Headlamp – Any skeletons in your closet?

Biggest ever in our country’s history. The Interior Department is planning to hold the largest sale of oil and gas leases in the country’s history. The plans, announced Friday, would auction off 77.3 million acres of offshore waters to drilling, covering coastal waters in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The auction will take place March 21. Areas protected under a 2006 congressional moratorium, which bans drilling within 125 miles of the Florida coast until 2022, will be excluded from the lease. Interior largely credited strong offshore lease sales from 2017 for raising U.S. revenues by $1 billion dollars compared to 2016. “Responsibly developing our offshore energy resources is a major pillar of President Trump’s American Energy Dominance strategy,” Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement. “​A strong offshore energy program supports tens of thousands of good paying jobs and provides the affordable and reliable energy we need to heat homes, fuel our cars, and power our economy.”

Any skeletons in your closet? On Sunday night, the Democrats of House District 38 selected three potential nominees to replace Representative Zach Fansler, who resigned earlier this month following assault allegations. Two of their three choices are Alaska Native women, and all three candidates have deep ties to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The party’s nominating committee interviewed a total of five applicants yesterday, then voted on their top choices and ranked them in the order that they preferred. The committee’s first choice is Tiffany Zulkosky, an executive at Bethel’s Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation. When she was in her twenties, Zulkosky was also elected to serve as the youngest mayor in Bethel’s history. The committee’s second choice is Yvonne Jackson. She grew up in the Y-K Delta’s villages and now manages job training programs at the Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP), the regional Native non-profit corporation. Their third choice is Raymond “Thor” Williams, a former Bethel Mayor and current city council member. According to Diane McEachern, a professor at the University of Alaska’s Kuksokwim University Campus who serves on the nominating committee, the seven-person committee was looking for someone with the experience to hit the ground running when they arrive in Juneau. In a series of 30 to 40-minute interviews, they asked applicants about their views on tribal sovereignty and subsistence priority. They also asked them whether anything of concern might come up after a thorough background check.

Survey says? $10 million for seismic. The administration of Gov. Bill Walker is asking the Alaska Legislature for permission to spend $10 million on seismic surveying in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The seismic survey funding was included as part of a supplemental spending request delivered by the state to the Legislature last week. The request, which totals $26 million in additional costs, is to be folded into ongoing work on the state’s operating and capital budgets for fiscal year 2019. The Senate Finance Committee heard a presentation Monday on the supplemental request, including the funding. State officials said the money would be used to provide better information about the oil and gas below the surface of the little-surveyed coastal plain. The request comes at a critical time for ANWR, the federal government, and for the state, which is grappling with a $2.5 billion annual deficit.

Mexico becomes first Latin American member of IEA. Mexico has become the 30th member of the International Energy Agency, the latter announced, welcoming its first Latin American member as part of an open-doors policy aimed at strengthening the ties between the IEA and emerging economies. The policy itself is part of a strategy to modernize the authority through closer engagement with the emerging economies as well as key energy industry players in regions such as Latin America, Asia, and Africa “towards a secure, sustainable and affordable energy future.” The strategy also aims to expand the reach of the IEA since the share of its members’ production in global energy supply had shrunk to 40 percent in 2015. Now, after the addition of Mexico, this share has gone up to 70 percent. The agency praised the world’s 12th largest producer of crude oil for the speed with which it covered the requirements for joining. These include crude oil and/or products reserves equal to 90 days of net imports as of the previous year that could be used quickly in case of a global supply disruption, and a program seeking to restrain demand for oil by up to 10 percent.

FERC to AGDC – more details please. Federal regulators have told the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. (AGDC) that the state agency is falling short in providing all the information, construction and operation plans needed to prepare an environmental impact statement for the proposed Alaska LNG project. “Incomplete responses and the reissuances of requests for information will affect the schedule for completing the environmental review,” the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said in its Feb. 15 letter to AGDC. “To date, only minimal drafts, and in most cases just outlines, of these plans have been provided, and/or the development of the plans have been deferred to a later date,” FERC said, referring to its past requests of AGDC for proposed mitigation plans for wildlife avoidance, marine mammal monitoring, vegetation and soils restoration, groundwater monitoring, and invasive plants. “Rather than providing specific avoidance and mitigation measures to be adopted … AGDC has deferred providing information to future plans or the permitting phase,” FERC said. “It is imperative that the information provided in AGDC’s responses include definitive commitments to implement specific avoidance, minimization and mitigation measures. Incomplete information or ill-defined commitments by AGDC may compromise our ability to adequately assess and disclose the full impact of the project.”

Debbie Brown to staff Alaska LNG office in Nikiski. The state-sponsored corporation working to advance a major gas line project is opening a field office in Nikiski. It will be the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.’s third satellite office. The corporation also has a presence in Houston, Texas and Tokyo. Rosetta Alcantra, a corporation spokeswoman, says the new office will allow Nikiski residents to have in-person contact with an agency representative. Nikiski is the proposed site for the project’s liquefaction plant. Alcantra says the community has long asked AGDC to open an office there. She says the office lease will cost about $1,250 a month and the salary for office staff will be $6,700 a month. The office will be staffed by Debra Holle Brown. Alcantra says the money will come from the Alaska liquefied natural gas project fund.


First Reads:

Interior to hold largest oil and gas lease sale in US history
The Hill, Miranda Green, February 16, 2018

Dems Select Three Candidates For Rep. Fansler’s Seat
KYUK Public Media, Teresa Cotsirilos, February 19, 2018

State asks Legislature for $10 million to survey ANWR for oil
Juneau Empire, James Brooks, February 20, 2018

Mexico Joins The IEA
Oil Price, Irina Slav, February 19, 2018

FERC advises state it is falling short in providing information on Alaska LNG
Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, Larry Persily, February 17, 2018

Alaska gas line corporation opening Nikiski office
KTOO Public Media, February 18, 2018