEP middle school academy
KTUU, Samantha Angaiak, October 11, 2017

Trump nominates AccuWeather CEO to lead key climate agency
Politico, Henry C. Jackson, October 11, 2017