Headlamp – Save Our Salmon denied; a victory for responsible resource development.

Save Our Salmon isn’t saved. Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott denied an application on Sept. 12 to put a voter initiative on the 2018 statewide ballot that would have tightened the state’s permitting requirements for development projects with the potential to impact salmon streams. Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Bakalar wrote a Sept. 6 letter to Mallott recommending he not certify the initiative because it would strip the Legislature of its power to allocate resources — in this case salmon habitat — and thus violate the Alaska Constitution.

What lies beneath? State entices investment. Somewhere in Anchorage, the state is hiding four giant suitcases, filled with top-secret pictures of the ground. The Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, Mark Wiggin, said they weigh about 150 pounds apiece. “…And in there are stacked blocks. These seven to eight terabyte-per-block basically floppy drives,” Wiggin said. Add them all up and those drives hold about 300 terabytes of valuable information from seismic testing and exploratory wells — essentially a map of what lies beneath the surface of Alaska. It’s just one of the data sets the state has slowly been collecting from oil and gas companies since 2003. That’s when it launched a tax credit program that required companies to turn over that data if they wanted to redeem the credit. Alaska’s Oil and Gas division is releasing valuable oil exploration data from leases on the North Slope and Cook Inlet.

Back to basics with the EPA. Few Trump administration agency chiefs have moved as decisively to implement an agenda as Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and he’s quite clear about what he wants to do. He calls it a “back to the basics” agenda, removing the government from what he considers extraneous activity — namely, the climate change battle taken up by former President Barack Obama, who he questioned as an “environmental savior.” Asked to define his early legacy, Pruitt, in a wide-ranging interview with the Washington Examiner at EPA headquarters Monday, reached for his coffee mug, leaned his small, stout frame forward in his chair, and embarked on a lengthy denunciation of the Obama administration.

Chenault tests the water. Nikiski’s state legislator is looking for support for a run for state governor. Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) announced his intention to run in October 2018 in a letter of intent filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission Tuesday. Though he did not list the office for which he intends to run in the letter of intent, he said he’s testing whether there’s adequate support for him to run for the governor’s seat. “We’d been looking and talking about it for a while, so I decided to put a letter of intent in, try to gauge how much support I have across the state, and then we’ll make a final decision in the next few weeks,” he said.

The team of Elliott and Pearce at PHMSA. The White House intends to nominate Howard R. Elliott, who presently leads public safety, health, environment, and security operations for CSX Transportation in Jacksonville, Fla., to serve as the new administrator of the US Pipeline & Hazardous Material Safety Administration, it announced on Sept. 8. Elliott is a 40-year US freight rail industry veteran. “[Elliott’s} portfolio of responsibility included hazardous materials transportation safety, homeland security, railroad policing, crisis management, environmental compliance and operations, occupational health management, and continuity of business operations,” the White House said. It called Elliott “a pioneer and leading advocate in developing and implementing computer-based tools to assist emergency management officials, first responders, and homeland security personnel in preparing for and responding to a railroad hazardous materials or security incident.” Headlamp reminds readers that former Alaska legislator Drue Pearce was recently appointed Deputy Director of the agency.

Finland and Russia collaborate on Arctic Oil Spill Response. The Finland-based Lamor company is establishing a joint venture with the Russian oil company Rosneft in Roslyakov, the formerly closed military town outside Murmansk. The cooperation between the companies will include the manufacturing of equipment for oil spill preparedness, response and recovery. It will unfold in the premises of Shipyard No 82, an object over which Rosneft secured control in 2013.

First Reads:

Mallott rejects salmon habitat ballot initiative
Peninsula Clarion/Alaska Journal of Commerce, Elwood Brehmer, September 12, 2017

Seeking investment, Alaska goes open source with oil & gas data
Alaska Public Media, Rashah McChesney, September 12, 2017

Scott Pruitt criticizes Obama as ‘environmental savior,’ moves EPA away from climate change
Washington Examiner, Josh Siegel, September 13, 2017

Chenault tests waters for gubernatorial bid
Peninsula Clarion, Elizabeth Earl, September 12, 2017

White House plans to nominate Elliott for PHMSA administrator
Oil & Gas Journal, Nick Snow, September 11, 2017

Finnish company comes to Murmansk, sets up Arctic oil spill response unit with Rosneft
Arctic Now/Independent Barents Observer, Atle Staalesen, September 13, 2017